Saturday, March 05, 2005

If this blog is new to you ...

... let me tell you why I am doing this.

Last summer (2004) as I was getting ready for my total knee replacement (TKR), it was obvious to me that there was not a lot of experiential information out there. What was it like? How long did it take? What were the details of the actual process? How long did it REALLY take to get off pain killers and back to work?

Yes, there is an abundance of information from the surgical community. You can readily find pictures and video of the actual surgery, and for a geek like me (yes, I'm a scientist), that's great information. But what was it REALLY like? There's just not much of this kind of information out there.

Yes, there's a joint replacement forum on Delphi (hi, Robin!). And Delphi is great place to ask questions. If you are looking for a place to ask questions about your knee or joint replacement, and get good answers in a back-and-forth format, the Delphi joint forum is the place. There are also Q&A forums on Yahoo (KneeSurgery) and on Knee1. Both are good.

But mostly, what I found on the web last summer tended to be negative experiences. Or worse, CYA behavior by the surgical and medical community. Both are completely understandable --- negative experiences tend to get more widely shared than positive experiences (that's human nature). And CYA behavior falls into the "I have to tell you all of the worst possibilities, just in case".

But positive experiences? I heard them from friends, but found very few on the web.

Detailed experiences by someone who went through a TKR? Nope. So I decided to keep a daily diary of what happened, what I felt, how I felt, and what the actual process was on a day-by-day basis. Reverse chronological order, going all the way back to the first knee injury in 1969, which is when this whole thing started.

After five months, I consider my TKR to have been an absolutely wonderful and positive experience. I've got way more range-of-motion now than I've had in years. I've got NO PAIN at all, and it's been >20 years since I could say that. I'm taking NO pain meds --- none --- not even ibuprofen, and there were years on end when I was taking prescription-grade Motrin at doses high enough to make my ears ring almost constantly. That regime finally got to my stomach, and I cut it out cold-turkey. But then I had to learn to live with the constant chronic deep arthritis pain. And eventually, this got to me. Sleep was constantly interrupted by pain. I couldn't stand on my feet for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. I couldn't walk for more than a few hundred feet.

Now, I can walk for miles. I can pedal a bike for the first time in more than a decade. I take NO analgesics at all. I literally can run up and down stairs. And I am sleeping soundly.

It's truly been a wonderful experience, and one I felt that I had to find a way to share.

Unfortunately, I will probably not be able to blog on a daily basis. Please comment --- and be patient. I'll do my best to respond through this site (or the gmail address) within a week.