Those Knees

About forty years ago I drove an adorable little red Fiat 850. It attracted and distracted a large pick up truck, causing its driver to go through a stop sign, and hit me broadside. My windshield shattered, and my left knee hit the dashboard. That’s when my knee problems started.

It wasn’t until I fell in a ‘learning to ski’ attempt that I discovered I had lost my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in the car accident. I tore the meniscus on the ski hill, and subsequently tore more ligaments while playing platform tennis, and jitterbugging with  my husband at a 50’s dance.

Scan weill

When the knees still looked good and worked : record available at Amazon.com

If you are over fifty and have pursued athletic activities, you no doubt have noticed that your knees have aged along with your body. Osteoarthritis gets those knees. I had been trying to put off a knee replacement for as long as I could, but when I fell flat on my face and chipped a tooth, I knew it was time.

I should back up a bit here. I have been very diligent looking after my knees. I have worked with trainers to strengthen the quads, and was able to play tennis without a brace for a very long time. After arthroscopic surgery to fix things, it became apparent that tennis wasn’t going to be my game anymore. I took up golf, and although the twisting of my left knee was pretty painful, it was certainly doable, especially with a cart, and Aleve.

I started water therapy and have become a devotee of water exercises with floating aquatic cuffs on my ankles. Water is like a cushion. Things that I couldn’t do in a gym because they put too much stress on my knee, I could do in a pool. I came to love and need the pool workouts. Water is also a good place to stretch out the hips because sooner or later they become stiff. This getting older isn’t for the faint of heart.

I found a knee specialist here in Toronto at The Cleveland Clinic who X-rayed the joint, and was able to watch the progression of wear on it over the three years that I went to him for shots of Durolane  or hyaluronic acid. Yes, the same acid that is used as cosmetic filler on the face. These shots worked for a while, but the deterioration of my knee required a replacement.

I qualified for a partial replacement with an Oxford knee implant. This was reputed to be less painful than a full replacement, and also to have a quicker recovery rate. My only continuing problem is the fact that I don’t have my PCL, so my knee can give out at any time. Nevertheless, I can walk for hours, climb stairs, hike, bike, and play golf as long as I am watchful.

I was a good patient and did the physio required immediately after the surgery. As soon as the incision had closed over, I was back in the pool working out. I also added Pilates with a personal Pilates trainer and have new flexibility and strength.

If you are considering a replacement, do your homework thoroughly. You may not need one if you work with a physiotherapist to strengthen your quads. Consider getting in a pool. Get your bike out and be sure to find a gear that is easy and that will help you spin. Don’t go standing on the pedals to take you up a hill. Check out the shots. If you have arthritic knees you are probably a good friend already of Aleve or Advil, but who wants to be a slave to pain meds?

My replacement is four years old. I am happy with it, but it is not like my old young knee. I get regular check-ups, and my right knee is as good as can be at my age. I am still cautious when I walk down hills or stairs and don’t wear high-heeled shoes, but have opted for stylish wedged heels that have some height. I will not go gently.

Although the scar has faded, I wear long shorts or capris when I play golf. I don’t wear mini skirts anymore, but a length that just skims the knee. I am not wild about the look of my knees. Vanity prevails.

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If you are lucky enough to have great knees, then that is terrific, but if you are like me there are all sorts of solutions. Aren’t we fortunate that we live in an era of replacement body parts?

Damn sure.

Riki

 

 

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