Having to go through surgery is never a pleasant situation. When you are a parent of young children, it is all the more difficult. Many of us will have to go through a surgical procedure at some time in our lives. The wear and tear that comes over many years can lead to common joint conditions. Sometimes, an unexpected injury affects you when you are do not feel prepared to deal with it. One of the most common yet debilitating surgeries that can affect you as a parent is knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgeries are one of the most common bone surgeries undertaken. Known as arthroplasty, this surgery replaces the damaged parts of your knees with artificial components. The success of this surgery is very high- with a reported 90 percent of people with knee replacement surgeries reporting a reduction in pain and an increase in mobility.
While you may not want to think about surgery just yet, it is important to know what to expect should a knee replacement be part of your future.
How do I know if I need a knee replacement?
This is something that only your orthopedic doctor will be able to determine. Nonetheless, some signs may be an indication that you need a knee replacement. If you have previously had knee surgery- but not a complete knee replacement, you will be more likely to be a candidate for knee replacement.
If you have persistent pain that does not subside with time and your knee aches before and after exercise, then this is a sign that your knee problem interferes with your everyday activities. If this is the case, then you will need to go down the normal avenues of therapy before your doctor considers knee replacement surgery. This surgery is often a final recourse for people who have damaged their knee. Before you or your doctor think about knee replacement surgery, it is crucial to look at the other options available to you.
Recovering from surgery
If your surgery was particularly invasive or if it means that you are unable to walk unassisted for a period of time, it will be difficult to carry out your normal tasks. With young children who want to play and be held by you, they will not understand why you are unable to do so. Talking to them and explaining beforehand how things will be a little different for a few weeks or months, in an age-appropriate way, will let them know that you will not be physically able to hold them or play with them like you did before. Let them know that you are still going to be a part of their life, even if you cannot physically join in with play or hold them. Having a mental connection is very important with young children. The RIE parenting philosophy is a school of thought that believes even very young children are capable of mental connection and underlines the importance of communicating about real things that happen. This method of child-rearing also emphasizes the importance of independent play. So while you may feel guilty for not spending as much physical time with your children, even being around them, observing them in play, and communicating with them is very beneficial to their early development.
With many types of invasive surgery, you will require a period of rest. Following the complete period of rest, and dependent on the type of surgery, you will most likely need to go through physical therapy and the process of recovery. Total knee replacement surgery is more invasive than a normal knee replacement surgery, and will therefore require a greater recovery time. That being said, most patients are able to care for themselves and resume normal activities after six to eight weeks. Patients are usually expected to begin to walk the same day as their surgery- with the support of a walker or crutches. A typical hospital recovery duration will be one to two days if there are no complications. You may even be discharged the same day of your surgery if you are physically able to leave.
Practical ways to prepare
The last thing you will want to worry about after surgery is having to cook. Making the appropriate arrangements before you have surgery will ensure you have less to worry about afterward. Make plans to ensure your house is an environment that will cater to your new needs. Preparing a few meals and freezing them before you have surgery is an excellent way to make sure you have a convenient way to feed yourself and your children when you are in recovery. This also means preparing your bed in a room that has easy access to a bathroom, and kitchen- somewhere that doesn’t require stairs. As you will not be able to drive immediately post-surgery make sure you have someone who can take you from the hospital, and to follow-up appointments. If you have a partner, then give them greater responsibility during this time.
Take time for yourself
You will want to be back with your children after surgery, but you also need to remember that you have to take it easy- both physically and emotionally. If you are able to pass on some childcare responsibilities to a partner or family member, then do so and take this time to rest up and relax. Surgery is not only physically taxing, but it also takes a toll on your mental health. Not being able to do the normal things you were able to do before like showering and dressing yourself is frustrating. Focus on your mental well-being by practicing mindful activities such as reading, and doing manual work like knitting or crafting. If your children are concerned about your surgery, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with them and explain that mommy is going through surgery to make her better. If your children are not at a talking age yet, then having the help of close relatives will help support you while you look after yourself.
Do you have any surgery stories? Preparedness or recovery tips? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!