Hardest Thing I Ever Did/Dual Knee Replacement

My date for surgery was August 26th. I was at my doctor’s (orthopedic) at Standford on May 10th. I was hoping for another cortisone shot to the ligaments in my legs and more physical therapy but I was sorely mistaken. I was limping yet again because my left knee had moved inside and was causing me a lot of pain when I used it.

Dr. A (everyone calls him that because no one can pronounce his name) wasn’t having it, “It’s time we replace those troublesome knees. Let’s set a date for the surgery.”

What could I say? I had one terribly bent knee that caved in because of the pressure of supporting the other damaged knee. It made me walk funny, limp, and people always noticed it when they saw me. It was very painful and had gone on for decades now causing problems with my hips and other leg structures. I sighed a big sigh.

“When I do surgery I can straighten your legs and you’ll be better than ever,” Dr. A offered with a smile.

So the day before my 65th birthday I said yes to having both knees replaced at once. Dr. A felt that I was in great shape for my age and would do well after surgery. So did I but I was hesitant.

The week before surgery I got a call from Dr. A’s assistant. He said if I came in for a special scan that they could use robotics during my surgery. I felt lucky to be picked because it would help correct my windswept knees.

The scan was nothing special they taped a bar to each leg and scanned them. The bar was part of the reference that the robot would use. It was really space-age cool stuff. Of course, I would be asleep and that was fine with me.

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Happy rides! Because of my dual knee replacement, I’ll be taking a 4-6 week break planning to be back at it real soon.

Tick tock….time flew by and one night I got the call to be at Standford Hospital for check-in at 6am with surgery at 8:15am. It was….

~Go Time~

Everything went smoothly I was in a daze and after drugs, I barely remember anything before surgery. I was under for 3 hours, (it took a little longer with the robotics) and then I woke up to a world of WTF!

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I had nerve blocks in each thigh and pressure cuffs on my lower legs for clotting. Those are pressure bandages too. I was glad for the nerve blocks when they were working.

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When they removed the pressure bandage this was what I saw. Later they got me up with a walker and make me take a few steps. I barely remember it now. Those bandages are waterproof and protect the stitches keeping them dry and together while they heal.

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With all of the drugs, I was trying to keep it together but little did I know…..

One of the nerve block boxes wouldn’t stay together (I had one in each leg) and would stop working putting me in great pain. They wouldn’t give me a new one so I had to put up with it. They even had a technician look at it. He put the battery door back on it and deemed that it would now stay put and work. It did not and when I pushed the bottom nothing happened. Each time a hapless nurse would fumble with it so I could finally get some rest.

They were very stingy with the pain meds and kept me in more pain than I should have had to put up with. When I asked for pain meds they acted controlling and secretive. I didn’t get a lot of information out of them until I pushed the subject.

I was very unhappy with the Standford Hospital and felt treated like a second-hand patient. For being a top-rated hospital they seriously treated me badly and there was a lot of broken equipment. I got no shots in the belly for clots nor did I get the plastic thing to blow in to make sure your lungs are ok after being under. Pretty shocking looking at my age and considering its standard operation after major surgery.

They left my catheter in for 2 days (until I left the hospital) and stopped giving me IV fluids for a whole day knowing I was anemic from losing so much blood during surgery. Hospitals aren’t supposed to release someone who’s been under until they are using the toilet but they pulled the catheter and sent me off in the medical transport.  This messed my kidneys up sending my potassium levels sky-high.

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Now that I’m older I’m very hard to IV as you can see. I’m glad I was out when this happened. You should see the other hand….

By the time I got to El Camino Rehab Hospital in Los Gatos, they had to IV me again and give me liquids to save my life. The high potassium levels were damaging my kidneys and they were afraid I’d have a heart attack. Luckily, they got another IV in without harming me because they got their best person from the hospital to do it. I still cried because my veins hurt badly in my arms.

The potassium levels went back to normal and I was relieved. I lost blood during surgery and the hospital should have never stopped giving me IV fluids. I was thankful but my kidneys were recovering slowly. They told me I lost a lot of blood during surgery.

