Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 23, 2014

John Cannon: New knee brings all new pains: 04/24/14

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — On April 9, I made a major lifestyle decision. I gave a surgery team led  by Dr. Laura Reese at King’s Daughters Medical Center permission to replace the left knee God had given me in my mother’s womb some 66 years ago with a new man-made knee, replacing bone and marrow with mostly plastic.

Two weeks later, I continue to be a patient at Kingsbrook Lifecare Center on Ky. 5, where I am daily undergoing  “Pain and Torture” sessions and showing daily signs of improvement. (Don’t let anyone tell you differently, the “P.T” in these sessions stand for “pain and torture” not “physical therapy.”)

But I love the physical therapists here at Kingsbrook because of how far they have brought me in just a few days, but I also hate all that pain I have been forced to endure.

I had intended to write a column about the pains of going through knee replacement, but I soon learned that would not be possible because most of the things that occurred in the days after my surgery I could not remember at all and what little I did remember I remembered wrong.

For example, the first time I remember seeing Dr. Reese after surgery, it was real early in the morning and Dr. Reese was inspecting the staples in my new knee. I seized the opportunity to complain. I was still in King’s Daughters at the time and I told Dr. Reese that I had not received any physical therapy.

The problem with my complaint is that it was completely inaccurate. According to the chart the KDMC kept by my bedside, I had screamed and whined my way through at least therapy sessions before I had complained to Dr. Reese, but I had zero memory of any  of them. How is this possible?

During one of my first PT sessions that I do recall (mostly) I remember being as asked by the therapist to describe my level of pain on a scale of one to 10 with one being the least painful and 10 the most painful.

“Fourteen,” I groaned.

“That’s not an acceptable answer because it is not between one and 10,” the therapist replied.

“No, but it is an honest one,” I said. “At this point a meager 10 would adequately describe how much this leg hurts.”

I have had many friends who have l already had their knees replaced. My admiration of those friends has skyrocketed since April 9. Some were in their 80s when their knees were replaced and some are on their second set of artificial knees.

My own surgery is one the first of two steps. Like my now discarded right knee, the left knee God gave me now is so arthritic that it has been ticketed for replacement. At first I was so anxious to get my surgeries over, that was planning to have them three weeks apart.

Well, call me a wimp, but I have changed my mind. In fact, on my first day of therapy, I told the lady who was causing me to scream by moving my old leg with the new knee that I was having second thoughts about having the other knee replaced.

“That’s what they all say,” she said. “But so far I can’t think of anyone who has not had the other one done.”

So will I, but it won’t happen until after I retire in August. Here is my biggest incentive for having the other knee replaced. During the weeks leading up to April 9, the conditions of both my knees continued to worsen and they became more and more painful. That will continue until both knees are replaced. So sometime this fall, I fully expect the left knee to go no matter how painful the surgery.  

JOHN‚ÄąCANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2649.