6 truths about knee surgery
If it wasn’t bad enough that I recently turned 40 and officially entered middle-age, things got a whole lot worse when I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) a few days out from this milestone event.
Some may see it as just desserts for trying to fight off my advancing age with a burst of energetic zeal (I was playing tennis at the time). While others might just laugh at my poor attempt at a healthy mid-life crisis (which wouldn’t be completely off the mark either).
Whatever it was, it seriously cramped my plans for a memorable 40th. And it has since continued to cramp my style in so many ways, especially as I ended up having surgery to reconstruct my missing ACL.
In hospital, post ACL surgery
Now, having had a few surgeries under my belt I knew what to expect. Pain. Discomfort. Inconvenience. But I’ve experienced a whole host of other indignities in the weeks since my operation which have taken me completely by surprise.
Here are just 6 examples of things they DON’T tell you about knee surgery.
I knew I was going to wake up from surgery in a knee brace but I did not fully consider how this would affect my daily life. For instance, the simple and very necessary act of going to the toilet.
At home, in my knee brace
Take it from me, there is a high degree of difficulty in trying to manoeuvre your immobilised leg in the right position to ensure direction accuracy and limited spillage. Especially when it’s taken you FOREVER to crutch yourself from the couch to the toilet in the first place, so time is now very much of the essence.
I rank it a difficulty of 9.5. It’s hard.
Again, the knee brace presented another unexpected and unwelcome challenge in the form of chafing. We’ve all had our battles with thigh chafing, particularly during the height of summer.
However the level of chafing that occurs when rigid knee brace meets softer than desired inner thigh is on a different scale again. And those unexpected moments when the velcro ties come into contact with bare flesh – you can only ever relate if you’ve suffered that pain for yourself.
The knee brace and my healing wounds were the source of the worst itching I ever experienced. I felt like getting a stick and just shoving it down the brace to relieve my suffering.
Every morning, when I was lucky enough to remove my brace for a short time to have a shower, I nearly orgasmed with relief as I got to itch the bejesus out of the back of my knee.
Of course that could also have been due to the fact I haven’t had any action in months. For some reason sore knees and braces don’t do hanky panky very well…
Painkillers are the bomb when you are recovering from surgery. They really are the best. But for all their benefits there is one big drawback.
Combine the discomfort, bloating and cramping of constipation with the toileting issues already discussed and you have the makings of a very bad time. There is little joy in trying to find a comfortable position on the toilet while also suffering cramps, balancing your braced leg and willing something to come out. No one ever warns you about this stuff. Ever.
Before surgery I was diligent, absolutely diligent about preparing my legs for inspection. I could not think of anything worse than presenting myself in public, let alone to the physio or to my specialist, with less than smooth legs.
To be honest, only my fear of farting while my physio works on my hamstring surpasses it in the fear factor.
However, it’s impossible to shave your legs when one of them is immobilised so I’ve had to face that fear head on. I’ve had to display my legs, to a man’s touch, unshaven, prickly and hairy.
I’m not proud.
We all have our favourite positions to sleep. Following knee surgery, when you are confined to a brace, there really is only one position you can sleep in. Flat on your back, in the missionary position.
Here’s a tip – the missionary position is not an ideal position for sleep or for sex, come to think of it. You are not going to have the best time either way. Or maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, for someone, who likes nothing more than curling up on one side in the foetal position each night, sleeping in the missionary position was not at all conducive to a good night’s sleep. Yet another unexpected consequence of knee surgery and the knee brace.
I hope this serves as a warning so you too can be prepared should you ever require knee surgery.
Don’t say no-one ever told you.
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