Moving On

I know this is self indulgent, but consider it a service, because about 1 in 8 people will be shopping for a new knee or hip someday.  Or if you are like me, you will be begging for one. I can be your test pilot.  I am scheduled for knee replacement.   April 26th is the date that I am supposed to be reborn as a non-gimpy girl. It will take until then for some lab to manufacture the perfect limb. I have chosen traditional- not non-invasive surgery- because I toe in, and it will allow a more precise positioning of the replacement knee. DO not try to reprogram me.  I am scheduled. 

.pigeon toed Janet.jpg
This is me at 4- already in orthopedic shoes.  I wore them throughout high school, and they got clunkier. To me, Penny Loafers were heaven; I was in Buster Brown Oxford hell.  

I have started my "to-do" list of pre-operation tasks.  Tomorrow I will have a CT scan of my left leg so that the knee prosthesis can be created to my own unique and pigeon toed specifications. In the weeks to come, I will give blood, have a physical, get a heart check up and go to joint replacement class.  Once my checklist is all filled in, the saw, grinder, glue and sutures can be applied to my knee.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared, and I'd be lying if I did not say I was excited to move on. Or just to move without having to go peg-leg for stability and pain relief.
I picked the day (Monday) because it is good to get a fresh Doctor.  I thought I would only be in one night, but they have me penciled in for 3.  I want to be home for the weekend. Steve will be home from Florida, and he will make a good orderly.  He can do his podcasts during the week while I am in the hospital, and I can come home to his immersion in my rehabilitation.  For anyone who knows Steve, it is obvious that I am joking about his nursing me back.  I will be happy if he just keeps the dogs out of my way.  The White Sox are out of town that week, so I will not be keeping him from the Cell. If the Blackhawks are going strong in the playoffs, Steve may be miffed.  But we can work it out.  I'm pretty sure that I will get ambulatory quickly.  I plan to embrace my pain killers, and work the knee into its new home.  
IMG_0329.JPG    This is a simulated damaged knee.IMG_0331.JPG
This is a brand new fake knee.
I am lucky: I have only stayed in the hospital to have a child.   I am pouting that this time my parting gift from Hinsdale Hospital will be the mold that they use to build-a-knee. A baby was much more fun to bring home. The knee mold will not require a car seat or sleepless nights, though.  In fact, the painkillers guarantee sleepy nights.  The ability to do the two-step at Mike's wedding is a nice consolation, though I am a bad dancer, and Steve hates to dance at all.  I WILL be able to line dance and macarena with my friends and family. That should horrify Steve and the boys.  I need to brush up on the electric slide.  
The scar is 8-10 inches long, and will end my mini-skirt days- but those should have ended already, due to my age.  It's just that my legs, from the knee down, at least, are the only part of me that is not lumpy.  Now I will have a zipper scar on my only svelte surface. When I visit the orthopedic office, the chairs are fraught with zippers.  It is the tattoo of a secret club- those with replacement parts.  My goal is to get strong and prevent the other leg from going all arthritic on me.  My physical therapist always chirps at me, "motion is lotion" and so I will have to get up and get along to make this knee my own. 

By the time that the stitches have healed and the risk of infection is gone, the pool will be open for me to rehab in.  If that is not perfect timing, I don't know what is.  
If you had a bad result, or want to tell me scary stories, please don't.  I want to be Pollyanna Janet, skipping into her new improved leg.  To reward you, I promise I will only post my happy results, not any complaints.  Then when it is your turn-or your spouses/parents/friends turn to get bionic- I will share my sunny success.  Promise.  In the mean time, I will carry on with a hitch in my step, a gel pack in the freezer and an heating pad in the nightstand.  But the countdown has begun.  56 days.  


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  • Rehab, Rehab, Rehab! I had mine done in Sept/08 and it was the best decision, even though I was only 49. My scar is a badge of honor, but you have to do what they tell you. Don't wimp out or you'll pay for it. I have complete range of motion, but the first few months are tough, no doubt about it. You will be dancing at Mike's wedding and it will all be worth it. I had to spend 4 nights in the hospital, so you are lucky.

