I had known for a long time that I would need to have something done with my right knee. Although it could be painful at times, it was primarily the lack of reliability that bothered me the most. The precipitating event that caused me to go see Dr. Gallivan was that day that I could not complete my stress echocardiogram test because my knee locked up mid-test.I had already done some research over the prior few months and I had found some things to look for in choosing a surgeon to perform a knee replacement. I discovered that the two biggest risks are infections and blood clots, although the chance a patient would experience either of the events is quite small, less than 2%. As I explored more, though, I found that maybe as many as 20% of the people who undergo a total knee replacement surgery are not satisfied with the result. This seems to be a result of improper fit or adjustment. I know a retired fire captain who has never been happy with his knee replacement and says it has badly affected his enjoyment of golf to the point of him considering giving it up. Some of the surgeons who addressed this latter concern primarily practice something called kinematic adjustment. When I looked, I saw that Dr. Gallivan used a computer aided navigation system that not only assisted with the kinematic adjustment, but also it allowed him a standard of precision and repeatability that was not possible without the system. In addition, Dr. Gallivan performs what is known as a minimally invasive procedure. Although the most visible result of this procedure is a significantly shorter scar, the most important result is that it calls for moving the quadraceps muscle and tendon aside, rather than cutting it. For the patient, this can mean a reduced recovery time.I searched the web for stories from people who were facing or had gone through a total knee replacement, I found a forum (https://bonesmart.org/forum/) that hosted a pre-op and a post-op section. I was particularly concerned by the recovery stories that stretched into months and years. I needed to assure myself that I was prepared for what was ahead. There were plenty of supportive posters and the forum seemed like it provided a good center for people with a surgery in their future. In the end, I did not post my own story because, as I listened to the staff at Dr. Gallivan‚Äôs office, it seemed that for me at least participating in such a forum pre-surgery might only serve to increase my anxiety.I had been told that I would be awake through the entire surgery. Although this worried me, I was assured by one of Dr. Gallivan‚Äôs staff that I would think I was in Disneyland. Not entirely true, but closer to true than my worries. I am glad to have been awake and able to watch my surgery and I hope I wasn‚Äôt too boring for the anesthesiologist as I tried to keep up a light banter. After the surgery, I was wheeled to my room for an overnight stay. I had been forewarned that I would be expected to walk some that day. When I awoke from a nap, two terrific young nurses insisted that I get up and walk a few feet with a walker. I did not feel a lot of pain at that point so I was glad to comply. I was surprised that not only could I walk the 25 feet they expected of me but went on to walk completely around the joint replacement wing. I came back and took another nap.The next day I came home, put my foot up and spent most of the afternoon in a good book. The next day, I went in to work for a couple of hours. I took it easy for a couple of days, but by the time for my follow-up visit with Dr. Gallivan eight days after surgery, I was able to walk from my car into his office without cane or walker. I have never used them since. I went to my physical therapy sessions as specified, but by the end of the month, my range of motion had almost completely returned.My knee was so badly worn before the surgery that it was tiring to stand for a long time. I did not realize that I must have been providing stability in my knee by muscle tension. Now, six months after the surgery, I can stand for an hour or more and feel as relaxed after the hour as before. The increased stability I feel now still surprises me. I am very happy that I went through with the surgery. Although I know that not everyone will realize the quick recovery I had, I believe that once they have recovered, most people will achieve a similar fantastic result.
(originally posted 2/18/17)