Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the rebuilding of my right knee by Dr. Andrew J. Feldman. The surgery involved a high tibial osteotomy, an ACL recision, and a microfracture. When I saw Dr. Feldman three months ago, he was very pleased with the result. The tibia, into which a wedge of cadaver tissue had been inserted, had healed perfectly; the ACL reconstruction was stable and strong; and the alignment was just what he wanted. He believes that we have staved off a knee replacement for a good long time. Unless I abuse it. (Apparently, Steve Yzerman, the former captain of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team who had the same operation, went back to playing hockey, knowing the the knee would only buy him a couple of years. Given the salary he was being paid, it was worth it to him, but now he will need the knee replacement sooner rather than later.)
So I’m going to wear a knee brace whenever I do sports activities that are likely to put rotational stress on the knee. That includes ice skating, rollerblading, kicking around a soccer ball, and playing tennis. The brace is way cool, by the way. It’s the official brace of the U.S. Ski Team, and it’s manufactured by Donjoy and was custom-fitted for me by Gotham Surgical and Brace on 39th Street. I had my choice of colors, but chose a respectable dark blue.
I know it’s hard to believe seeing just the pictures, but the brace is actually remarkably comfortable, indeed, much more so than the smaller fabric covered brace I was wearing a couple of months after the surgery. What’s great about the brace is that there’s no fabric on it, so it’s cool and there’s nothing to rub against the area where the plate was screwed onto the bone.
The knee feels strong. Here’s what I can do now that I couldn’t do before the surgery: run for the bus. I can go from standing still to running without a second thought and without pain afterward. The arthritis is still there on the medial side of the knee, but with the weight shifted to the outside of the knee, I’m rarely aware of it. Oh, there’s a minor twinge every now and then just to keep me honest, but it’s night and day from a year ago.
And the area where the plate was inserted has almost all of the feeling back. In fact, I think there’s less numbness than there was after the first surgery twenty years ago.
To celebrate the anniversary, I bought myself a new set of CCM hockey skates, my first new pair in about fifteen years. My first time on the ice after the surgery was last weekend at Wollman Rink, though it was so crowded that it was hard to really get in good skating rhythm. So tomorrow morning, weather permitting, I’m off to the “The Pond at Bryant Park” first thing in the morning to put the knee through its paces. Bryant Park on a weekday generally has the advantage of being less crowded than Wollman and — even better — much less expensive: in fact, it’s free.
Don’t worry, Dr. Feldman, I’ll be conservative!