Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is 83 Too Old for A Replacement Knee or Should I Just Limp Quietly Into the Sunset?

Decisions, decisions.........oy, am I sick of making them........however, the alternative does not appeal  to me one bit so onward I go with Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe-ing it.

Actually, I made one decision over the weekend  that sort of made me feel liberated and almost blogworthy again.   After weeks of suffering I decided to consult my Wonderkind orthopedic surgeon who did such a great job on my hip about what he could offer me as a fix for the latest joint to cop-out. 

I was gimping and groaning around the garden trying to reposition all my pots for the winter and finally had to laugh at my less than gazelle-like state.........If I were limping because of my recently mended broken hip I figure it would be perfectly one (not even I) would dare judge me harshly for that.  But nooooo, it's my partially reconstructed left knee that has decided to deconstruct and keeps threatening to deposit me on my tush or worse. And that worries me because I do not want to have to retake Broken Hip 101 .......I already got at A in that course and feel there is nothing more for me to learn on that subject.

So off I schlepped today to consult my hero the Surgeon .  After xrays were duly taken I was informed that the joint was in the grip of arthritis (so what joint in my bod isn't??) and had little cartiledge left to speak of.

It seems there were still  several options:

1.  Just suffer.    (feh !)
2.  Cortisone shot to relieve pain and mega-knee brace (yuk)
3.  Knee replacement surgery , excruciating rehab and 6 months recovery period.  (aaarrrrrggh)

Number 1 I rejected with disdainful expression and curled lip.    (I could do that without a doctor's advice)

Number 2 I half rejected....hated the mega brace part but found the cortisone shot somewhat appealing

Number 3 had been my favorite going in, but I now was not sure about the sound of the rehab and 6 months of big time pain in the recovery process.

However, the part that did me in was when this formerly brilliant, handsome Jewish Doctah suddenly transformed himself into a nerdy nogoodnick  by turning a beady eye on me and saying, "I don't know if the knee replacement is worth it........after all, you are 83 years old......"

Naturally  I gave him my most penetrating, turning-strong-men-to-stone  Medusa stare and reminded him that I was 82 1/2 years old when I graduated Cum Laude (sp?) from Broken Hip 101, but I ended up opting for just a cortisone shot and the name of the top surgeon for knee replacements for me to ponder.

Now, everyone knows that for anyone with even a drop of Jewish blood, the Doctor is next to God of course.  But,  I must confess, when I left this doctor's office the pedestal on which I had placed him had shrunken considerably.  I am not quite sure, but I think I was grievously insulted...... I am considering suing for malpractice, slander and possibly even non-sexual harrassment......


  1. The decisions we get to make!! I hope the cortisone works well until then. I had my knee replaced at about 70 yrs old. They only last a certain amount of time so age should be in your favour! ;-)

    Did you ask to see the doctor's certificate? I find they are all too young and suspect they never finished high school.

  2. I recently had a lot of trouble with my shoulder and the cortisone shot was like a gift from heaven - and fast too. Within minutes I felt almost (forgive me for this) young again.

    I hope it works for you - and if not - the surgery does - hey - my grandfather's 101 and and 1/2 now... you have years ahead of you.

  3. I'd be willing to bet that the surgeon, when he is 82 1/2, will opt for surgery. He is only looking at it from his point of view. If you live to 100 like my grandfather did, you will be thankful for those pain free years. I know he was glad he had the surgery he did when he was 80. But then, it's your choice in the end.

  4. Poop on his ageism!!!

    Total knee replacements are NOT that bad! Yes, there's some pain involved, but as determined a rehab patient as you are will do well ~

    Cortisone shots are well & good for the short term; but you can only have so many of them ~ then where are you?!?!?!?
    (I believe 3 is the limit in any one joint)

    And, as a nurse with 35+ years experience, let me just say that doctors are NOT next to God!!!

    A joke I used to tell my patients ~

    "What's the difference between God and a Dr.???"

    "God knows he's not a doctor!!!"


  5. Please let us know how the shot works out for you. You forgot one other option:

    4. Medical marijuana

  6. Personally, I go for 3) as you don't seem to be inclined to slow down at all.
    My mother had the same op (OK, she was a mere spring chicken of 70 at the time) but she astounded the docs by making one of the most complete and speedy recoveries they had ever seem. She's a pretty determined lady when she sets he mind to something, so I'm certain her resolve to do everything possible to make it a success and get back to near-normal (including all the boring exercises post-op) played a big role.
    Four years on, her only complaint is that she can no longer kneel to weed her garden (but she has invested in a rather fetching weeding stool). Nothing breaks her stride!
    Whatever you decide, I hope it works out for the best for you.

  7. Yes, but you might live to be a hundred or more. Go for the operation. Live in a drug induced state for as long as it takes. Take any pain killer available. Grow your own pain killers and good luck! Keep us posted.

  8. Go for it.
    My mother is 95 and the British national health service reckon she has ten more years at least so it's worth doing a hip replacement this year and knee surgery next.
    Six weeks after surgery she's home and dodging about, free from pain with her hip and planning to come out to see us in Costa Rica.
    Sack your quack and get someone intelligent who can see that elderly people still have a value.

  9. I'm with everyone else- it's all about the joints keeping up with the spirit and has nothing to do with age.
    You have the spirit. Get that knee in working order!

  10. Ah..something else wore have just outlived you body again. No sexual harrassment there..well darn..
    I hope the cortisone works to take away the will probably work for a short time..till you decide to have the surgery.
    Oh ya Medical Marijuana might help..I forget you are in California. You might even forget you have a knee:)

  11. Not the same as the 6 months of rehab, but my 93 year old grandmother finally decided that since she wasn't showing any signs of dying anytime soon, to finally get her cataracts done. It had been suggested to her about 10 years ago and she said it wasn't worth it since she was so old. Well? She's still kicking and she said, "It's like someone washed my windows!" And never looked back.

