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TKR What would you do?

MariaB

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I know it’s my decision, but I keep swinging back and forth.... I’m scheduled Nov 18 and I don’t know if I should do it or not... I had a second meniscus clean-up last November and it never improved. My goal was to be able to run up the basement steps by the end of December - never happened). I have very little meniscus left, severe arthritis, been through cortisone, gel last summer that didn’t help, BUT I had synvisc gel this August, put in a different location, and it’s actually taken the edge off it. They let me schedule tkr so I could get it in this year, as I was assuming the gel wouldn’t help at all. So Pros n Cons of tkr after having the synvisc -

Pros
My son is 16 and I want to be more active with him before he’s gone
my insurance deductible has been met already this year
I just turned 59 and am so stiff from not walking/moving right - I move and feel like an old lady
its very difficult to do things that require getting down near the floor (giraffe style)
the damage is there and won’t get any better
sick of limping
uneven ground - like hiking is more difficult, downhill is difficult
earlier this summer I tripped n fell when I was outside watering and turned and tripped over onto some rocks - I think I would’ve caught myself if that knee wasn’t so stiff and slow
sometimes it aches at night (though not horrendously, and not every night)
if not this November, then not til next November because of schedule

Cons
I’m terrified
the gel has made it more tolerable
i still mostly do “life” just in a more subdued way (ie I can go for a walk, just not to fast or too long, and if it is long, it might hurt more, but I can still do it, the gel has made stairs a bit easier, though going up is iffy)
more severe kinda pain isn't consistent now - sometimes standing and then moving is really bad, and sometimes it’s nothing. Same with sitting and standing
Even if it does really hurt, and is really stiff, moving a bit loosens it up
the thought of a fake knee freaks me out
there are times I think I walk normally, even if my husband disagrees lol
i don’t think of my knee every waking minute


part of me wishes I didn’t give gel another chance. If my knee was like it was, I’d be more ready.

Should I deal with the pain since now it’s not as bad? Anything else I could do for the stiffness besides meds - chiro? What would you do - just go for it, or put it off another year or so?
 

Starsfan22

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I put off my knee replacements way too long. If you have severe arthritis the pain only gets worse. How many yrs. of compensation do you want to put yourself and your family through?
 

Celle

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Your knee has severe arthritis and it's never going to get any better than it is now.
Get it replaced, recover, and go back to living a full life again, not one limited by your knee.
 
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MariaB

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But how do I deal with the fear - at least I know what I have to deal with now. I hate hearing that it doesn’t feel like your real knee, that it clunks, that some never really heal right (I know, I shouldn’t have joined the fb groups )
 

leejaa

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Hello and welcome.

I have to say that I am glad that my knee does not feel like my real knee. My real knee hurt and would not let me do what I wanted and made my world shrink as I had to adjust everything to it.

I have two good knees now and can walk, hike, ride a bike, go shopping (not something I enjoy) for as long as I need, clean the house and all without pain.

For me dealing with the unknown became a matter of looking forward to what I would be able to do. Yes, it was scary at times but so worth it. Arthritic knees do not really get better, often we adjust and adjust and think it's OK or not so bad.

It is your decision but you will find lots of support here from the staff but more importantly from others going through the same choices and recovery. The people on the forum helped me through all my joint replacements. There was so much support, sharing and even some laughs that really helped me especially with the first replacement when it was all strange and new.
 

doodlebug60

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MariaB; hi and welcome to Bonesmart. I had both knees replaced. The 1st on February 13th and the 2nd on July 30th. The first one recovered great. I have no problem except a little tightness every now and then, and it's very rare. The 2nd was a little harder recovery due to the arthritis was worse as far as bone on bone. They had to open me back up due to infection getting into incision which was my fault because I didn't keep my hands off of it. I had my washout on the 2nd of October and now I'm doing better. Without taking up to much of your thread; I would like to say go ahead and have the surgery. You won't regret it. OA only gets worse. Even though I had an infection I know it's going to get better. There's nothing like being rid of all bone on bone and OA. Hope your surgery turns out well.
 

Starsfan22

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@MariaB Fears biggest enemy is knowledge! Read all the posts here. Knowing what to expect really helps. The moderators here know what they are talking about and you'll have backup from your Dr. and his office. Good luck!
 

Pumpkln

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@MariaB
I am leaving you the pre op reading, you will find a link to a score chart. Fill it out so you can see just how limited your life has become slowly over time.

New BoneSmart members like you are in various stages of their journey to joint replacement. Making the decision whether or not to have surgery and preparing for surgery can be easier once you have done your research and know what lies ahead. Here are some tools that can help you decide what is best for you.

If you are at the stage where you have joint pain but don't know for sure if you are ready to have surgery, these links may help:

Score Chart: How bad is my arthritic knee?
Choosing a surgeon and a prosthesis
BMI Calculator - What to do if your surgeon says you're too heavy for joint replacement surgery
Longevity of implants and revisions: How long will my new joint last?


