Total Knee Replacement for Baby Boomers
Just yesterday, I visited by Orthopedic physician. He is a skinny little frazzled-looking Asian who does advanced arthroscopic surgery on huge Polynesian athletes amongst others. The cortisone injection he gave me eight months ago had worn off, and where I used to scurry up the two flights of stairs in our little townhouse like a gazelle, it had become increasingly difficult as of late. I had even begun going down the stairs backwards to alleviate the pain. Not to mention the fluid that had built up around the injured joint. Now I was begging for mercy.
After waiting a couple of hours for my appointment, I was finally called into the examination room. Dr. M assessed my left knee, and said it was full of fluid (I could have told him that!) He saw that I had brought along with me the diagnosis and recommended treatments he had given me at my last visit, after I had been x-rayed. I have a foreign body floating around above and to the left of my knee cap. Some days it travels between the joint (ouch!) It is growing bigger. My knee cap also is very unstable, and I had arthroscopic surgery several years ago to help a bit.
My very capable physician suggested we try to drain the knee and give me another cortisone shot, and he then left the room. He returned with two shot needles, one thin and long, the other one long and wide (yikes!) The first one was filled with a pain killer, so he could insert the big needle into the joint to drain it and inject the cortisone. The intial prick was the worst part, and I could feel him moving around underneath my knee cap. Then he put the large needle in and drained about three cc of yellowish fluid (lucky I was laying down!). I was just so glad to be finished, that I forgot to ask him all the important questions I had in my head earlier.
He did tell me that if I wanted the hyaluronic acid injections the next time, I would have to have my insurance pre-approve it. It involves getting three shots in three weeks, which may or may not help. Or, he could do another arthroscopy, or do a partial or total knee replacement. What exciting options!!
I left the doctor's office limping, but hopeful. My husband and I made a trip to Walmart for a few supplies. He made me sit in one of the physically-challenged carts (so nice!) It took me a while to get used to it without running people over. It makes very loud beeps when you go in reverse! It was interesting to see the looks on some people's faces. Now I know what it may feel like for my two-year-old granddaughter who has spina bifida when she is in her little wheelchair (only they didn't say that I am so cute, like they do to her). I ran into my husband, accidentally (I think!).
This morning, my knee does actually feel better - a bit tender from the shot, though! If you wonder why I am not getting knee replacement surgery, feel free to watch the video below, although I must warn you, it is not for the faint of heart. Also, I have two friends who have had both knees done. One is now walking with a cane (I am not that old!), and the other confessed to my daughter, who is a nurse, that her knees are hurting a lot. She had been told she would be off work for at the most one month, but was off three months. I think some people just take longer to heal. Another acquaintance got infection in her knees and had to go back in twice to get that under control. I have another friend who gets around really well on her mobile wheelchair. She lost one of her legs to arthritis. Call me chicken, if you like. I guess it fits! Oh, and have you seen those scars?
For now, I will probably stick with the cortisone shots, since they seem the least invasive at the moment. Since the world is supposed to end March 2012 (Mayans), I will wait and see if I am still alive after that, if Hawaii is still floating, and the medical system is still up to par before I reconsider my other options.
I would love to hear from any one of you that has had similar problems, how you deal with it, and if you have bitten the bullet and had knee replacement surgery and how it went. Aloha!