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This blog has now been retired. We appreciate the wisdom and support Indie Cooper-Guzman, RN has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years. Talk with others about chronic pain management at the WebMD Chronic Pain Exchange.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Total Knee Replacement – One Man’s Journey

My husband’s preparation for a total knee replacement started weeks before he finally received a date and time for the procedure. Being unable to work, he remained home on disability. This entire issue of seeking financial support was incredibly stressful and he suffered financially while he waited several months for a payment. Countless phone calls and faxes and emails went back and forth between his employer, union, health care providers, and insurance company. It seemed like no one wanted to help him.

His disability was actually canceled because they didn’t feel that he really needed it. Yet he had documentation from doctors and consultants attesting to the extent of his limitations, pain, and suffering that he endured. Doctors even wrote that he needed a total knee replacement It seemed like the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing and the stress of trying to keep on top of everything really limited his ability to cope with his situation.

My husband’s initial injury to his knee occurred at the age of 14. He fought for years to try and have his joint repaired however no one wanted to do so because he was “too young”… So he suffered for over 30 years while his knee joint steadily declined in function and his pain levels continued to rise. He suffered and worked full time. As a commuter into NYC he walked city blocks from bus stations, ferry landings, etc. until his knee started buckling. He fell on numerous occasions and had many close calls. By the time he had surgery, his knee was buckling while walking in the house. Several falls and near falls led to minor injuries on top of the major problems.

I began to seek assistance for him to try and get him cleared for surgery. Here is a man who enjoyed his work and who wanted to work and maintain responsibility for his financial obligations and yet was made to suffer months without any money and a need to appeal decisions that were made using inaccurate information.

All the while the pain he experienced became severe and persistent, requiring heavy medications which often left him groggy and unsafe for travel or basic functioning. Like so many people, my husband feared drug addiction and refused to take pain meds for a long time. Finally I was able to convince him he needed to try taking meds to gain a level of comfort to sustain the ability to manage activities of daily living independently.

Once the dates were set for pre-op testing and surgery, my husband began focusing on strengthening muscles he would need to assist with ambulation and normal function. He wanted to be sure his legs were in optimum condition in hopes of a speedy recovery. He made sure to eat well balanced meals and rest frequently. He didn’t want anything to occur that might delay his surgery any further.

I must add, my husband recently learned he was diabetic which concerned us with his ability to undergo successful surgery and proper healing. It seemed like something was always being added to the stress this man was already enduring. Thank goodness he maintained an optimistic view and relied on his faith to get him through.

Part 1: Total Knee Replacement – One Man’s Journey
Part II: Total Knee Replacement – The Big Event
Part III: Coming Home!
Part IV: Healing Continues
Part V: Total Knee Replacement – And the Beat Goes On

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Technorati Tags: pain, knee replacement, disability

Posted by: Indie Cooper-Guzman at 10:16 pm

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