Lucky I’m recovering (per the strength of my own body reserves.) My doctor is monitoring me as I speak to make sure I get back to normal body functions.

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Every dark cloud has its silver lining and this was mine. Little things keep one going when recovering from surgery or an illness.

The rehab hospital I was in was excellent! We got 2 hours of Physical Therapy and 2 hours of Occupational Therapy every day except for Sunday.  They worked us hard and helped me reach my true potential. They joked that PT really stood for Pain and Torture. I had to agree (in a good way.) The therapists and nurses really did a good job of preparing us to do our best when we get home.

Every time it was something different with a few group therapy classes thrown in. It was fun sharing exercises (and war stories) with other people who have similar goals. They let me ride the stationary bike 15 minutes at a time a few times.

I will say it now. This surgery is the hardest thing I ever did.

The support staff there were polite and helpful and the nurse’s helpers would braid my long hair. I don’t know how to do my own hair so I really appreciated little things like that. It wasn’t for fashion I needed to keep my hair out of the way in PT.

Almost everyone working at the El Camino Rehab Hospital in Los Gatos, CA were first-rate. It was the best experience I’ve ever had with a hospital. Refreshing after what I went through with Stanford after surgery. I plan to write El Camino Rehab a great review on their website after a few months of recovery.

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Soon my waterproof bandages were wrinkled and peeling off from exercising and showering. I was finally home it was a little shocking at first.

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I took to my apartment building sidewalk with my walker enjoying the flowers. My neighbors looked at me like I was crazy since they had no idea about my surgery. 

After 9 days at the rehab hospital, I was sent home with a mess of medicine, instructions, and a walker. Now I could walk around my apartment on my own. I never needed the extra equipment I got for the toilet and shower stool because our apartment is that small. I was so happy to be home with my own bed.

I can ride my bicycle again?!?!

On Sept. 13th I had an appointment with Dr. A’s assistant to have my bandages taken off. At this time I didn’t know what to expect under the bandages I was shaky about it. She was gentle with me.

She covered those stitches about with a light tape that helps the wound stay protected and heal while the stitches melt. She told me I could walk without the walker and use a cane if I wished. She also gave me the ok to ride my bicycle again and drive. She told me to be careful but if I felt strong enough I could do it.

She told me at 4 weeks I was performing at a 6 or more week level. All along, my team of health care people involved in my dual knee replacement knew the plan was to get me back on my bicycle ASAP. My job was to push myself and heal. They were very happy with my performance.

Before I left she showed me pictures of the robot working on my knees with Dr. A and the other doctors. I could see what the robot saw on the screen. I only saw 2 pictures but they were amazing.

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The scar on the right is shaped like that because I had an old surgery scar there and Dr. A used the same scar so I wouldn’t have 2 scars. They are pretty much healed.

My new knees work well, my legs are straight and I’m taller. Both legs are the same length (which doesn’t always happen) and I can bend them as much as before. I can do stairs and I’m learning to walk normally. I’m so thankful but have a lot more healing to do. Talk to me after 6 months.

I can’t believe the taller part it’s freaky and I notice it.

I’m taking PT at Standford’s Clinic once a week for a few months using their stationary bikes so I can learn to walk again, get stronger, and get back on my bike confidently. My next post will be about this so check back!

For anyone who’s going to have this surgery, I say do both knees at once. Get it done and you won’t have to do it again. It helps to be in shape. Make sure you have a doctor that you trust that talks to you. Do your homework and go to a good rehab facility. They really help and if you don’t have anyone at home because they can get you ready to go home.

Anything worth doing is worth working for.

I hope I didn’t offend with my surgery photos. Got any advice? Stories about your experience? Questions?

600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the US.

Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Food

Food glorious food! Unlike drugs or alcohol food is easy to get and with a fast-food place on every corner just waiting for us to slip. It’s intoxicating, mood altering and delicious. It whispers to us in the dark, it smells heavenly and fills our every needy need. For many of us, it’s our bestest buddy and we have hard-wired memories of it growing up.

Addiction to food is one of the most difficult things to break because our bodies need food and we can’t simply quit eating it. With practice, we can develop a healthy attitude about food and learn how to eat right. With a new relationship toward food, we can nourish our bodies and still celebrate good food without the negative side effects we get locked into.

