I am one of those stupid old farts who played some form of sport from the age of 5 to 52. The last two decades of my sport was mainly soccer (sorry, football for you purists) and squash. Over the past 12 years since my right knee prevented me from playing any sport, I have maintained my fitness with 40 minutes on my exercise bike most days of the week and 20 minutes of weights and stretching in the morning. Over the past 12 years, I have tried a variety of therapies for bone on bone osteoarthritis including stem cell therapy, PRP therapy and numerous pharmaceutical and natural therapies. I’ve had multiple injections directly into the joint of a variety of substances and over this time have a variable degree of discomfort, immobility and reduced function of my right knee.

Although many of the above therapies have given me significant relief, over the last three months the pain in my knee has been unbearable to the point where my quality of life was being substantially affected. On Friday, 15 May, I had a conversation with my orthopaedic surgeon, Dr John Limbers and he suggested we get the operation over and done with as soon as possible and thus last Friday, 22 May I had a total knee replacement with robotic assistance known as the Mako procedure.

I arrived home on Monday morning and although the knee still remains quite painful, the pain is reducing by the minute and I’m able to be quite mobile on crutches and with physiotherapy. It is important with any joint replacement to do as much prehab and rehab as possible without, of course, going overboard. Pain is the body’s way of telling you you’ve had enough.

The reason I’m writing this article is that I’m well aware that many people in my age group across the planet have worn out one or a number of their joints. One of the common comments from clever orthopaedic surgeons is that “you will know when you need your joint replaced and that’s when I’m happy to do the procedure”. I certainly knew it was time, being unable to walk downstairs without significant discomfort and the thought of walking up three flights of stairs from my car park to my office was untenable. It hurt when I rolled over in bed.

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Image Source: X-ray taken post op of Dr Ross’ knee

With the retrospectoscope (the best medical invention ever), old farts shouldn’t be playing soccer into their 50s or 60s. 12 years ago I had to resuscitate a 61-year-old opposition full back when he suffered a cardiac arrest 20 minutes into a soccer match. Of course, had he been a forward I would’ve let him die as those prima donnas don’t deserve to exist! My knee finally caved in one month after this incident and both examples made me seriously reconsider veteran’s sport. I now believe that people should play competition sport no longer than age 35 and after that perform regular exercise.

But, I loved squash and soccer, including the mateship and the enormous stress relief of purely playing a game with your mates and still miss both activities to this day. If I had the chance to do it all again, I probably would, but then again, I am a male. I’ve now paid the price and certainly will be better off for the experience of having my knee replaced.

I’d like to finish off by thanking the Sydney Adventist hospital and their wonderful staff for the excellent care and attention I received during my short stay. I also want to thank my friend & superb physician, Dr Greg Bennett who has managed my pain relief during the peri-operative period & beyond. I also would like to acknowledge the extraordinary skill and service I received from my doctor, with the appropriate name of John Limbers. Finally, I am truly blessed to have the love and support of my wife Anne, who despite nearly 43 years of marriage continues giving me wonderful care and attention helping me perform the tasks I cannot do.

I thank you for allowing me to be somewhat self-indulgent and for all the wonderful messages of support I have received during this time. But, let’s not forget there are so many people around the planet with much more serious conditions who have to go through intensive medical treatments alone and without support. I can assure you that even receiving a message that someone cares is an important part of recovery. I have received so many messages for which I’m extremely grateful but if you know someone is suffering from any condition, please offer them some degree of support or contact. I have no doubt that knowing you are being thought about by friends, acquaintances or other associates is a vital part of your recovery.

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Dr Walker is an expert in the field of preventative cardiology and has published seven books. He gives lectures nationally and internationally.

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