TKR and Post-Operative Depression

Posted , 11 users are following.

Lots of people have posted about depression and anxiety after surgery.  I have a section in my old "...Another Kidney Stone" discussion about Post-Operative Depression but it's good for it to have its own...

POD is absolutely NORMAL!!!  It's something the doctors NEVER tell you about.  The condition is most common in people who have had an original body part removed and/or replaced (knee, hip, shoulder, heart, maybe brain someday...I have some candidates for that people who have had amputations).  In psychological terms, it's a "grieving" for something that's been part of you forever and now it's gone.  This is not a conscious don't sit there thinking about your old hip bone or knee joint.  It's all occurring on a subconscious level.

I first encountered POD after my hip replacement in 2009.  Four days in the hospital, six in rehab and then home.  After the meds wore off, I started crying...uncontrollably...about EVERYTHING!!!  Lasted three horrible days and then I called my cousin Greg who's been a doctor since the 60's. "They never told you to expect post-op depression?"  "WHAT???"  "Oh yeah, very common.  Just a Jedi Mind's not real.  Just your sub conscious grieving over the loss of an original piece of equipment."

It was literally a "lightbulb" moment.  Once I knew the cause of the depression I could deal with it.  Took literally 10 seconds to body slam it to the floor, stomp all over it and toss it out the window.  It was that least for me.  Been in IT for 46 years so I can think very analytically a lot of the time.  This was a piece of cake.  There was something in my head that didn't belong there...a fake emotion that was getting in the way of my recovery.  Time for it to go.

For others, the release from the effects of POD may take a bit longer but the result is the same.  All the crying and emotion AREN'T REAL!!!  It's just your mind's subconscious reaction to a very traumatic life event, whether you like it or not...whether you deal well with it on a conscious level or not.  There are still those underlying feelings that come to the surface when we least expect it.  I remember a specific Dove commercial with a mother and daughter that just had me bawling buckets.  There's no explanation of how any one person's mind makes connections that go far, far back and you find yourself grabbing for three boxes of Kleenex.

In the end, you get past it...but why not sooner rather than later?  You don't have to go through really don't.  Now you know what it is...and how fake it is...just toss it.  Apply your mind to the problem and get rid of it.  No anti-depressants, no sleeping pills, nothing.  In fact, the best cure is exercise.  Get those endorphins pumping and POD will be gone in a heartbeat.

If you feel this way, know that you're not alone.  It tried to hit me again when I had my TKR...but I recognized it and booted it out the door before it had the chance to take hold of my tear ducts.  You can do the same.  Recognize POD for what it is...that Jedi Mind Trick.  Control the situation with exercise, healthy eating and activities that don't allow POD to eat at your mind.  In the end, you'll not only be better off, but stronger for the victory.

12 likes, 19 replies

19 Replies

  • Posted

    Very helpful indeed.

    Low iron levels, energy drain, and the trauma of surgery, have a habit of unpeeling our normal resilience to feeling completely overcome.

    Lack of mobility and loss of independence too put people into a vulnerable place that we normally often avoid.

    But recognising the state for what it is is helpful.

    Cry, but no need to dwell...hence the need to focus so much on good, funny, positives..with avengence and determination. It is a battle.

    Anxiety about feeling down can be very difficult...

    And there is a big wave of subconscious stuff which creeps into play at the time we need more th a anything to fix our eyes and minds on what is good!

  • Posted

    They say what you don't know won't hurt you, what a bunch of bull. Had double arthodesis if left ankle in Sept 2016 and it was NWB for 12 weeks so mentally it was the worst experience I have ever felt. And with this surgery I now have a bad knee from limping and will need to be replaced. So I am reading all your posts hoping I will not be laid up as long. So thanks for the info

  • Posted

    Great advice Chico! I think all of us can relate to some depression after TKR! I still can fall victim to it once in a while. I will now kick it to the curb. Thanks for your wisdom!
  • Posted

    Thanks for this! Mine hit at about two weeks. Part of it was triggered by the stress of worrying that my prescriptions meds were being cut off at 17 days. But -- even though I had other options and still have some pain relief supplies of own - I was over the edge about everything. I just cried at the drop of the hat, barely did my exercises and didn't take a shower for exactly three days! I got through it. And if it happens again... I will recognize it for what it is! Thanks for the support!

  • Posted

    I am so pleased I found this thread. Normally very upbeat I am two weeks post tkr and I am crying my eyes out. Probably not helped by the fact it is New Year and I'm feeling really emotional anyway. I absolutely need to kick this in to touch. Thanks for the inspiration to do just that. Happy New Year.

  • Posted

    Hi Chico,

    Long time. Great article. I had not recognised this before. This time round I was teary (couldn't believe it, over almost nothing). I add fine now, swimming most mornings and walking pretty well.

    Hope you are well, and Thank you for this article, it makes sense now.


    • Posted

      Looking forward to Saturday night...the 17th.  Uber's going to make a fortune!!!!!

    • Posted

      Not over here Chic. We're small town, we can walk to our beautiful pubs.

      However,this Saturday is the big 6 Nations game England v Ireland. So I'm staying home with the family and some friends, fire lighting, some Guinness and dome nice grub. Can't beat it.

      Great to hear from you, hope you are well and still giving out sound advice.

      Take care,


    • Posted

      OMG...England vs. Ireland on St. Patrick's Day?  Really?  That probably doesn't happen very often.  Yes, you may walk to the pubs...but staggering home is a different tale indeed...  Have fun.

    • Posted

      I just turned 70.  I still work full time in IT and play blues/rock bass in clubs for actual money!  There's no such thing as "old".

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