  • I wish you luck Janet. Everyone has a different story and none are the same, so anyone telling you anything should have no bearing, but for some odd reason people like to relive things. I had 2 surgeries at the end of 08, not knee related, and the horror told to me before hand was unbelievable. THis ones sister had it and that ones brother did it and yada yada. talk is cheap
    Your Catholic upbringing will make you check , recheck and double check everything, but in the end, you will be pain free and gimpless (if that is even a word) and that is truly why you are doing it....

  • In reply to lyndag:

    Thank you, Linda- I will try not to be so obsessed about this- I am trying to pre-fear it so I can be brave when it happens. I know that does not work. Still, it is the Catholic way. I feel kucky that so many prople are encouraging me here and on Facebook. Because I am Chicken Little. But I am tired of being a crabby complainer. Some people have things that there is no fix for- I am the lucky one!

  • In reply to JanetDahl:

    That's my thought also, Janet. It is fixable and we are so blessed to live in a time of computers and high tech procedures. Don't think about it until the time comes....making the decision was the best thing!!

  • In reply to JanetDahl:

    Hello Janet; I had both my knees done this past year. Now that a year has passed from the first knee, I would say it was the best thing I could have done for myself. My wife is a surgical nurse and wanted me to pursue the latest less invasive knee replacement surgery. I am not trying to sway you in any way, but I have to say my surgery was a resounding success. As, I hope, You're surgery will be. If I could offer 2 bits of advice: 1.Ice and plenty of it after surgery. Any amount of swelling you can possibly prevent is helpful during rehab. 2. Stick with the physical therapy no matter how "uncomfortable". It's the key to a successful outcome. Good Luck. I will check you're blog for future info on you outcome. Keep up the good spirit's, the positive frame of mind will serve you well.

  • In reply to JanetDahl:

    Good decision. I had both knees replaced two years ago, at age 59, and it was the best decision I've ever made. I, too, suffered for years until I couldn't trust my knees enough to carry my grand babies. Two years later, I'm doing everything I want and more!

    Ice, ice, ice, take your pain meds religiously (before you start hurting), and be dedicated about your rehab. Within a few weeks, you'll feel reborn.

    Good luck. I'm sure you'll do splendidly and soon you'll be able to the Macarena any darn place you please!

    Sue Grousd

  • In reply to lyndag:

    Janet: Even though I have not lived in Chicago for 15 years (I'm in the San Francisco area but still dying to get back to the real world!) I am a longtime fan of Steve's and I read your blog religiously. I am an online writer, too, and I enjoy how you turn a phrase. I've always lurked, never commented, but your new-knee-saga has finally made me come out. Five years ago I had bi-lateral knee replacements after suffering for years. I can so relate to the braces, Synvisc, cortizone, buckets of Advil, grocery carts-as-crutches, canes, bone-on-bone pain, etc. It was the best thing I ever did. I was 59 at the time. Not having one good limb to rely on, I spent two weeks in in-patient therapy followed by several months of out-patient. I am not usually the most compliant individual, but this time I did it all. I figured why go thru all that pain and not have the best possible outcome? I just had my five-year check-up last week and the titanium shows no sign of wear. The scars fade, but they are, indeed, badges of honor. Make sure your bed is the most comfortable it can be. Lay in a supply of large ice packs from the surgical supply store. If Steve can't be relied upon to be a good nurse the first week in particular, have a good friend on hand to assist you. I don't know your pain threshold, but get off the Vicodin asap and rely on Tylenol or Advil or your anti-inflammatory of choice. I'm a wimp and I made it thru. The anticipation is always worse, I think. Some months out you will ask yourself, "Why the hell didn't I do this sooner?" People will comment on how much better you look (minus the ravages of pain clouding your countenance). You will dance at your son's wedding and you will travel with your friends and keep on trekking.

    Please continue to keep us posted. One final suggestion, add Guided Imagery to your list of pre-op must-dos. It reduces the fear by making you feel more in charge of what is about to occur. Look for tapes or DVDs at by an outstanding practitioner named Belleruth Naparstek. She was recommended to me by a therapist friend. Many hospitals even encourage taking an iPod or other device into surgery to listen to the affirmations. As I said, I'm a major-grade wimp and guided imagery was a miracle savior for me.
    I'll be rooting for you! Sandy Hudson

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