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Wed Feb 8, 2012, 01:32 AM

Whining thread - I got good news and bad news about my knees

The good news is that I am discharged from physical therapy.

The bad news is that I am discharged because the PT is not going to help my worn out knees.

The physical therapist says that the motion and strength are good and gave me exercises to try to maintain, but he thinks that the sooner I check into knee replacement, the better. Since I am bone on bone, the damage will just get worse. If I put it off too long, replacement may be much more difficult.

The three questions he asked me is if the knee pain:
Keeps me from doing what I need to do?
Keeps me from doing what I want to do?
And keeps me from sleeping?
The answer to all of those has been YES for well over two years.

So I guess I need to call my orthopedic surgeon and talk to him. I want to see if they will replace both knees at the same time. I only want to go through this once, at least in this decade. But I'm worried about cost - our insurance will only cover 70%. I don't know how much the 30% will be and how I will cover it.

Getting old sucks.

Excuse my whining. I've been in denial and hoped that the therapy would help delay things. That he gave up after only three sessions is NOT a good sign.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 02:23 AM

1. no it is a good sign!

they aren't dicking you around - so you need new knees. the technology is there, the "design" of the originals SUCKS, get the new ones if you can at all afford it.

I have talked to numerous people - they all say their lives have been greatly improved. I have a little idea of the pain, trust me. if new knees were in the cards (insurance) I would do it in a heartbeat. No cartilage/bone on bone is fucking painful and it won't EVER get better. and nice as drugs can be, they just contribute to more damage because what happens when they take the pain away? You go out and abuse those joints more.

go for it if you can and good luck!

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Response to Kali (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 12:34 PM

4. Pretty much I am going to have to just suck it up and get them done

I can no longer even walk around in the house much without a lot of pain. Monday with the delivery of the foal pretty much cinched it - if I can't even go out and spend time standing up and LOOKING at my horses, it's time to get the knees done!

The therapist was pretty blunt - if I wait too long, the loss of flexibility and strength will reduce the chances of replacement being possible or working well.

Now I have to look at the costs. AARP estimates roughly $45,000 per knee. If my insurance pays 70%, that means a little less than $15,000 out of pocket. In the Current TV show about medical tourism, they were talking less than $10,000 cost for the guy who went to India and got BOTH knees replaced. That is almost tempting.

Here, because of the football team, we have one of the best orthopedic clinics in the Southeast. Surgeons in that clinic have worked on both knees and rebuilt both shoulders for me so I have confidence in them. I'm not sure I could place that confidence in a surgeon and facility far away.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 02:57 AM

2. I have heard of one person who had both done at once

Usually they won't let you because you need one good leg to stand on while you go through therapy to recover. Knee pain sux. Sorry you have to suffer with it.

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Response to libodem (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 12:45 PM

5. Our hay guy got both knees done about a year and a half ago

He complained like all get out about the pain, the therapy, and the rehab, but he healed pretty fast and is doing great. Now he complains that he can't get down on his knees to work on his tractors and other equipment. He's a big man, too, so size was not a worry apparently.

Heck, I haven't been able to get down on my knees for over ten years!

Thanks - the pain has been getting worse and worse, but as I said, I've been in denial. I've controlled the pain by doing less and less. That's why I went to therapy. I thought maybe I had gotten into a downward spiral that my weakened muscles were not supporting the joints causing more pain, so I was doing less and making the muscles weaker. But I had NO muscle pain or aches from any of the exercises and the only trouble I had with the exercises was the joint pain. So I knew what was coming - I just hoped I could delay it a while longer.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 01:31 PM

6. Knee pain is iit's owm special kind of hell

Hope you can do both at once. But do be prepared for a challenge. When you have been in pain over the long haul you get sorts used to it. It's the same type of pain, just a little worse for a while.

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Response to libodem (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 09:31 PM

9. I've been living with pain for eleven years now

I can handle it if the eventual outcome will be less pain and more mobility.

In 1993, I had the left shoulder completely reconstructed after living with the pain from it for eight months. When the surgeon went in he found that two of the tendons in the rotator cuff were not damaged; three were completely detached; the cartilage inside the joint was shredded. Yes, the surgery aftermath was painful, but the long term result was and has been great and was a huge improvement over what I had been living with.

Both knees have had the medial meniscus removed - left in 2001, right in 2007. Both times, I had torn the meniscus, then folded it over inside the joint. When the surgeon went in, he had to pick pieces of the cartilage out of the joints. Since then I've been walking bone on bone - there is nothing left between the eroding bone ends. The surgeon told me I'd need knee replacement, but to wait until I could no longer stand the pain. I'm there.

With the stuff I did Monday for the foal I've done something more to both knees. I finally broke down last night and took my prescription anti-inflammatory and it did no good. Today I was having more pain than I have - and it was already bad. I may have finally worn through the lateral meniscus since the pain reminds me of when I tore the medials.

