08 June 2009

Knee Replacement: Seven Weeks Later

I swim. Sans pull buoy. I use the kickboard. Badly. I smile much more than I did seven weeks ago.

These days I'm trying to decide whether the knee is a pain or a nuisance. The god-awful excruciating pain is long gone. The pain that remains is more of a constant ache. My limp is almost non-existent. My hip distress, which threatened to overshadow what I was feeling in the prosthetic joint, is almost gone too. I'm at the point where you see the tunnel and wonder why someone is shining such a bright light at the end of it.

There is no doubt I'll be surfing before the year is up. I'll probably paddle out before the summer is over. After lying on the floor for awhile the other day, I unconsciously popped up to my feet instead of just getting up off the floor. I still have the strength and speed for a quick pop-up. However, this leg doesn't bend enough for a decent pop-up. That is simply unacceptable. I'm gonna push to regain the flexion I had prior to surgery.

Don't get me wrong, there is pain. I'm not at the stage where you forget about your new joint. It won't let me put it out of my mind. It won't let me sleep comfortably. At least not yet. Still, for weeks there was indescribable pain that attacked my knee every time I stood up. It was agonizing. It didn't matter if I was getting out of bed, getting up from a chair, getting out of the car, getting off of the toilet. Didn't matter. I'd stand up and it felt like all of the pain in the universe migrated to my knee for about 30 seconds. Pain like that is the reason they made Vicodin, Percocet and all of those other drugs I refuse to take. I won't miss that pain. I don't wish it on anyone.

I figure the new knee gives me about 15 additional years of surfing. I know I may need to go back in for surgery during my lifetime. These prosthetic joints don't last forever, especially if you're active. I'm fine with that. My old knee, the one I was born with, was done. I don't know that I could have gutted out even another year with it. There was no way I was going to spend the rest of my life sitting on my ass in mind-numbing pain. I guess I was more afraid of that possibility than I was of the pain of joint replacement.

I'm not at the end of this joint replacement journey, but I am nearing the end of my blog posts about it. I just want to leave a paper trail for those who will follow.


At 6/9/09, 9:44 AM, Blogger pranaglider said...

Your blog posts have been an inspiration. Thank you and see you in the surf.

At 6/9/09, 10:17 AM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Thank you, my friend.

I don't think my blog posts even begin to describe the emotional and physical roller coaster that is joint replacement. I wish I could be even more articulate about it.

I will certainly see you in the water before the year is out.

At 6/9/09, 11:37 AM, Blogger El Hefe said...

Sounds like you're nearing the fun part of watching the strength and flexability come back faster than you can imagine. Good job. At some point, maybe a year or two from now, you'll be cruizing along and realize that you haven't even noticed the fake knee for a week or two. No pain, no limp, no nothing.

Now about all this excess vicoden and percocet just laying around.

At 6/9/09, 3:41 PM, Blogger Whiffleboy said...

I'd offer an FnC meetup for your triumphant return to the water, but I know that automatically nullifies any chance of there being any actual waves.

Just have SB1 take photos.

At 6/9/09, 5:31 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

El Hefe, you know you're my role model, right?

My strength is returning quickly. The flexibility is still not what I would like. But I see good things happening now.

Whiff, we should all meet for a surf. I will need it to be small and gutless for my first session back.

At 8/13/09, 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 3 weeks out and just found you. A life long swimmer but also a Social worker and Mom who let my caregiver role interrupt my fitness, I have used this crisis to recover
in many ways. I want to make sure you know about quadriceps-sparing
TKR. It is different than just "mimimally invasive"-it spars yout quads completely. Nt many surgeons are trained to do it. It is harder for them-like putting a ship together in a bottle. It can even be outpatient. That is what had.
My recovery has been much swifter than trad'l TKR.

At 11/18/10, 3:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello i see your post was over a year ago now and am wondering how you are getting on as i have been told that i have to have both my knees replaced at some point, i have been told i have to wear my old ones out first, but im wondering will i ever be able to surf with the new knees? will i ever be able to get up on plastering stilts, to do large ceilings again is another concern, hope you are back surfing, regards

At 11/18/10, 5:42 AM, Blogger Surfsister said...

If you click on July 2009, you will see that I started surfing three and a half months after the surgery. Now, I surf as much as I want as hard as I want. There's someone I met through this blog who had both knees replaced not long after I did. He is back to surfing as well. You will be able to surf with your new knees. It takes some work to get through the recovery, but I'm certain you can do it. You can go to the right side and click on "Current Posts" to see what I'm doing now. This will be you not long after you have your knees done. Write to me as much as you like.

At 11/18/10, 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the encourgement sis i will keep you posted when it happens im in the early stages at the moment, i get pains on the inside of both knees more on the right than the other knee as i had keyole on that one where i had some torn cartalidge taken out i feel like he cut to much out, i was always into contact sports, i cant do that now because of the knees, now im trying surfing as this seems like a fun none contact sport, and was googling surferers with knee replacements thats where i found you, just another question if you dont mind? was yours a partial or full replacement?

At 11/26/10, 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi sister,your a legend to me.Im 56 and having pain mainly in my left knee but the xrays show not a lot of carlidge left on the inside of both especially the left one due to a piece taken out 18 years ago.Anyway ive been looking into stem cell technology and it sounds like it might be worth a try before having a knee replacement.I have surfed for 40 years and would die before i gave it up but the pain of a night is hard to take after a one hour surf,There is a company that does stem cell replacement in arizona u.s.a and a company called regenus in aust which is still trialing stem cells but could be a couple of years off.What do you think?

At 11/27/10, 7:19 AM, Blogger Surfsister said...

I think that if stem cell therapy looks like a viable option, you should try it. I really didn't want to have a knee replacement at 45, but it was my only option. Like you I didn't want to stop surfing, but the pain was leading me in that direction. The knee replacement was my only hope. Had I been able to do stem cell therapy, I certainly would have given it a try.

"Legend"? LOL. Thank you, dear. I'm just a surfer who was determined to keep going. You will be the same way. You'll see.

At 11/1/11, 4:21 PM, Blogger Aqua Dreams said...

Hi, My husband was told only yesterday that he needs a partial knee replacement. He is 55 next month and totally devastated as the surgeon has told him he will probably not be able to surf after surgery. He has been surfing for 45 years and would rather jump off a cliff than give up. He is considering putting the op off for another year or 2 to get more surfing in. We have just completed building a boat to travel to remote surf places, that now looks like a pipe dream.

Any information or suggestions you have on whether he should put it off or have it done sooner would be appreciated. I can see from all the comments about the love of surfing that you will understand exactly where he is at.

Thanks from a concerned surfy wife.


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