Bill’s Tale of Two Knees

Long Struggle with Knee Problems

I have had knee problems almost all of my adult life. I think I was seventeen when I first injured my right knee playing soccer. After six weeks of non activity I went back to playing and probably made it much worse. I think the first injury was a slight tear of the ACL but the next five or ten twists probably tore it completely. By the end of lacrosse season the next year in the spring I was always acutely aware of where my foot would land so it didn’t twist again. My abilities were diminished because of the fear that was harbored in the back of my mind at the thought of the pain when that happened.

I played touch football a year or two later and was blocked below my left knee and remember having the same tear and pop sound that had occurred to the right knee. This actually was a good thing because after the swelling went away, I was careful where either foot landed when I ran.

I was drafted into the Army in 1969 and actually had a note from my Doctor at the time claiming a torn ACL for my right knee but the Doctor who examined me for the physical for the Army disagreed. I think part of the problem there was that in the time subsequent to the second injury and the number of times and the intensity of the feeling when I did twist either knee, my reflex was to not allow my knee to turn in any direction during an exam. I’ve learned since then when the Orthopedic holds my calf and quad not to use any muscles in order that they can feel the lack of connection from the knee joint. I can feel it also but not as painfully a feeling anymore.

My knee completely “locked”

In 1989 my right knee totally “locked” and I couldn’t straighten it completely. There was no intense pain just the inability to walk without a limp. I assumed it was cartilage and agreed to have the operation. When completed, I was told that it was as suspected but that the ACL was torn also (which I was already aware of) and that my ACL would have been replaced had I been a little younger. About two years later my left knee began bothering me while and after running each morning. I had the same procedure done and was told that ACL was also torn. I ran for about eight more years and stopped not because of any pain but because my running time per mile was getting worse and worse. In addition, I had now taken up golf and that became time consuming.

I have always enjoyed physical activity.

I probably should have been a farmer instead of an accountant. I always think about how injuring my knees had affected my life and how devastating that would have been in prior periods of history. A debilating injury was just about a death sentence.

My latest visit to the orthopedic was prompted by swelling in the back of my knees after walking and playing golf. In addition, I was experiencing pain in my knees that woke me in the mornings. The swelling in the back of my knees were Bakers cists and the pain in the morning was arthritis. His solution is to replace both of my knees when I feel I can’t take the pain or the aggravation any more. I, on the other hand, want to play golf walking the course while I’m still able to see where the ball goes and hit the ball far enough to almost lose sight of it.

To that end, I decided to replace the knees after I was physically more ready for what would be required for a rapid recovery. I began lifting light weight three days a week and walking three miles on days I didn’t play golf. The weight lifting and walking probably help me greatly with weight control since I love to eat and really love to eat ice cream..

I decided to try Pilates

After talking to Stephanie I decided to try Pilates to see if it would help with my conditioning before surgery and have a later positive influence with my recovery. I started all of this about nine months before I was going to schedule the replacements. After spring started and after two or three months of Pilates my golf game changed. I’m sure not all of it was attributable to any of the above but I did notice my swing was more balanced and the turn of my shoulders was smoother and longer. Both of those things didn’t have anything to do with weights or walking so I knew it had to be the Pilates. The weights certainly helped with overall strength. I am sure that Pilates has really improved my core strength (abs, quads, hips, and lower back) . I don’t do anything for those areas other than Pilates and never have.

Pilates hasn’t left me sore.

I was always involved in some type of physical activity and I knew that with most things I had some sore muscles after completion or the next day. In addition, most of these activities were specific to body parts. For example, running left my legs like rubber afterwards and my quads sore the next morning until I warmed them up and ran again. Pilates hasn’t done that to me and I feel the benefit of the exercise in so many different areas of my body. In a normal class we progress through a warm up and the exercise of different muscles from top to bottom and don’t stress any one specific area. I don’t in general get the same soreness that I get from any other type of exercise.

I think I’m ready both mentally and physically to have my knees replaced. I’ll keep you updated throughout the process.
Bill W

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