Sunday, July 18, 2010

Knees, Part Two--In the Hospital and on to Rehab

After the surgery, I spent four days in the hospital. While I've had surgery before, I've never had to stay overnight in the hospital. As many have said before, you don't get a lot of rest in the hospital. I was awakened a couple of times a night for a check of vital signs, and the lab work was always done at the crack of dawn.

The physical therapy people showed up twice a day every day that I was in the hospital. My room opened not only to the hall but also to a PT work-out area. Around 10:00 in the morning, I'd hear a knock on that inner door; it would open, and here would come the PT team. Getting up was always difficult. Because of the femoral blocks, my legs stayed numb and kind of stupid for almost the whole time I was in the hospital. Anyway, the PT people would get me up, and I would stagger into the work-out area. The first day, I was able to take only about 20 steps. Every day, I was able to go a little further, but to call what I was doing walking is a bit laughable.

On the fourth day, I was transferred from the hospital to a PT rehab unit at another local hospital. During the transfer, my pain meds ran out, and I didn't get another jolt of anything for hours. Needless to say, my first night at rehab was awful. As the nurses took my history and did all of the other stuff they have to do when a patient first arrives, they also told me that I would be expected to get up and get dressed Monday through Saturday. Additionally, I would have breakfast and lunch in the dayroom with the other rehab patients. Each day, I would have 3 hours of therapy. Saturday afternoons and Sundays were rest times. Thank goodness!

The rehab sessions themselves could be real bears. At first, I couldn't do the exercises very well at all, and I could only walk about 30 feet down the hall. By the time I left rehab two weeks later, I could walk 350 feet (with a walker), and the exercises had gotten a little easier.

Life in rehab was not just about the exercise. I found that I also became interested and invested in my fellow rehabbers. Many of them were elderly patients. A few had had strokes, but there were other joint replacement patients there, too. The day I left, two patients were admitted who had had hip replacements. Obviously, I felt a kinship with the other joint replacement patients. It was really nice to have others pulling for me when I was working in the gym, and I liked being able to cheer others on, too.

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