The hospital stay

After my total knee replacement, I took this photo from my hospital bed at 4am the morning after surgery.  I had been wide awake all night and the new dawn felt symbolic.

The philosophy in the unit was that patients in the unit

  •  were not ill
  •  needed inpatient care and rehabilitation
  • would then continue the process with the appropriate support at home.
  • would get dressed each day
  • would regain independence gradually until ready for discharge

The average length of stay at the hospital is reported to be two days for a total knee replacement.  In the end, I was in hospital for three nights.

My prime objective was to become well enough to be discharged safely  to go home as soon as possible because -:

  • everyone is happier back in their own bed
  • there’s less risk of post operative infection at home than in hospital
  • there’s evidence of quicker and more efficient recovery in most cases.

I needed to

  • to be medically fit,
  • to have the pain from the surgery well controlled
  •  to have met the physiotherapist’s targets of being able to walk with crutches or sticks and to go up and down the stairs

This is a brief diary of how that happened

TKR Day 1
Day 1


  • Had a bandage round my leg with a drain from the wound.
  • was given shots of oral morphine to control the pain as well as taking the painkillers I had been having before the operation
  • was also given laxatives and a laxative drink as the anaesthetics can make you constipated
  • was shown how to do exercises in bed
  • was shown how to use a special holster with ice gel packs on either side to ice my knee.
Knee with ice pack holster on it
Knee with ice pack holster on it
  • was helped into a chair with arms by the bed and tried to bend my knee.
  • In the afternoon, the physiotherapist taught me how to use a walker.
  • I could then go to the bathroom instead of using a bedpan


  • The  bandage was taken off and I could see the plaster over the wound which had  self dissolving stitches underneath.
  • Had an X-ray of my knee. The mark on the dressing is where the radiographer lined up the machine
Plaster on TKR wound
Plaster on TKR wound
  • Had a setback as I nearly fainted when I sat in the chair by the bed.  (This is quite common after a major operation and it meant that my length of stay was extended by a day.)
  • In the morning, physiotherapist taught me to go up and down a fake step with crutches
  • In the afternoon, she taught me how to go up and down stairs with crutches.


  • Physiotherapist checked that I was competent going up and down the stairs.
  • I had a shower and washed my hair in the ward shower room which made me feel a lot better.
  • I had to wait for the paperwork, discharge summary and prescription before I could finally go home at 3.20pm.


  • Everyone needs a definitive discharge plan including a plan for transport ‘Home’
  • This was discussed with every patient at the Pre-Assessment appointment and again at the Preparing for Surgery afternoon.
  • I was fortunate in that my husband could collect me in his car and had taken two days’ annual leave from work




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