Rehab and Getting One Step Closer

So I would love to tell you all about the actual experience of the whole surgery and knee replacement experience, but unfortunately I was asleep for both of mine. I can tell you there are some great videos on you tube. Some are very graphic and go into great detail. All I know is I go to sleep with a bad knee and wake up a few hours later and I have a long incision and staples closing it (the first time) and super glue closing it (the second time) and no pain. Not knowing how I got to that point, well after seeing the video, I am alright with that.

When it comes to the hospital stay, just make the best of it. For two and a half days, eat the food, sleep in the chair, because it’s just easier and absolutely above all else take the pain killers. When they offer the pain pills take them, if they ask if you need them say yes. The most important thing is to stay out ahead of the pain. You won’t get addicted, but once you fall behind on the pain management then you don’t sleep. If you don’t sleep then the pain is that much worse. The hospital will have you up and around early and if everything is going the way it should you won’t feel a thing.

Generally once released from the hospital it is either to home or rehab. I had at home rehab for two weeks; some folks go to a facility, depending on the need and what the insurance company says. I had a visiting therapist for two weeks after each surgery and I was fortunate enough to have the same therapist fort both knees. No matter what you may think ,the therapist only has your well being in mind. Do what he or she tells you and you will be fine. Exercise when they say exercise and back off when they tell you that you are doing too much. The therapist does know what’s best. Knee rehab is all about exercise and stretching. So now would be the time to tell you, yes it hurts. There will be times when it hurts more than anything you ever could imagine. But if you do what the people who are working with you tell you it will be over before you know it. About eight weeks from the surgery you get up one morning and something doesn’t feel right, that’s because suddenly things are getting better and it doesn’t hurt as much.

Now the fun begins, outpatient rehab. My rehab in both cases was three days a week for about 10 weeks. It’s more extensive stretching and exercising and the same at home when you are not at outpatient. The most important reason for the rehab is to keep from allowing scar tissue to start to build up. Once I heard that the way to fix scar tissue is go back in, then there was nothing I was more afraid of. The last thing I ever want is for someone to go back into those knees again.

Somewhere around the fourth week of rehab I was finally allowed to sit on a bike again. Just when I thought this was a great thing I tried to push the pedals around for the first time. Most likely the most excruciatingly painful thing I ever experienced . But as I was told when working on my first knee, you come to a point where you are either going to beat this and win and go forward or you will be one of those people who always wishes they did. It’s a long way to Florida and I will win….Play nice….Randy

A Little History First

So how did I get to this point of having both knees replaced? Well, it starts some where in the mid 1970’s when a freshmen in high school decides to become a shot putter. Then for the next four years from October until the end of May, pretty much for five days a week, a pattern of wear and tear starts on the knees. The old glide method used back then did have a tendency to put a lot of abuse on the knee joints, which over time tend to get a lot of abuse anyway.

So later on in life our hero has supposedly grown up and now supports his family as a truck driver. A profession that involves among other things, a fair amount of climbing and jumping off of loading docks and the backs of trailers. Two actions, by the way, the old timers will say, “you are going to regret doing that”. Hint: the old timers knew exactly what they were talking about. Now after a few years of “rich” living that body that once weighed in at 200 lbs is now weighing in at, oh about 300 lbs. So over the years the physical abuse and the extra weight time has taken its toll on the body, in this case the knees. By the ripe old age of 55 there is no meniscus to speak of in the right knee and very little in the left knee. And that brings us to replacing the right knee, and replacing the right knee brings us to discovering cycling.

When I asked people what was the best way to prepare for knee replacement I would get similar answers: keep using it as long as you can and exercise it. If you don’t use the muscles then they atrophy; the weaker they are going in the harder it is to rehab the leg coming out. Since walking was getting difficult and running was out of the question that left cycling, low impact and good exercise. I purchased a Cannondale Quick hybrid bike and started out. You see because I had a procedure done on my knee in July I had to wait before I could have the surgery and one of my sons was getting married so that put me at the end of October before I would finally have the replacement done.

Being overweight and not in the best of shape or actually being in crummy shape just getting around the block was an accomplishment. Eventually that one block will turn into two blocks then those two blocks become a half mile then a mile. Slowly but surely it begins to grow on you. Don’t let anybody kid you. Startling out is hard and while it does get easier it’s never going to get to easy, but you will benefit, trust me on this.

So if at this point you are asking yourself why is he telling me all this history,well I figured you need to know where I came from so you can know how far I have to go, and Key West is a long way to go. Next time I’ll talk about rehab and starting to get back on the bike, until then…Be safe..Play Nice…Randy

Hello world….

Let me start by introducing myself: my name is Randy Cooper. I am 57 years old and live in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Father of five and happily married for thirty-five years. On January 26, 2015 I received a Total Knee Replacement on my left knee. My right knee was replaced on October of 2012. I am a retired truck driver and an avid cyclist. I became involved in cycling as a way to get in better shape for my first knee replacement, and it was love at first sight; a new stage in my life was begun.

I wanted to start this blog for two reasons: one, because as I did more and more research in preparation for my latest knee replacement, I found there was just not enough information that would help me out in knowing what to expect and how to deal with getting back to cycling soon after knee replacement surgery. And the second is to document my journey from total knee replacement to cycling from my home in Springfield,PA to Key West FL in the spring/summer of 2018. I know it seems like a long time away but I have a long way to go to be ready for this next adventure. So please join me as I prepare for a 3784 mile journey on two nice and shinny new knees.

At this writing I am just reaching 25 miles a day five days a week, an accomplishment I am very happy with. I hope to post an update every week talking about my progress and what it took to get here, my rehab etc., with hopes that this will help anyone who is considering going down this road or who is already on it but feeling unhappy about where they are right now.  Till later…Be safe…                                                                                                                                              Randy