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Robin's Total Knee Replacement

Pictures from My First TKR

Here's where you can see pictures of the whole process of my first (right knee) total knee replacement, which began with my surgery at 7:30 a.m. on June 10, 1998, at HealthSouth Surgery Center in Austin, Texas. Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo. 

Left: My roommate Carol and my dad in the waiting room. Right: Carol and me, just getting ready to go in. You can see my brother's knee at left.

Left: Just coming out of surgery. The operation took about an hour and a half. It was extremely successful; the implant fit perfectly, and my leg came out straight, where it had been bowed outward before. I came through surgery very well and didn't even need any blood products. It's a little hard to tell, but I am smiling in this picture. Center: This was the CPM or continuous passive motion machine, also known as the "torture device" that moved my leg whether I liked it or not. Seriously, though, it wasn't that bad. It hurt a little at first, but overall the pain was very manageable. Right: Here's a bigger view of my hospital room and the CPM. Don't look too closely; I'm not sure what you might be able to see!

Day two: Walking! The physical therapist came in the day after my surgery to get me up and walking. It was a little hard to get me on my feet, but once I was up, it wasn't too bad. I was stiff, but it didn't even hurt much. I was so happy. The cute physical therapist dude didn't hurt, either.


Left: Nurse Ingrid getting ready to do something horrible to me. <grin> Actually, I kid a lot about this, but the whole hospital experience was very good. Right: The incision ... not as bad as I feared. It's a little hard to see in this photo, but look closely. The yellow streaks on my leg are betadine, the disinfectant they scrub your leg with before surgery. It takes a couple of weeks to come off completely.

Day three: Transporting me to the rehabilitation hospital. I kind of dug the tuff ambulance chicks who took me over. On the right you can see our little caravan leaving the surgery center and going to the rehab center.


At the rehab facility, which I fled pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the rehab place wasn't as nice as the hospital I had my surgery in. It was a little different experience. Not painful; more just boring and frustrating. I definitely would recommend bringing lots of stuff to do, and having as many visitors as you can convince to come see you! Left: Carol brandishing my computer. My wonderful roommate visited me more than anybody else and really took care of me. Near left: this bruise looks a lot worse than it feels, but dang, it looks pretty spectacular. Near right: she didn't want her picture taken. Right: the view from my window. You can see Carol's van, the instrument of my salvation, in the bottom right angle of the left-hand window.

I left the hospital early, partly because I really hated being there and wanted to be home, and partly because I was doing so well, I felt I was ready to take care of myself. :-)  I'll continue adding to this page as my recovery continues!  


Update: July 1, 1998. Today is exactly three weeks after my surgery, and I'm still doing incredibly well. I got my stitches out a week and a half after the surgery, and at that point I could bend my knee to about 90 degrees. I started outpatient rehab a week ago, and I was at 98 degrees. Today I'm at 102! I can also straighten my knee out to -12 degrees, which is a lot better than when I started. I am walking around pretty well except for my *other* knee, the arthritic one that hasn't been fixed yet. It's pretty stressed by all the rehab, and I still wish I could have had both knees done at once.

Update: July 11, 1998. Greetings from New Orleans! One month after my surgery, I was able to fly here to visit my best friend, who just bought a house near City Park. I didn't even bring my cane with me on the trip because my surgical knee is doing so well. My physical therapy continues to get tougher, and I do have a little pain in the knee, but it's still nothing compared to the severe pain I was in before surgery. My left knee is still pretty stressed by the PT, and so are my feet. My conclusion from all this is that, if you can convince your surgeon to do both your knees at once, do it! A few more days in the hospital would have been more than worth it. (Again, note that some doctors have contacted me to insist that doing both knees at once is very hard on the patient.)

I had my one-month visit with my surgeon yesterday, and he is very pleased with my progress. My extension is now at -8 degrees, and he says I just need to get to -5, which I should be able to do by just continuing my exercises at home. All in all, the operation was outstandingly successful.

