I have flat feet. My Dad has flat feet. My daughter has flat feet. This is not uncommon of course but I did not start wearing insoles until my 30s, as my knee pain began to build up. Basically, my weight was not going down both sides of my knee joints evenly. This wore away the inner cartilage until there was not much left. I ended up with Grade 4 Osteoarthritis in both but it was more severe in my right knee. Ouch.
I ended up wearing knee braces, which kind of made me look like Robocop. You get used to them after a while and I never thought much about them. Until that is, when I was wearing shorts, I became aware of people staring at me and I would often get asked by total strangers what was wrong. That was a bit of a strange one because I never thought much about them otherwise.
I had a daily fitness routine I have been following since my pneumonia and I did a lot of knee stretching as part of my workout. This allowed me to take my morning walk without too much discomfort. However, even with my knee braces, I had a gait rather similar to an Orc, from Middle Earth.
I was referred to the Queen Alexander Hospital in Portsmouth in my mid-40s and there were several different options that could be undertaken to resolve the issue but it was best to hold off as long as possible, as no surgery is better than any surgery. I remember asking my surgeon when I would know the time was right and he simply said “you will know”.
He was right, I did know and went on the list. There was a possibility that I could have an ostomy, rather than a full knee replacement but my knee was in danger of total collapse so it became urgent and in July 2022 I had the surgery.
It was so cool, they used robotics and I was awake throughout, although I was completely stoned from the sedatives! I was hoping to actually see the operation itself but wasn’t allowed to, although I did get to watch the robotic arms doing their thing on a monitor, which was fascinating.
I thanked the surgeon afterwards and he said “You won’t thank me tomorrow”. I ask why and he simply said “Pain”.
Actually it took 3 days before the pain really kicked in. It was not good but I was determined to get as much flexibility back as possible, so as soon as my staples were removed, I was back onto my knee stretches. Ow, ow, ow! It was very painful indeed but I was told that as soon as the scar tissue was formed, that would be it and I would not be able to stretch my knee any further than however far I was stretching it previously.
It paid off. I had got the maximum flexibility possible and I could walk freely with little pain. People in the village were astonished at the change. They always knew it was me from a distance because I walked like an orc and they just could not believe the dramatic difference.
The physio team at QA checked my knee at my follow-up appointment and literally had nothing to suggest, one of the team said I had better flexibility than he had.
I love dancing and now dance freely for hours at my favourite two venues in Bognor. My other knee will have to get sorted at some point, I know that, and I am incredibly enthusiastic about when that happens! This is one of the few things I know I have got right and, after around 7 years of chronic pain, the joy I get from it is just immense.
I still wear a brace on the other knee during the day and, as the Summer will soon be on us, I am sure the stares will return.
My advice is for anyone having knee or hip surgery is to work as hard as you possibly can on your recovery so you can get maximum benefit from it, under the advice of your surgeon of course.