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Have I made the biggest mistake of my life?

(82 Posts)
CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 10:25:33

Bear with me, I am feeling very sorry for myself.

I injured my knee at the end of November, I slipped and my left leg decided to go in the wrong direction from the knee. It was agony and I immediately knew I’d done something serious.

Anyway to cut a long story short, it turned out that as well as soft tissue damage the bottom of my femur had crashed into the top of my tibia and essentially crushed it. Due to the way it healed (basically now missing that part of bone) my knee no longer locked, and even after it being in a brace for months the surgeon told me that the only way I would ever be able to walk/run/move again without my knee going backwards was to either wear the cumbersome hinged brace for the rest of my life or have an upper tibial osteotomy. I opted for the latter, the aim being that I get back to full normality.

The op consistered of taking out a wedge of my tibia below the defect, repositioning the head of the bone, filling the wedge with bone graft (both artificial and harvested from my femur) and securing it with a titanium plate and screws. Pretty hardcore.

During the op they gave me a nerve block, which lasted a good 48 hrs, masking the pain. So when I was recovering in hospital I was both comfortable from that plus was being given regular strong painkillers. When I got home I was in agony. I was prescribed oramorph on top of the other painkillers I went home with and I was mainlining them all for quite a few days, thety also put me in a full length cast to give me more support (although later had to put 2 cuts in it to release swelling).

I had no idea I would be in so much pain, it’s been like nothing I’ve experienced before, not even back to back childbirth on syntocin. I’m on less painkillers now but that’s partially due to them causing me additional problems such as sickness and bunging me up (ah fun and games). I am basically tied to my bed as we live in a townhouse with many flights of narrow and windy stairs which are a nightmare to negotiate, even on my bum, and no loo on the ground floor. I’m getting little sleep and although it’s early days (10 days post op) I am finding it hard to see much improvement and am really worried that as I’m in a cast I can’t try to gently exercise bending my knee as basically all the literature says should be done post op. I will have physio once I can weight bear - so in about 4-6 weeks, my surgeon insists everything is as it should be and I do trust him, It’s just so hard to believe that I’ll get anything near back to normal in my current state.

I’m so worried that I’ve signed myself up for a lifetime of pain and a knee that just won’t bend.

I am completely dependent on DH at the moment, we have a wheelchair and I’ve been out once but it was an absolute mission. Plus my leg is stuck out in front of me and I feel very vulnerable. I am trying to take my mind off things with reading, movies, cross stitch but the pain is very distracting.

If you have read this far you need a certificate or something. This is mainly a self-pitying rant, although I’d love someone to come on and say “ah, I had the same and am now completely pain free and training for a marathon” smile

Purplerain101 Sun 04-Mar-18 10:30:53

My dad had a similar operation after falling. He also had horrendous pain for about 5 weeks after the op and was bed bound. Think my mum found it really tough going as he was completely reliant on her during that time. It did get loads better though and he is now pretty much back to normal. Took about 6-7 weeks for him to not be bed bound anymore and then another month or so of physio until he could walk about without pain.
Keep distracting yourself as much as possible and have faith that you’ll be feeling loads better within the next few weeks hopefully

NoStraightEdges Sun 04-Mar-18 10:39:10

Ah, op, it's early days and the body can heal brilliantly from surgery but it does need time and the physio.

As difficult as it is, try not to worry and try to rest as much as possible.

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 10:42:22

Purplerain101 Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou - you’re giving me hope! I’m actually crying a little bit now (I have done a hell of a lot of that recently).

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 10:45:08

Thanks NoStraightEdges - I had, I think, a bit of a romanticised version of my convalescence - pain under control, reading tonnes of books, creating pretty things and receiving the occasional visitor who would humorously fill me in on all the goings on outside. Oh how wrong I was.

ggirl Sun 04-Mar-18 10:46:30

You poor thing..sounds so painful..but you're ONLY 10 days post op..give yourself some slack.
I had major operation on jan 30th and I too also thought I'd be pain free and hunky dory a few weeks later..I'm not and I'm just having to be patient with myself .

