I got a referral from my rheum doc, and set up an appointment. The orthopedic surgeon (Doc X) was nice, seemed competent, and had NO discernible personality. I explained my problems, and he had X-Rays taken. He said they didn’t look bad, but I definitely had arthritis. My rationale was this: 1) I have rheumatoid arthritis; 2) RA doesn’t get better, it only gets worse, or, with luck, goes into remission; 3) Medicare benefits may not continue into the next year or year after that; 4) if I’m going to be able to have a joint replacement, I have to do it now. Reluctantly, he agreed. What is it with MDs and rheumatoid arthritis???
Two weeks before I was scheduled for surgery, I got a phone call. My surgeon had to take a sabbatical for personal reasons. Would I be willing to have one of the other partners (Doc Y) do my surgery? Yes, of course, but can I meet him first? We had the appointment. He was a very nice guy. I had done my research into his background, and he is uber-competent. He said my X-Rays weren’t very bad – maybe I should consider not having a TKR at this time. I prevailed. Two weeks later we showed up for my admission at 9AM. By 11:00, I was in the OR. Because of prior problems with anesthesia, the anesthesiologist used a different technique for me. I went out like a light, and only vaguely remember even being taken to the OR!
A while later, I awoke and was taken to my room. There was no pain at that point – just total numbness of the entire area of the joint. At some time later – don’t ask me times – Doc Y came by. Said all had gone well. Then he said, “You know, your knee was a lot worse than the X-Ray indicated. You did the right thing.” At least he admitted it! I’m hoping that next time (if there is a next time) I can convince the ortho docs to order an MRI of my left knee and my hips rather than plain X-Rays.
Hospital course was uncomplicated. But I ended up being re-admitted 4 days later with a seroma (serum collection all along the sides of the incision and under it). Because it was very hot to touch, they assumed there was infection – maybe – so I got to have 3 days of IV antibiotics.
Back home again, I had Home Health and in-home physical therapy for 3 weeks, then started outpatient physical therapy. I’m in my 2nd week of PT. What is it about physical therapists and RA? None of them want me to use Emmy to assist me with my activities of daily living! They are amazed at what she can do, but want me to do more for myself. Dillwads! If I could, I would! They don’t consider that when I try to do more for myself, I end up with 1-3 days in my chair, unable to function as well as I normally do.
Now, 5 weeks out, I’m doing very well. I can bend my knee to 115 degrees (115-120 is the target), and I can flatten my knee to -1 degrees (minus 2-3 degrees is the target). So I’m doing well.
Yesterday, I saw my rheum doc. He’s pleased. But he said wait a while before scheduling another joint replacement. Apparently replacing the worst one may make it unnecessary to replace others! I can only hope!
- RA Accommodations at Work (webmd.com)