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Meet My New Knee

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Introducing "Knocked": my new knee
by Derek Wyatt

Over the past five years, I have twice been told I needed a new knee. Off I trundled to consultants at the Chelsea & Westminster and separately the National Orthopaedic Hospital. Because I had no pain and I could still do knee bends both consultants told me to come back when the pain was unbearable.

Whilst, I could not run for a bus, I could still play tennis - well knock up for an hour a week - but, walking down stairs was becoming more difficult. My right knee would give way. Still though there was no piercing pain. Gradually, I noticed that when standing upright my right knee began to rest against my left one. Clearly, it was time for a third opinion.

Back I went to see my dear friend, Dr Ken Kennedy, the former Irish and British Lions hooker. Now semi-retired, he has seen me through three arthroscopies as a result of my own rugby career. He was adamant I should have knee replacement and recommended I saw Mr Jonathan Webb, an orthopaedic surgeon and the former Bath and England full back.

The result was that in the middle of August, I underwent knee replacement. Beforehand,  I had talked to friends and relatives including my sister who had had the operation. I diligently searched Google and You Tube for further information. I noticed that Boston seemed to be city centre of the cosmos for knees with companies such as Zimmer, Conformis and Smith & Nephew. It must be the confluence of universities and hospitals.

I had a contact at Smith & Nephew and she suggested I looked at their Journey ll replacement knee which was made of titanium and oxinium. This model came in nine sizes and was relatively new to the UK. I asked my consultant whether he would consider it and luckily he agreed and I now have a new friend inserted in my right knee which I have Christened "Knocked".

Having Knocked is no laughing matter. It is very intrusive surgery and I still had heavy bruising four weeks after my operation. By then, I could walk indoors with one crutch but used two when out. I tired very easily and sometimes slept four hours in the day as well as nine hours at night. I was taking a range of heavy pain killers and using frozen peas to ice my knee most days (you could also use a Cryo/Cuff Cooler at five times the price!).

Initially,I had to sleep on my back in hospital as I could not move my leg as it was so painful. On returning home, I found lying in one position led to heavy snoring which was not always appreciated by my dear wife. It took a further week to be able to slide and sleep on my side (I was kept in hospital for six days).

My wife was adorable. She had taken eight days off work to look after me. She was run ragged. I could not dress myself, going to the loo at night was complicated, my meals had to be prepared, I could not put the weekly dustbins out, I was unable to drive. Much worse was that intimacy took a dive.

Allison, my Physio came by most days to treat me ("to give me hell"). She recommended I rented a CSM machine to stretch Knocked. It worked. She had me stretching and walking. Incidentally, I had had eight sessions with her before my op to strengthen my hamstring and muscle groups around the knee. It made sense.

My GP practice saw to it that their District Nurses called in at home every other day in the early stages. They gave me regular tests for blood clots and I took warfarin tablets for six weeks as a precaution.

My mobility (compared to pre surgery) is excellent, my posture is hugely better and I am walking about 500m a day (though I tire towards the end). I went to see the film 45 at Curzon Victoria after 2 weeks and though I enjoyed it, I was exhausted afterwards.

The following week we braved Kinky Boots at the Adelphi and risked eating out beforehand which was quite a trial as there were 50 stairs to contemplate at the restaurant. I had acute pain during the show (the staff were unbelievably sympathetic) and again tired too quickly though the musical was an absolute hoot.

Slowly, we learned to do one thing at the weekend and we always had an additional chair for Knocked to rest on. In our fifth week we had tickets for England v Fiji - at the start of the Rugby World Cup - but sadly, I felt it would too much of a strain and sitting in tight seats did not appeal: we gave the game a miss.

I was keen to try driving but I could not manoeuvre Knocked into my car without considerable pain. I did manage a 100m drive just to re park it but I knew it would be at least another month before I could seriously burn some rubber. Mr Webb says it will be safe to drive once I did not need my crutches.

Unable to drive and being a mile from a rail or tube connection I can only use a bus or increase my share allocation in Uber. The buses have been surprisingly easy though I do not travel in rush hour. Uber has been a joy and their drivers most helpful. By contrast most of the black cabbies will not move from their driving seat to assist.

It was a good decision to have knee replacement. Knocked is already in better shape than my left knee (worrying). The pain is manageable and my support network has been outstanding and my wife has been exceptional.

I know of a friend in Washington state who is having both knees done at the same time but has only been allotted two days as an impatient which will be challenging (and doubly painful). I was asked if I would consider having both done but felt the risks were too high. The only case I came across in my research told me nonetheless to have both! He had and was cycling and skiing as never before.

I am not out of the woods quite yet. I am still taking pain killers but each day there is slightly more movement. Knocked is in fine fettle and I am hopeful that Roger Federer will drop by anytime soon.



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