I had endured 10 years of pain. Sometimes bearable and I could ignore it, then finally not so bearable. I worked in a nursing home and some bad days I was struggling to walk the corridors. I tried hard to ignore the pain and the swelling, telling myself it would go away. I got a Baker’s cyst, which is a large ball of fluid and is extremely painful. I couldn’t take some drugs for inflammation so it was a trying time.
The final straw was after three days helping set up a conference for ‘Women on Farms’. I had been on my feet from 7am until 10pm or later, and the pain was incredible. I could not get up or move without screaming in pain. It was time; I arranged to see a specialist and was told it was ‘bone on bone’ no buffer between. He put me on the list. It was early April 2012.
Three months later I was having the reconstruction. I decided on an epidural and was awake; that was a mistake, as I heard the sawing and hammering and listened to the surgeon discussing when he had been to my home town of Bath! I woke dead from the waist down and that made life difficult as my legs were immobile for many hours. I was pinned down by beeping machinery, and could not move much. It was crazy, but I still put my face on. It was just frustrating to drop things on the floor as there was no chance of picking them up; it was also difficult to answer the phone, which was just out of reach for me.
I was walking on crutches within a day or so, but first on a walker. I reacted badly to one drug they gave me, and refused to take it, so suffered a bit more pain than I needed. I was home sweeping the kitchen floor five days later. Then I was cooking. I did sleep in a spare room as there were still problems with the pain and frequent waking. I hit a bit of a road block then as the pain was still bad, and found I had an infection, which needed an antibiotic; also I had less flexion than I should the physio was pretty worried I just could not bend it to the 90 degrees I should have been able to. Six weeks later I went in for a ‘stretch’, they broke the tendons again so I would be able to bend it more. They did this under a proper aesthetic; I was home the same day, and thoroughly depressed. Why did I still have such pain and why could I still not bend the darn leg?
I almost gave up, and then a night later I was making the hike to the toilet (we lived in an old house) when I realised I had more movement. It was 1am and I was walking up and down the hallway, determined to be finally better. I so wanted to be better, I would have done anything. My poor husband had suffered, as I had been crying with the continuing pain. I am not usually a coward, but found that pain hard to take, and the infection and the second ‘op’ had sapped my strength. The pain killers made me lose weight, as I had no appetite; but that could have been a plus! I was 7kg lighter.
Six years down the track I am fine, I get some odd swelling at times and the nerve endings may be a little damaged with the scar cut. Yet on the whole it was worth doing. I should have had rehab, so if you have a knee done, ask for the rehab. It makes a difference. Also do go to the physio they offer. All exercise is good, you recover faster as you gain strength, so if you do have pain, and a knee that is getting more damaged, get it done!