The good news is it’s totally doable but it takes practice, motivation and time. It took you time to put the weight on and it takes time to take it back off. It took me a year to take off 60 unhealthy pounds eating 1,200 calories a day but it came off and has stayed off for 2 years now.

For the past year, I’ve been on maintenance eating 1,500 calories a day. I don’t have to log my calories anymore, can eyeball my food portions and by exercising daily I enjoy great health benefits without gaining the weight back. Like me, in the first year, you will learn what and how to eat for the rest of your life.

We are already lazy, that’s how we came to the “fat” part and now that we’re crazy about it we have to make a lifestyle change. If you follow my lead you will be losing weight in no time. Remember to check with your doctor before starting this lifestyle change. My doctor has never been happier with me.

I believe in watching portions and counting calories because I’ve seen it work but there’s no need to weigh your food or follow a specific diet. I don’t believe in diets, fads, smoothies, powders or free days. In this case, simplicity is our friend.

We will be logging our food with a free tool that will make this easier. You will fill out a profile that will tell you how many calories a day to eat. You enter how many pounds you want to lose, etc. Anything lower than 1,200 calories isn’t recommended.  I’ll cover this and logging in the next post but here are a few things to start now.

Cut Back On Sugar And Starches

Removing sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet will lower your insulin levels, kill your appetite and make you lose weight without hunger.

You will want to stop drinking soda (even diet soda), fruit juices (except OJ), and alcoholic drinks. Black coffee, tea or water (plain or bubbly) is fine. Drink 8, eight-ounce glasses or more a day.

This is extremely important as these types of drinks have plenty of sugar and calories. We’ll talk more about drinks and what carbs to avoid when we cover food logging.

Eat Protein, Healthy Fats And Vegetables

The more healthy fats, fresh fruits, whole foods and vegetables we eat the better. We will be concentrating on calories, nutrients and the macros in our diet.

Macros are the nutrients you need in large amounts, as they provide your body with the calories it needs to function. Watching these numbers are a kind of short-hand when it comes to weight loss making calorie counting much easier.

Our macros will be 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 20% protein per day but no worries as logging will keep track of these numbers for you.

High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce the desire for late-night snacking by half, and makes you feel full longer. Peanut butter is great after a long bike ride.

We’ll be learning to eat good food and log it in my next post. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek into other things we’ll be doing to get healthier. I know I’m excited and hope you are. I’ll be doing this alongside you maintaining my weight.

Exercise 3 To 4 Days A Week

By exercising, you will burn more calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight. You’ll also experience those feel-good endorphins (runner’s high), ditch your depression and sleep better at night.

I would prefer you ride a bicycle or take a spin class but any cardio like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice. Or join a gym and lift weights they have stationary bikes. You must pick something and stick to it.

You will learn to log your exercise which will automatically be added or subtracted from your calories for the day using the tools I’ll be introducing in the next post.

I can’t make you exercise but if you’ve become that lazy and crazy enough to keep yourself unhealthy there’s nothing I can say that will change that but please keep an open mind!

7 1/2 to 8 Hours A Night Of Quality Sleep

Sleep is very important and if the quality of your sleep suffers so do you during the daytime hours. We go through different stages of sleep during the night. There are simple things you can do to make sure you get enough of all 3.

If you’re a maniac like me you may want to track your sleep scientifically. There are many kinds of trackers for sale from rings to bands that track sleep in detail and more. I use a Charge 2, Fitbit and will have the new Oura Ring in April. (I provided links to sales of both products with specs if you’re interested.)

You don’t need a tracker to get the best nights sleep. I’d like you to read my post about sleep below. It has tips for a better nights sleep, scientific information on sleep, and I guarantee it will have something to help you get started on your way to a quality night’s sleep. Soon you’ll feel the difference.

More About Sleep Read Sleep 101

I’ll cover more about sleep soon.  You can start practicing good sleep hygiene today.

