Many years ago I sat on the board of a company that made tiny suture anchors that are used to reattach tendons in the hands and shoulders. It was rare not to attend a board meeting where an ox tail would be sitting in the middle of the table awaiting a demonstration of a new technology to fix torn tendons or repair ruptured discs. Little did I know at the time that I would end up with 3 of these anchors in my right shoulder.
This is the year I decided to move forward with a long overdue knee replacement. What I hadn’t planned on was my wife needing to have her knee operated on just three weeks prior to my surgery. For a while there I thought I’d be postponing, but medical science continues to improve and thankfully she was back up on her feet just a couple of days post her surgery.
I initially injured my left knee during my senior year of high school and continued to play competitive sports throughout college. Then like most of you I became a weekend warrior.
There would be several surgeries over the years to repair or clean out the joint, but over time I developed arthritis and the joint continued to wear away any remaining cartilage.
Last Wednesday, my wife dropped me off at New England Baptist Hospital where Dr. Geoffrey Van Flandern performed a total knee replacement. The surgery took a little more than two hours and they had me walking down the hospital corridor later that evening.
Total knee replacements date back to the late 1800s, but the surgery became more common in the 1970s. Those early surgeries were much more complex and lengthy affairs than what is done today. Ligaments and tendons are now left in place for stability. The joints are sized to your body and include metal and polyethylene components that replace the upper and lower parts of the joint. Further improvements in these component materials, geometry and bone glue continued throughout the 1970s right up through today. The combined affect of of these advancements and better instrumentation resulted in increased range of motion and a lower wear rate.
I am fortunate to live in the Boston area where we have outstanding hospitals, medical professionals, medical schools, and startups that continue push the envelope of medical science. I have several months of physical therapy ahead, but I am looking forward to swinging a golf club come April, getting back on my bike and on my skies. At a time when the national dialog seems hell-bent on attacking capitalism and capitalist, it is important to remember that many of the advancements in medicine are accomplished by entrepreneurs who were financed by other capitalist. For those of you who think that capitalism is immoral, I challenge you to find even a wing of a medical center that was unwritten by a socialist.
Here’s hoping it’s a Happy Knee Year.