Managing pain after surgery

I am recovering from knee surgery. Two weeks ago tomorrow I had a patello-femoral implant in each knee. Everyone tells you that it will be painful, and it is, and that recovery will be slow, and it is.  I am having skilled physiotherapy and that is helping to get me mobile again, though slowly. Codeine and paracetamol help but I have found that for the more intense pain, for instance following getting up from a seated position, or for the times when the drugs are wearing off and it’s too soon for the next lot, mental exercises can help enormously.

Here is what works for me:

  • Two wrapped gel ice packs are in place, one on each knee
  • I do steady 7/11 breathing focusing on each breath, breathing in to a slow count of seven and breathing out to a slow count of eleven
  • The pain: I visualize the pain as a black blob on each knee, a big hard black blob
  • Then I imagine each blob shrinking to the size of a small black bead
  • I mentally pick up the beads and lay them to one side
  • The pain retreats
  • If I am doing this in bed when pain is bad in the middle of the night, I usually then fall asleep.