  12. May I give you my father's view on the matter?

    When Dr. Born Organized Clean was early in his practice, back in the stone age, an 81 year old patient presented, and he didn't want to do cancer surgery. The idea back then was that old people die on the table, and they are old, so you tell them to say goodbye and give comfort care.

    This woman was in so much pain that her daughter, a nurse, convinced him to operate. She had no other treatment for the cancer, and he figured she would be gone in a few months.

    She lived to be 95, still of sound mind and able to walk and take herself to the restroom, etc.

    He changed his tune after that and said, if the person is mentally there, and wants to try for it, let them have the surgery. You never know.

    I will understand whatever decision you make.

  13. You're like the Timex watch, Lo... takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'! I'd say if the cortisone shots don't do the trick, go for the surgery.

  14. Just catching up here after our trip, Lo.
    Six months. Seems more than a little over pessimistic unless there is something else. We've both a single knee replacement. The Mrs had two weeks in the nursing home for therapy and is doing fine.

  15. my mom just had her knee done at 85 and is so HAPPY. she's only 10 days out from surgery but she's chipper and saying that the post op pain isn't as bad as she had anticipated (pleasant surprise)

    she was given the same three options and opted for the one with the chances for best longterm pain-freeness. her orthopod said given that she had essentially no cartilage, the changes of the injections being effective was pretty slim.

    6 mo must be the long end of the recovery time... I've heard more like 2-3 months.

    ma was in the hospital 2 1/2 days and now at home with 2 weeks of home pt and nurse scheduled to come for 3 or 4 days a week then it's outpatient pt until she doesn't need it.

    good luck with your decision.


  16. I understand. My dad is 83 and he is tough as nails. He just scheduled a knee replacement surgery and quite frankly I don't blame him. Living with pain is easier said than done. I am 50 and have undergone 2 (non-elective) spinal surgeries and despite being very high risk, have sailed through them. I only regret I am not yet able to travel to be with my parents to help out during this difficult recovery. Why did I survive against all odds? Because I have my dad's spirit and positive outlook :-) My doctors have noted this and I have deep respect for anyone at any age who has to face these decisions that require such courage. I hope you are recovering well. Thank you for sharing. I just googled "hip replacement age 83". You were born the same year. An era when, quite frankly, they just don't make them like you anymore.

  17. Thanks for this nice blog. Actually, it depends if you can still manage the pain.

  18. I went to a local clinic that is related to a major hospital in Houston. Xrays reveald I lost my right knee cartilage and I have arthritis. He said since I'm 83 he does not recomend I get knee replacement. Now I have an appointment with an orthopaedic doctor for next week. I wonder what he will say about having the knee replacement. Does anyone think I should have it or not?

  19. Sure, go for it!! How old will you be if you don't?? It's a bad couple weeks and then it eases a lot. Get MINIMALLY INVASIVE knee replacement though! Less pain, quicker recovery and less therapy. I hardly did abut therapy for two separate knee replacements and am fine. You do not need to do the therapy that most people think is necessary. I mean it! Especially if you get the M.I. procedure where they don't cut the quad tendon. Some folks in my area aren't doing ANY therapy if they quickly have a decent range-of-motion. And this is with the doctors' blessings!! So be VERY select about your doctor and it will make a huge difference. If you're in pain now, the recovery process won't be much worse than what you're experiencing. Most people don't realize that you can walk comfortably just hours after the surgery! Full weight-bearing. I was in the hospital overnight and home immediately. A doctor in my area is doing same-day knee replacements because his patients do so well with the minimally invasive surgery. Do your homework, get the best doctor in the best hospital and go for it. Soon!!

    1. Sandy if you had total knee replacement and didn't need therapy, you didn't have a total knee replacement. No one walks comfortably just hours after surgery. No doctor would release you overnight after knee replacement surgery. You require constant monitoring for infection and clots. If a doctor releases you overnight I don't think the doctor has a license to practice. Sorry that just the way it is. Total knee replacement is painful and takes at least a month before you can walk without pain and most of the time it takes much longer. Don't tell people that by some magic total knee replacement is a breeze.

    2. Anonymous.........Agree completely. Knee replacement surgery IS DEFINITELY NOT a breeze. Had on total 18+ yrs. ago. Had to have a revision of that 8 yrs. ago......the post-op pain and rehab was just as bad. And now, do due a serious injury to the same leg....I am facing having to have a mega-knee put in end of January/early February and I know it's NOT going to be a breeze. The pain I've been living with now is bad (they had to put a rod and screws in to stabilize the femur which was crushed). I know after the surgery to put the knee in I'm going to be worse off pain wise at least the first few months.

  20. There is definately a great deal to learn about this subject.
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  21. I'm 85 and faced with the problem; both knees at different times. That means some 12 months out of action!
    'Was recommended light Morphine when recently experiencing extreme pain. Cut that out almost immediately; 'Am alive when I can feel pain!
    Now: I am a member of an Established Award Winning Barbershop Chorus which is the love of my life (after my Wife, of course).
    Question: To have both knees replaced means that for the best year of my remaining 5 or 6 I will be out of action (or will I still be able to function - but not standing?)
    To deduct the best 20% of my remaining years leaves me with no alternative than to put up with my present condition.
    Others may have been faced with the problem, and gone along with the Operations. If so, please email me at:


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