Christian Single, General Nursing, Marsha Swinehart RN, Nurse Practitioner, orthopedics, Rehabilitation Nurse

Total Knee Replacement

October 9, 2004

“What man is he that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” Psalm 25:12 (KJV)

If the Lord tarries, my total knee replacement surgery will be on Monday, November 8. I visited three rehabilitation (rehab) facilities and chose the nicest one with a private room and private bath. I will pay $20 extra per day for a private room, but it is worth it since I am such a light sleeper. I don’t want to end up with a roommate who screams all night. This facility specializes in joint rehab and has an excellent reputation. My sister, Marsha, is flying here on November 6 and will be with me through the 15th. My dad offered to give me money every month while I am out of work. How I thank God for their help.

The Lord is teaching me such valuable lessons in this school of knee surgery that He has chosen for me. They are named Surgery 101, Inpatient Rehab 102, Home Rehab 103, Outpatient Rehab 104, Unemployment 105. I know He will throw in some pop quizzes. He encouraged me today with 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. God will not test me above what I can bear. Thank You, dear Lord, that You have it all perfectly planned out.

October 16, 2004

I went to an interesting class at the hospital to prepare me for surgery. They gave me a folder and had me watch a video by a TV actor who had both his knees replaced at the same time. He is now able to ride a horse, so maybe I can cross-country ski next winter. Dr. S. told me not to give away my skis.

Yesterday I attended a conference for orthopedic nurses with some of the nurses who will be taking care of me. I learned much, but I’m not sure if it was good for me to hear about all the possible complications of knee replacement surgery. I’m glad my two nurse friends from church will both be working the week of my surgery.

October 30, 2004

I tried to donate blood for myself, but my veins collapsed. Two friends at church who have my blood type generously volunteered to donate on my behalf. I only have six days of work left. I am so ready to move onward and forward and have this surgery behind me.

November 4, 2004

“You have relieved me in my distress.” Psalm 4:1 (NKJV)

I read this verse before I attended our monthly practice meeting yesterday at the hospital. My chief boss asked to meet with me privately after the meeting. He told me they were granting me the medical leave of absence for a maximum of 16 weeks even though they aren’t required to legally because they are such a small practice group. The hospital lost $2.5 million last year and has had to lay off a number of employees. He said he might need to decrease my hours when I return. He wants me to make rounds on all the hospital units to increase the visibility of the rehab unit and to promote the rehab unit as enthusiastically as possible. He said the workload will be difficult for Dr. S. while I am off. They are not paying me any salary while I’m off work, so at least they are saving money.

Many changes lie ahead at work in the next three months, but I refuse to worry about it because God isn’t worried. I praise Him for the wonderful peace He is giving me going into surgery.

November 15, 2004 – 2:40 a.m.

I had my surgery one week ago, and I’m now at the rehab facility in my pleasant private room. Marsha flew back to her home today. She was my advocate while I was in the hospital when I could not think straight from the pain and anesthesia. I am so thankful for her help and the nurses from church. I thought I would lose my mind from the pain right after surgery. I fainted several times in the hospital from low blood pressure caused by the pain medicine, so the doctor gave me a different one. They put my leg in the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine which made me spasm, so I refused it.

My titanium knee x-ray looks similar to this.

Marsha drove me from the hospital to rehab in my car, but it was agony to bend my swollen knee enough to get in my car. I should have come by ambulance instead. The rehab facility couldn’t obtain my pain medicine from the pharmacy for 12 hours after I arrived, so again the pain was incredible. Mary, my friend from church, visited me and held my hand when my leg spasmed. We sang one hymn after another to try and distract me from the pain.

Some of the brethren from church visited me Sunday afternoon and blessed me. They sang “Rejoice in the Lord” and “Isn’t He Wonderful?” I am finding singing to be very therapeutic.

And so I began my 10-day stay in the rehab unit. The intensity of the pain after surgery surprised me. The experts say bone pain is the worst kind of pain, especially in the knee joint because the swelling has nowhere to escape. People who have had both their hip and knee replaced told me the knee replacement pain was significantly worse. However, everyone experiences surgical pain differently. A few people only need mild medicine, but I experienced the opposite end of the spectrum. Probably because of my young age of 49 and intact nerves.

I later learned that singing releases endorphins, our natural painkillers. So now I tell my patients to sing loudly after surgery!

Thankfully my new knee is holding up well 19 years later with zero pain. I still pray it lasts until the Lord takes me home.

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