Update: July 25, 1998. Just a short update this time to let anyone who's interested know I'm still doing well. I only have one more physical therapy appointment left. Things are still great, although I do have a small amount of pain and swelling in the surgical knee. I've been advised to use ice on it to reduce the swelling. The pain is pretty mild -- I've mainly noticed it when I "overdo" it. Let me just say that although I do have a little soreness, and things aren't "perfect," I'm still thrilled overall with the results.

Update: August 20, 1998. I promise to put up a new picture of my leg soon, but my camera seems to have stopped working! Still, I thought I would put up another update in case you're curious how things are going. In general, they're still going well. My knee still feels great. The swelling has gone down a lot, so that my knee almost looks "normal," as compared to the left knee. The one that's still arthritic is swollen and painful. The only drawback I've experienced is that I've developed tendinitis in the heel area of my right foot. My doctor says this could be a result of using my leg more now that it feels so much better. It's kind of disappointing because it really hurts and I am back limping around again!

Robin's legs a few weeks after the surgeryUpdate: August 27, 1998. At long last, here is the photo of how my legs look today. Click to see a larger version. You can see the right knee is nice and straight, while the left knee is still slightly "bowed" by the arthritis. Don't be too alarmed by my scar! I scar very easily from just about everything, but in general my scars fade pretty well after some time passes. In case anyone is interested, my tendinitis has improved quite a bit and I'm getting around well again. Thanks as always for all your mail and great comments! Keep 'em coming!

Update: October 29, 1998. Hey! Long time, no update. :-) I haven't added to this page in a while for two reasons: one, I've been doing so well, and two, I've been really busy the last two months. I've quit my full-time job and started my own business. As part of my new career, I'm working part-time for drkoop.com, a health information website that just happens to be based here in my hometown. I've been doing a ton of research on arthritis, knee replacement, and other subjects dear to my heart, and it's been really fun.

So here's what's going on with my bionic knee! I took a trip to Canada the first weekend in October, and unfortunately I overdid it walking around a lot. I did experience some aches and pains in my knee, but it was nothing compared to the problems I used to have. It was more like the pain you would have in a normal knee when you put a lot of stress on it. I did end up with a lot of pain and swelling in my ankle, and I ended up having to have a cortisone shot in that ankle. The shot really helped, though, and I'm pretty much back to my old self. I'm happy to report that the scars from the staple holes on either side of my scar are already starting to fade. I've started using emu oil on the scar itself to try to fade it a little, and I will report to you on the results.

As always, feel free to drop by the Delphi forum anytime.

Robin getting acupunctureUpdate: January 18, 1999. I just wanted to update visitors to my page and let you all know two important things: 1) my right knee is still doing great, and 2) I've scheduled my left knee replacement for March 3 of this year.

Yes, I've decided to go through with it. I went back and forth for a while about whether I should try to wait, since this knee doesn't feel quite as bad as the right one did last year. But it does hurt, and I'm still having to take painkiller for it and the problems in my right ankle (see below). So I decided to go for it. My surgery will be on a Wednesday again at the same surgical center, HealthSouth in Austin, Texas. However, this time I'm going to aim to go right home after I get out of the hospital, instead of going to inpatient rehab. My doctor says he will consider it but will make that determination at the time. I will let y'all know how it goes.

About my right knee/leg/ankle: my knee is fabulous. If anything, it is stronger and more flexible than ever. I love my implant. But unfortunately, I'm having more trouble than ever with my right foot and ankle, and the doctor does think that has a bit to do with the new knee feeling so good - I'm overusing the leg and overworking my still-arthritic and fragile foot and ankle. It hurts like the devil and is very frustrating. I wish it could be replaced as well. :-) In fact, I may well be looking at something like that in the future - and you know if I do, I'll be writing about it here.

Oh, while I'm at it, I thought I would show you a picture of me undergoing acupuncture, which gave me some great results in pain management. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Update: March 6, 1999. Click here to go on to the story of my second TKR!

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