Chronically Me #6: I Had Knee Surgery!

Happy Summer everyone! It has been quite some time since my last post, many apologies to my avid followers, but here is the reason why… I had a total knee replacement. At 24. So before you ask any questions, here is a little (long post) on the why, what, where and who of getting my knee replaced.

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Prelude

Let’s go back to the Summer of 2018. The weather is in the 30s (celcius), the sun is shining, the humidity could suffocate a small dog; you get the picture. I am living my best life, working full time, drinking blue wine on my balcony and just having a great time with my friends. Enter my arthritis. My left leg hasn’t always been the problem child on the leg department, my right knee always being the more swollen boy, so colour me surprised when my left knee cap subluxes (dislocates a little bit). Now I don’t notice this usual behaviour of my knees, but my co-workers do, especially when the kneecap is on adventure to the side of my leg. So of course, I sort it out, put it back in place and don’t make too much of a fuss as well, this thing happens. However, later on it does swell up to a very uncomfortable and painful size, and I go to the Emergency to get it drained. Here they tell me that I may have strained it a bit by it going on holiday without permission and that I should just be careful the next few days. Things are fine. Things are basically back to normal. Until about a week later and I’m unable to move and screaming in agony.

Now I’m not 100% sure what happened the next two days as I was very out of it on very strong painkillers and asleep. But it turns out I had somehow gone into septic shock with sepsis in my knee joint. I spent just over a week in the hospital with IV antibiotics and the works until I was able to walk again and not be in grevious amounts of pain. Thanks to all my friends who visited me and made my stay 100 times better! The ward I was staying on had an average age of around 65 so being around my younger peers definitely made me feel less sick. During this crazy week, my left leg sort of withered away and I lost maybe 6-kg of muscle weight in it. And lost the meniscus and remaining cartilage in my knee.

The following months I was normal arthritis me, just wandering around, working and recovering. Until November-ish when my knee started to get bad again. By Christmas time, I returned to the hospital as I had some trouble walking and sharp pain in my left leg. After many scans, x-rays and a midnight MRI (love those machines…) turns out I had a fracture down my shin. But as it was still in the right spot and my leg muscles were pathetic, they didn’t want to operate on it or brace it up. I was referred to the orthopedic surgeons and they looked at my knee with a lot of concern. If I was a normal human without RA they would have operated on it to give me a knee replacement, but due to the RA, they decided to refer me to an expert to decide the fate. So in February 2019, I was scheduled to have a total knee replacement. My surgeon explained everything in detail and is a real chill guy, told me he had done the procedure hundreds of time and that I’d be totally fine. And he was 100% correct.

Preparation

Wait a few months and I don’t hear a lot, and I was under the impression my surgery would take place in late July or August. However, the beginning of May I received a call that told me surgery was 4th June. Begin the copious amounts of phone calls for very very last minute appointments, to see a doctor to explain the process, a counsellor to make sure my mind was alright with this, a physio to talk through the exercises, a classroom to explain how to prepare myself and lastly a pre-operation appointment to do blood work and talk about the procedure with at least 3 different doctors and nurses. I didn’t miss a single appointment, but I did show up a day early to one which did suck as it was a 7am appointment. Mood: Frazzled.

All the appointments I had leading up to it, the main comments I had were, are you with your mum? or You’re too young for knee surgery! Very awkward for me, but I can’t complain as I now I have a new knee!

As far as Rheumatoid Arthritis goes with knee surgery, you are asked to stopped certain medications before the surgery and then resume them 2 weeks after surgery, so be prepared for flares and bad days. For this I stocked up on a lot of food, and made a list of books, movies and things I wanted to do while I was recovering.

Surgery

Surgery itself took around 2 hours 45 minutes, and had no complications. I opted for a spinal anesthetic, meaning my legs were frozen throughout the procedure, and I would wake up with temporary paralysis from my waist down. I didn’t realise this meant inside and outside, as I definitely could not feel my bladder, which is hilarious as I had no idea if I needed to pee, and had no idea how to pee. Of course this meant I did pee myself, which was not as embarrassing as I thought it would be, and laughed so much more that it happened again… Too much information maybe?
Before the surgery actually happened I met a team of anesthesiologists who inserted a local catheter into my leg, to freeze the knee after the surgery, and also to prep me with oxygen, the good happy juice and then in the operation theatre, the spinal. I met so many people before the operation who just wanted to say hi, they would be operating on my today and getting me my new knee. And everyone was way too enthusiastic for fentanol-infused me who just dribbled in response.
After the operation I woke up in the theatre very very groggy, but clear headed and very gosh darn cold. It did take a good hour for me to return to normal 37 degrees temperature as I did dip down to a chilly 36 during the operation. Now this hospital has these amazing air bubble wrap heated blankets that warm your soul. I would love to have one of these for home as my days this felt like I was in a nice cup of tea. Maybe that was the anaesthetic wearing off, but it was amazing.

Anyway, I only spent one night in hospital and the next day was discharged for good behaviour. In other words, I passed the physio test of movement and really wanted to go home to see my cat. And yes, I was up and walking and tackling stairs the day after surgery, which is pretty wild!

It has been a week now, physio is going great and my healing process is smooth sailing! The incision is about 12cm long down my knee cap and I have 33 staples holding it back together. So hopefully next week these will come out and my physio classes will start to get me back to human status. Until then, its slow walks, slow physio and lots of petting of my fat cat.

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Side note: stock images of knees are a complete riot to go through, so if you are ever bored… stock images of knees and also looking up names of towns in NewFoundland…

Thanks for the read, any questions I am very happy to answer & Have a Great Day!

 

7 thoughts on “Chronically Me #6: I Had Knee Surgery!

  1. How are you feeling now? I’m 41 and need a total knee replacement, I have experienced subluxations my entire life. And recently after stepping wrong my knee cap is permanently subluxed. I have lost my stability in my leg and I’m having to fight doctors to even get it done because of my “age”. Ugh. Hope you’re recovering well after surgery!

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    1. Thanks for commenting! It’s been around a month and a half now and quite honestly my leg has never felt better. The shelf life for knees nowadays is 20-30 years so your age shouldn’t have to be an issue, and doctors need to understand that more!

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      1. I’m so happy you’re doing so well. I’m really nervous about surgery in general but my knees have always been issues for me and the chance to have them fixed seems amazing. I meet with the surgeon again next week. I have a feeling he was making sure I’m sure before proceeding with it. Annoying kinda.

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      2. Thank you! Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous which is super odd for me – plus you are out for the whole time. If you can go for a spinal anaesthetic go for it as the recovery time is halved in the hospital! (Plus it doesn’t hurt)

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      3. I’ve only had one surgery in my life and I freaked out right up until the day of surgery and then I was super chill. I’ll have to ask about the spinal anesthetic, we really haven’t gotten into any details. I’m still kind of fighting for them to agree to do it.

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