Knee Replacement Diary – Waking Up After Surgery and Going Home

Orthopaedic & Spine Center


Mahnee N. Payne

The first thing I remember is waking up in pain, with my knee hurting.  I also remember thinking to myself “why can’t they ever give me enough pain medication, so I don’t wake up hurting?”  I looked around the Recovery Unit and saw a bunch of beds and a nurses’ station and but didn’t see other patients except one person.  Maybe there were other people there, but I didn’t see them.   Dr. Haynes’ PA Chris came into the area, looked at me, and seemed surprised that I was awake, and said “Hey, how are you doing?”  I said, “Okay”, probably, not too convincingly.  The nurse came by and gave me some pain medicine and I started to feel better.  

Soon after that, I was wheeled to another area where there were individual rooms with recliners in them and I was helped to get off of the bed and into the recliner.  I was surprised that moving and standing on my newly replaced knee did not hurt.  Yay for the nerve block! I was still attached to the vital sign monitors and had my IV in.  Once in the recliner, I got to look at my leg and the bandages.  Pretty much from my toes to the middle of my thigh, I was covered in an Ace bandage, so I really couldn’t see much of anything. I could tell my knee was swollen.

My blood pressure, which always runs on the low side, continued to run really low, and they wanted to get me up and walking with the Physical Therapists. I had a nurse coming in frequently asking me questions and checking my pain level and seeing if I needed something. Maybe some sustenance would do the trick to help my blood pressure go up!

They brought me cup of ginger ale to drink and I sucked that down and they kept bringing it and since I didn’t throw that up, they decided that they would try to see if I could eat some graham crackers.  Well, these crackers must have been on sale by some traveling Bedouins who had just come from a long trek across the Sahara, because they were R-E-A-L-L-Y dry.  Let me tell you, they were not normal graham crackers. They had been mixed with saw dust, dry cement, oatmeal, alum, sand and the crushed and dried bones of the Pharaohs, with some ancient papyrus thrown in for good measure.  How they wound up at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Virginia, I’ll never know.

 I would take a tiny bite, and chew and chew and drink and drink and try to get some moisture into my mouth so that I could swallow…it was nearly impossible.  I think it took me nearly an hour to eat half a cracker.  I have never had such a hard time eating anything in my life.  Fainting was beginning to look like a much better option by the minute, than eating those crackers of the damned desert. My mouth was like a cement mixer truck that had stopped turning and the concrete had dried inside.  All of the crackers were wedged in the back corners of my mouth and I could not for the life of me get them out.  I finally started laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks, and I was trying not to choke and inhale those stupid crackers. Note to anyone having knee replacement surgery:  AVOID the crackers post-surgery!  The nurses secretly film you trying to eat them after surgery and make fun of you! (Not really)

I think their patience for my low BP wore thin as well, because before you know it, two lady Physical Therapists soon bustled into the room.  They had a walker with them and a hot pink belt and said to me, “It’s time to get up and take a walk down the hall!”  So, that’s what I did.  I stood up, a bit hesitantly at first, waiting for the pain to hit, but surprisingly, it didn’t.  If anything, my right leg felt kind of dead and numb. Again, hurray for the nerve block.  So, I grabbed the walker and down the hall I went.  I was pretty impressed with how fast I went, but the PT held on to me with the hot pink belt around my waist.  Out in the hall, I walked past another of Dr. Haynes’ knee replacement patients, who’d had his knee replaced after mine.  Apparently, he didn’t have low blood pressure, so he was moving right along.  We said hello to one another and exchanged pleasantries, then I made it back into my room and walked up and down steps a few times and they said I was good to go home!

As is normal, when they tell you it is time to go home, it never seems to be time to go home, and time seems to drag on forever.  The nurse came and detached me from the monitors and took out my IV, handed me my clothes and helped me get dressed.  She explained my home care routine to me and told me that I would have a home health nurse, as well as a home Physical Therapist.  She told me about warning signs to look for and gave me a packet of written instructions.  Eventually, someone came to collect me in a wheelchair and wheeled me down to my responsible person, who was waiting for me with the car to take me home.  With a gigantic ice-cold Diet Coke ready for me to drink – with a bendy straw, I might add.  I was again surprised at how good I felt, a little sleepy, but not that bad. 

We made it home in about 30 minutes and I got out of the car and walked to the front porch steps and took them one at a time.  My brother was also there for assistance if I needed him, but I did just fine.  It was a great relief to be at home and in my own bed by 12:30 PM, the same day of my surgery.  I was hungry, so I ate a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, had a nap, watched TV, visited with my people and had a nice meatloaf dinner with all the trimmings.  The pain medicine was making me a bit nauseous, so my appetite wasn’t that great, but I did the best I could.

I only had to bother my person once in the night for help going to the bathroom, and for taking my pain medication, because I timed it well.  I did eat a snack every time I took my pain medication, as I was getting so nauseous, in hopes that would help some.  More on that later.  I slept really well, and I didn’t have a problem at all with the pain awakening me.  I remember saying “If this is as bad as having a knee replacement gets, shoot, bring it on, I’ll have my other one done next month!”  Famous last words….


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