Sat, 3 Aug 2013. Operation day. Thankfully I got upgraded from the NHS Kingston Hospital to the private New Victoria hospital. Don’t get me wrong, Kingston hospital is very nice (my wife gave birth to our second son there with no problems or complaints) but it is large and it is NHS. The New Victoria is small and private. It’s akin to checking into your long haul flight across the world and finding out you’ve been bumped up to first class from economy class at no extra cost. Needless to say I was very happy.
I checked into the New Victoria at 10H00. Got dressed in my flattering hospital garb and settled down for the wait till 13H00 when my op was scheduled. The anaesthetist came in and briefly did his thing, explaining the general anesthetic I would be given. My surgeon came in and gave me the final run down of the op. A physio came in and prepared me for what to expect post op and the excersises I would have to do to prove I could be discharged. Various other nurses came in asking me similar questions and all the time do I drink or smoke, are all my teeth mine, do I have any medical issues, blah, blah, blah. You know, the usual stuff.
Anyway, 13H00 rolled around, I got the call and walked to the anaesthetist room. They lay me down on the gurney. They stuck some monitors on my chest. The anaesthetist inserted the IV into my right hand and then started pumping me full of feel good drugs and the next thing…
The next thing I came too at about 14H05. The knee felt sore, I told the nurse and she sent in more painkillers through the IV. So the op itself was only about an hour. I was surprised. After a couple of minutes of the nurse checking me she rolled me back to my room.
I lay there for a couple of hours. Clare, the nurse attending me kept coming in every 30 minutes to check my vitals. I was pretty groggy fom the pain killers so I was quite happy to just lie there. I could feel my knee was sore but the meds were keeping it mangeable. I had no intention of trying to move it, I just lay there.
Eventually the Tom the physio came in asked how I was doing and wanted to know how I felt about getting up and trying to walk around on crutches.I said I was happy to give it a go but considering I was in the middle of my post op meal he said he would come back in 30 minutes.
The post op meal by the way was fabulous. Granted I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since the previous evening at around 19H00 but truly the food was excellent. I would consider it restaurant quality easily. Another benifit of being bumped up from NHS to private.
Tom returned somewhere around 17H00 and he helped me off the bed and onto the crutches. I walked about five meters outside of my room and turned around and went back to the bed. I was surprised at how sore my knee was. How stiff it was. I struggled to put any weight on it and when I got back to the bed I was exhausted. But I felt confident I could do this.
I never realised, as someone who has never had to use crutches that there is actually a slight learning curve. There’s a technique to walking with them depending on which leg is injured and there’s a technique to navigating stairs. It’s all very logical and without instruction you would eventually figure it out on your own but it is nice to have the heads up first.
Finally at about 18H45 I got up again to go to the loo and I was surprised again but this time by how substantially easier and less painful it was to walk on the crutches. In the matter of an hour my knee had substantially improved. The pain had reduced and I felt like I had much more range of movement.
Finally once all checked were done I was discharged at 19H30. Walking out of the hospital on the crutches I felt like I almost didn’t need them, almost. I could put a lot more weight on my right leg and I could even stand still without the crutches and about 25% weight on my right leg. I was well pleased with myself.
I got home and had another light meal and some more painkillers. Then I had to face the two flights of stairs that stood between me and my bedroom. It was a piece of cake. I was worried at first, but by this point my knee had improved a lot. I could lift it easily and even put maybe 30% weight on it. Anyway I got up to bed no problems.
Unfortuantely because of the thick bandaging around the knee the first ice pack I applied didn’t really do much, the cold just couldn’t get through to the knee so it was pretty useless. I went to bed.
I didn’t sleep well in the sense that I just didn’t sleep. I was still pretty groggy on meds and I kinda just lay there for most of the night, awake but medicated so it wasn’t an unpleasant feeling.
Anyway. That was Operation day. The big take away for me was how substantially my knee improved in the hours immediately after the op. I am really feeling very confident about my recovery. I’m trusting that I’m hopefully going to be ahead of the average recovery curve, not that I’m rushing but I feel confident.