At the age of 35 (I am now 76) I developed serious rheumatoid arthritis (RA). After a few years the disease affected all my joints except my elbows. I had a wide range of additional symptoms all of which are described in detail in the rheumatoid arthritis section of my website (available from the home page). The RA hit my knees first and hardest. I sustained long-term permanent damage to many joints (all of which could have been avoided with today's medications!)
A couple of years ago things reached the point where I could no longer enjoy a museum; I could not walk the dog with my wife; and my photography (my main hobby) was being limited by knee pain. I decided I wanted to be able to enjoy a better life.
I hesitated to do a total knee replacement because of an incident from 25 years ago. I met a man who had just received two total knee replacements, and asked him how he liked them. His answer: "I love them! I'm walking, aren't I?" I asked him how to tell when I should get total knee replacements. His answer: "Why would you want to get knee replacements? You're walking aren't you?"
Things have changed since then. The average total knee replacement now lasts over 20 years. There are many options in terms of the hardware used. There are doctors who do hundreds of total knee replacements each year. There are fewer patients who have complications.
My rheumatologist referred me to Dr. James Bono at the New England Baptist Hospital (NEBH) in Boston, MA. Dr. Bono had additional xrays taken, told me I was a candidate for the surgery, but stressed that he has never advised anyone to have the surgery. It is an elective procedure that each person with bad knees must decide about on their own.
It took me a few months more to decide. At six months after the first knee operation, and three months after the second, I was very glad that I had my knees replaced. Today they don't hurt and function normally. Definitely a good move for me. At my last checkup, Dr. Bono said my knees were as good as it gets. Pretty good! Actually, excellent!