While I have plenty of vicodin, I hate taking it. It makes me so stupid, I can't function. I've got to lead a class Saturday and if I still hurt this bad, I'll go ahead and take the vicodin afterwards and vegetate for a couple of days.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 03:51 AM

3. My knees hurt too.

But it's due to a crooked spine and one leg being shorter than the other because of how my pelvis shifted. Hurry for pain killers!

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Response to Neoma (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 01:33 PM

7. Knee pain is gut grinding

Where some other pains are not so much so.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 08:53 PM

8. Rehab for two knees will be intense

Your orthopedist will give you good advice. Heed it. It's going to depend on your general heath and strength.

I just got a new hip, it's the best thing I e ever done. But, I have to tell you my quads aren't nearly as strong as I thought they were.

Much improved techniques these days and faster recovery time. They have you up and walking the first day.

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Response to NV Whino (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 8, 2012, 09:36 PM

10. I do worry that my arms may not be able to help as much as needed

As I've said above, both shoulders have been rebuilt. My wrists are bad and I tend to get tendonitis in both. And my hands are getting arthritic.

But I've had too many surgeries in the last ten years and really REALLY don't want to have to look forward to two more. I really want to just have one biggie and not have to worry about another for a long time.

My previous surgeon retired from surgery, though he still works at the orthopedic clinic. His successor is good, though, so I will go meet him and see what he says.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 02:12 PM

11. My 73 year old mother had her

first knee done this past summer, and as soon as she was through with the out patient physical therapy, and the exercises given to her to be done at home.......she went ahead and had her other one done. She now says that even though the physical therapy was torture, she wishes she had had the surgery years ago. She would not have suffered as long with the pain.

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Response to zabet (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 07:57 PM

12. I'm glad your mother is doing good!

I really hope I can talk them into doing both knees at the same time. I'm not sure I can face going through the procedure twice.

A few weeks ago I met a woman who has had three knee replacements on EACH knee. The first two times on each, the prosthetics failed. I was just stunned. Can you imagine the pain she's been through? She did say she got a nice cut of a class action suit, but to me that would not make up for the time and pain. She was walking around better than I can, so the third time must have been the charm.

Most of the people I have met that have had their knees replaced said it was worth it. A few are disappointed that they are not completely pain free as if they expected to have their 20 year old knees back in place. I'd be happy to have the knees I had at 30 or 40 back!

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Thu Feb 9, 2012, 11:28 PM

13. That is a crummy situation. I've read that a lot of Britians go to Eastern Europe to

get dental work done and well as other work not covered by NHS because the prices are very low. Perhaps that might be something worth considering.

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Response to snagglepuss (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:45 AM

14. A lot of Americans go to Mexico, Barbados or even India to get work done

Current TV's show about it had a man that went to India and got both knees replaced. I think they said his total cost, including his wife going along with him and staying there until he could travel, was about $7000.

I talked to my insurance company yesterday and it turns out that there is a yearly limit of $10,500 for out of pocket costs. But that does not include costs for out of network doctors and facilities above what the insurance company is willing to pay. So if my surgeon bills $5000 and the insurance will only pay $3500, I'd still be on the hook for the difference, no matter if it is more than the yearly limit. It may be possible to negotiate that with the doctor, though, and try to get him to accept the insurance amount even if he is not a network doctor and is not obligated to take less.

The insurance company would not pay a dime for going out of the country, so that entire cost would be out of pocket. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable doing it, anyway.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I know I have to get the knees done or give up mobility for the rest of my life. I just keep getting intermittent feelings of panic when I think about it.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:50 AM

15. I do know a couple of people who had both knees done at the same time.

Surgeons seem to be a little more willing to do that these days.

It would cut down on your out of pocket expense. Do you have someone who would be able to take care of you while recovering?

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Response to blue neen (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 10, 2012, 12:12 PM

16. My husband has over 200 hours of vacation time

Plus his company has time available for personal reasons, like taking care of family members. So that won't be a problem.

I'd probably spend a few days in the hospital and less than two weeks in a rehab facility. So I told my husband that once we know when this will happen he should schedule to be off the day of the surgery and then a week or two after I get home.

Edited to add - My husband's boss knows this is coming. After the physical therapist told me, I was freaked out and went by his place of work to tell my husband, and his boss was standing there when I did.

My husband's a good nurse - he's taken care of me in the aftermath of six previous surgeries. Some were much worse than others, but he's handled them all pretty good. He's very patient with a cranky invalid and good about the details. The biggest problem is cooking - I have to talk him through heating stuff in the microwave!

I'll cook meals ahead of time to put in the freezer, so reheating will be all he has to do. I've done that previously to get ready for surgeries - it saves money, gives us better food, and is easier for both of us.

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