The Latest In My (Fairly) New Knees Journey

 

knee_joint_replacement

Greetings, TKR friends!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted on this blog and noticed it continues to receive a substantial amount of hits. Thank you for the continued visits, and I hope at least one post helped someone.

Knee surgery is a painful journey, as many of us know, even times long after we had the actual procedure. My left knee replacement’s first anniversary was September 14, and next month will mark two years since the right knee was done – January 12, 2017 to be exact. While I’ve had mostly positive experiences since then, there were a couple of recent road bumps.

Degrees of discomfort can remain part of having new joints, as I experienced this past weekend. I went shopping on Thursday afternoon at a humongous store and began feeling the effects that evening. I figured plenty of rest, elevation, and ice would solve the problem the same as they had on previous occasions during my recovery from actual surgeries.

I felt okay Friday morning and decided to clean my apartment since the weather was too dreary for me to venture to the gym or take a one-mile walk. I had a rude jolt back to reality Saturday morning when I woke up with stiff, painful, swollen knees, and barely able to walk. Another reason I’m glad I kept the cane received after my first surgery (not to mention I still need it to negotiate high curbs, uneven sidewalks, and hill sides).

I spent Saturday and most of Sunday alternating between applying heat to ligaments and ice to the artificial joints, elevating, taking Aleve as needed, and relaxing much as possible. I was able to put a dent in the manuscript for an upcoming book set for release in 2017 in the process, so my entire weekend wasn’t a total waste. The left knee is still a little puffy as of today’s blog post, but at least I’m able to bend both knees without stiffness and pain.

Another issue I’d like to address is having a recent bout with plantar fasciitis in my right heel. I never experienced this condition until earlier this fall, when increased pain warranted a visit to the podiatrist.

plantar-fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, stemming from inflammation of the plantar fascia, which supports the arch of our feet. Also known as “runners heel,” plantar fasciitis is common among athletes (especially runners), flat-footed individuals (majority of our population have them), jobs requiring prolonged standing, and older individuals, to name a few.

In my case, both my legs “realigned”of sorts from knee replacement surgery and increased active lifestyle were two factors considered in process of diagnosing my foot issue.

Podiatry Today also highlighted another contributing factor in plantar fasciitis:
“Also look at the patient’s medical history for any recent surgeries such as unilateral total hip or total knee replacements. These surgeries may cause a limb length discrepancy or increased stress on a particular foot due to compensation.”

Fortunately, the condition is treatable. Since I prefer non-invasive options, I searched online for additional treatments to incorporate with some advised by my podiatrist, and turned up a plethora of information. This video is a favorite; it covers exercises, vitamin supplements, and other areas in treating plantar fasciitis without painful cortisone shots or surgical routes – both which should be done only when all other treatments have failed.

Some people – such as I – won’t be “cured” in a week, but the advice offered has helped a great deal. I also recommend these six exercises, which are done each morning to avoid those first painful steps after getting out of bed, and again before bed.

You can find additional plantar fasciitis details and treatments at this link.

Enough on the down side of knee replacements, however; now I’ll highlight a couple of recent positive journeys.

Having new knees allowed me to explore and enjoy many new things that were all but impossible pre-op. Once completely healed, one of the first things I did was join my local Planet Fitness in May 2016. I considered a gym membership for some time during the healing process, but never felt comfortable with the few I’d visited, and don’t get me started on their exorbitant fees. Planet Fitness is a perfect fit far as cost and suiting my needs are concerned; I try to visit at least three days a week to keep my joints flexible.

 

penguins_vs_sharks_102016

Many who know me are aware I’m an avid hockey fan, possibly one of few things I enjoy about fall and winter (well, that, football, and the holidays!). Some friends invited me to attend a game in October, knowing to see at least one game in person had been on my “things to do post-op” list for some time. PPG Paints Arena is a huge venue, yet I managed to walk everywhere with no problem. We had great seats and I immensely enjoyed the evening. The following morning was spent using ice packs on my knees, but I’d go to another game should the opportunity arise.

Oh, and I’m treating myself to to this shirt for Christmas!

If you’ve recently had TKR, the road is a long one and frustrations tend to arise along our journey. However, don’t give up; I speak from experience when I say brighter days are ahead. If not for TKR, I doubt I’d be walking today, let alone enjoying more of what life has to offer.

I wish you all a joyous holiday season, whether you have brand new knees or a seasoned “knee veteran.” Feel free to share your own milestones in the comments; I immensely enjoy receiving feedback and learning stories from fellow knee warriors.

Most important, keep on moving, icing, and elevating!

Recycling Artificial Joints After Cremation

With new lives among most of us following joint replacement surgery, death is likely the last thing on our minds. Since cremation or donating my body for research are among considerations of what to do with my remains once I’ve passed, the thought of whether or not my knee replacements would have to be removed.

I did some research to satisfy my curiosity and discovered a fascinating article in thePhiladelphia Inquirer’sonline edition entitled Ultimate recycling: Artificial joints after cremation.

A few key points from the article:

Specialty metals like titanium used to make joints are also used in airplanes but joints are 45 percent lighter.

Many funeral homes won’t advertise joint recycling services as to avoid putting off the public while others encourage recycling.

With the rising costs of traditional funerals, more people are choosing to be cremated.

Several crematoria once sent artificial joints and other non-combustible metals to landfills or collected it to bury in cemetery plots.

Harleigh Cemetery & Crematory Association in Camden and Philadelphia Crematories Inc. are among institutions utilizing Implant Recycling L.L.C’s services in Detroit. Implant Recycling is owned by a fourth-generation family of metal recyclers working with at least 1,200 crematoria.

OrthoMetals is a Dutch firm working with about 25 American crematoria to recycle joint implants.

California native Ray Saadeh founded the nonprofit Alternative Solutions USA in 2010, with a goal to end commercialization of joint recycling.

How does the process work and how is the recycled metal used?

Implant Recycling provides collection bins (about the same size as common recycling ones) which are picked up by a designated delivery service once the bins are full.

Once the metals are in Detroit, they are analyzed, sorted, and melted down before ingots are made.

OrthoMetals state no metals are implanted in another human, but instead used in airplanes, cars, and wind turbines, among other items. Understandingly, family members may not want their loved ones’ implants used in someone else. Several members of medical community also don’t feel comfortable using “secondhand” joints in their patients, no matter how practical recycling them are.

40 percent of Alternative Solutions USA’s metal value are donated to various charities.

With the aforementioned options among others available, would you give thought to having your knee replacements recycled once you’re gone (and obviously no longer need them)? Joint recycling is a good idea to discuss with family members and other loved ones. I’ve considered the idea with my own joints after reading more on the subject. For those choosing cremation, joint recycling is not a bad idea – just another way to save the earth.