It is approximately the moment between surgery #1, on my right knee, which was August 21, and surgery #2, the other knee, coming up soon. It has been an interesting, challenging and rewarding experience, so far. I will say the headline is that the evening of my first surgery, when they got me up to walk the hallway, I could feel the new knee. My leg was straighter, stronger and I could feel my spine saying "thank you."
The other headline is that the pain is a legitimate issue and I can understand why some people, after the first knee surgery, bail on doing the other knee. I'm following the advice of experts and pushing through, also focusing more on the results of the pain than on the pain itself. Recovery, physical therapy, are painful. It is so important to work through the swelling and stiffness, to do the exercises, to walk. I feel much better after PT than before. It is effective.
The pain is more soreness and aching than sharp or piercing. It is the same kind of pain you might feel after spraining an ankle, or perhaps breaking a bone (though I've not experienced a broken bone). It does not encompass my whole body. It is localized in the knee area. They tell you to stay ahead of the pain with pain meds and that is excellent advice. The only time I was in near crisis from pain was the time, a couple of days after surgery, when I didn't take my meds on time and let the pain get out in front. It was so fierce I broke a sweat. I have not made that mistake again.
Nights are the worst. But that's probably the routine with any medical issue. I don't know why it goes like that, but it does.
The good news: I can walk from bed to bath to kitchen. I can walk sometimes without my cane. I can do stairs but I am not supposed to do them alone. I have prepared my immediate environment as if I'm camping, though not quite glamping. I can do most things unassisted. I leave the heavy lifting to others. The icing machine is a must, it is my crack cocaine. I use an Ossur. I tell friends who want to bring me something: please bring a bag of ice to feed the machine. Also, I freeze small water bottles to augment the ice.
The PT comes to the house three times a week. On my own, I do the 20 minute exercise routine at least three times a day. I walk every hour. I sleep when I can sleep. I eat, though my appetite is limited.
It will be more challenging when the other knee is also post-op. A tough initial two weeks for sure, and then another month of hardcore rehab. Doc's office said to expect sleep to be difficult for 4-6 weeks. But also, "it will get better." I use those words as my mantra.
Can't say enough how grateful I am for those who stay at the house with me, family and friends, who visit, do favors and run errands. They are my army. It takes a surgical team to do the knee replacements, but it takes a village to recover.
I hope this helps anyone who is weighing the decision of whether to go forward w/ TKR.