The Perfect Bilateral Knee Replacement
an interview with Larry Meservey (NH)
I grew up doing high school sports, football, wrestling. I took it to the extreme and suffered a lot of injuries during that time. Nothing crippling, but I kind of overdid it. As I got into my work career, we started in the power sports industry. My father and I owned a Marina and, unfortunately, we didn’t have all the power equipment. I just used and abused my body in ways that would never be thought of today. For quite a period of time I worked with Polaris industries maintaining their demo fleet of motorcycles and their press fleet.
I spent a lot of time on my knees. I think just over time I wore them out. Ten years ago, I knew I was in trouble. I just kept putting it off and things just kept getting worse.
My Knees Just Kept Getting Worse
I realized one day I was bow-legged. The pain was excruciating. I got to the point I couldn’t do stairs anymore. It was crippling my life. It was holding me back from all the things that I wanted to do. I’m an avid snowmobiler. We ride ATVs and motorcycles and I’m a car nut. I like to build and crawl around my cars. I got to the point I just couldn’t do it anymore. I almost needed somebody to help me up off the ground because my knees hurt so bad. I live in Northern New Hampshire and I went to a place called The Alpine Clinic there at the base of Canon’s Ski Mountain. They do a lot of the orthopedics for the Olympic athletes.
I went through the x-rays and so forth. And the doctor came in and said, “Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is we can help. The bad news is both of your knees are, are bone-on-bone, you have a lot of arthritis, and you need to have both of your knees replaced.”
It was my wife who suggested the bilateral. She said, “Well doctor, can you do them both at once? Cause I think I know my husband pretty good and if you do one you’ll probably never be back from the second one.” That’s what got me there. That’s what put me in the doctor’s office. And, and that’s what brought up the conversation a bilateral with Dr. Douglas McArthur.
Talking Me Out of The Perfect Bilateral Knee Replacement
He tried everything he could to talk me out of it. I was very insistent. I told him, “If we’re going to do this, I want to do them both.” So then he asked me a little bit about my background and my house. I’m in my mid-sixties, I take no prescription medicines and overall my health conditions are good. He really couldn’t find a reason why not to do both of them at the same time and agreed to do so.
I had talked with PJ at X10 Therapy and discussed pre-hab. That’s when I said, “Well, can I get this thing in advance?” We agreed for me to get the machine more than a week before the surgery One of the goals is range-of-motion after surgery and they talk about 0º to 130º being the ultimate goal. I don’t think I was 0º to 130º before getting the X10. But when I went for my surgery, I was 0º to 130º range of motion on both knees.
As I mentioned I was very bowlegged. Over time, my knees had just kind of unstructured themselves and I was concerned about that and. I put a lot of pressure on a doctor to make sure my legs were straight when we’re done.
My Status Today
Today I can tell you my legs are perfectly straight. They work perfectly, and my range of motion is phenomenal. Currently, at nine weeks, I’ve got —
- 0º to 132º in my left knee on my own.
- And with assistance, they can get it back to 145º on my right leg.
I can do 0º to 130º and with assistance, I get about 133º, so it’s a little stiffer, a little tighter than the left one.
With that great range of motion, I’m mostly working on strength.
Surgery and Right Afterward
I was in the hospital Monday for surgery. I did rehab on Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon I went home.
So that night was kind of a rough night for me. The next morning, I had physical therapy. We got in the car, my wife drove me to physical therapy, and they checked my range of motion. I was already at a hundred and they were pretty impressed with that. On Thursday I got home from physical therapy and it was later in the evening and I got on the X10 and did both legs, strictly for range of motion. I talked to Todd, my coach, and he helped me set the machine. We didn’t do any real strenuous work. But we worked on range-of-motion. I did that every day.
By the end of the second week, I had already had 120º range-of-motion in both legs. And again, the physical therapists were just pretty much blown away by it.
Fast forward to now. I am no longer in physical therapy. I had my eight-week appointment with Dr. McArthur last week, and when I went in it was just absolutely flabbergasted. You could tell. He just sat on his stool and he smiled; he was so excited and so happy. I told him, “I just want to thank you for doing both of them.” He said, “Well, as rough as it was on you, one of the reasons we don’t do two is you’re a pretty big guy. And it’s as rough on me as it is on you.”
Now I don’t feel like there’s a whole lot that I can’t do. I do stairs regularly. There are 24 steps to my office. And one-day last week I probably went up and down 10 times during a day. As we’re up here in snow country, I still have this fear of slipping on the ice. So I’m very careful.
I do miss my X10. It was great. It was great exercise. I enjoyed it.
Managing the Swelling
I’m going to say I swelled like everybody else. When I’d get off the X10 the first thing I would do is I would go to my ice. I did a lot of icing. When you talk about swelling, I would swell more after activity than just laying around. As I would swell, I would put the machine on. The ice machine I liked is called Active Ice.
The Cost of the X10
I paid for the X10 out of my pocket. The insurance company didn’t pick that up. If you just take from the time of my surgery to today as an example, I probably am looking at about $40 a day that I invested in where I’m at at this moment in my recovery.
Comparing My Progress to Others
I’ve been around several people that have had single knee replacements and so many of them didn’t want to buy invest in their own recovery. They only would take whatever the insurance company would give them. I saw people that were using frozen peas and Ziploc bags with ice cubes and none of them had a good result. I think if you want a good result, you’ve got to invest a little bit in your recovery and yourself, whether it be the X10, or the “Mac-Daddy” ice machine. Once the X10 went away. I said, “Well, what am I going to do now?” So I bought a stationary bike that’s comfortable for me and by moving the seat forward I can, I can really tighten up for range-of-motion and then I can move it back for strengthening and cardiovascular. Again, I had to buy it. Did the insurance company help me out? Absolutely not. But I thought it was a good investment in my future.
The Perfect Bilateral Knee Replacement
I think when you have them both done, when you come out of that surgery, they’re both equally as weak. Based on the x-rays that they took my right knee was my worst knee. And yet the one that gave me the most pain was my left knee. They wanted to do the worst one first.
I watched a lot of the people in physical therapy that had one done and all they did was work on that one knee. They didn’t work on both of them. And so for me, my strength is equal in both legs. My ability to walk is phenomenal. My ability to walk up and down the stairs now stairs is great!
It’s still not as comfortable going downstairs as going up. Other than that, I feel like I can do just about anything I want to do at this point.
Once Dr. McArthur told me that we were going to do bilateral, when we got within a few weeks of the surgery, I was so excited. I’m telling everyone that I’m having both of them done. I’m going for this! I can’t wait! And I got to the point I couldn’t wait. Then once I got the X10 at home, for my prehab, I was able to work my knees. I saw that I could get something out of even these bad worn out old knees.
This is not a commercial for X10. I appreciate the fact I was able to get the X10 because I give it so much credit for the success that I had. I don’t believe that I’d be sharing my story at this level had I not had the X10 to work with.
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The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog” because we step back and give you a broad perspective on all aspects of knee health, surgery and recovery such as the perfect bilateral knee replacement.
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, writers related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients, and as many smart people as we can gather to create useful articles for you. Whether you have a surgery upcoming, in the rear-view mirror, or just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery, you should find some value here.
Two resources for you below. Both are email series that we created to help those who need some additional thinking for pre-surgery and post-surgery.