If you are at the stage where you are planning to have surgery but are looking for information so you can be better prepared for what is to come, take a look at these links:

Recovery Aids: A comprehensive list for hospital and home
Recliner Chairs: Things you need to know if buying one for your recovery
Pre-Op Interviews: What's involved?


Regardless of where you are in the process, the website and app My Knee Guide can help you stay organized and informed. The free service keeps all the information pertaining to your surgery and recovery in one place on your smartphone. It is intended to be a personal support tool for the entire process.

And if you want to picture what your life might be like with a replaced knee, take a look at the posts and threads from other BoneSmarties provided in this link:

Stories of amazing knee recoveries
 

kayak59

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@MariaB

I agree with absolutely everything everyone said above. There is only one thing I can't do with my new knees and that is sit back on my heels -- which I'm perfectly fine with.

But, related to that, I am a kayaker and the way I get in my boats is to sit down on the seat and then fold my legs knee to chest and slide my legs in. After 9 months on one knee and 12 on the other, I could do that again. That involves almost touching my heels to thighs and while I can't hold for very long, I can do it long enough.

You will get your freedom back after this surgery and more than likely, your only regret will be not getting it done sooner!
 

Sara61

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@MariaB I have just celebrated my 1 year post surgery, like you in the early days I ummed and ahhed, I did have the gel injections for several years prior but the pain never got any better, so this time last year it was operated.
Even after the ups and many downs and the clicks, etc it was my best decision and I now look forward to in the near future having my right knee replaced too. Yes it's scary and hard but the end result is more than worth it, this Autumn I'm not waking to that awful nagging pain, the knee feels strong, yes I still have a small click hopefully one day it will go but to be honest I hardly notice it at all. Be brave get your life and independence back xx
 

Celle

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I hate hearing that it doesn’t feel like your real knee, that it clunks, that some never really heal right (I know, I shouldn’t have joined the fb groups )
I've had 3 knee replacements - a PKR, a revision to TKR and a TKR. I can honestly say that, after a period of recovery, those implants feel so much like my own knee that I forget about them..
Many knees clunk at first - that's normal - but the noise usually fades away.

Most people who have knee replacements never even post about them on the internet. They have the surgery, recover, and go back to leading a normal life again, free of the pain of arthritis.

Stick with us - we'll hold your hand through this and support you when you need it.

And you can be sure that, as soon as you cancel your surgery date, your knee will suddenly start to hurt more - arthritis can be sneaky like that - and with Covid complicating matters you might not be able to get an alternative surgery date for a long time.
  • You are too young to be living your life in pain.
  • You are too young to have your mobility badly compromised.
  • You are too young to be giving up the lifestyle you enjoy.
  • You are too young feel so old.
 
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MariaB

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Thank you all soooo much! I’ve read through everything, very helpful. It’s me. Lol. i just second guess myself to death. I feel like the little girl that just wants the parent to decide what’s best lol ‍
 
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MariaB

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Please be patient with me...
I’ve read all your comments, I’ve done all the knee pain score sheets, and I’m still not sure which way to go. It’s all so subjective. When I imagine canceling, and dealing with it another year, I’m afraid I’ll regret it. When I imagine going through with it, I have extreme fear and am afraid I’ll regret it. My drs office called today to schedule a pre-op with the dr. I’m terrified to call them back to make the appt.

This weekend we went camping and hiking. I wanted to push it, hoping it would make my decision more obvious. And I’m still stuck. Yeah hiking hurt, but I DID it. I couldn’t scramble up the creek bed with my son though - too uneven there and trying to lift that knee to get over any bigger rock requires my other arm to help lift... but I got down to the edge. I went up and down steps (ok, with effort), up and down hills (so the last long trek downhill did make me wonder if I could go much further) - but I DID it. 10,000 steps two days in a row. I’m a lot slower than I used to be, I spent a good part of the hikes thinking about my knee, but I DID it. And now we’re home and it’s just the usual pain, nothing more.

I want to cry. I’m afraid of going through it, but yet so tired of thinking about my knee.

(I did a med-free birth that I’d describe as extremely uncomfortable, but not painful. The day after having breast reconstruction (post cancer) with fat transfer from my legs, I cleaned my house and cooked so that two days out I could have my military niece and family over (She was visiting and wanted to come see us). I can be a little nuts with pushing myself to be as “normal” as possible, in spite of pain, so I’m just not sure how to gauge things. My husband thinks I should because I walk like a peg-legged pirate - though I swear I have times I walk pretty normally).