Here are 10 tips to quick-start your weightloss:

  1. Eat a high-protein breakfast. Eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce cravings and calorie intake throughout the day. Oatmeal with fruit is great. Breakfast should never be avoided and is the most important meal of the day.
  2. Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice. These are the most fattening things you can put into your body, and avoiding them can help you lose weight.
  3. Drink water a half hour before meals. One study showed that drinking water a half hour before meals increased weight loss. Drink 8 glasses or more.
  4. Choose weight loss-friendly foods (see list). Certain foods are very useful for losing fat. Walnuts and pears are my gotos.
  5. Eat soluble fiber. Studies show that soluble fibers may reduce fat, especially in the belly area.
  6. Drink coffee or tea. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, then drink as much as you want as the caffeine in them can boost your metabolism. However, no caffeine after 3 pm as it might interfere with sleep.
  7. Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Base most of your diet on whole foods. They are healthier, more filling and much less likely to cause overeating.
  8. Eat your food slowly. Fast eaters gain more weight over time. Eating slowly makes you feel more full and boosts weight-reducing hormones.
  9. Use smaller plates. Studies show that people automatically eat less when they use smaller plates. Strange, but it works.
  10. Get a good night’s sleep, every night. Poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for weight gain, so taking care of your sleep is important.

Eating healthy starts here.

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My next post will give you the links to the applications that we’ll be using and no worries it will be a piece of cake whether you have Android or iPhone.

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Get your vitamin’s here! Eat all of the colors of the rainbow and fill your plate 2/3rds full of veggies.

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A clever way to eyeball your food portions. Watch yours!

I think this is a good start my aim was to outline things and get us started in a good direction. Food was our main goal and soon we’ll be logging our meals with the application doing all of the calorie watching for us.

Next-Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change-Logging Your Food and More

Another Year To Bike

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, it’s the first of January and there’s a whole new empty slate in front of you. What will you do with it?bca4ded079550cbe706f2f062c1df9da

I don’t do resolutions anymore for the New Year, I refuse to do them! I don’t think one year ever went by where I did something that was on those lists. I just blundered through each year hanging on by my teeth anyway.

The thing to do is pick one thing, one important thing that you want more than anything, (this must be something doable, not a magical spell or witchcraft) and learn how to achieve it. Do research on it and practice it until perfect. Put the effort into it that will bring the results that make you happy.

If you want to outlive everyone, stick around for your kids, stay healthy and strong enough to enjoy the rest of your life independently then  I ask you to consider living healthier this year and riding a bicycle is something people of all ages can do.

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Last year was very good to me! After riding for months I finally felt comfortable enough to really enjoy my rides. I look forward to and get excited about them. It was not always that easy.

I rode bicycles growing up but now I was much older (old enough to break bones easily), I could barely make it up the easy hills and the wind worked against me. I had to get used to sharing the trail with critters, walkers, runners, families with kids, and other bikers.

I had some falls stopping or starting my bike (the hardest thing for me with my disability) but my balance got better. It was a good 7 months where I was shaky and uneasy on my bike. Now I feel great and want to share the side effects of bicycling with you!

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If you have bad knees, hips, need joint replacement or have joint pain I urge you to try riding a bicycle this year to help strengthen and maybe relieve some of that pain. Exercise can improve bad joints.

My knees always hurt with swelling and I still need both knees replaced (I have windswept knees) but biking this last year has made them so much better it’s unbelievable. My knees are much stronger for walking and no more cane!

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This year I am continuing what I started in October of 2015:

  • keeping my weight regular by logging what I eat, 1500 calories/daily of good healthy food
  • no sodas or sugary drinks
  • watching my daily macros (carbs, fats, and proteins)
  • drinking 8 ounces or more of water daily
  • riding my bike every other day (that’s 4 times a week)
  • getting at least 7 1/2 hours of quality sleep a night
  • multivitamins and chia seeds daily

Soon, I will add weight training a few times a week. As I get older I want to keep the strength to lift things for myself and get around without needing help. There are many good articles about staying active and what to do to maintain your health and good looks for many years to come.

Staying strong is important. My one important thing (if you haven’t guessed) is my biking because without it I won’t be healthy and happy, ready to enjoy the rest of what this new year has to offer.

Let’s be harder, better, faster, stronger this year!

Happy New Year!