In less than two weeks I’ll undergo total knee arthroplasty on my left knee, aka “total knee replacement.” Yesterday I went in for pre-op counseling and testing and finally know what I’ve let myself in for.

What you see on the left are the parts that make up a new knee. In my innocence, I imagined some demented and blood-splattered sawbones chiseling away the lower half of my femur and the upper half of my tibia, then bolting in replacement parts made of steel. Not exactly, it turns out: they do cut off the top of the tibia and drill a hole down into it to anchor a new steel cap, but as for the femur, they merely grind away the lower surface and glue on a steel cap. Then they insert a plastic disc between the steel surfaces and glue another plastic slider to the inside of the patella. Still pretty sawbonish and bloody, but not as Frankensteinian as I’d imagined.

How do they get the bone chips and dust out of your leg during the operation? Shudder. Maybe I don’t want to know all the details. I had to sign a long document spelling out the possible bad outcomes of knee replacement surgery, a list which begins with one leg coming out shorter than the other and culminates in death by Texas chainsaw massacre.

I’ll be in hospital for up to three days after the surgery. Part of that time my left leg will be clamped into a machine that’ll flex my new knee. After I get out there’ll be physical therapy and exercises to do at home. After I’ve recovered, four to six months down the road, they’ll do my right knee. None of this will be easy, but it’ll be worth it to once again be able to walk, bicycle, and take long trips on my motorcycle without aching knees.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid, and I hope I haven’t put you off your feed with these grisly details.

Tucson is gloomy and rainy. It’s a good day to stay home and blog, update the hashing calendar, clean the garage. Polly’s bringing her beau over tonight for dinner. Our fingers are tightly crossed … he certainly seems like a good guy, and lord knows she needs one.

Take care of your knees, y’all. And send some positive thought rays in Polly’s direction.

© 2013, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


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