Thursday, 21 May 2009

Knee replacements six months on

A number of people have inquired as to how my new knees are working. It is just over six months ago that I had the operation done and my old knees were replaced with Stryker Orthopaedics, Triathlon Knee System, pictured below.

After decades of marathon running, tramping (bush walking), climbing, skiing, triathlons, lugging heavy packs full of hut repair equipment up to tramping and alpine club huts, and later resupplying huts in the Mt. Cook National Park, and frequent praying in the kneeling position, my knees were on the verge of finally giving up. I had no cartilage, just bone on bone.

Orthopaedic Surgeon Ed Newman on the day of the operation, marking my legs to guide him during the operation. Photo: Ruia McKerrow

Six months down the track, I am walking 5 to 7km a day and feeling healthy, happy and delighted that I took the plunge and got the operation done. Now that I am able to exercise without pain, I have lost 13 kg in weight.

In St George's hospital, the day I left. Photo" Ruia McKerrow

So what information can I pass onto others planing to get this operation done.

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.

Cycling on my 19th floor balcony in Jakarta.Photo: Ablai McKerrow

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 folowing 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 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, 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 load in the first three months.

7. From month 2 onwards, I mixed cycling with walking. Say 3km of walking, and 2 km of cycling.
The view from my balcony as I cycle in the mornings. Photo: Ablai McKerrow

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 7 km a day.

8. Massage your knees regularly to help circulation and perhaps it helps the nerves to grow and bring back feeling. Even after 6 months I do not have full feeling in my knees, but the feeling is slowly coming back.

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 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.

Special thanks to Ed Newman, Surgeon, Leslie Kettle physiotherapist. Ruia and Gavin for putting me up in their home for two months, and Aroha for regular massage on my legs in the first six weeks.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
As someone who spent a bit of time with you not long after your operation it really brightens my day to read of your progress and improved physical ability. Your attitude was nothing but positive and focused but the pain and the toll it took was obvious at times. I think your zest for life has held you in good stead and was also obvious in your hosting a rather lively party full of good cheer and people! Hard to fathom that was 6 months ago already Bob, but how great to read of you being active and fighting fit. You are an inspiration.
I will look forward to reading of your mountain climb, and perhaps one day we can climb one together. That would be a real honour and pleasure for me. Have a fantastic weekend my good sir! Kia kaha!

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Hey Robb, and pretty Tara, you were a big part of my recovery. You brought your sunshine, whiskey and good humour for four days, and enegised me. Remember that party. the "Hello sailor" one, where the historian off the Icebreaker entertained us along with Ed Cotter, Colin and Betty Monteath, and the encorigble (sp?) Robin Judkins turned up, my daughetrs and all and saundry. That was a good one brother.
It was friends who kept me positive in the painful moments.

Thanks to Tara and you for your sunshine.


pohanginapete said...

Great to hear you're coming along so well, Bob. Given your attitude and commitment to making the best possible recovery, I guess that's not surprising.

Any ideas which mountain you want to climb, and in what season? I'm thinking of the effects of cold on your new knees and wondering to what extent low temperature might affect them (I'm sure they'll work — it's the possible ache/pain I wonder about).Mind you, at our ages, even original knees can act up in the cold ;^)

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Good morning Pete

I would love to climb Mt. Taranaki but will probably have to build up to that.

So far it appears the cold doesn't effect the knees. It tends to have greater effect on body scanners at airports where all whistles, bells and sirens go off.

Yesterday I walked 13 km, my biggest total yet, so I continue to improve.

I enjoy your blog immensely.

Warm regards


Marja said...

Good to see you doing so well and pointing the road of recovery to others. Great that so much can be done these days. Most have cost you a lot of discipline to do all that exercise.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Hi Marja

Yes it is amazing what surgeons can do today.

After such an operation, I really wanted to get the best out of it so I knuckled down to a daily exercise routine, which I really enjoy. Yesterday 11 km, and by 10 am today 5 km. Soon I am off swimming with the boys.

Take care.


Unknown said...

Hey Bob,

That's great news! Good on you. I reckon you'll look twenty years younger next time we bump into each other (possibly at the top of a mountain somewhere).

Put off being a wise old silverback for another decade or two aye!


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Jamie

Yes the recovery is going well. Just got back from an early 5 km walk. I hope we will meet on a mountaintop soon. I am planning to come back to Kiwiland in July-August.


Joe Lowry said...

Hope you are well and truly back in the saddle big fella!

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Joe

Yes I am back in the saddle and a little worried my knees might wear out praying for all those nasty priests in Ireland, to confess.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob

I just got back from an elk hunt In CO. I had to quite running 7 yeas ago and would build up to 30 miles aday 4times a week to go on this hunt each year. We usually climb 2-5 thousand feet per day while hunting. I was using 2 celabrex/day. I was stil fighting to go. I wrestled in college and had cartlige surgery then 70's. With new knees do you think it is possible to hunt like this in the Mts. Very few trails and lots of dead logs to get over.

Keith from OK

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

I think it would be possible to hunt again in rugged areas if you follow the advice of the Dr and Physio after the operation. So much of the recivery depends on your desire to get back to normal again and follow the advice in the first six months. The younger you are the better the recovery. Each person recovers a little differently, I feel I will be able to climb a significant mountain in November, which will be one year after the op.

Take care.


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