How I Am Transforming My Body And Saving My Life One Knee At A Time

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

The funny thing about announcing your upcoming knee replacement surgery is all the advice others believe you need to receive. And I happen to live in an age-restricted apartment complex full of seniors who have already had knee replacements. So, warnings about what I should and should not do postop abound.

One woman (whose mother is still recovering from a recent hip replacement surgery) even felt compelled to repeatedly tell me to take my pain medication regardless of whether I believe I need it. She has a low pain tolerance. I do not. But I assured her that, at age fifty-four, I had my medication management under control. And, I am already taking 900 mg of Gabapentin for nerve pain every day. So, I am confident that I will be good to go. But as she continued to walk around the hallways for fitness, she had to advise me some more, and the rest of us who had been sitting in our community room laughed it all off. Of course, we all knew she meant well and was once a candy striper or something. But, her continued insistence that I remember to take my meds was driving the rest of us nuts.

And then there were the folks whose parents had had knee replacement surgery back in the 1970s and 1980s when natural selection occurred, and many designs failed rapidly, causing knee replacement to be considered a poor operation. None whose parents had the surgery have had one themselves. But each had a ton of advice based on the difficulty experienced by their parent. A few even still assumed I would be in the hospital for as long as their parents were. And that’s when other’s piped in with, “oh, no. I was only in there for one day before they let me go home.” But it all reminded me of those times when you can’t get your car started, everybody has their own opinion why, and not a single one is right (except you, even though they initially disagreed).

Because both of my knees are dead, this will be my first knee replacement, and there will be a second. But I am not unfamiliar with the procedure or the process. My mother had both hips replaced, and her spouse had one of her knees replaced. And one of Mom’s first cousins (maternal side) had both hips and knees replaced, plus back surgery. And, Mom’s spouse also shattered one of her legs a couple of years ago and had to go the surgery and rehab for that.

Like me, Mom was in her fifties when she had her hip replacement surgeries. So that was back in the late 1900s. And back then, she had to be in the hospital and rehab for two weeks. But she recovered quickly and well, and I believe I will do the same.

Mom used to be a gym teacher. Not long after her second surgery, once she was off her walker, she decided to take my (then) nine-year-old son on in a game of one-on-one basketball. Boy, was he surprised when she won, and boy, was she proud of herself. Before her surgeries, Mom’s walk was a lift and swivel.

In my case, there is a M. I. L. F. (Michelle I’d Like To Find) that I need to dig out from under at least one hundred and eight pounds of fat. I was sixty-five pounds away from there in 2017 when my knees took a turn for the worse. But I could not get any of my doctors to listen. Then, before I knew it came menopause, the COVID lockdowns, and the unexpected cancer diagnoses and death of my mother five months later.

By December 2021, I was a whopping two hundred ninety pounds. But I now weigh two hundred fifty-eight pounds. So once my knees are replaced, I should have no trouble losing the rest of this weight at all.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I live in an age-restricted senior complex. There are handrails along every wall in every hallway. So, once I have gone off my walker, I will have something to grab onto when or if I need it. And, this is a two-story building. So, once I have enough strength built up to do so, I can attempt some indoor stair climbing as well.

And the food isn’t even an issue because I am gluten, dairy, and red meat-free. And it is almost exclusively vegetarian (don’t worry, I know where to find the protein, calcium, etc.). And, for the most part, I drink plain water. Sometimes it is flavored with coffee grounds or perhaps a little lemon and lime. But I rarely drink anything else.

I love to walk and was known to walk upwards of five to ten miles a day just because I enjoyed it and I could. So, it broke my heart five years ago when I realized I would not be able to do that anymore. But now and then, I would still try because I never wanted to give up the fight to get myself back into shape again. And I know I may never be able to get back down to one hundred twenty-three (what I weighed in high school). But as long as I am no more than about one hundred thirty-five, I know I will be happy. I am beyond excited about buying a whole new wardrobe and cannot wait to do that. I was a size ten before my son was born, and that is what I am striving to be.

By springtime, I believe I will be walking upwards of five to ten miles a day, with a few days off each week, of course. Humans can carry upwards of fifty pounds of inflammation, so the amount of weight I will have lost by then remains unknown. By this Mother’s Day, I may only weigh two hundred forty-six pounds. But I believe it will be closer to two hundred, plus or minus a few pounds. And I think I will weigh under two hundred pounds and be happy.

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Michelle Rostykus

Michelle Rostykus

Mother, sister, aunt, great-aunt, cousin, friend; love being a chamberlain and courtier to my six-year-old Brindled American Shorthair and living in the country