Two weeks before my scheduled operation for a left leg total knee replacement in MARCH I got the call. There was a cancellation. Would I be ready to come in two days later for my procedure. Definitely. The chance of catching Covid – a situation that would see a mandatory two month delay for my surgery – was freaking me out. I’d become very anxious about Covid, the flu, a cold – even a small cut would see my operation cancelled. Don’t come near me friends – I’m isolating.

So, at 6am on the appointed day I fronted up to a hospital about an hour’s drive from my home, and by 8am I was in the operation room – still awake and inquiring about the robotic arm that was to be part of the operating team. I was told I would be the first patient at the hospital where the robotic arm was used in a total knee replacement, enabling more accuracy. Great – make sure that cut is done with precision!

I sat up on the operating table, and an epidural was administered. And that, folks, was for me, the last of my old knee. I was out for the count. My left knee had given me sterling service. As a baby, I learnt to walk early. But a bout of pneumonia put me in hospital, and when I returned home, I apparently had to learn to walk again. I’m sure my knees protested. We got her off the floor! Why are we doing this again!

My youthful knees in action in the late 1970’s

I was not a sporty child, but in mid teens, I discovered my sturdy legs/knees were made for endurance walking – a 30 mile (48 kilometre) charity walk in my mid teens – and by late teens, a steadfast enthusiastic member of the Hobart bushwalking club in mountainous Tasmania.

So often I would be hauling a hefty backpack on my tiny frame, so those knees had quite the workout.

As a Mum, I trekked up small mountains with hubby MJ and our two sons. Eldest son DJ made his first summit at 5, enduring a storm en route. Youngest son MR escorted me slowly down from that same summit when I experienced jelly legs, for the first time ever, many decades later.

Youngest son leads the way to the valley below

My knees carried me through many travels around the world. I like to walk where I can. Taxi drivers don’t make much money from me!

Resting my knees in Greece in the 1970’s

So goodbye left knee – and hello to my new knee and a wall of pain!

The operation was done on a Wednesday and I was home on the Saturday morning, facing my first big challenge – getting up a flight of stairs to reach my bedroom, which thankfully has an ensuite and a pleasing balcony outlook – such a pleasure in the first few weeks.

We hired special aids – elbow crutches, shower chair, a little cycle machine, a raised toilet seat, and my new best friend – an ice machine with a wrap that went around my operated leg, pumping ice water around it.

My new best friend – an ice machine!
Icing the leg

Our bedroom definitely looked like a geriatric set up – a window into our older age perhaps. So, hubby MJ – my new very essential and wonderful nurse – retreated to a guest bedroom and our main bathroom.

Since Xmas, I had been freezing meals for us during my recovery. So MJ received good lessons in defrosting, steaming and roasting vegetables, and meal presentation. Occasionally, he would present one of his own dishes – eggs and bacon on toast! He makes great breakfast porridge too!

I was buoyed by loads of get well messages from friends and family. One of my dearest friends, who I met in Grade 5 Primary school, sent socks she had knitted just for me. This was the friend who walked the last 10 miles with me in that mid teens charity walk, aimed at keeping my spirits up to the finish line.

Get well socks, hand knitted by a dear friend for me

After two weeks, my wound was recovering beautifully and I only had moderate swelling around the knee. There was still a lot of pain, and I was on a few heavy duty drugs, plus aspirin and panadol. I was tackling an exercise programme set by my physiotherapist, and beginning to scoot around fairly easily with my crutches. I could walk without them in a slow lurching Frankenstein monster way. I could get up and down our stairs.

Exercising to get the bend back in the knee

Then a day before my fortnight review by my surgeon, it happened. A sharp pain at the back of my lower leg. A clot. My progress backtracked as walking and exercising became more difficult and much more painful.

Apparently, with clots below the knee, they are left to resolve themselves. I was already taking aspirin daily to thin my blood, so that would continue. My physio advised that I head to Emergency at our local hospital if the area of the clot became swollen or inflamed.

So – that is where I am at. Inching towards recovery – slow gains every day. Exercising to achieve a good bend in the knee – ouch – moving upstairs and downstairs. And hoping the clot goes away soon. The nights are challenging – trying to get the knee into a position where I can sleep. I seem to kip for two hour stretches. A full night’s sleep is still a dream.

Meanwhile: A birthday challenge. Fourteen days after my operation, MJ celebrated his 70th birthday – a big milestone birthday in western society, usually marked with a big party! Plans for his birthday changed rapidly over the last several months, with the onset of my knee problems. The final plan was that on the day of my originally scheduled operation – his birthday – he would drop me at the hospital and travel onto Perth to celebrate with our sons and other family. A small evening gathering was planned at our youngest son’s house. I told MJ that he would not be able to see me for the rest of the day after I was admitted, and urged him to go to Perth.

Of course, that all changed when the operation was rescheduled. On his birthday he was in full action as my carer at home, and expecting his birthday to be a quiet one with his patient. Our sons both rang early, wishing him the best and saying they were en route to work. Little did he know, they were actually driving 3 hours south to our home, birthday cake and presents in hand. Also, his eldest and youngest sister had already arrived in town, driving three hours to Dunno from their homes, and liaising with our sons re arrival times at our home.

Mid morning the doorbell rang. “I think that is a courier with my Japan 2022 photo book from the printers” I said. So when he got to the front door to see both our sons there, the birthday surprise was achieved! On happy birthday man! Fifteen minutes later the doorbell rang again – “Must be that photo book”, I said. It was his sisters, with a huge platter of fresh fruit and a cake tin full of treats his late Mum used to bake – remember raspberry coconut slices? Probably only those over the age of 50 understand the significance.

A honey cake cheese cake to celebrate MJ’s birthday

Yes – the doorbell did ring again and indeed it was the Japanese photo book of our last trip there! Two days earlier than my mail tracking indicated! MJ says it was the best birthday ever!

Onwards and upward new knee! So many pleasures await you – lots of wonderful travel – great walks – pain free days! So push on. I promise to go easy on you. My specialist says you are likely to be with me for the rest of my life – and that, I hope, is quite a span. I have plenty of relatives who have made it into their 90’s in their own homes and walking, walking, walking!

Soon my other original knee will be envious of my sparkling new left knee and asking for renewal! NOT HAPPENING! Hang on old right knee. Stay the course. Friends who have had knee replacements tell me I will be as good as new within a few months – travelling along with ease. But I’d like to leave it at that. Another knee replacement is not on my bucket list!

Ahead – a decision soon on whether my new knee will be ready for another trip to JAPAN in a few months. It will be just short of three months since my operations. BORDERLINE RECOVERY PERIOD. My specialist says I can go. No flights have been organised, but I have a loose ‘easy on the knee’ itinerary running around in my brain. KNEES NOT NEEDED FOR BRAIN STORMING IDEAS!

I have, however, booked a lovely old 1920’s hotel at Gamagori for my birthday as part of the proposed trip. The carrot dangling ahead. If I manage it, this would be my third birthday in Japan. Will I make it? Not sure. Probably a step too far. But it gives me motivation to push through today’s knee challenges and pain. There’s always another autumn in Japan if Spring eludes me.

MEANWHILE; I have a load of time on my hands, so I will push on with stories from my NOVEMBER 2022 trip to Japan. Next, coming soon – UJI – A GEM NEAR KYOTO.


  1. Your doing very well, bloody clot is a shame but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and you will be going on more adventures with a new knee, so you can fill in your time researching 👏👏😂😍


  2. So sorry to read about the clot and inability to sleep through the night. How awful! The duck and I wish you a speedy recovery and lots of pain-free walking adventures in the not-too-distant future!


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