After 47 years of "getting by," I finally had Total Knee Replacement surgery on June 24th. This was the 6th knee surgery for me in my 67 years and while my right knee has done yeoman's work over the years, it was truly time for a replacement. We had planned this carefully over the past two years and I cleared my professional schedule last year with the realization that I would not be able to shoot any dog shows until later in the year.
But, while dog show photography might be my vocation, wildlife and nature photography feeds my soul and I spend a fair amount of time walking in wetlands, botanical gardens and other places photographing birds, butterflies, bugs and flowers and generally enjoying my time outdoors. Being laid up was not going to be easy.
The week prior to surgery, I did manage to shoot some puppies for a friend and puppies always stimulate both my creative juices and my heart. There is nothing like puppy play time to make you forget about everything else in this crazy world. Here are a few shots of these adorable kids.
On June 24, I had the surgery at 7:30 in the morning, and by 2:30 in the afternoon, they had me walking up and down the corridor using a walker. Later that day they put me in a CPM (Constant Passive Motion) machine to start flexing the knee and keeping it moving. That machine would be what I referred to as The Rack for the next 3 weeks and was the single greatest help to me regaining my mobility. I spent a minimum of 6 hours a day in that contraption. Talk about love/hate LOL. But it worked wonders. Here's a shot of my knee the day after surgery.
Two days after surgery, I was home and a week after surgery I was antsy to get outside so my wife, Linda, set up a chair on the back patio and I went out and sat with my camera. Now, without being able to walk the fenceline and stalk the butterflies on the Lantana, there wasn't a lot going on in the yard but I did manage to get some shots of a visiting cat, obviously quite aware that the dogs were not home for my first two weeks following surgery, and a flock of white Ibis that dropped in to munch on some grubs.
A few days later, I eschewed the walker for a cane and managed to walk the 200 feet to the back of the yard and shoot a few butterflies that were sipping nectar there. That did wonders for my spirits and probably didn't hurt much in terms of physical therapy either.
At this point, I ended my in-home PT (physical therapy) and started going to a PT facility. I drove a car for the first time on July 15 and started walking without a cane a few days later. After two weeks of PT, 3 times a week, I'm walking almost normally and have taken the dogs (we have 5 Rottweilers) for their regular walks of 1/4 to 1/2 a mile a day. I've also had a chance to visit one of my favorite places, the Butterfly Encounter at Lukas Nursery not far from our house and managed to add some new images to my portfolio.
So, now that I'm almost 5 weeks out from surgery, I can see that I'll be able to resume "normal" activity levels fairly quickly. My PT ends next week but I'm very happy with the care I've received and the great PTs I've been working with. They've pushed me when necessary and held me back when necessary and never, ever let me get down about myself. They are really great young women and I owe them a lot for where I am at the moment. For any of you debating the type of surgery that will definitely hold you back from your photography for a period of time, all I can say is don't wait. And find ways to get your camera back in your hands as soon as possible. Nothing will make you feel strong and whole again like knowing you still have the ability to take meaningful images regardless of your physical limitations. My next shows are in October outside of Chicago. I am totally certain that I'll be ready and much stronger than I've ever been at least for the last 20 years.