The D’s Knees – Part 1

I have had my second knee replaced. That means I’m on my way to becoming a new woman. What a refreshing thought in my senior years. I can also have my hips and shoulders done. But I’m on my own for now in keeping my wits about me.

I’m writing, first, because I have met so many people with new knees and we all compare notes and often incisions. I can tell you that experiences vary widely. Also, people contemplating a knee replacement are full of questions. I suspect that they get as many different answers as there are people whom they question (not counting physicians.) No one size fits all for the experience. Yet, some things are standard and predictable and within a range of normal.

Today joint replacement is regarded as a routine surgery, one that is  undergone by vast numbers of people, both seniors and others.  Still, I was not without a lot of reservations about such an invasive and major procedure. Never known for my medical bravery  (In my 20’s I passed out after a glaucoma test; how embarrassing, especially for Ray who had to claim me),  I undertook the first knee replacement only when it became a true quality of life issue.

We could no longer travel and spend whole days walking cities from end to end. Our plans were dictated by driving so I could get out and do something limited and local. I had gone along with all the medical protocols for knees – cortisone shots, arthroscopy, three rounds of physical therapy over 20 years, and sinovial fluid injections. Nothing worked. Today, there is a medical debate whether arthroscopy is of any real value for advanced generative arthritic knees.

The one piece of information I found to be true was that I would know when it was time to have my knees replaced.  Knee replacement is an elective procedure. A doctor will not prescribe it for you, so I’m told, and my  physicians did not. I had to present with the pain and limitations and tell them that I could not continue as I was. Patients are encouraged to not proceed prematurely. After all, these prosthetic joints do not come with a lifetime guarantee. Estimates vary for the joints, but they seem to fall into the 10 to 15 to 20 year range. Surgeons will caution against doing it too soon so that you will not have to have a second joint before your time runs out.

Five years ago I could not walk a block in our small village without extreme knee pain. While I felt it in my knees, the contortions from walking the way I did had ramifications for the rest of my body. My hips and back ached; my ankles were sore; my feet had pains; and, I could not find a pair of shoes that felt good for getting about. It was time.

Next time, I’ll discuss the research on where to have it done and how I chose my surgeon.

In the meantime, we’d like to hear from you regarding your experiences and your concerns. Mind you, we can’t dispense medical advice, but a good airing of our collective thoughts might be of use to others.

Just leave a reply.



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