Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 15

More than two weeks have passed since they replaced my left knee and I could not be any happier with the results. I've regained something that resembles "normal" function in the knee again. I'm genuinely surprised I'm doing this well this soon.

I went off the walker and onto the cane a few days ago, a move that John the Therapist reluctantly agreed to after the fact once he saw me walking around the house without difficulty. I can put my full weight on the leg now, which a week ago would have been impossible. I could walk short distances without the cane if I wish. But I'll keep it by my side for the foreseeable future.

I reached another big milestone in my recovery today. The nurse removed the staples from my leg, a rather unpleasant experience for the minute or two that it took to pry them out. It has made a difference. My leg simply feels better with the staples gone. (The nurse replaced those 18 staples with Steri-strips that will eventually fall off.)

Getting rid of the staples means two things: I can stop taking Coumadin, an anti-coagulant designed to prevent blood clots, and I can finally bathe. I had been conscientious to wash myself as well as I could inside our cramped downstairs bathroom, but it's not the same as immersing yourself in a tub. Someone at work had offered to lend us a seat that goes into the bathtub, and my wife is bringing it home this evening. But ... I didn't wait for her. Instead, I marched upstairs, drew that hot bath and took a good soak. Wonderful. I'll hear about it later, but I figured it would be one less thing for my wife to worry about after she got home.

I had had some trepidation a few days ago about going up and down the stairs. Our old house, unfortunately, has only one full bath and it's upstairs. But John encouraged me to give it a whirl during therapy yesterday and I made it up and down without any problems. I won't be using the stairs much for now, but it's great to know I have access to a bath when I want or need one. The switch to showers will come later when the leg is even stronger. It's still hard to stand in one place for more than 10 or 15 seconds.

Here is an odd and unexpected result of the surgery. I'm taller. When I mentioned this to John, he said I may have "grown" an inch. I topped out at 6 foot 3 when I was 20, but in recent years I've been measured at 6 foot 2, a shrinkage I attributed to the effects of gravity. John said it appears that the loss of cartilage and subsequent support caused my body to sink into the knee. The knee replacement served to straighten my leg and give me back my full height. I doubt I'll be able to dunk a basketball again once I've fully recovered, but I'll take the extra inch just the same.

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