Over the course of this past year, many of my patients noticed that I was hobbling around the office with a decided limp. Was it the result of my active lifestyle of hiking, biking, tennis, and of course, skiing? (I have certainly had my share of falls whilst sluicing down the slopes over the years). Or could it be that I’m anatomically predisposed to injury at 6’4” and 250 lbs. with dinosaur bones and hummingbird ligaments?
Either way, my right knee surrendered and finally gave out.
It wasn’t so much that I was in constant pain – I wasn’t. But, I was severely limited in what I could do. I couldn’t play tennis – even doubles and missed the entire ski season. (Go figure! There was a record amount of snow out west this year) and had to use a cane to ambulate around town.
Self-denial may be a part of the human condition, but photographs don’t lie. Looking at pictures of me going all the way back to last spring, I’m still shocked to see myself with a cane in hand.
Believe me, I tried everything imaginable to avoid going under the knife – PRP injections, HA injections, months of physical therapy, and copious amounts of Advil. Wishing it away, like so many injuries I’d sustained in the past, didn’t work, either.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I realized I couldn’t get down on the floor and play with my two-year-old granddaughter, Wren. If I did manage to get down to the floor, getting up was very problematic.
So, I took a one-legged leap of faith and decided to have the surgery because I was not living my best life. On February 22nd, I surrendered my messed-up knee to orthopedic surgeon H. John Cooper, who expertly swapped it for a brand new one (a state-of-the-art titanium/chromium/cobalt knee, to be exact).
Over the many years I’ve been practicing dentistry, many of my patients have had joint replacement surgery and experienced excellent outcomes. But, other patients, despite needing it badly, delayed their surgeries. Their logic was, “If I wait until I’m older, I’ll never have to do it again.” Note: most artificial joints last about 15 years.
Well, I’m not thinking about 15 years from now – I have the get-up-and-go now! Missing out on all the fun that comes with being mobile was simply not an option for me.
My knee replacement surgery itself was nothing shy of amazing. At 5:30 am, I arrived at the hospital. At 7:30 am, I was in the operating room. At 10:00 am, I was in the recovery room. And, wonder of wonders, at 2:30 pm, I was sitting on the couch in my living room! All in one day!
Pain after surgery is universally anticipated by soon-to-be recipients of knee replacements and oft the fodder of detailed conversations with “veteran” recipients. For me? Let’s just say it was no picnic, but relatively speaking, it was short-lived. Physical therapy started after one week, and I was back in the office exactly one day shy of three weeks.
So, READY, SET, GO! I’m back in the proverbial saddle and look forward to getting back to play, I mean work, and seeing and visiting with each of you while performing some dental magic.
Though admittedly, it will take me some time before I am dancing…
To My Patients – Thank you! So many of you called, texted, and messaged with thoughtful expressions of concern and caring, and it meant so much.
To My Wonderful and Supportive Team – Sandra, Carmen, Maira, April, and Dr. Rob Caro, my eternal gratitude for “keeping the lights on” while I was gone. (And, to Monique: congrats on your first grandchild!)
Note – After joint replacement surgery, no dentistry should be performed for three months, and prophylactic antibiotics should be taken for two full years before each dental appointment. For more on this subject, check out: Having Surgery? See Your Dentist First!