The 21 questions I asked before my Bilateral Knee Replacements
I have just had Bilateral Knee (yes, both at one time) replacements after a number of years of struggling with the pain of bone on bone in both knees. I found it very difficult to get the information I needed to decide to have this operation and then what to expect if I did. In spite of the fact that I had trouble getting the information I thought I needed, the confidence that I developed in this Doctor was enough to get me to move forward.
I have decided to write a blog on this experience and share the next year of healing. Please sign up at stagesofgrowth.org for my blog
Below are some of the questions and thoughts I had and am still working through.
• If — Did I really want to go through this process?
• Maybe the lord will take me first? No that did not happen.
• Fear of the surgery was a problem and when I decided to do both I did not get encouragement from the comments of others. However, I read a lot of comments and articles on line, and decided it was the way for me to go.
- • Risk of infection in today’s environment was a real concern
- • Left knee became a problem
- • Now no choice because I had no good leg to depend on after surgery.
• When to get the surgery was a big question?
• Quality of life issue determines the answer to the first part of the question. Your circle of life get smaller. You don’t feel like doing things. You cannot walk very far. Your health starts to deteriorate because of the lack of ability to exercise.
• Pain drives you to sit down and not move.
• Bone on bone makes the knee(s) deteriorate and increases the pain.
• Life circle is getting smaller until it is just you on your front porch. Friends and family go do things that you do not feel like doing.
• Finding the information to understand what you need to know is difficult and confusing.
• What to expect after surgery (?) was a big question and even when I had the surgery I was still being told that it is different with each patient.
• What are the mile stones I need to shoot for was a concern and I am still finding them as I go. I am a type A goal oriented person and I need to know what to do and when to do it.
• What is my role in this?
I found 2 important pieces of information. You need to prepare for this surgery. Pre-op exercises are critical to be able to do the Post-op exercises. I started 30 days before the surgery with a list of exercise from the doctor and I picked up my walking a little before the surgery. This made me feel much better and I realized that I should have been doing more exercises earlier.
The post-operative exercises are even more critical and must be done to assure the best range of motion outcomes. I was doing about 2500 repetitions per day of leg exercises. I found that these gave me great improvement each day. I realized from reading on line that some people have been sent home with very few exercises to do. I don’t understand this. You can greatly improve your outcomes by the amount of time and effort you put into your rehabilitation program. One of the websites said it best.
Rehabilitation is your full time job when you get out of the hospital. Don’t focus on anything else.
Exercises and Ice were two of the recurring theme in my life over the last. Weeks. Drinking lots (massive amounts) of water is also very important.
- • Finding the right one?
- • Infection rates?
- • Specialties?
- • How many do they perform?
Two of my biggest concerns was finding the right Doctor and a hospital with a good record on infection rates and specializing in Orthopedic surgery. Both of these reasons caused me to put off this surgery for several years. I found Doctors that were well recommended, but was concerned with the hospital they used or didn’t find any or all. good references from prior patients.
Several months ago a friend told me that I needed to go see Dr. Matthew Espenshade at the Fulton County Medical center. He operates at Pinnacle Health Orthopedic Hospital In Harrisburg PA. Sure enough a consumers report came out showing the hospital was an A rated facility. They do a large number of these surgeries which was one of the important criteria for selecting both the Doctor and the hospital according to a number of the articles I read.
Then for the next few week everyone I talked to about Dr Espenshade either had surgery or knew someone that had surgery with him. Everyone was happy with the experience with this Dr. So I made an appointment to find a path to get to the surgery over time. It didn’t happen that way. The Doctor said I need to get them done and in my case, my health was good and he would do both. So that day I decided to move forward.
Bilateral is one selectively performed based on good health
I had already decided before I went to the doctor that it made sense to get both knees done at the same time. I was bone on bone in both knees. My right knee was the problem for years, but in the last year my left knee had put me on crutches for several weeks at a time. So when the doctor said he would do both I was ready to go.
• Pain medication — should I take it?
• Fear of dependency or addiction
• Are there alternatives?
• what should be my expectation?