Monday, 17 May 2010

Total knee replacements - 18 months on

Eighteen months ago, on 18 November 2008, I had total knee replacements on both legs. In other words, I got both knees replaced at the same time. What a difference it has made to my life ! Simply amazing.
Last Saturday I was at the opening of the Indonesian Red Cross national water and sanitation complex near Bandung, and I was on the stage dancing. (see photo above) I can now dance all night, walk 10 km easily before work each day, climb stairs and clamber up volcanoes. I am even able to jog a little but I have been advised that is not recommended.

In the New Zealand bush near Kahanui, in the Bay of Plenty in July 2009, eight months after the operation. That day I walked 15 km up and down river valleys and small hills. Photo: Tania McKerrow

I can recommend total knee replacements for anyone who is suffering from accute pain in worn out knees. Before the operation I was in so much pain, I could not stand for more than 10 minutes before the pain became excruiating. My legs were badly bowed and I hobbled. Now I stride along with straight legs, dtright back, a twinkle in my eye. My whole attitude has changed.

I am grateful to Ed Newman, a leading orthopaedic surgeon from Christchurch, New Zealand pictured above, marking my legs to guide him and the computer assisted technology during the operation. Photo: Ruia McKerrow

My old knees were replaced with Stryker Orthopaedics, Triathlon Knee System, pictured above.

No knee opereation is perfect. With me the Stryker Orthopaedics, Triathlon Knee Systems are mechanically sound and my right knee is perfect. The left knee is a bit sticky on the inside of the knee and at times painful. as something is catching. When I was back in New Zealand late in February this year, I got X Rays taken and visited Ed Newman my surgeon. Ed was delighted with the progress I had made and felt I was walking as good as anyone he had seen. When I explained to him about something in the left knee not being right, he said it takes 3 or 4 years to fully recover from the operation. "Imagine, I cut through all that flesh, muscle, tendons, nerves, viens etc., and disturb everything, put in an artificial knee, so you must realise it takes time for everything to settle down and fully recover.

What advice do I have to anyone considering having the operation ?

1. Get yourself fit for the operation. Make sure the muscles in your legs are strong. I did a lot of stationery cycling and exercises prescribed by the surgeon.

2. Get yourself well set up at home or where ever you are going to recover, and ensure you have a raised toilet seat and a shower hose to wash yourself. I was fortunate as I stayed with my daughter Ruia, who is a nurse, and looked after me so well.

3. In the weeks following the operation, listen carefully to the physios as you need to get movement back in your knees as quickly as possible. They will push you from the first day and it will be painful, but you must concentrate on gradually getting a 90 degree bend in the knee, and slowly extend it in excess of 110 degrees.

4. See a top physiotherapist for as long as necessary. My last appointment with Leslie Kettle in Christchurch, was after 7 weeks. After one month, she put me on and Exercycle for 5 minutes and this was a wonderful exercise that helped me get maximum flexibility in my knees.

5. Don't overdo it. After being discharged from hospital after 9 days, I built up over the first two weeks, walking one km twice a day, After a month, I increased that a little plus extra short walks and all the prescribed flexibility/stretching exercises. After 6 weeks I was walking at least 2 km,  2 to 3 times a day.

6. Don't carry any heavy loads in the first three months.

7. From month 2 onwards, I mixed cycling with walking. Say 3km of walking, and 2 km of cycling.

At one stage after about four and a half months, I increased my walking up to 10 km for a week, but then eased off as I realised that these new knees have limited life, so I eased back to a maximum of 8 km a day. Now I average 8 to 10 km a day and if I need to do a strenuous walk in the hills, I will push it to 15 km.

8. Massage your knees regularly to help circulation and perhaps it helps the nerves to grow and bring back feeling. Even after 18 months I do not have full feeling in my knees, but the feeling is slowly coming back.

As soon as I was well enough, I had a small party for friends in Christchuch, and friends passing through.Front row l to r: Bob Headland, Robin Judkins and Bob McKerrow. Back row: Ed Cotter, Suzanne and Phil Ryder, Tara Kloss and Colin Monteath Photo: Robb Kloss. Enjoy your recovery and share it with friends and family.

9.  It is a major operation. Develop a positive attitude. Set small targets and make sure you attain them. In the early and dark days when you are struggling to take ten steps, visualise yourself walking freely across grassy meadows without pain. Even now, I visualise me climbing a mountain in a years time.

10. And then there was the step counter I bought in late January 2009 in Singapore. I average a minimu of 10,000 steps a day. That has kept me competing against the counter and the weight continues to come off.

11. Try and develop an improved walking style. Before the operation I was bow legged, and a little stooped. The new knees straighten your legs and give you good lower body posture. Improve your posture by straightening your back, pull your shoulders back and regain the walking style of your youth.

So pluck up the courage, and go and see a good orthopaedic surgeon, and get your knees checked. The operation will change your life positively for the rest of your life. As Ed Hillar said, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."


Marja said...

Hi Bob Happy you're doing so well
and I would have loved to see you dancing:)
Thanks for the tips eventhough I might never need one as I spend half of the week sitting down.
oh and I might be soon a manager
as well as a teacher The new manager wants to make me co-manager. I told the kids in the home where I used to work and they can't believe it maybe because I am always joking when I am with them.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Hi Marja

why not a manager ? I am sure you would do a great job. Bob

Gollum said...


We'll be in South Westland before you know it.

Roll on the Landsborough!

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Yeh, Gollum, not far to go now. After that small trip we will do a small alpine traverse to Arthur's Pass, over all the summits.



Anonymous said...

Bob, Thank you for sharing your story. Your encouragemnt came at a time when I am contemplating (with some despair!) these aging joints. Wishing you many, many more adventures on foot. Cheers. Maureen

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Maureen

Aging joints can be turned into lythe young ones through this operation. My sister who is 8 years older than me, got the same operation done and is striding over the hills of New Zealand, happy and healthy.

Good luck, God bless. Bob

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
As someone who saw you when first out of hospital it is heartening to read what it has done for your life. Kia kaha.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Robb

It is people like you, Tara, Ruia, Gavin and Aroha, and many others, who have helped and encouraged me along the path.

Thanks mate.


Gollum said...

Now now Bob. No need for sarcasm.

I am in training already.

I walk to my car in the morning and I walk from my car to the office. Twice a day. In 40 degrees plus heat. And it isn't even summer yet.

There is a good little video on Youtube of some guys walking over Broderick Pass into the Landsborough and then rafting down the river. It looks great to me. The beech forests, the rivers, the hills. New Zealand at its best.


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Gollum

I wasn't being sarcastic for I believe with a little help from Alex Miller who owns Mt. Cook ski planes, he could arrange an airdrop or two and a lttle lift over the difficult parts, and we would be in Arthur's Pass before we know it.

Incidently Alex is 70 this year and still flying ski planes.

How I miss the beech forests and the delightful carpet of leaves underfoot. I will look at the video on Youtube.

Keep up the intensive training.


Donald said...

Dear Bob

You like quite a cool dancer! Love the shirt.

Thanks for the inspiring, informational and positive post on your journey back to full mobility.



Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Good morning Donald

Yews, it's been quite a journey, tougher than I have ever done before, but O the pleasure to be mobile again.

If you like the shirt, I can bring you one back next time I visit.



Unknown said...

haha, on ya Bob!!

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Jamie

Always good to get your feedback. Bob

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