Friday, July 13, 2012

The long saga returns: Another new knee

If I could go back in time, I would tell the younger me to knock it off.
I was ridiculously active in everything involving my legs - running, backpacking, hiking, hill climbing, even leg presses. I had built up strong thigh muscles and often put them to the test. But, over time, it was taking a toll on my knees. Arthritis in my family's gene pool didn't help and eight years ago in Indiana, I had a full knee replacement in my left leg.
About nine months later, I returned to hiking, biking and hill climbing. Unfortunately, I had to stop running which was most therapeutic for me. But at least I was active again pushing the limits, of course. Then, last year, the right knee finally started going out. The doctor found torn meniscus and quite a lot of arthritis. I delayed the inevitable by taking an injection of Synvisc, a lubricant, that helped a little while waiting for the most opportune time for the surgery. It had to be when my wife could take time off to help in the recovery. Men can be such wimps.
Meanwhile, because I couldn't exercise, I ballooned in weight and that just put more pressure on the knee. It got to the point where it's "bone on bone" and a rather painful groove has formed.
So here we are. On July 24, the right knee will be replaced. This is not an uncommon procedure. More than 600,000 replacements are performed each year and in ten years, as many as 3.2 million surgeries could be performed annually. Since this looks like something many of us baby boomers will be facing, I thought I would chronicle the experience and share it with you over the next few weeks both in this blog and on Twitter.
Having undergone this procedure before, I am not looking forward to the journey - especially the therapy - but I anxiously await the destination. I can only hope that since my last surgery the process from operation to therapy has improved (I'm looking at you, doc). I will offer some insights comparing the two experiences and I'd be interested in hearing from those of you who have undergone this type of surgery or even thinking about. Meanwhile, for the rest of you, invest in really good running shoes. You'll thank me later.