I don't have any experience of your type of surgery but you need to rest up and take it easy ..honestly it's early days yet.
Take care of yourself .

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 10:48:55

Oh ggirl I’m sorry you’re also going through post op crap.

Think part of my problem is I’m not the most patient of people.

Bobbybobbins Sun 04-Mar-18 10:51:04

My mum had major surgery last year (not on her knee but similarly significant) and it took her 6-8 weeks of a lot of pain to get better. Now you would never know. Definitely go easy on yourself and don't expect or try too much too soon.

Purplerain101 Sun 04-Mar-18 10:53:45

If the pain hasn’t subsided at all within the next couple of weeks then maybe ask for them to check you thoroughly to make sure everything still seems ok and if any corrections need to be made. I wouldn’t worry though as the Dr is saying that level of pain is normal. If they were concerned they’d be rushing you in for a checkup. I remember how awful the pain was for my dad and he couldn’t even concentrate on watching the tv because of it. He only has very minimal pain now and again now so I hope things turn out like that for you soon

Tiddlywinks63 Sun 04-Mar-18 10:53:46

It's really early days op.
I spent 5 months in plaster nwb after fracturing/complete dislocation of my ankle and can remember the pain and mind-numbing boredom as I couldn't get around the house, let alone navigate the steps outside.
Keep your leg elevated as high as you can to help reduce the swelling and hence the pain, take analgesics religiously day and night and I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks as tv became too monotonous.
You will get better but expect it to be months rather than weeks (mine was a good 18 months although the pain largely went after about 4 months).
Good luck!

Ollivander84 Sun 04-Mar-18 10:55:24

I had spinal surgery and 10 days post op is still v v new. Found for the first 3 weeks I was exhausted and did nothing but sleep! Also had a lot of pain and felt very vulnerable when people were around me in case they banged into me. Had bad leg cramps and incision and nerve pain. It got better flowers

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 10:58:13

Tiddlywinks63 wowsers that sounds painful - and 5 months in plaster! That must have been hard. Yes, will get on to the audiobooks (thank god I didn’t cancel my Audible acct - I nearly did a few months ago).

fruitpastille Sun 04-Mar-18 10:58:48

Not the same but I had to have more than one op and various pins/plate in my ankle and leg. Honestly felt I would never get back to normal but I did within a year. I now walk/run/do martial arts regularly. Bum shuffling and pulling crutches upstairs to get to the loo is the absolute pits!! And I got really pissed off with being told to enjoy the 'rest'.

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 11:01:01

Ollivander84 yes the vulnerability, my 9 yo DD managed to catch/walk into my leg 3 times when we were out - she was sorry of course but I was almost in tears.

Lou573 Sun 04-Mar-18 11:02:10

OP, when I woke up from spinal surgery I was convinced it was the worst idea of my life, as I was in 10 time more than than before. This went on for quite a while before I gradually began to recover and am now pain free. It does take a while!

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 11:04:01

fruitpastille if anyone says “ah lucky you, being looked after hand & foot”, or “enjoy it whilst you can” I will wallop them with a crutch!

Thankyou all so much for sharing your experiences - it is really helping.

CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 11:05:26

You’ve all been through so much! Puts it all into perspective (and that’s a good thing).

rosieposies Sun 04-Mar-18 11:12:48

@op I just wanted to say that I have two people close to me who have had to have very serious knee operations, both were in absolute agony and it was just awful to watch them in that much pain. Their recovery took a while, and things definitely felt worse for them before it got better, but they are both now very much healed.

I think you should read the mumsnet classics, there are some absolutely hilarious threads on there that might help raise your spirits and take your mind off of things, even if just for a short while.


CuppaTeaAndAJammieDodger Sun 04-Mar-18 11:16:22

I really didn’t appreciate the level of pain I would be in - probably a good thing as I quite possibly wouldn’t have gone through with the op if I did.

