Colin’s knee replacement surgery

 Colin's knee replacement surgery

My name is Colin and I am a 58 year old ex Rugby and Judo Player who works in the City of London.

My knee issues began as soon as I started contact sport in my youth and I had a series of cartilage operation/removals and ligament reconstructions before I was 30. I gave up contact sport but remained a keen DIYer and then took up regular golf in my late 30s. My golf membership came with a gym so I also returned to low impact fitness exercising using a Rower, cross trainer, and bike. However, while I became fitter and more active, the damage to my knees was already done and I started to get arthritic attacks into my 50’s.

While I did not think I would be a candidate for replacement knees, I was lucky enough to have Private Health Insurance, and the initial diagnosis suggested that both my knees would eventually need replacing. On the recommendation of my core fatness adviser (thanks a million Soloman) at Sports and Spinal, I met Ian McDermott for a 2nd opinion. While he was in overall agreement, he sent me away to look closely at the Conformis product, the testimonials, and I also looked up the operation on U-Tube ! Clearly, the testimonials showed me that knee replacements were not just for pensioners. In advance of taking any decision, one thing that Ian was very clear about was that I needed to work like a dog to get ready for the operation and that I needed to work just as hard and remain positive afterwards……………….he wasn’t wrong !

Once I had looked over things I booked and had the left knee operation in late October 2017 and I had the right knee operation in late November 2018………both by Ian and both under the care of London Bridge Hospital which was more like a Hotel than a hospital !

Recovery time from operation to a back to work status (commuting by train to/from London) in both cases was 5-6 weeks which was pushing it but achievable………just make sure you can get a seat in an area where you can straighten your leg because it can be quite painful to keep it bent for more than 15-20 minutes. The first few weeks post operative depend upon how well you can manage the pain. The hospital give you plenty of exercises to do and it is also really important to get a good local physio on board to start attacking the swelling and to start flexing the knee. You will also receive a regular sermon from Ian about how important it is to get maximum bend in the first 4-6 weeks !

In my experience, there was no problem while in hospital because the pain relief is strong and good and the physios are super enthusiastic and helpful but you need to push as hard as you can when at home even if it hurts a bit. Managing pain relief is also an art ! Personally, I found it quite difficult to get on with the codeine based tablets I was prescribed which were strong and made me drowsy but I managed after 2-3 weeks to manage with strong/regular paracetamol tablets. You should be prepared to have a few sleepless nights in the first 4 weeks but the stronger painkillers do help at night (along with a few films on the ipad).

You cannot do the exercises all day of course so I found a few good TV box-sets to help kill the time. I also took regular walks and increased the distance over time to run-in my new knees. After about 3-4 weeks, and when I could just about get the knee to 90 degrees, I set up my bike in my garage on a rolling road and started to cycle about 15-30minutes each day. Once I started this, I think the real improvement began as I could start moving the fluid away from the joint and visit the physio at least twice weekly.

I managed to get back in my car after 5-6 weeks and recommenced golf after about 8 weeks and also got back into regular gym based work and Pilates shortly after that. Driving obviously depend upon whether you can stamp on the brake hard and stop the car so listen to Ian or your physio. You also have to be careful not to overdo things when you feel good. In my experience, the initial exercises result in a reaction by the joint so you need to be prepared to change plans, cancel training/golf, and react to how the joint is behaving. I found that taking a lower dose painkiller when I started to play golf took the edge off of any discomfort experienced.

I am now playing golf every week and my game is already improving because I am not compensating for weak knees. I am also back in the gym twice a week and walk to and from the train station regularly as well. My left knee is totally pain free and my right knee is almost there and I know it won’t be long before it is 100%.

I am looking forwards to a fit and healthy retirement in the next years and being able to chase the grandchildren around the garden and have an active and healthy life.

Thanks must go to Ian and his Team, Conformis, and the Staff at London Bridge Hospital along with the post operative care.

But you must also become quite single minded about your pre-hab and re-hab because this is what will impact the pace of your recovery. Make sure you have a positive outlook towards recovery along with the peaks and troughs that will come in the first few weeks. No two knees are the same but I can say that two Conformis knees are better than none!

Colin’s right knee at 3 months post-op.

April 2020