Drive-thru major surgery!

Portland, OR

Well, almost . . . .

I just had my second total knee replacement surgery.  Just 6 years after my first one, I was quite surprised at how many things have changed in my surgeon’s practice.  Most notably, an option (if one’s insurance would cover it) to have the surgery done outside the hospital at a ‘surgical center’ – basically, day surgery.  I jumped at the chance to avoid spending a couple of nights in the hospital.  Also, my surgeon said that it would be cheaper and he has been getting better post-operative results from his patients who pick the day surgery option.

I’m glad I had previous experience with this surgeon though – as we drove up to the facility on the day of the surgery, it was less than imposing – crammed between an IHOP and Buffalo Hot Wings Restaurants just a couple of blocks from an IKEA store.  Once inside though, everything was state-of-the-art.

Go to sleep now . . . .

After the usual paperwork and prep, a nurse put in an IV and administered some Versed – just something to relax me.  She asked whether I was feeling it yet and I replied, “Yes, its very nice.”
To which she replied, chuckling a bit, “Yes, that’s why we keep it locked up.”

The next thing I knew I was back in my room waking up.  After about a 1/2 hour, Ben, my physical therapist showed up.  We walked about the halls a bit with a walker and then practiced going up and down stairs (since I have stairs in my house).  Then, they were ready to release me!  I was waiting for a friend to drive me home and thought I’d just wait back in my room until she arrived – but the staff was already stripping the bed! 
So, I hung out in a big recliner for a few minutes and then was released to my friends care.  All told, about 6 hours!

Round the clock home care

Since I wasn’t supposed to be alone for a few days after the surgery, I had friends and family scheduled in shifts to watch me – make sure I didn’t fall or spend too much time on my feet.  They needn’t have worried – mostly I slept.  This surgery was so much easier than the last one – probably because I knew what to expect, and I think improved techniques and getting to come home right away made for less physical and mental trauma.

Another cool thing was having the physical therapist come to the house.  We set up a circuit of exercises to do around the house – made it a lot easier in the beginning than having to arrange rides twice a week to a clinic.  We set up my mountain bike on a stationery trainer so that I could use that to warm up and increase joint mobility.  Fay Wray, liked to supervise all exercise and helped out by laying on my knee whenever possible – I think she thought that her weight on my knee would help with the straightening exercises.

Altogether an interesting experience on how things change

6 weeks post-op and everything is healing as it should be.  I'm hitting all the physical therapy goals and I know that in a couple more months I'll be feeling great and ready to get hiking again.

I’m almost afraid to think of what the experience will be if I have another major surgery – “Some assembly required”  or perhaps “Would you like fries with that on your way out?”