Off to mumsnet classics I go smile

OnTheRise Sun 04-Mar-18 11:18:35

Have you been referred to the pain specialists? One of my children had surgery to sort out a bone problem and was in horrendous pain after the op. The specialist pain team were called in and he was given a comprehensive range of pain medications which really helped.

After about six weeks it all went away over a few days. It was like a miracle. But without the pain team he'd have been in agony over that time. Thank goodness for them. Your hospital should have a pain team too, I'd expect.

PerfectlyDone Sun 04-Mar-18 11:19:16

It will likely take you 6 to 12 months to fully rehabilitate your knee joint.

Bone is live material and remodels itself over weeks and months; soft tissue like tendons and ligaments need to be mobilised to keep their flexibility.

Get past the early post-op period and then work hard at rehabilitation with a physiotherapist. 10 days is nothing, you WILL get better and the pain will improve.

No disrespect to orthopaedic surgeons, but what they do is basically carpentry, except with bone shock, so no wonder it hurts!!

Do accept the help and care you are getting, whether you are getting frustrated or despondent or not, it will still take the same amount of time, and while I have every sympathy with you for your patience being severely tested (I know mine would be!), it sounds like you will likely get a fully functioning leg back, so practice serenity and taking one day at a time thanks

Pandsbear Sun 04-Mar-18 11:23:14

Oh you poor thing as everyone has said it is early days and you are also recovering from all the actual surgery, never mind actually getting round to repairing yourself. My mum had a big leg op last summer and the first 6-8 weeks were hard going. I know because I was spending most of each week staying with her to look after her as she lives on her own. Progress felt slow and she was in pain but about 6 weeks in things started to get better. Pain levels fell after 3 weeks or so. By Christmas she was loads better - so 4 months/16 weeks. Still needs some painkillers sometime soon at night. Just look at it as one day at a time.

AnnieAnoniMouse Sun 04-Mar-18 11:26:09

Cuppa that all sounds dreadful, I’m so sorry ☕️🍰💐. I’d send alcohol but given your meds it’s probably not wise.

It was a VERY big & serious op you had, 10 days seems like ages for you now, but it’s really not. Think about when DS was 10 days old, did you expect him to be sitting up or crawling?!

It’s horrible being in pain, restricted in movement and worried. However, you have to play the long game and do whatever it takes to make this time more bearable. If you want people to visit, ring them and ask them to come over - they probably feel like they’re intruding if your DH is at home. When you’re feeling in a bit less pain & can focus, think about things you’ve been meaning to do for ages but don’t have time (sorting out online photos not making a veggie patch!), learn to play a new game with DS (chess, backgammon, crib). Listen to audio books, sleep.

It’s shit, but you can help yourself somewhat by accepting it’s going to take time to recover, but that you have made the best decision for the long term. You really didn’t have much of a choice.

Besides...there’s always us 😂😂.

Ooooohhhhhhh you knit or crochet? WoollyHugs needs lots of help right now! Then you’d feel ‘useful’ too!

ISpentTheDayInBed Sun 04-Mar-18 11:26:10

Hi Cuppa Sorry to hear you are having such a rotten time and in pain. I broke my tib and fib a couple of years back and had to have a plate and screws put in. I remember the pain being horrendous. It was 3 weeks before it began to subside. It was in winter too, and I remember the days being soooo long and I would often be in tears by 4.00pm at the thought of a long dull night ahead.

I am fully recovered now, and other than the odd twinge, I have no problems.

Hope you feel better soon flowers

rosesandcashmere Sun 04-Mar-18 11:27:04

I’ve had an ankle osteotomy and had severe nerve damage afterwards. It’s utter agony, you’ve all my sympathies and some. Good news is that it WILL improve. It is early days. Rest, be kind to yourself, sleep and cry. Pain is truly awful but you will get there.

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