For anyone following my knee progress, I am approx 2 and 1/2 years post op, still in pain and still recovering, however I had some serious problems in my knee transplant about 6 months ago and I felt that I had worn through my articular cartilage and felt that I was experiencing bone on bone sensations and pain again. I had not had any trauma to my knee and the meniscus transplant still felt intact. However I was feeling a pain in my knee similar to a firework going off when i was compressing up the transition on my skateboard. This went on for a few months and I had a feeling that my transplant had reached its end and that the rough surfaces and arthritic bone ends that I once had now finally wore through the meniscus transplant.
So for three months I was considering flying back to the UK to see my surgeon Dr James Robinson in Southmead Orthopeadic centre. This alone is traumatic as I have nowhere to live and no job in the UK to return and going back for surgery will only cost time and money out of work so I was feeling pretty low at this point.
Well this is what happened, I had saved about 200o usd dollars for the flight back from Bali, then my Apple Mac Book Pro, decided to die on me after only two years of service due to the high humidity here in the wet season. Needing a laptop urgently, my trip to the UK was postponed and I bought a new one instead of a plane ticket. During this time I researched online if anybody had succesfully regenerated their articular cartilage through diet and supplementation as this was now my only option. I found a few articles written by some surgeons that had x-rayed their patients before and after 2 years of special exercises and diet supplementation. These exercise basically open and closed the joint to allow the fluids in the and around the knee to move into the affected areas and in theory nourish the affected articular cartilage with more healing cells (In theory). Also the supplementation to the diet was Glucosamine sulphate tablets. This is the standard recommendation for people experience cartilage and meniscus pain, however many surgeons especially Mr Robinson have expressed their limited faith in regenerating meniscus through diet.
Well it was then that it dawned on me, the first 6 months after my surgery I really felt that my knees healing was extremely fast and effective. During this time I was gulping back a triple daily dose of liquid Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin, in fact possibly 3000mg each gulp, which was double the daily dose recommended. I remembered during this time having absolutely no pain in my knee area where I had experienced arthritic pain and pain from bone on bone contact before the transplant surgery. In fact the only pain I was experiencing during this phase of my recovery was all the trauma from the surgery itself, the 6 inch cut, the staples, the scar tissue and the drilling and screwing from removing a 10mm bone wedge from my femur during the femoral osteotemy that I had recently undergone.
I also remembered that the 210 capsule bottle of high strength Glucosamine Sulphate and Choindroitin 1500mg capsules that i was daily taking for 18 months following surgery had actually ran out 3 months before. I remember trying to replace them in Bali and what was on sale here was a tiny dose of 500mg and was over a $120 dollars a small bottle of 60. So I researched which and where in different foods that Glucosamine sulphate was extracted from and nearly all the manufacturers stated that it was derived from shellfish and more accurately prawn shells. So whilst I was waiting for my next flight to Singapore to restock on Glucosamine Sulphate tablets, I decided that from that day on, I was going to aim to eat prawns and their shells whole, every day if possible for an evening meal,..Once I started, I also realised that my dog Travis always preferred eating the knuckles off the ends of chicken bones more than he did the meat, the same was true for my cat Yoda. So then I decided to follow them both as I have n’t seen a human as flexible as my cat and dog and if was going to work for them then maybe it would work for me.
So now for the last 5 months I have been eating the articular cartilage from the ends of chicken bones and eating as many prawns with their shells on as I can afford on a daily basis. Also 2 months ago I flew to Singapore and restocked on my high dose 1500mg Glucosamine Sulphate capsules that also contain Chondroitin 1200mg and MSM 500mg. However for the last two months I have been taking 4 tablets in the morning and 4 at night with water. This is four times the stated recommended daily dose. My reasoning is that I was told the body can only absorb about 20 percent of the supplement when in tablet form compared to 80 percent when administered as a liquid. Well who knows what actually gets absorbed?
BUT what I can tell you is the pain has disappeared and I am skateboarding at a high level of impact 3 hours a night almost 5 nights a week and my knee is feeling as though it is getting stronger and stronger again and surgery now feels only necessary to remove the screws and the steel plate that I have inside from the osteotemy. (because I can feel my muscles catching on the screw ends as they are a little too long)
So I can now state based on fact that my diet has been the single most important factor in the recovery of my knee meniscus transplant and the regeneration of my articular cartilage. I look forward to getting it arthroscoped one day soon to see what the surgeon says but until then I will keep pushing my skateboarding and surfing further and further and testing the limits of this transplant. My body is also feeling leaner and stronger than any other time before in my life. I turned 43 the other day and although I have been bald a long time I feel so blessed to be skateboarding, surfing and freediving almost every week of my life with at least one activity everyday and some days all three. Even now as I am getting grey hairs in my beard to be able to skateboard at the level I am and put my knees through way more than I did at 25 I can say the transplant that Mr Robinson did was a complete success, not 100% back to normal and still in pain 100%percent of the day but its a pain that reminds me how lucky I am and not one that says stop,..My knee has also climbed Mount Agung the highest volcano in Bali with no pain or swelling. So now, bald and grey at 43 because of my knee arthritis I have had to make sure that I am not bald and fat! because for sure that extra weight with all the jumping around I do will definitely put my knee under extra pressure so in so many ways this injury has been a real blessing.. Now all I need to do is fix my right elbow and lower back!!
Here is a shot from the Globe Bowl in Bali of me doing a frontside Smith. Photography and photo copyright by Andrew Trail Australia