My new knee and I have just celebrated our five-month anniversary together. Time didn’t exactly fly, but we’ve made quite a good adjustment. Physical therapy has drawn to an end, though in my last session, I was given two new exercises to further strengthen the walking-down-the-stairs muscles (technical term).
I’m continuing to do a series of other exercises as well. I won’t bore you with any more detail about them–except to say that I follow them by icing the knee with the handy-dandy icing gizmo that has now seen me through replacements of both knees–seven years apart.
I realize I’m making a huge leap in assuming that any of you are at all interested in the accoutrements of my healing regimen, but I know you’re curious about many things. In addition, some of these items may be useful for other conditions.
So I’m bidding a fond farewell to my inanimate helpers. I no longer need them because, as my clever orthopedist friend remarked, “The good news is: You’re out of knees.”
Three of them will be wrapped in something or other and placed in a corner of our garage until we figure out a person or organization that might use them. The fourth was “of the moment” and gone after doing its job.
Please note that although my goodhearted spouse took most of the photos herein, I took the first one. And I figured out how to get them all from my phone to my computer to my blog (with only one significant daughterly assist because WordPress initially rejected the photos: it wanted jpegs when my photos were in heic…picky picky).
My non-techie self is simply bursting with pride at this evidence of personal development. All you photojournalists: make way!
My Handy-Dandy Icing Gizmo
Icing is a huge part of knee replacement recovery, and for a while I was doing it seven to nine times a day.
The ice bucket (kinda looks like an owlish creature, doesn’t it?) is filled with cold water and ice cubes.
A little flip top device on the cap opens and closes–allowing water to move through the blue hose into the cuff that fits around the knee. This process is abetted by the ever-reliable forces of gravity when the bucket is held higher than the knee. Awe-inspiring complexity of design, don’t you think?
The yellow nozzle is removed from the blue cuff for the twenty minutes or so of icing. The process is then reversed to empty the cuff until the next time.
Hopeless anthropomorphizer that I am, I’ve grown extremely fond of my handy-dandy icing gizmo. (The serious name is AIRCAST Cryo/Cuff Cooler.)
Heel Pillows–I Have Two
This weirdly shaped soft heel pillow was something I didn’t have or need with knee number one. For reasons unknown, my heels became extremely painful early on, possibly because of hypersensitivity caused by the opioids, which I’ve described here.
Sleep was very difficult, so these odd little cushions, held in place by fabric strips affixed across the ankle by Velcro (surely one of humans’ great inventions), were a terrific find.
Elevating Leg Wedge
I bought this fabric-covered wedge after my physical therapist introduced me to a similar one during treatment. It was a comfort to a fatigued knee that I couldn’t straighten at that point and was happier being elevated. These designers knew what they were doing.
In the photo, the wedge is standing upright on the floor. In reality, it was placed on the couch where I potato-ized much of my recovery time–and it followed me upstairs to my bed at night.
The wedge is probably also useful for people with circulatory problems, fatigue from over-exercising, etc. There are many different types available on the Web.
Magic Kinesiology Tape
Some folks have asked me if I was athletic because many people receiving knee replacements wore out their joints on the field or running marathons.
Alas, I was not. Nor was I ever overweight, which is another reason for knee replacements. I’ve no explanation for my fragile skeleton, but the X-rays taken before my knee surgery showed my hips are also quite arthritic. However, I’m sufficiently bionic at this point to put that bit of data way back in my mind, thank you very much!
I’ve long been intrigued by the strips of tape on athlete’s bodies, which I first became aware of watching the bikini-clad beach volleyball players during the summer Olympics years ago.
This taping is the closest I’ve come to feeling like an athlete. (I wasn’t adept at volleyball, and I’ve had the good sense to eschew bikinis for decades.) In the early months, there was considerable swelling from above the knee to the foot. The physical therapist wrapped this magical kinesiology tape around my leg and sent me off.
Voila! With luck, it stayed in place for several days, and the swelling was significantly reduced.
In truth, I’d been skeptical, but the tape does increase blood flow and help the lymphatic system clear the fluid from the area.
More recently, the therapist wrapped it around my knee to reduce the residual swelling. There’s an art to doing it so that it lies flat and doesn’t pull away.
K-tape, as it’s called, also reportedly improves athletic performance. I didn’t try it at home.
So there you have it, my patient readers. I’m extremely grateful for the fine surgeon and competent, caring physical therapists–and I don’t for a minute take for granted my access to this care and ability to augment it with the above items.
I continue to hope/wish many more people could have such access and good results in their health-related journeys.
And I thank you for the support you’ve given me as I’ve documented my recovery.
I also hope you’re all getting vaccinated, getting boosted if you’re already vaccinated, wearing masks in places where you don’t know people’s status, and encouraging everyone you know to do the same.
PS: If you clicked on this post when it was published earlier and then saw zilch, the reason was that the WP gremlins were at it again. I may–or may not–describe that saga at a later date. It was the first time I had no history to refer back to, so I’ve reinserted my last-minute changes from faulty memory.
I wonder what will happen to the “likes” and delightful comments I received before the post self-destructed. Sure hope they’re intact.