It’d sure be nice not to have the pain, and the resulting hip and back pain... but am I really ready? Will it gain me anything?? Will I be able to hike up rocky dry creek beds? Go up trail steps without being glad for railings and strong arms? Will I be able to step up onto boulders? Crouch down to go under fallen trees?? Please help me make a decision! If I don’t do it this November, life just gets too busy and I’d need to wait a year. If the gel stops taking the edge off it, I’m in trouble. But if it does keep working, maybe I can give in to ibuprofen as well and it’d be great? Ok probable not great, but you know.

I’m so stuck.
 

Celle

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What are you so afraid of? There are no guarantees except that your knee is going to continue to get worse. Your surgeon knows you need to have this replacement and so do you really.

I'd be more afraid of my knee getting even worse and not being able to schedule surgery for a long time.

I've had three knee replacements (one was a revision) and they have enabled me to live an active life and do everything I have wanted to. My first replacement rescued me from being a housebound invalid - I had to wait 9 painful, long years for that one, because my surgeon said I was "too young" initially. Those were wasted years, when my quality of life was gradually deteriorating.
 

Bikeknit

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I felt a lot like you. This is major surgery and some people struggle with recovery. I was terrified. I did not have excessive pain - if I kept my hikes short, if I took a few weeks on ice after overdoing it, if I reduced my activity. I finally realised that each few months I was doing less and less. When I started nixing certain vacations (pre-covid) because I knew I couldn't keep up, I knew it was time.

You have some things going for you. You're active and that will most likely make your recovery easier. You have some things that you want to do to motivate you.

I'm 4 months on my left knee and just a month on my right knee. I went for a mile hike the other day. No rolling, dippy gait. Still a ways to go on the recovery but I have no doubts that it was the right thing. I'm getting better instead of worse!

One question I asked myself was how long was I buying by waiting? If it was just a few months or even a year or two, why not get it over with and return to the activities that I enjoyed?

Good luck to you.
 
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MariaB

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Oh you guys, I was seriously leaning towards cancelling after I wrote that last comment, and now you pushed me back again... if I can just stay on one side... I know it must be frustrating reading my comments.

what am I afraid of... I’m afraid of doing it too soon. I just walked from the kitchen to the living room and there was very little pain. You’d think it’d be worse after the hiking we just did. But on a different day it might be worse - I never really know how good/bad it’ll be. I’m afraid I’ll have a bad outcome like all the people in the tkr fb group I’m on (I know, I shouldn’t read that - but it happens). I’m afraid of the pain (yes, even me). I’m afraid of being out of commission for weeks/months. I’m afraid the surgeon will come out of surgery and tell my husband that my knee wasn’t really that bad. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do everything I want to do - at least I know my limitations now. I’m afraid of the idea of having my knee amputated.
 

Bikeknit

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I want to have you come by and make you some tea, sit on the porch, and talk about it. I did this same back and forth. I did little tests to see if they "really hurt that bad". I'd say things like, "Well, yes, I did cancel that bike ride cause they hurt too much but now they don't hurt at all." Finally my bicycling and hiking friends started telling me that yes, I really did need new knees.

And I had to just not think too much about the actual process. But when I stood on that stable new knee in the hospital - swollen as it was - I knew it was the right thing to do, Even this close to the surgery, the artificial nature is no big deal.

Your husband knows you need it. Your doctor wouldn't do it if the x-rays didn't show real damage. I'm just a stranger on a forum but I do know what you are going through making the final decision.
 
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MariaB

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A good friend just called. She’s starting in the injection process herself (she really needs a tkr!). and had questions. She was reassuring and helped me lean towards doing it. So afterwards the clinic called again to make the appts and I actually answered this time lol. So things are in motion now. I’m still terrified btw.
@Bikeknit tea on your porch would be wonderful! Lol
 

Newbie60

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well I certainly feel your pain my dear. I also have struggled and reading your post was like reading my thoughts lol. My surgery is next Thursday 10/28 and like you I'm pretty nervous too but I know this is what I need to do. Its time and we will be happy we did it now so that when the covid clears and it will, we can travel and do the things we couldn't during the pandemic. Your thoughts are so powerful check them often. How you approach this is very important from what I've read and know. This will be the key to our success I believe along with PT and icing and elevation.
Thats my two cents lol wishing you all the best.
 

Celle

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what am I afraid of... I’m afraid of doing it too soon.
I know how hard this is for you, but your surgeon wouldn't be recommending a knee replacement if it was too soon, would he?

I must admit that I did go through the same sort of thoughts before my last TKR. My surgeon said my knee was ready for replacement, but it didn't hurt as much as I remembered my other knee hurting.
I did wonder if I was jumping the gun and going too soon,, but I went ahead with the surgery.

When my surgeon came to see me the day after surgery, I asked him if I'd had the surgery too soon and he told me that, in fact, when he accessed my knee during surgery it was in worse condition than he had anticipated and it would very soon have become much more painful.
 

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