My name is Doug Morris and #thisismyknee
Every day, I work to ensure that the helicopters are safe to fly for our men and women in uniform. I did 13 years in the military before getting medical out for bad ankles - now I am lucky enough to have worked on Apache and Blackhawk Helicopters as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Reserves for the past 23 years. The aircrafts were first used by the U.S. Army in the 1980s and require regular maintenance to ensure the pilot and co-pilot can do their jobs. Keeping them in mission ready status requires intense focus, precision, and a bit of lifting and climbing; all of which were never a problem for me until a few years ago.
That’s when I began experiencing intense pain in my knee. Even a quick climb up the ladder to do an electronic systems check became a struggle. I was distracted by the pain I experienced with every step, and I was also concerned about my safety. I decided to make a change and consider knee surgery.
I had an osteotomy, my third ACL and meniscus replaced on my right knee in one surgery. The procedure went well, but about 30 days later I developed a staph infection. With one problem after another I felt like my health was going downhill. All I wanted to do was get back to doing the job I loved. Thankfully, my aunt happened to see an article in Kentucky Magazine about the ConforMIS knee. In the article, Dr. Wallace Huff from Lexington Orthopaedics described how this knee replacement option was fully customized for each patient. I was still a bit hesitant, so I reached out to a buddy of mine to discuss this option. He had a ConforMIS knee and was pleased with the result and the fact that his implant was developed just for him based on a CT scan of his knee. I decided to drive an hour and a half to meet with Doctor Huff in Lexington. Based on what I learned, I was convinced that this was my best option.
I had my surgery in January 2015. I thought at 51 years old that this would be a major operation. I tried to mentally prepare myself for a long recovery process. I was Dr. Huff’s first outpatient surgery case for a total knee replacement that he performed. Surgery began at 6:00 a.m. and I was stunned when I realized I was signing my discharge papers at 10:30 a.m. that same morning! Before I was even released, I was even able to walk up and down the hallway with a walker. That evening I was doing so well, I even walked up stairs by myself to go to bed. The doctor did give me medication to help with the pain, but I only needed the pills for 2-3 days.
Although my work responsibilities are the same as they were before my surgery, the job feels very different. I don’t have that constant worry about going up and down the helicopter, and I am much more confident when I have to crawl into a tight space to complete a maintenance check. It is even easier to joke around with my co-workers, grateful that I can laugh again without trying to hide my pain. My job is important to me, and I know people depend on me to do it right. For so many months, I did not feel like I was at my best. With my ConforMIS knee, I feel like my old self again.
The content of this post is not considered to be medical advice or replace consultation with a qualified orthopedic surgeon. Speak to your doctor to decide if joint replacement surgery is right for you. Individual results may vary and not all patients will return to the same level of activity. The opinions expressed in this post represent the experiences of the author and not the opinions of ConforMIS.