The Aging Rider, Part II: We can rebuild him

Could a bionic knee get Jon Bicho back in the saddle? There was only one way to find out.

If you missed Part I yesterday, catch up here.

Top photo: Riding a friend’s horse and doing some cross country schooling at Full Gallop Farm in Aiken. Photo credit: ABicho Images.

From Jon:

Right about tax filing time I find myself sitting in the office of my Orthopedic surgeon going thru the list of injuries that have brought me to this point in time. Echoing through my head is the voice of my surgeon saying to me years ago, “In your late 40s or early 50s many of these injuries are really going to start hurting you.” The young bash knucklehead that I was dismissed these prophecies as mere wives tales and continued on my path of self-abuse.

I was snapped out of my train of thought by my surgeon when he entered my examination room. In his hand was the file of all of the things he had treated me for over the years. War and Peace might be parlor reading compared to this file.

Dr. H asks me “What have you done now?” My reply “My right knee, it hurts all the time. I cannot ride. I think I hurt it.” Dr. H looks at me and shakes his head, does an examination and sends me down the hall for x-rays.  The beauty of digital x-rays is that you get the bad news very quickly. Dr. H comes to my room and summons me to come down the hall to the x-ray reading room with the catchy phrase of “I could tell you what is wrong, but the pictures are worth 10,000 words.”

Here in all of their luminescent glory are the x-rays of my knee. Screws from earlier repairs, bones touching bones in places that there is supposed to be a space between them and the clear images of degenerative arthritis. He reads me a list of the injustices I have done to my knee.  I do not need the reminders, I was there. “To sum things up, you have managed to wear out your knee. Time to look at the options.”

In reality there were only two options, one, continue as I was and live in constant pain unable to do the thing I love the most or two, replace my knee joint. After a conversation on the risks and rewards of joint replacement surgery I found myself making an appointment with the surgeon that only does joint replacement in the practice, Dr. S.

When D. S enters the room, the manner that he carries himself instantly makes me comfortable with him. He emits confidence. After another examination and a set of x-rays to get another view he needed, Dr. S wants to see if there are any other treatment options that are less severe for me. He steps out of the room. Upon his return he has a model of a knee with the prosthesis installed. I think this may be foreshadowing of the conversation to come. Dr. S advises me of what I already know. The only real option is a total replacement of the knee. The quote from Dr. H years ago echoes resoundingly through my head. I hate that he is right!

Off to the scheduling nurse, a pile of forms to sign, a litany of instructions, things that must be done, when they must be done and scripts for pre surgery PT to prepare me for the procedure. Out of this whirling dervish a date comes: May 29, 2013 will be the end of the long road for this factory installed knee. Sorry mom, I know you gave me the best knees you could, but being a boy I had to push the limits of the factory equipment and yes, I am the one that broke it.

Now to inform my wife of the impending procedure.

My wife Andie is a tolerant woman. Being with me for 22 years is a testament to her strength. Helping me recover from my injuries has been part of being married to me. Albeit some of those injuries were due to her putting me up on her opinionated OTTB mare to learn to ride. I love her none the less.

In the early morning of May 29th I find myself checked in for my procedure and waiting to be taken to the operating room. Andie is joking with me trying to keep my nerves in check. As advanced as we are in medicine, why is it that the gown has not evolved? Suddenly I am about to be whisked away. A kiss from Andie and I am off.

The reception area of the O.R. is a where I met all of the people that were going to take care of me. Many of them would ask me what body part I was getting repaired and then they would read my chart, lift the sheet and write on my leg with a pen.

I am the second procedure for the Dr. S and he is running a bit behind on the first procedure. The members of the staff that normally work with him let me know that this is normal, he is a perfectionist. And in this case, that is fine by me.

The O.R. staff moves me to my operating room.  A few moments later Dr. S walks and asks me if I am ready.  I tell him I will not turn back now.  He smiles and says something to the person at my head………………

Part 3:  What Have I Signed Up For?


Heading to the polo field in Aiken on Northern Spy. Photo credit: ABicho Images


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