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Knees Part 4 - You Wanna Do What???

This is the continuing journey from chronic knee pain and limitations, though knee replacement surgery and recovery, to hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Week 5

This week proved to be a very interesting one. Upon looking back, I seemed to have almost turned a corner. I also had a crazy idea that I believe is going to become a reality.

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way. I decided to measure myself and here are the underwhelming results:

Weight: Before: 172 lbs. Now: 162 lbs.

Waist: Before 31” Now: 32”

Shoulders: Before 49” Now: 47.25”

Arms: Before 14.5” Now: 14.5”

Thigh: Before 24-25” Now: 22”

Calf: Before 15” Now: 13.5”

Knee Angle: L – 121’ R- 124’

The only positive measurement in the bunch was the knee angle. That was my 12-week goal set by the surgeon.

This week was filled with a lot of promising progressions back to a “normal” life. Medically speaking I was able to consistently drop my meds down to 2 times per day, and with that, I was able to stop taking the daily laxative. I raised my therapy reps to 20 per exercise and made it to the gym two times again this week.

I was able to lower myself down and raise myself off of a standard toilet like a normal person and I returned to my own bed!

We even took a day trip to the beach, which is 3.5 hours from our home. Although it was not the most comfortable ride I was able to handle it and got to spend some good quality time with the family.

While lying in my bed something very strange occurred. As I was trying to fall asleep I heard music in the distance. Everyone in the house is asleep so I raise my head up to find the source and the music disappears. I lay back down the music starts again. Puzzled by this, I tell my wife the next morning and she of course starts to laugh at me and tells me her dental work causes the same thing. Our conclusion was the metal in my knees is picking up radio waves. Strange huh.

As if that is not crazy enough, I am seriously considering hiking the Appalachian Trail starting in July this year. This has been something in the back of my mind for a long time and this may be the best time in my life to attempt the 2190 miles. More on this next week


Week 6

I consulted with my wife, a few close friends, and my surgeon. We considered all the obstacles. We made the decision that I would thru-hike the Appalachian Trail this year starting in July. This requires an incredible amount of faith in my family, my progress and therapy, and trust that God will take care of it all. This is a huge undertaking. Roughly 2200 miles, 14 states, 5-6 months away from home, loss of household income, and many other obstacles make this endeavor scary and crazy. Oh yeah, I will only be 4 months removed from my double knee replacement surgery.

The next natural question would be WHY!? Well, I will tell you that there are many reasons, but my top 3 are personal, family, and professional oriented.

I love backpacking and one of the things I was losing quickly was my ability to get outdoors, back to nature, and hike for the weekend. I would have to take painkillers just to make it through the weekend and my last trip was very difficult to finish. The pain from bone-on-bone grinding and bone spurs were killing me. One of the reasons I want to hike the AT is for me. To get back out to where I love to be and prove to myself I can overcome this major obstacle.

I also want to show my girls (Wife: Joy and Daughters: Mia (10) and Olivia (7)) that everyone has greatness in them and that you can do anything you set your mind to. My family will be a major part of this experience and I would not attempt this without them by my side. They will travel to where I am when possible and help to resupply and reenergize me. My hope is that this experience will be engrained in their minds and hearts and as they grow older they can draw strength and wisdom to find their own greatness.

I really want the multitude of others to know this very same thing. There are people everywhere struggling with their own obstacles. Whether it’s recovering from joint replacement, defeating obesity or cancer, I want people to know, believe and fight for the lives they are supposed to live. Not to settle! I want this stage of my life to be helping others overcome their “Knees” and accomplish their “Appalachian Trail”. I want to be able to help those people who want to fight for their greatness and I will know exactly how it feels to find that happiness and victory.

Other than the AT decision, this week was the week when I actually started to feel normal. Not every daily task was a pain in the ass. I am walking more normally, I can sit down and get up like a normal person, and I actually went down the stairs with no pain. That has been a very long time coming.

I also had my first encounter with a metal detector. My pockets were empty and I promise I was not “packing”. The detector went off and I promptly showed the officer my knees. He let me right thru as the swelling is still quite visible.

Physically this week I was able to get down on my knees in a crawling position for the first time. It felt very foreign like my knees were someone else’s. I carried a window ac unit from my SUV to the house.

I was also able to be a pallbearer for my wife’s grandmother at her funeral. This was an unfortunate circumstance, but I was glad and honored to be able to perform this task.

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