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Getting my new knee moving: hydrotherapy

Yesterday two really great things happened – I got into a pool and I slept. 

You all know that I love to swim.  Walking down the steps into the hydrotherapy pool yesterday almost made me cry with joy. As I walked deeper into the water my body relaxed limb by limb – the first time since my knee replacement two and a half weeks ago. I felt supported and the heat was like jumping into a radox bath. My 30 minute session with my physio went so quickly, but in that time I was able to squat a bit, paddle and bend my legs, stand on tiptoes and my heels, and walk without tensing my upper body.  Some of the movements hurt a bit, yet the joy of moving far outweighed that. For the first time in nearly three weeks I felt like I had my body back.

This knee replacement is definitely the hardest of my surgeries. I was warned that for all people a knee replacement is harder to get over than a hip replacement.  As you know from my last blog post, not sleeping has been a real issue. Not being able to bend the leg has limited the positions I can lay in and my body wakes me every hour or so to move.  Whilst lying on my operated side can help me get to sleep, it’s painful for the knee and increasingly for my right hip. So, it’s a constant nodding and waking routine where I get limited rest in each 1 hour cycle – also apparently normal with knee surgery.  

Then last night, after hydro, it was easier to turn, and instead of waking hourly with big gaps in between snoozes, I managed a couple of 3 hour sleeps.  My joy today is palpable.

My scar has now just about healed.  Just a couple of steri-strips and scabs to come off naturally over the next week.  I also took my last blood thinner last night, so I’m looking forward to an evening in front of the TV tonight without the shivers.  And by the end of next  week I can finally lose the surgical stockings and go back on HRT, so hopefully goodbye to the hot flushes too.

My days continue in a rehab routine of threes. Physio exercises three times a day; Walking in my shoes/orthotics for 15 minutes three times a day;  CPM machine for 30 minutes three times a day, and pain meds three times a day. I also now have to start varying how I sit every 30 minutes – legs up, legs as down as a I can get them.  All day this has me like an “ill-sitting hen” as my mother would have said. My cat, who thinks my lap is her personal property on-call, is not at all amused by this constant moving.

But it’s all progress. Small steps towards a more normal life. I’m intrigued to see how I’ll walk in six months’ time. My right leg is now even longer than my left so I already know I will need even bigger orthotics in my left shoe.  But that’s a job for eight weeks post-op, not three. 

For now, the next step is to use more hydrotherapy and physio to get my knee to 90 degrees within two weeks, when I next see my consultant surgeon. He was very clear that if I can’t do that, he will have do a manipulation. He was also honest that “you really don’t want that” and that it will be extremely painful.  So that’s a clear goal – 90 degrees under my own steam in two weeks.  At the moment I can get 55 degrees on the CPM machine and 45 degrees myself. Which I guess is half way to target…..

I’m back in the hydrotherapy pool on Monday and I can’t wait.  Until then, have a wonderful weekend. Jill xx

Jill Pringle was born with bilateral hip-dysplasia with her left hip dislocated. She has had multiple corrective surgeries including leg-lengthening, a total hip replacement in 2003 and now a knee replacement in 2022. Jill writes this blog to raise awareness of hip dysplasia and walks to raise money for Steps Charity Worldwide.

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