Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Left Knee Has Been Acting Up

I Meet the New Surgeon

Last fall I told my regular M.D. that I really wanted a referral to a different orthopedic specialist. I had trouble communicating with the one I had been seeing for the past couple of years. And frankly, I didn't want him "working" on me. In November I got an appointment to meet a new joint specialist.

Well, I didn't actually meet him but I was examined and interviewed by his Physician Assistant. He looked at the x-rays and told me that I need a knee replacement. I asked, "How soon?" And he said, "Can you be here tomorrow morning?" But seriously folks, he said it needs to be in the next two or three months. "Call us when you are ready."

In the middle of December I was ready and called to start the process. By then I was having lots of problems walking and used a cane all the time. A few days later the date for the surgery was set -- late January -- and I went in to meet the new orthopedic doctor.

I don't know why I was dreading this appointment so. Maybe I shouldn't have fired the previous specialist? What if I dislike this one as much as the former one? Does this appointment mean I am really going to have the surgery in three weeks?

An hour and fifteen minutes after my appointment time, in walks the doctor. He's friendly, soft-spoken and very reassuring. He immediately answered my first five questions before asking me what questions I had. I didn't have any other questions.

Yes, I need Total Knee Replacement (TKR) surgery for the left knee. Apparently it is the same thing as a Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA).

The exam confirmed what his assistant had found: my knee needs replacing soon. Strangely when he was twisting my leg around to see how much play was in the joint (a lot) it didn't hurt much. For the past several weeks there has been less pain in the left knee. The right heel has been much more painful, especially at night. Either I have gotten used to the left knee or the pain transmitters have ground away along with some of my bone and cartilage. Maybe a little of both.

He told me I would be in the hospital three to five days and might need a few more days, perhaps a week, in a rehab facility. Rehab is unlikely as we live in a single story house and there are no stairs to deal with. And Jack will be here to help me and drive me to physical therapy for the weeks I can't drive.

The next step for me is the pre-op interview at the hospital next week. Then I'll find out everything I'll have to do before the surgery. And after.

If you really want to know more about the procedure, here's a link to the University of Iowa's TKR information.


Claire F Rich said...

Hi Ken,

My Mom has had total knee replacement 5 times. Both legs more than once. I guess the old replacements didn't last a lifetime. Then she had a hard fall and broke one and had it replaced.

Each time the surgery and recovery pain was less than the pain before surgery. Her last one was maybe 5 years ago.

No fun, but worth it in the end. Good luck!


Kenyo said...

Thanks for the comment, Claire.

My most recent surgery, in the past 15 years, has been getting a wart removed from my hand.

So I have been maybe a little too concerned with these upcoming procedures. But I hate all this hospital stuff. And that old fear of the unknown.

R J said...

Hi, Kenyo, it seems that you went through a lot of difficulties for your knee surgery. Your experience reminds me of my uncle who was also suffering from severe ortheoarthritis. Finally, one of his friends recommended the Horder Centre ( The orthopedic specialist at the center advised him to opt for a knee replacement surgery. Now, he's no longer dependent on any support while walking and completely relieved from his pain.

Kenyo said...

Thank you, RJ, for your comment. I had the surgery on January 29 and my knee is much better and the pain is relieved. Watch this blog for info on my day-to-day progress through the after effects of the knee replacement surgery and a tricky knee ligament procedure.