The New Knee Blog!

The day after my release from hospital I really felt like a good wine, and why not some mature cheese too? My choices were both from DO Toro – perhaps influenced by the fact that my article in the Costa News SL that week was a report on my visit to DO Toro, where we had tasted exceptional wines from Bodega Fariña, as well as having visited a really top Artisan Cheese Producer.

The elegance of Fariña’s Colegiata Campus 2008 is astounding given the body, richness and great depth of flavour and complexity. Drinking perfectly right now – with or without the outstanding Chillón Reserva cheese. This example was only one of the exceptional portfolio, most of which we tasted in situ, just on the edge of Toro town.

So, the above is my excuse for writing this blog on a subject some way from wine appreciation on this wholly wine orientated website!

It occurred to me that there will, no doubt, be many people in different parts of the world who are about to have a knee replacement, and that, like I was, they might be a little nervous about it. Perhaps my very positive experience will be of some comfort?

I’ll make it fairly short, but a very brief intro first:

I read in a recent edition of the Costa News Group’s Costa Blanca News (I have been writing for the group, yes, about wine, for 18 years now, incidentally) that there is a famous Spanish Actor who has been complaining about the poor service received by his mother at Denia’s ‘new’ hospital, after an accident.

Of course we all can only speak of our own experiences, but to even it up a touch, i’d like to say that the service I have received from my original visit to my GP, the early visits to the Knee Specialist and Operating Surgeon; through arriving in hospital the day of the full knee replacement, and then the after-care, including the sympathetic and caring nursing, of course, and the physiotherapy received as an In-Patient as well as that on which I’ve just embarked, now as an Out-Patient, has been exemplary!

(Incidentally, and not just as an excuse this time – another wine reference: one of the excellent physios is very interested in wine and was delighted to hear that I would be able to advise him etc about his country’s wines, and me an Englishman too!)

When I ‘checked in’ to the hospital, with my wife, the lovely Claire, in support – I was processed very quickly and taken to my rather ‘posh’ room, the single occupant; and within an hour and a half I was waiting in the ante-room adjacent to the theatre chatting to the Anaesthetist who was happy to show me the ‘ultra-sound’ image on her screen while she was locating my sciatic nerve and a major vein where she was going to place some delayed-action painkiller to cover the 1st 12 hours after the op.

Of this, i was wholly in favour – I’m  not great with pain!

Often such ops are undertaken using an epidural, but because one hadn’t worked so well with me a few years ago for another op, and added to the fact that I have a dodgy spine, she’d decided to give me a general anaesthetic (how do you spell that?!). Fine by me!

A little gas and air in the theatre, decreasing the air and increasing the gas – and that was me, out of it!

I awoke with a tap on the cheek and was able to hear the gentle buzz of the various monitors into which I was plugged. I surprised myself in that I felt, well, sleepy, but otherwise fine! Claire was surprised too.

There was basically very little pain, the delayed action pain killers coming into their own. As I was sleepy anyway I had a good night and whilst some pain did arrive the next morning I was able to cope with it easily until the prompt arrival of the nurse/angel with the Morphine!

Various drips adorned my arm and whatever was in them dripped away, to be replaced at regular intervals, and again when asked about the pain if my answer was yes, please, something would be good – it arrived!

The nurses were lovely as were the cleaners who regularly came into the room. Plus the food, which was fine, was delivered just when i was starting to feel hungry.

The Physio arrived on that 2nd day giving me some simple exercise to do whilst in bed, to prepare me a little for my first visit to the ‘gym’ the following morning. Now, as a seasoned patient in the UK, with experience of several meniscus ops, I was well aware that what the Physio says matters!

If you want to escape hospital early, do as you are told by the Physio. Plus, of course, for your general progress and in terms of obtaining as a full a use of your knee as possible, you have to do what the nice lady/man says – even when it hurts. And it will hurt. They are sensitive to your needs and your pain so they aren’t going to let you be in agony, but the mantra is definitely – no pain, no gain! It works!

Your knee will be swollen, more so during (and after the physio visit) so movement is restricted. However the Physio will push you to your best.

On my third day – I was impatient to get out of bed, but I was sensible and asked for help – it definitely is not worth going it alone here! Now, this may seem a little crude – my apolgies but I’m sure that there are those who await such an op who have a similar problem to me, and therefore the same concern.

I have a prostate problem – under control, with medication, but visiting the bathroom, to put it rather quaintly, is crucial. The bottom (bad choice of word, there) line is that a plastic bottle doesn’t work for me, and I suspect many others. I needed to get out of bed as soon as possible. Ahh – the relief!

Later in the morning I was taken to the gym and asked to do various exercises which I did, religiously, until told to stop; then I moved onto the next one etc. My surgeon had suggested a walking frame and I’m sure his recommendation was correct. Moving from station to station was via the frame and it was very useful. I’m now, one week after my discharge from hospital, able to walk without it, though I have a crutch near to hand in case I need it – which I will when i go out into the big world!

On return to my room I rested for a few hours and then did some more of the exercises, never doing too much or straining myself. I didn’t sleep so well that night – some pain, but more discomfort really. The beds are excellent, electrically adjustable, but – well, it’s  not my own bed!

I was up very early and surprised the night staff as I ‘framed’ past their station several times, getting in some early walking practise!

I was able to do a little more, physically, than the day before and, I think I impressed the Physios a little as they went to work on me again. I was also able to recommend the Godello grape variety for lovely white wine!

When I left they said they’d do some more advanced work with me the next day, scheduled to be my last in hospital. However, on arrival at my room a nurse told me that the Surgeon had visited and signed me out – I was off after lunch! Wow – just three nights, I was well pleased!

I’m writing this now following my first return to the hospital as an outpatient today. I’ve been doing the exercises that I’d been given in the gym everyday at home, twice a day and on occasions three times a day, and my visit today proved the value of this quite hard, slightly painful and uncomfortable work.

So, if you are about to have a full knee replacement – please, don’t worry. I wouldn’t say it’s a breeze, but it’s nothing like as bad as you might think!

Good luck!

PS Most Godello wines come from DO Valdeorras and DO Bierzo! Told you this was a wine orientated website!