The Bee's Knees

The Bee's Knees

Partial Knee Replacement Recovery (Chris Kelley’s Story)

May 13, 2020

Partial Knee Replacement Recovery
An interview with Chris Kelley
The interview was conducted by Mary Elliott. Click the Play Button above to listen to the full interview. Chris describes deciding to finally have a partial knee replacement surgery and how he recovered afterward.

Chris's Story
Hello, everyone! My name is Chris Kelley, I'm 51 and I currently live in Swartz Creek, MI. I work for Lear Corporation, which makes seats for Chevy and GMC at my particular factory's location.
A little back story on me: when I was born, my muscles in my arms and legs were severely atrophied, to the point where the doctors gave a possible cause as muscular dystrophy...thankfully they were incorrect, but I was still far behind the curve when it came to muscular development. As a result, I had to work hard for years to catch up to my peers (pushing my body to its limits was always a strength of mine); it also helped me develop a lifelong affinity for fitness (running, biking, weightlifting and so on).

In May of 2000, as I was training for competitive running season, I felt a wet pop in the back of my right knee, followed by a great deal of stinging pain and some swelling. Hoping that it was something that was simply temporary, I not only ran that day, but continued running that entire season.
But it didn't get better. Quite the opposite, in fact.

By 2001 I had to give up running competitively; I simply couldn't handle the daily pounding any more. Then the running dwindled away until, finally, it stopped.
I found other ways to stay active - extremely long bike rides, getting more into weightlifting and, eventually, programs like P90X and Insanity, all to try to strengthen up the muscles around this knee that refused to stop hurting. What I hadn't done is go to a doctor to see what was wrong and what could be done to fix it. There was always a reason not to: the job I had at the time didn't have insurance, I couldn't afford to take the time off, countless other obstacles.

For nearly twenty years I simply dealt with the constant pain and swelling; then came my getting a job at Lear. On the plus side, the job had an excellent benefit package; the challenge that came with it was the pounding my knees were taking - I was averaging ten miles of walking on concrete per day, and the pain that I was managing the best I could all these years began to worsen, to the point that taking Motrin four hours wasn't making a dent.

My wife made the recommendation that, at long last, it was time that I went to a doctor to see what was wrong with this knee. Upon having a series of X-rays and an MRI, it was determined that my meniscus on the interior of my right knee was worn away to pretty much nothing. I was suddenly getting a recommendation for a partial knee replacement. Unlike a lot of people who face a surgery like this, I was excited, thinking about all the things that I was going to pursue again, most of all running.

My Partial Knee Replacement Recovery
The surgery went smoothly and it was looking like my body was healing rapidly...but there was a problem with the bend in my new knee. At the six week mark, it took a lot of pain to bend my knee to 90 degrees, and even with the assistance of a strap, it was agony pulling my leg to close to 110 degrees.

Worry set in... would I ever be able to run? Would I be able to go back to my job and perform the physical tasks it requires?