“You’ll know when you know”

the damn left knee

Several months ago, my ortho doctor noted that I would eventually need knee replacement surgery since both knees are bone-on-bone. But when should I decide to go under the knife? He said, “You’ll know when you know.”

Well, now I know.

As I’ve mentioned, I tore my left meniscus on a mountain in the autumn of 1994. For a time, I started wearing an elastic knee brace, which was helpful enough that I continued to play racquetball until the local YMCA closed in 2010. I’d wear it periodically after that when I knew I’d be doing extensive walking, such as attending the county fair.

My knees always hurt. the right knee is probably 1.5 on a scale of 10. My left knee is usually at 3, and occasionally 4. 

Sunday, I went to bed extremely early for me, at about 9 p.m. I woke up in extreme pain around 2 a.m. The best way to describe it is that my left knee had a massive cramp. And not a “boy, that’s uncomfortable” thing but an “OMIGOD I’M IN AGONY!!!” thing. It was at least an 8. 


When my wife got up, I asked her to get me the elastic knee brace. But I couldn’t move my leg to put it on. I had to pull my leg up by my pajama bottoms to try to steer my leg into the brace. My wife also got me a cane. But getting downstairs required sliding down a step at a time. I used a walker we had to get around the first floor. I didn’t get much done. 

The next day, wearing the brace, I could walk OK in the house. The only challenge was the steps in the house, specifically going down them. There’s a railing for the top two steps, but at the curve, there’s about a meter drop, and then the railing continues. I needed the cane. Going up, I can grab the upper steps at the turn. 

I used the cane when I went outside. Sidewalks can be uneven. Grassy areas I avoid altogether.   

I’m seeing my ortho next week. He’ll probably give me a cortisone shot. I had one a decade or more ago. I had eschewed them subsequently, but I’m leaning into it now. We’ll talk about surgery, which will likely take place in the summer, mostly so that my spouse can take care of her gimpy husband.

So when you see me with the cane, you’ll know why. 

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