Estimates say there are more than 600,000 total knee replacements (TKR) in this country every year. Last January, I was one of those.
Seven years ago I was knocked off my bicycle on a nearby trail. I landed hard on my right knee adding injury to the insult of existing arthritis. When I told the story to my doctor, he chuckled. He was glad I was hurt while being active. “Better than sitting at home doing nothing,” is his philosophy. He sent me for some physical therapy and, over the years since, I tried various injections, all in hopes of avoiding surgery. Yes, stalling!
Like so many others, including my younger daughter, I reached the point where every step was grinding the heck out of the shredded remains of cartilage and bone. No more morning walks, bike rides, or shopping. (Truthfully, I’m not really a shopper, but the idea that I couldn’t go made me want to.)
The side-trip excursions on our travels left me “sitting by the side of the road.” On a sea trip around the British Isles I didn’t get to see puffins up close because I couldn’t climb the cliff to their nesting site. On a Canyons trip out west, I limped along worrying about being a drag on our little group. And when I wanted to try hang gliding off the dunes in North Carolina I was told I needed two good knees to land. I could paraglide though, and that was way better. I flew higher and a nice young man named Jim took care of take-off and landing. All I had to do was hang on and enjoy the view.
But surgery was inevitable.
I wasn’t afraid of Dr. M’s hacksaw nor the idea of his arsenal of power tools, but the long rehab and months of physical therapy were daunting to think about. Thanks to daughters Carolynn and Leslie, my recovery went smoothly. It helped that Leslie had TKR six months earlier. I learned from her experience and borrowed her “equipment” — walker, cane, commode frame (don’t ask), and cache of OTC medications. This past June, I returned those aids because she had her other knee replaced. Between us then, three knees to add to the annual total, and now the threat looms on Carolynn’s horizon.
Chris, the physical therapist I saw three times a week post-op for three months, could make a contortionist cry “uncle.” He was wonderful in spite of my carrying on. “Nothing you can do will be worse than childbirth,” I said during my first visit. I’d have another baby (were that even possible) before I’d go through PT again.
Knock on wood my left knee remains intact!
In August, Brian Williams, “NBC Evening News” anchor, announced he would, “be away for a while.” He’d finally given in and was having TKR for the knee he’d crushed in a high school football game when he was nineteen. Williams’ progress rated mention on “Nightly News” and “Today.” I wrote my own headline:
PAIN FREE AND GOOD TO GO WHEREVER…!