by Derek R. Benoit Thursday, October 28th, 2021
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Real Life Tips and Observations from an Outdoorsman’s Knee Replacement Experience details the reasons for, experience during, and recovery from knee replacement to regain his quality of life. Armand Tetrault is a lifelong New Englander, man of faith, and true gentleman. I’m blessed to call him a friend. As many of these question and answer pieces are, this was a deeply moving learning experience for me. For anyone with serious knee pain considering knee replacement, I hope this post is both educational and inspiring.
1.) You’ve been a lifelong hunter and angler. What specific hunting and fishing have you done most often?
Well actually Derek, I’ve only been hunting since 2015 and most of that time was concentrating on Whitetail deer. But I’ve since gotten very involved with Turkey hunting and Beer hunting. I have been a fisherman my whole life but had to step back from it because of back problems a couple years ago. I fished for everything from fluke to Giant Bluefin and Sharks.
2.) At what point did you start to notice issues with your knee? How did it start out?
My origional knee injury happened when I was in the Army back in 1983 during a 10 mile run I tore my miniscus and it needed to be cut back in service. Than about 10 years out of the Army in 1996 I tore it again and again about 2005. With all the surguries arthritus set in and it kept tearing the miniscus. The knee was being kept under control with coligen injections and cortizone injections until the point when they stopped being effective. Which was late in 2020.
3.) What treatments worked in the beginning of your knee symptoms, and when did it stop working well?
Coligen injections made from the combs of roosters were used for a couple years and did give some relief and lubrication to the joint. It’s a thick jelly that is shot right into the joint. They could be done once a year. And in between those I would get cortizone shots to assist with breakthrough pain. Which became less effective with time.
4.) When those failed, what were the progressive options you explored?
I treated with non steroidal anti inflamitory drugs and also use knee braces. I used both the neoprene and rigid (unloader) braces with little success.
5.) How have your hunting and fishing techniques changed as you’ve tried to accommodate your knee symptoms?
I found that I was hunting closer and closer to my vehicle and making shorter and shorter ventures into the woods. I ended up finding great spots closer to the edges of the woods that others overlooked. I also spent longer sits in my stands to overcome the distance restrictions. I became very successful at that.
6.) Have you restricted yourself from certain areas and methods because of the mobility issues?
Yes definately. I have a small group of unexerienced hunters that I do group hunts during the firearms seasons and I haven’t been able to do any of the pushes in the past few years. So I always end up being the shooter.
7.) What exercises are you doing in physical therapy post-surgery?
Well at 9:00 am the day after getting out of surgery at 4:00 pm I was walking down the hall at the VA hospital and they had me climbing a flight of stairs. They were thrilled with my abilities. Although it was extremely painful. starting 3 days post op I started doing the recommended excersizes and they included bending the ankles up and down. Bending the knee as far as I could stand and straightening it as far as I could. I noticed that advances came quickly but were also very painful. I am also taking narcotic pain pills three weeks post op. Sleeping is difficult still due to the discomfort. But I use a lot of pillows and cold wraps which help.
8.) What are your plans for this upcoming season, now that you’ve got the bionic knee?
I’m hoping that the end of Shotgun and the muzzelloader season can still be hunted for me. I know I won’t be doing long hikes or climbing trees but I will work that out.
9.) Do you have any plans to start an exercise or activity program after recovery?
I have always walked a lot on trails and especially during hunting season and I hope to return to that as soon as I can.
10.) What’s your dream hunt scenario for your new knee? Have you thought about taking any special trips?
Bear hunting is my favorite. I love hunting up in Canada with my friends at Peque Outfitters but unless they open the border to those of us who won’t take the jab, that may not be possible. I will hopefully next year get on a guided hunt up in Northern Maine or somewhere else like New York.
11.) If you had one piece of advice for someone dealing with progressive knee pain, what would it be?
I would recommend going as long as possible with conventional treatments providing that you can still function ok. They surgery for replacement will definitely immobilize you for 4 weeks minimum and most likely 8 to 12 weeks. If you have to have the surgery try to get them to do the spinal block it’s much easier on your system than general anesthesia.