Dear 3am - We Have Got To Stop Meeting This Way

My name is David Fleischfresser and #thisismyknee

I used to wake up in the middle of the night screaming in pain – often. I’d look over at my alarm clock, see that it was 3:00 am, and hope that my wailing didn’t wake my wife. There was nothing I could do to prevent the throbbing and burning in my left knee. I’d tried wearing a brace at work and icing my knee at night. When that didn’t work I resorted to cortisone shots, pain pills and surgeries to clear out damaged cartilage. I am only in my 50s and work as a project manager for a private construction company near Miami, but my pain started to impact my job. I had trouble climbing in and out of equipment and couldn’t walk on uneven ground at building sites. Even simple tasks like standing up from a seated position or going up the stairs seemed impossible. By the time I got home each day, I was mentally and physically exhausted.
I had to stop helping my wife with many chores at home, instead opting for an ice pack and a comfy chair. I used to enjoy coming home and planting in my garden or mowing my lawn, but that was no longer an option. I reluctantly had to ask my son-in-law for help getting many routine tasks all done. Eventually, my right knee also started bothering me. I felt paralyzed by fear. If I could barely function with the severe pain in my left knee, what would I be like when I had pain in both knees? I originally wanted to wait until I was older before considering a knee replacement, but that was the moment I knew waiting was no longer an option.

Dr. Francisco Borja at Baptist Health Medical Group replaced my mother’s knee about twelve years earlier. She had a fairly speedy recovery, so I decided to see what he could do for me. He immediately told me about a new kind of knee replacement that wasn’t around when my mother had her surgery. It was made by a company called Conformis. He explained that a 3D printer would be used to create an exact wax replica of my knee and that the metal components of my replacement would be casted from it to ensure proper form, fit and function. I couldn’t believe all knee implants weren’t made this way! Dr. Borja told me traditional replacements like my mother’s only come in a limited range of sizes and must be fitted during surgery. The Conformis option sounded like a no brainer.

I had both my knees replaced on February 7th, 2017. I was in the hospital for about three days before they allowed me to return home. Thankfully, my mother flew in from out of town to help me and my wife around the house. I knew the initial recovery might be tough and I tried to mentally prepare. But to my surprise, I was able to get around without help after only a few weeks.

For the first time in years, I’m tending to my own garden and mowing my own lawn. I’m no longer restricted at work and feel like I’ve regained years of my life. Most importantly, I am able to sleep through the night! I haven’t seen 3:00 am in a long time and now look forward to my alarm clock waking me up at a decent hour. To say this surgery has changed my life would be an understatement. I feel like a new and improved version of myself and cannot wait to see what else the future holds.

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