Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Arthritis. I have it. I am not sure how one "gets" it but it seems to have affected the daughters in my family and not the sons. And it seems to prefer our knees. And knee replacements seem to be the remedy of the day. I had (and continue to have some problems with my neck) but it is the knees that have given me the most problems. My pain started sometime in 2006 and maybe a little earlier. But in 2007, I really ran into trouble when somehow or another I tore the meniscus in my left knee - both sides. I had arthroscopy to clean things out a bit and to trim the meniscus. It gave me relief for the moment. However, my orthopedic surgeon told me that when he looked inside, things were much worse than he had thought and that I would eventually need replacement surgery. Well, I wasn't really up for any of that kind of talk...after all, at that moment, I was feeling pretty good and walking just fine. But it wasn't long before I was feeling the pain of "bone on bone" with every step I took. It was really hampering my style and my activities. I love gardening and poking around outside pulling weeds and planting flowers. And I absolutely love birdwatching. I've gotten so much into birdwatching that we plan our vacations around birding hotspots. But birds live in the woods and in parks and that involves some walking so the arthritis was more than annoying. And then there was work. The commute downtown involves waiting on the platform for the train, then changing over to the metro at Union Station, then changing metro trains, and then walking three city blocks to get to the building where I work. Lots of opportunities for knee pain and stiffness. By evening when I got back home from work, I was seriously limping and hurting. You can only take so much Advil and all those joint remedies just do not fix the problem. But I kept putting things off. I would see the doctor occasionally and he would give me the same ole story - you need a replacement. What I needed was more gumption - guess the pain wasn't bad enough to get me to risk the surgery. In December of last year, the right knee got involved. So now I had pain in both knees but hoped that the right knee had not deteriorated so much and could be saved. Of course, arthritis cannot be cured so much as treated and tolerated. At the end of January, I had surgery for the left knee. The surgery is not so much a "replacement" as a "re-surfacing" to add titanium and plastic to the bottom of the femur, the top of the tibia, and the back of the kneecap. This is not a tutorial on the subject and I am not an expert...you'll have to look it up if you want to know more at this point. There are tons of videos on YouTube that show the procedure very graphically that I dare not watch. This was, by far, the most traumatic medical procedure I had ever had and it pretty much kicked my butt. Recovery has been slow at times but I am recovering. Unfortunately, the surgery and therapy for the left knee has further aggravated the right knee so here I am again heading for replacement surgery. When I got the left knee replaced, I sent out email updates to my close friends and family. For the right knee, I will take you with me. Why have a blog if you cannot share experiences? The surgery is tomorrow. I am nervous but not so much as I was the last time. This time I know what to expect. That is good and bad. I know it will be hard and there will be lots of pain. But I also know that the body heals and I get stronger each day. And I know I will need lots of naps - sleep helps when you're healing. So the surgery is the event; the healing is the journey. Stay tuned - we're in for a ride.