Knee Replacement: Four Months Later
I went back to see Dr. Ehrhart for a follow-up visit today. When all was said and done, he cleared me to do whatever I damn well please. As he said, the knee is solid. Does that mean I'm going to throw caution to the wind, start skating pools again and take up motocross racing? Not even. Yeah, the knee is solid. I can attest to that. However, the muscles in the leg aren't yet strong enough to stand up to the abuse I put my body through when I'm completely healthy. While I do appreciate being told I can do whatever I want, I know enough to listen to my body. The doctor was happily surprised to hear that I'm surfing and able to ride my bike even though I've got limited range of motion. It's not that he didn't believe I could do these things. The impression I got was that he was impressed by my willingness to do my thing in spite of what many might consider limitations. Dr. Ehrhart said that ultimately the attitude of the patient determines the outcome of the surgery. Apparently, I'm one of those with a good attitude. I would agree with that, I suppose. I didn't go into this looking for a miracle. I just wanted a knee that didn't hurt, one that would allow me to do what I do. Once I got to the point where the knee functioned enough for me to surf, I was happy. Frankly, that was good enough for me.
Do I still have pain? Yes, quite a bit of pain. I listen closely to that pain too. I ignore most of it. The thing I have to be careful about is ensuring I don't injure something else other than the knee. The issue for me since surgery has been hip pain. As that abated, it became clear to me that my IT band was a problem. It's the pain from my IT band which prevents me from walking long distances. I've paid close attention to this problem. I've rested it properly. I've stretched it regularly. I've got people who attack it with massage. The IT band problem is much better. However, I'm still mindful when I do things that might exacerbate it.
My knee hurts as I type this. I surfed this morning and lifted later. My knee is not happy. I know, nonetheless, that I've done no damage to the joint. This is part of the recovery process. From the beginning, my approach was to face down the pain. I truly believe that one's ability to deal with pain plays a large role in how one recovers. I still take nothing for pain during the day. At night, I smoke a little collie weed—Classic OG Kush from one of my local dispensaries—to help me sleep.
There are sites on the internet that are filled with people telling their horror stories about knee replacement. There are also sites, like BoneSmart.org, where people give each other support throughout the process. If you're thinking about a knee replacement, stay away from the negativity. All it does is scare you away from something that, barring complications, will improve your quality of life in ways you didn't know possible.
What's next for me? Riding my mat!