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?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (6)
  • Bilal Khalid
    4 years ago

    I was in the best shape of my life when I first started getting symptoms I was working as a personal trainer when I was finally diagnosed in July of 2013. Pretty much took all my happiness and my life with out. I’m beginning to feel better on orenecia + methotrexate subq injections (knock on wood). I want to build my body again to the same fitness level and get back into training.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    4 years ago

    Hi Bilal, very sorry to hear about your experience with RA. Glad to hear that you’re finding some medications that are starting to bring you relief. Best, Kelly

  • Jeanne Webster
    4 years ago

    What a brave soul you are, Kelly! As a newbie to RA, I had no idea of the trials one might have to endure. Your courage is a light to those who follow.

    Jeanne Webster

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thanks so much for your kind and supportive words Jeanne! Hope that you can find support here. 🙂 Best, Kelly

  • Janine Thiemann
    4 years ago

    I just celebrated one year for my knee replacement and 15 months post surgery on the other knee. It so resonated with me regarding your anticipation of a possible prostheses infection. Both of my shoulders were replaced successfully but then had to get a revision on the left. That revision prosthesis became infected and ended up with no shoulder joint. I chose not to reconstruct because it’s my non-dominant arm. That was 2012. I never go into a surgery thinking it will have complications but am ecstatic after the wound heals for sure. Both of my knee replacements are fairly new but Yes, what a blessing to stand taller and be able to walk without aid. One ankle has been fused and the other will eventually be done but thankfully not a major issue at this time. My elbow replacements are on the horizon but this renowned surgeon thinks I’m too young (52) to jump in right now despite the severity of degeneration. I’m waiting as long as I can but only the patient can truly say when quality of life is worth the risks of surgery and possible complications. It is so rewarding to identify with my Sisters and Brothers in this challenge. God bless you Kelly and everyone in their journey.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thanks so much for your comment Janine. Congrats on the anniversary of your knee replacements. Yes, replacements and other surgeries can be helpful but you’re right that we can’t predict complications. Infection and other issues can really make surgery a hard choice. I hope that you continue to walk tall with your new knees and stay as healthy as possible. Best wishes for you.

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