Should I Have By-Lateral Knee Surgery

The Beginning

Well it started about nine years ago, that twinge of minor pain in my left knee. And, as time progressed I learned how to rest for a few minutes and that would help alleviate the discomfort. As more time past, and then a few years I noticed that this was happening in both my knees.

Two years the five years went by and I noticed when I walked with friends I could not keep up. I knew if we were in the woods and a bear show up and my friends took off running..... well let's just say I knew who was on the menu.

Finally this problem evolved in to a full time pain management program for me. Oh, I don't want to imply that I was in pain all the time... I wasn't. But going up stairs and walking for then 100 feet was becoming an Olympic event in my case.

So, I started getting friends mentioning, and especially my wife, that I should see a doctor. Well, I thought about it a time or and decided I might have to to improve the quality of my life for that matter.

Summer of 2013.... I decided, on my own, that I would see a specialist about my knees. I did this essentially because I have a family friend who had one knee done and was there to see her go through the process and rehabilitate.

July 2013: I'm sitting in the doctor's office!

Hi Mr. Foster, I'm Dr. Dounchis

In he comes. Probably late forties, lean, & handsome. Like he walked off a movie set. Well, my first impressions were good. He ordered x-rays and nothing else. When they came back, he looked me right in the eye and said, "Tom, you are bone on bone.... you need complete knee replacement in both knees.

Calm as can be, I said, "Let's do it then." He gave me a shot of cortisone and I headed for home after setting up my dates. He had asked me which knee I wanted done first and I said my left (thinking it was the worst)

The next day the cortisone had really taken affect and I thought, "wow, I don't need any surgery, I feel great." Purely delusional at best. Truth is the cortisone is only a mask, or a band-aid. And you really can only take just so much cortisone over a period of time.

September 9th, and September 11th were my big days and I had two months to think about it. Well, there wasn't much to think about.......it had to be done.

The two months went by in no time. I a big football fan and the season was getting closer and I was pleased about that. Then it got down to the final week. I had no idea really of what I was in for. But I tried to be positive and act like no big deal.

In the mean time I was hearing from well meaning friends that I should think twice about having both knees done at once. The alternate being one knee this year and one next year.

My My I just did not know what to do so I prayed. This calmed me and I put everything in the Lords hands and the skill of the surgeon.

It is now the early morning of September 9th!

Just one, or both?

Should I do one this year, and one next...or Both?

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Batter Up (All Systems Are a Go!)

Well, my life was about to change. But in order for this to happen I had to turn my knees over to the skill of the surgeon.

When the process started I was transported by gurney to a special room and given a spinal, and from there everything went blank................................................

The next few days were basically a blur. I had the left knee done on the 9th, and the right knee done on the 11th. I assume I got the 10th off for good behavior. I remember them getting me up for a walk a time or two. I felt drugged of course, but I felt very crippled at the time also.

Thursday came and went, and so did Friday. I was becoming more aware of the things around me by then. The staff informed me that there were no animals in the room, and the people I saw crawling on the walls and ceiling were not real. I also asked myself, "What the h... have I done to myself!"

Saturday was a big day also. I was going to be transported to the rehabilitation center.

I sat in the wheelchair as the orderly wheeled me down to the transport. Off we go for the five minute ride to my next home for two and a half weeks!

Not my knees, but this is what it looks like.
Not my knees, but this is what it looks like.

Recommended Tips

  1. Go into this with the correct positive attitude
  2. Realize it is a major operation and will take time
  3. Have a good support system
  4. Pray often, He is there for us
  5. Take pride in little improvements!
  6. Big ones will follow
  7. Take on rehabilitation with a positive attitude
  8. They are there to help, listen to the PT folks
  9. Remember you are all a team!

Give Me Three Days, And You Will Own The Place

Saturday and Sunday were days for a little R & R. But, now Monday comes along and I find out I'm scheduled to start Boot Camp! (My word for rehabilitation)

I gingerly got into my wheelchair with the help of a nurse. Down the hall we go!

Now I have to tell you that, as a former professional ballplayer, I had decided that I wanted to make my rehabilitation fun. I may hurt a little, but it is for the long term result. And that is what I was after. Little things eventually turn into bigger things. And I was going to be a player. As the male nurse told me when I first got to the rehab center, "Give us three days, and you will own the place!" After that first week of rehab I felt like I was making slow but sure progress.

I could see my PT instructors smiling and say, "He's doing great" and my confidence started to grow from there.........by the end of week two, I had gone from wheelchair to walker, and from walker to cane. My how I loved what was happening.

It was great being at the center with others. A feeling of shared experience. Make friends while you recovery, share your experiences. We are all human beings and we have the power to uplift the spirits of our friends, or maybe even a kind word of encouragement.

Yes, after fourteen days, I had a cane. I had excelled in my rehabilitation to the point where I was told I would be leaving and going home in three days. So I wanted to leave everyone still there with a positive feeling that it can be done. I used no cane the last three days, and I walked by everyone to show them that they can do it too.

Three days passed and my wife, Bonnie, came to pick me up and take me home. What a great day, what a fantastic feeling!


Home Sweet Home!

Home is where the heart is! Old saying but true, at least in my case. Everyone is different, and everyone will have their own unique experiences with their rehab at home and at out-patient services. I was very happy to have had this surgery.

Doing your rehab and continuing to exercise your knees is important, very much so. This is really a slower process that takes a year to eighteen months to accomplish. But I can tell you this from my experience. I have no more pain in my knees whatsoever $6! I am free of arthritis in my knees and I have rebuilt knees that will last me the rest of my life. I could not be happier.

I can walk on the beach with my wonderful and loving wife, and dance, also. Life is what we make of it. We have opportunities and one of mine was to get this operation. I remember how pleased I was at rehab when the nurse came to remove the staples from my knees.

I always remember the day I left the Rehab Center. The team of people from the surgeon down to the orderlies that help me and encouraged me.

I opted to go with getting both knees done at once because with that there would be just one rehabilitation, instead of two.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. This is a true story, and it happened to me. September 9th, and 11th, of 2013. I year later and I consider this a great blessing. I would love to hear your comments, and if you are on the fence about having this operation done. I will be cheering for you! You CAN do it!


© 2014 TOM FOSTER

2 comments

Ann Hinds profile image

Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal

Thanks for sharing your story. My doctor says not yet but it's coming and positive stories like yours make it less scary.


Joe Tansey 2 years ago

Tom, you did a beautiful job explaing your surgery and crehab. Think I will have mine done before they start hurting. :-). Sounds like fun. You are a good writer. See you at church. Thanks for your call.

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