October 18, 2012 will be the one year anniversary for my total bilateral (both) knee replacement surgery. Time has passed very quickly but the recovery not as quick, unfortunately. I still anticipate some minor adjustments in the years that follow. Re-education is a difficult learning process for us older folks, let alone our muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments that have suffered under years of arthritic pain and overuse. I do not have any regrets as to having the surgery. I walk with a normal gait, not limping. My legs are straight, not bowed as they were before surgery. The pain level has been drastically reduced.
The most difficult aspect is the extensive rehab that follows this type of surgery. Intense pain is to be expected in the early days. Bending the knees and straightening them is the basic goal of rehab. Regaining your strength comes with healing and increased mobility. Cycling can begin as soon as your physical therapist permits. Small cycling units can help to strengthen your upper body as well. Going up stairs can be difficult, but is manageable with practice. Steppers can help to regain your confidence before actually climbing the stairs. Working with your team of physical therapists, surgeons and care givers, you will gain the strength and stamina to make a complete recovery. Patience leads to endurance, which spells success. Remember that your knees did not get in that condition overnight; rehabilitation will take time and hard work.
My long term goal is to exercise regularly to keep and strengthen what mobility I have. Managing my weight is another area of concern to consider. Artificial knees will last longer if you take proper care of yourself. Remember your own joints were designed to last a lifetime and are superior to the artificial joint replacements. After knee replacement, navigating through familiar areas takes on an unexpected dimension. Each little imperfection – rough terrain, slight sloping areas become major obstacles to overcome. I certainly appreciate those designated areas for the physically handicapped.