Taking a Knee: Post-Op

I’ll let you all exhale….I made it.

Surgery was an extremely easy process – the easiest part of the whole thing. I suppose that makes sense since I was asleep for it but honestly, it was no big deal.

The waiting until 6:15 pm after not eating since midnight the night before? Yeah that part was less easy. I attempted to go to work for part of the day since go-time got pushed from 3:15 to 5:15. It was a mistake. I was there about an hour with a headache and zero ability to focus.

I came home and tried to sleep for a while. I watched some BodyJam youtube clips (I will never understand why some people post what they post. At least make sure your chore’s right… Sigh. *Steps off soap box*) and perused what seemed to be a painfully slow day on Facebook.

Go Time

2:45 pm: We leave for the National Harbor Surgery Center

3:30 pm: The nurse brings me back, has me change into a lovely gown with super sexy knee highs. Ok, one super sexy knee high and a hairnet.

3:50 pm: A very nice nurse puts in my IV. I lose it a little. I wasn’t at all scared of surgery, but needles and especially needles that don’t get removed are NOT my thing. She was very quick about it, but just having it there made me queasy.


4:30 pm: Mark and I chat.

5:00 pm: Mark and I spot Kenny Rogers.

Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers

5:15 pm: The anesthesiologist comes by to explain how they will be sedating me.

5:30 pm: Dr. SM comes by, signs my leg and explains the procedure again. I reiterate the importance of getting range of motion (ROM) back and that it is my first priority. He says he’ll do his best and he’ll see me in 15 minutes.

My initials and my doc's initials indicating that is, in fact, the knee that's getting scoped.
My initials and my doc’s initials indicating that is, in fact, the knee that’s getting scoped.

6:15 pm: The nurse anesthetist comes by with THE BEST COCKTAIL EVER. I don’t know what that twilight stuff they give you is, but man it’s amazing. And fast working. The only part I took issue with is how short my ride is from the administering of THE BEST COCKTAIL EVER to the OR. I move to the OR table and I am out.

7:30 pm: BOOM. Awake. Poor Mark has gone to get some food and gets locked out of the surgery center in -10 degree weather. They finally rescue him and he finds me in recovery like this:

Recovery Room
Recovery Room: Never hotter.

8:00 pm: We are in the car to go home.

9:00 pm: My army of angels bring me a Mike’s American Grill Drunken Rib Eye and Lil Caesar’s Cheesy Garlic Bread, my two requests for food. (I’m blaming the nutritionally impoverished decision on the drugs.) And oh my God was it good. So so good.

11:00 pm: I have zero pain. None. It is glorious…for 14 more hours.

1 Day Post-Op

First Follow Up Appointment

I had my first follow up with the surgeon’s office at 9 AM the very next day. I was in no pain. My ROM was pretty good and all the news from the physician assistant (PA) was great. The surgery went as well as we could have hoped. The highlights:

  • The underneath of my patella and where it articulates on the femur were jagged so they smoothed it down to eliminate/decrease any catching or locking.
  • They confirmed my menisci are intact and look healthy.
  • They removed inflamed tissue.
  • They took down/removed bone spurs which should help with ROM
  • Biggest visual take away: My patella now sits in the center of my knee. It used to sit literally on the side of my leg. Our jaws dropped when they removed the bandages.

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I received my prescription for physical therapy (PT) and post-op directions. The physician assistant told me if I wasn’t feeling any pain at that point, I was probably in the clear.


Not so Sweet

At 10:30 am the pain came on so strong and so fast, I knew I was screwed. I hadn’t taken any pain meds since before leaving the surgery center and now I knew it was too late. NEVER GET BEHIND THE PAIN. I have heard it one thousand times. I just thought I was in the clear.

I was not.

First Physical Therapy Session

My first PT appointment was painful but I was committed to showing what I capable of. I could walk. I could extend and flex. I was determined to impress.

I was able to walk with barely a noticeable limp (when I put my mind to it). I was able to get on and off the table without assistance. I could tighten my quad no problem and even lift my leg up off the table.

Measurements were next.

Degrees of Flexion and Extension at the Knee.
Degrees of Flexion and Extension at the Knee.
  • I’m missing 8 degrees of extension. Full extension is zero degrees. Everyone’s bodies are a little different but if you can get back to your “normal,”as measured against your uninjured side, that is success. If you look at my knee when my left leg is lying straight out in front of me and I try to push the back of my knee against the table, I can’t quite get it there. Eight degrees isn’t a small number, but it isn’t bad either, especially less than 18 hours post-op.
  • Flexion is another story. It’s been rapidly declining over that last 6 months so I was actually pleasantly surprised to see I’m only missing about 40 degrees. Four weeks ago, I was missing 100 so… yeah, pretty pleased with 40. They measure this with me sitting on the table, legs out in front of me. I bend my “good” knee and slide my heel in as close to my butt as I can and they measure it with a goniometer. Heh. Goniometer is a funny word. Then I do the same thing on the injured side and they measure that to see the difference. It will be the most painful to work on, but I want it so badly that I’m not worried. I got this.

The Afternoon

I had taken my pain meds at 11:00 am, prior to PT, but I still spent the next 5 hours desperately waiting for the next dose. My dad asked me what it felt like. The best I could describe it was the worst migraine I’ve ever had….in my knee. Dull pain yet so overbearing. Nothing brought any relief. Not a different position. Not more wine….er…medication. Nothing.

First Go at My Exercises

I was given 6 exercises to do at home and even though I was in so much pain, they had to be done and so it began. Kate read them aloud and counted my reps. As it turns out, terrible rep counting runs in the family as I am terrible at it, too. Just ask my clients. Wait – we did:

Great Counters.
Great Counters.

Here are the exercises.  Nothing sexy, but hopefully, effective.

First set of PT exercises.
First set of PT exercises.

They were awful. It was so painful and so uncomfortable. While Mark was at work, Kate, her kids and my parents did their best to keep me going offering up jokes and general entertainment. The apples never do fall far from the tree.


I get through one set and Kate, almost apologetically, reminds me I have to do another set. I cry a little, I buck up and get to it and then I have a glass of wine.

And Now?

The rest of the weekend was spent with Mark hovering close making sure I had everything I needed and anything I wanted. I’m not sure who is more protective, though, Mark or Sam Adams. This pooch hasn’t left my side since I got home and his favorite spot is to lie right on top of my knee to make sure no one can get to it.

Sam Adams keeping watch.
Sam Adams keeping watch.

I have not been in pain pretty much at all since Friday. I am extremely happy about this and as of today (Monday) I am off the “good stuff” and just taking Advil. I’m pretty mobile, though going outside is scary and I haven’t done it yet. I can walk around pretty well, just not for long periods of time. My exercises are fairly easy – except for the passive flexion one – that one is killer, but I expect it will be for a while.

Today, I cleaned up the kitchen a bit and then sat down and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And tried to get pictures to align properly (which might be the death of me).

I have one more full day off of work tomorrow then PT appointment #2 on Wednesday and back to work right after it. I’m hoping to be able to stick it out for a half day but I’m not trying to be a hero so we’ll see.

Thank you to everyone who has checked in, said a prayer, and/or wished me well. I’m on my way!

3 thoughts on “Taking a Knee: Post-Op

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