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What You Need to Know BEFORE Your Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee Replacement is pretty scary, but you can do it, especially if you are prepared! After you and your Doctor have decided you need your knee replaced, it’s time to make preparations. First and foremost, check with your insurance company to make sure which benefits you have. Find out specifically how long they will allow you to stay in the hospital. Many insurance companies will make you leave the on the fourth day after the operation and they may send you to a “rehabilitation facility”, which in their jargon could mean a nursing home. In my experience, I was transferred to the nursing home on a Friday. This meant I would not be evaluated by their visiting physical therapist until Monday.
Because of that, I declined from a 90 degree bend in my new knee to a 70 degree bend, in just three days. All my rehab in the hospital had just gone down the drain and I had to start all over again. Just so you know, you will be working towards a 125 degree bend after the Knee Replacement Surgery. It is very important to know how the insurance company will deal with you before, during and after the knee surgery. Call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask the following questions: * Find out with whom you are speaking, their position and their extension number.
* I want to know what benefits I have for a total Knee Replacement. * Do I have skilled Physical Therapy benefits in the hospital where the surgery takes place for the Knee Replacement? Yes or No? If yes, what are they? * Do I have Rehabilitation benefits for the Knee Replacement? Yes or No? If yes, what are they? Where may I go for the services? * Do I have Rehabilitation equipment and supplies covered for the Knee Replacement? Yes or No? If yes, what are they? Is there a co-pay? * Do I have ongoing outpatient therapy benefits for after the Knee Replacement? Yes or No? If yes, what are they? Where may I go for services? * Do I have home therapy benefits after the Knee Replacement? Yes or No? If yes, what are they? Which Home Health agencies may I use after the Knee Replacement? To maintain your independence at home, after your Knee Replacement Surgery, buy a bar refrigerator that will go on a table next to your bed. This will be invaluable when you do come home. Stock it with water, sodas, milk, Jell-O’s and individual pudding snacks. Fresh fruit is also a good snack. Purchase the 2 oz boxes of cereals and stack them beside the refrigerator. Put a large plastic drinking cup next to the bed and weight it with a golf ball, which will hold plastic utensils, knives, forks and spoons (the golf ball keeps it from tipping over). Use a plastic bowl for the cereal and throw it away when you’re done. Bumblebee Tuna makes an individual lunch kit that comes pre-made with crackers and a little wooden spoon. These little things will help you feel independent by being able to get breakfast, snacks and an occasional lunch on your own.
It also gives your care giver a little break. I found that there were some days that I had no appetite due to pain and/or medication so I kept a stock of Slim Fast or Boost in the refrigerator for basic nutrition. If you smoke, now is the time to stop or at least cut down. Smoking constricts your blood vessels which is not a good thing when you’re going in for major surgery. If you tend to be a little over weight try to lose a few pounds. A little less weight on a new knee joint means a little less pain. Okay, no more preaching. Line up the people that will be helping you after your Knee Replacement Surgery and, believe me, you will need them. If you can afford it, hire someone to come in for 4-6 hours a day. They will help you get out of bed, shower and get dressed.
They prepare your meals, help you with your therapy exercises, keep you company and give your spouse or significant other, a break. Interview them now and let them know what your timing is. Your church would be a good place to find someone, or if you live near a retirement community, many times they have companions of their own that are looking for some extra income. This isn’t essential but I think wise. Donate two pints of your own blood in case of an emergency. Make sure that this is completed at least a week before the surgery. You have to donate one pint per week. If you are taking antibiotics wait five days before giving blood. The blood bank will give you a card with the unit number on it that you present upon admission to the hospital. You will need Grab Bars put into your shower/tub (don’t use your towel bars).
Put them in before you have the surgery, installation is not that difficult and you will be grateful for the assistance over the next couple of months. This is a major safety issue. Balance will be tough after your Knee Replacement Surgery especially the first couple of weeks. You should buy a shower stool so you can sit while bathing. Your doctor may supply you with a cast protector to keep your new knee dry. Purchase three rubber mats, one for in the shower/tub and the other two to be lined up parallel outside the shower/tub. You do not want to slip on a wet bathroom floor. There is a product; a disposable body wash cloth, available that you can use to bathe in your bed. They can be placed in the microwave to be heated up and you can use them on days that you just can’t face the shower.
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