Two Years and Counting

I recently passed the two-year mark in recovering from left knee replacement revision surgery following an infected prosthesis. After 20 years my left knee replacement had developed an infection, which required removing it, treating with antibiotics for six weeks, then reinstalling a new knee (yes, that means I went six weeks with no knee).

It was a long, hard road.

Now I am much stronger than before the surgery in many ways, but still working to recover in others. My right leg is my rock of strength, while my left still lags. It’s a continuing journey because while I don’t consider myself in active surgical recovery, I still have goals that I want to meet, like being confident in walking short distances unaided and returning to my yoga practice.

Still, I have to celebrate because I am here and (literally) still kicking! Sure, I do want to kick better, but I can appreciate that my new knee is working and I’m doing well with it.

Every year I visit my orthopedic surgeon to check in on my knee and other joint replacements. I have four total: two knees and two hips. All the others are a little over 20 years old now. What a funny thing to have a separate age from some of my parts!

After the infection I continue to be paranoid at times about my new knee. It was an incredibly painful experience, so I am watchful and careful. However, my other joints seem to be aging well and doing their work.

It truly is a modern-age miracle to replace a painful, broken joint with a new one that works and decreases pain. As a child my hips ached so much that I couldn’t sleep. Then after the surgery that pain was immediately gone and I was amazed by the vastly improved range of motion. The recovery took time and my muscles were slow to rebuild, but once they did my life was so improved.

I asked my doctor if there’s an expectation for how long my joints will last. While some research says 20 years, mine are lasting longer and looking good. Really, it partly is a matter of trying to be a good caretaker and also realizing that they don’t really have any idea. It’s a guessing game because when the joint is put in, it is brand new and hasn’t been truly tested for that length of time in the real world.

While I conduct my periodic artificial joint checkup, I can’t dwell on the ticking clock. Now I truly know and have felt the signs of a joint going bad. But in the meantime I’m going to continue on with my life, enjoy the abilities I have and continue to strengthen where I can.

Two years with my new knee feels like a grand accomplishment. I’ve recovered enough to live my life as I want and feel distance from the immediacy of recovering from the surgery. As time continues to fly, I look forward to putting it and my other joints to good use.

Do you have any RA milestones in your life, turning points that inspire you to keep fighting or working on recovery?

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