According to statistics, approximately 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the US. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, says that “total knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine.” They also say, “the most common reason for knee replacement in the United States is severe osteoarthritis of the knees. Osteoarthritis is an age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and wears away. The bones then rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness.”
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “knee replacement surgery was first performed in 1968” and that “more than 90% of people who have total knee replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common activities of daily living.” And in case you were thinking otherwise, they warn you that, “total knee replacement will not allow you to do more than you could before you developed arthritis.” (good to know)
They also warn that, “Excessive activity may speed up normal wear and may cause the knee replacement to loosen and become painful. Therefore, most surgeons advise against high-impact activities such as running, jogging, jumping, or other high-impact sports for the rest of your life after surgery.” (Damn! Oh well, guess those activities are out!)
Hmmm. So I’m sure you’re wondering why I would choose to write a blog post that I begin by sighting all kinds of research statistics about knee arthroplasty (a knee replacements technical name)? Yea, some might find it interesting, but really, so what? Well, the so what is because I am about to join those 700,000 folks in the US and have one or both knees replaced in 2019!
This procedure started many years ago for me, when back in 2008 I had a right knee arthroscopy to repair a torn meniscus. At that time, the Orthopedic Doctor warned that this was just going to be a bandaid procedure, and that eventually a knee replacement (or replacements) would be in my future. A number of years later, when I figured the pain was such that it was time to talk about the next stage, I called to make an appointment with this same Doctor, only to be told that the poor man had died. As you might imagine, that was somewhat of a road block in my effort to move to the next level. Time to find another Doctor!
I did, and although I almost even scheduled surgery after I retired from ABC, I just didn’t go any farther with it on Long Island. In November of 2017, we officially moved down to Ocean City, and it was time to start the procedure over again. One day, Susie and I gave our neighbor Doie (97 year old Marine veteran of World War Two) a ride to her Orthopedic Doctor in Somers Point, and I found my new Orthopedic Doctor!
Dr Zabinski is a NYU Medical School trained Orthopedic Surgeon, who practices out of Shore Orthopeadic. He’s an adrenaline junky (he’s off on vacation now for 3 weeks climbing mountains in Alaska), and a very nice guy and someone I have total trust in. A couple of bad discoveries though when I first started to see him. #1 I have apparently lost 2 inches in height, measuring out at 5 foot 6 (he says I will gain most of that back after surgery….but does that mean I’ll limp after having just one knee done?), and #2 He wouldn’t do surgery on me till I lost some weight and took my BMI down to a level he was comfortable with.
In case you wondered why Susie and I have been on a low/No Carb diet since right after the Christmas/New Year holidays, now you know. I want to get back to being able to walk the boardwalk of Ocean City without pain, meaning I want these old tired knees replaced! Several months ago, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Zabinski for the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. New X-rays were to be taken, and I was to be weighed in. If I’d done my job, we’d talk surgery. If not, well, it would be back to a waiting game for me.
Not to keep anybody in suspense, I did good! While he’d still like me to lose more weight, what I’d lost is enough to bring my BMI to a level that he’s comfortable with moving forward. One surprise…after years of thinking the right knee was worse, we’re starting with the left knee! He said I’ll be driving 10 days after the surgery!
So the process has started, and after I got a call from Gina, Dr. Zabinski’s surgery scheduling person, I know it’s official. I’m scheduled for Thursday morning, July 11th, as I start on my path to new knees!! Wish me luck!