It is really a strange moment of disbelief- that your will lose a part of your body. When this moment happens you try to look back to see when it started. Everyone can go really far back- to Pop Warner football or to a host of other relatively uneventful but memorable knee injuries. Unless you really had a major trauma to your knee (which I never did) then most knee arthritis, the most common disease that leads to knee replacement, is not easily explained except that somehow it was in your body’s plan for you. Whether this was somehow inherited in your family’s genes or unique just to you- we really don’t know. The best you can say is that it is fairly common, as over a million people year need joint replacements in the US alone.
I do remember the last time I ran, though. I thought about that time when it became clear that I was going for a knee replacement. My youngest son and I were coming home from a New York Knicks basketball game and had the chance to take the 10:36 train out of Grand Central Station if we moved fast enough. The consequence of missing the train was the 11:05 and considering the food court in Grand Central was closed by then there was no intelligent reason to be waiting around. We had to start running. Having run track in junior high school and played football in high school, running was simply running- no biggie. Bolting to the S train to shuttle to Grand Central I heard a pop in my knee and it buckled to the simple clarity of PAIN! For the rest of the successful journey to catch the 10:36 I walked fast. No self-respecting New Yorker misses a train even if is means hopping on one leg. I never ran again after that day.
Fast forward to September 2015. I was increasing my exercise regimen- nothing crazy mind you. About a half hour of weights and the same amount of time in cardio. I did a particularly vigorous quads set on a machine and the next morning the pain was incredible in both knees. I fully expected with a little rest, ice, Alleve, and time I would be back to baseline. The pain never left and in fact a cascade of events happened, biologically in my knee I assume, that caused further demise of my joint. When I eventually got an x-ray and saw bone-on-bone I have to admit I sensed the knees were doomed. I was not going to let this happen, the knee surgeon needing a knee replacement so young, so I embarked on a aggressive conservative treatment journey- which is the subject of the next post.