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It’s been 5 years since I had total knee replacement. Time has passed, yet my knee and body continues to hold up nicely. I’ve worked hard to stay in shape and keep my legs and joints in good condition, and I still have no regrets about going through with TKR surgery.
In the sections below I’ll share how my knee is doing five years post TKR and my overall quality of life. Together with my knee replacement, I have aged a bit. My knee replacement joint is 5 years old and I am now 72 years of age.
Thankfully I continue to be healthy. My knee function continues to amaze me and others.
Activity 5 Years After Knee Replacement – A Transatlantic Cruise
The title of this article contains the word “Cruising” because I wrote it during a transatlantic cruise from Florida to Spain. My wife and I enjoyed a holiday to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary!
The long cruise was a journey that had similarities to my knee replacement recovery, so thus the title.
As was the case before my knee replacement surgery, I had reservations about a transatlantic cruise.
Would crossing the Atlantic Ocean be a good idea? Would it be too long? Would we encounter rough seas?
Looking back 5 years, I wasn’t sure if TKR was the correct decision for me. I was wary that I would end up feeling worse or that the recovery process would take too long.
Being on a ship for 15 days was a lot shorter time that the knee replacement recovery process and it was more relaxing. I was concerned about sitting around and eating and drinking too much on the ship.
I wanted to maintain my workout schedule. We spent 15 days on the water, visiting 5 ports. Then, we spent another 2 weeks in Northern Spain.
Despite my reservations, it turned out to be a good five year test and celebration for my knee.
How The Knee Held Up On The Cruise
Ocean cruising may not seem to be a tough test for a knee replacement, but combined with the shore excursions, let me assure you that it was. There was a lot of walking and climbing. After all, these ships are huge! I had to ice my knee a few days – read about my favorite ice packs for TKR.
I was determined to not over eat or over drink, keep moving, continue my workouts and to walk as much as possible (read more about my exercise routine). The walking, however, was more than I expected.
On Board The Ship
On board the ship, I was able to continue working out in a very modern and up to date fitness center. The equipment was similar to the equipment at the fitness center I use at home.
Walking on the deck on the designated lap path was occasionally a challenge depending on the wind and the motion of the ocean. When the wind was blowing my stability was an issue.
My knee behaved just like my other knee despite some rocking and rolling. The wind was a difficult factor often blowing east to west or north to south. It wasn’t fun trying to keep my balance in the wind but despite the wind and the ships roll, I was able to walk 3 miles daily.
I enjoyed pickleball on the deck and despite the wind and the roll my knee responded well. I even joined the basketball shoot out one day.
Elevators on board are a tempting option when moving from deck to deck. However, I tried to use the stairs as much as possible. Our ship had 14 decks. According to my phone application, I averaged 10 to 20 stories a day. I always used the handrail and was always able use the stairs, even on rough sea days.
Taking a shower and washing your feet in a tiny shower is always a challenge for me. It was nice to have a handrail in the shower. If I took my time, I had no problems in the small showers.
Challenges on Land and at Ports
We signed up for walking tours at every port. Most of the tours lasted about two hours. Almost all of the walks in Spain (especially in ports near the ocean) were on cobblestone or stone rocks.
One guide explained that many of the Port Cites used ballast rocks from the New World Voyages to pave their streets. I had to be careful walking on uneven surfaces but with care, my knee responded well.
My legs definitely got a workout and I was usually sore the following day but I had no swelling in my knee. I usually took two ibuprofen before a walk to minimize potential discomfort.
The city of Toledo, Spain was my biggest challenge. The city is built on a hill and you are constantly walking up and down steep grades on rough surfaced streets. My thighs and calves were painful after walking in Toledo but my knee was pain-free.
Flying in Europe and Flying Back To California
My knee also had to deal with two flights when I returned home.
Our flight from Madrid to Frankfurt was 2 hours and 40 minutes. The seats were pretty tight so I made a point to get up and walk every half hour. My knee became a little stiff but never sore.
The flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco was 12.5 hours and we flew premium economy to enjoy the extra leg room. The extra room is definitely a plus for people with leg pain. I also made the effort to get up and walk the aisles often.
On both flights, I wore compression socks (read my article about compression socks). I am convinced they make a world of difference, no swelling at all. The fact that the socks help prevent blood clotting is also a mental plus.
Knee Replacement + Adding Five Years to My Age
I highlighted my recent cruise as an example of how I am doing 5 years after knee replacement surgery. But how has adding five years to the body affected the overall condition of my knee?
My activities haven’t changed but I have noticed a loss of stamina and energy as I have aged the last five years. Some of that might be connected to having had Covid twice but it could just be aging.
Thankfully one thing that hasn’t changed much is my knee replacement.
- I continue to have no soreness or swelling after activity.
- I have had no twists or injuries to the knee at all.
- I have been faithful with exercise and stretching and I feel that has made a positive difference.
- I have made a point to keep extra weight off and minimize stress on the joint.
- I maintain an active lifestyle to keep the joint healthy and flexible.
- I take OTC pain medication like ibuprofen and I ice if I have a long day.
I am 72 but my knee is only 5 years old. I clearly remember the limp and the pain with every step I took five years ago and am thankful each day that I have a pain free functioning knee.
I wrote about the cruise as a specific test for my knee. Overall, after 5 years I am very satisfied with my knee replacement.
I seem to be “cruising” along even as I have added 5 more years to my age. I try to remind myself to get up from my chair and keep moving.
It is important to find activities that you enjoy doing. Keep a fitness maintenance program and do not be afraid to try new things. Don’t overdo it!
Listen to your body when you exercise. Prepare for strenuous exercise. Take a break after a strenuous exercise session or hike.
Let your body recover. Stretch on a regular basis before and after activity. I hope the next year goes well and that I continue to cruise into year 6.