It’s 1:30am. I’m still on Paris time and a little wired about today’s surgery. I go in at 8am

I’ve been studying my knee–the left one. It’s never been my favorite part of me, partial as I am to the boney variety– elongated, skin close to the bone. Like my dad’s. Picture Christ’s knees in El Greco’s painting of the crucifixion. It’s at the Frick Museum in New York, I think. At least that’s where I first saw it.

Still, I am growing fond of this left knee now that I have to say goodbye. It’s been a strong, faithful knee. It’s gotten me up a lot of steep mountains and across rugged terrain. For years I ran on it and skied. I am remembering the girlhood scabs from falls off my bike. The splinters and bruises. The kisses too. Vadim liked to kiss my knees. (He was French).

Hip replacement scars are off to the side and you don’t notice. Knee replacement scars are right there in front–a long dark line straight down the middle that inevitably leaves the knee somewhat misshapen. Liza Minnelli showed me hers back stage at the Tonys when she was demonstrating for me how to walk so the pain wouldn’t show. Bless her heart.

No more short skirts–but then I never wore them much anyway.

I saw the doc yesterday–straight from the airport. He took X-rays. Yup, need a new one for sure. I’m no hypochondriac.

He neatly printed his initials–J.R.M.–even including the periods and a big arrow pointing to the knee cap (very undoctorly. Usually you can’t read their writing but I guess that’s just for prescriptions. Don’t want to get a replacement wrong). He said, “Imagine if it got out that I replaced Jane Fonda’s wrong knee. Forget the career.” You betcha!


So before lunchtime today this faithful old knee joint will be sawed out and in its place will go a titanium rod and ceramic joint. I like to think it’ll be a floral pattern, the kind the Royals might use for tea.

I’m told this procedure is more complicated than the hip and that you never get full range of motion back. 80 percent maybe. Wanna bet? I have those Himalayan hills to trek in a year and a half and who know what other parts of mine will be replaced between now and then. The doc said my other hip isn’t exactly normal either.

I remember during my (brief) stint at Vassar, in philosophy class, debating whether Noah’s Ark would still be Noah’s Ark even if, over the years, every single plank, every piece of wood and screw had been replaced. It seemed a challenging question at the time. Now? A no-brainer. Of course it would still be the Ark just as I will still be me if all my parts are replaced. It has to do with essence. The sum is greater than its parts. I just feel lucky that I live at a time when parts can be replaced. If I was my grandmother I’d be chair-bound and in constant pain.

Instead, by this time next year, I will have come out with a whole new line of workout products for maintaining muscle mass and flexibility and I will be doing them myself. 80 percent my ass!

So I will take one last look at my left knee. I just lifted it up and gave it a goodbye kiss. And as I did, I noticed it’s pretty boney, after all.

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  1. hi miss beautiful. I love your blog and i love you too. I do hope and pray that you will have a successful surgery and a quick recovery. I also hope that you can still make movies just like you did in monters in law. Take care always jane.

  2. Dear Jane, Best wishes with knee surgery and a speedy recovery. I will be watching carefully as you progress, because I see knee replacement in my own future.

  3. Jane I am 41 and will have my right knee replaced in Nov, I wish you the very very best. Thank You for sharing your story with us! You write so elequant sendng you a speedy recovery.

  4. You should really crank out a few more books. Take care.

  5. Good luck with the surgery. I had mine done in 2002 and am just biding my time until I need to get the right one replaced. You should have used Ken Kress at St. Joseph’s (Atlanta); he’s the man when it comes to hip/knee replacements – I was back to work in 2 weeks!

    Hope your rehab goes swimmingly…

  6. Jane,
    Here’s hoping that you are enjoying the wonders of pharmaceuticals.. the morphine drip was my friend when I had my spine fusion surgery. There is no doubt that you will be up and around in no time! I’ve been fortunate enough to meet you a few times around Atlanta, and know you’ve got things to do and places to be.. but take the time that you need to take to heal properly.. and do everything they tell ya to. Rushing through the healing process only hurts you in the end.
    ok enough advice from me.. just healing vibes, good thoughts and prayers headed your way for a speedy, uncomplicated recovery! will be following you on twitter! Best wishes! ~emd

  7. Wow your just like the rest of us, except for having money – Ha Ha
    Hope all works out well

  8. Dear Jane:
    I had both knees replace in September of 2007, 3 days apart. They are titanium, also. I say this with humor; I was given a little card to present at the airports because the knees will set off the alarm…. they don’t care… “step aside, please.”
    My recuperation went extremely well, having both knees done. Physical therapy on an outpatient basis went equally as well. Range of motion is pretty darned good!
    I wish you much luck with your recuperation but go slow; take it easy! 🙂

  9. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  10. I was scuba diving 6 months post-op. It was my left knee too! Setting small goals for recovery helped me to stick with the physio. I was back to work in 4 weeks. I miss wearing heels, but the absence of pain is amazing. All the best, Jane.

  11. I hope everthing goes well with your surgery. Best wishes to a speedy recovery…keep smiling…. 🙂

  12. Best of luck! Got my new (left) knee last dec 2. post op advice: repeat after me, “give me the drugs and no one gets hurt”.

  13. Janey, be careful as hell with anything that could get in the incision. I had my right one done and 10 days late I got a 105 degree fever. I had to get it taken out, cleaned, put in again. Total of 4 operations. Turned out the infection was from my cat. I was careful I thought but..who knows. 4 surgeries later and 2 years of time to finally get rid of the infection. The problem they don’t tell you is that if you have had previous surgeery’s, in my case 4 , the risk of infection rises way up. Just keep it covered and away from animals or any risk till it closes up good. When are you coming to NM?

  14. I’m torn. I dislike seeing anyone in pain, for any reason. Yet the evil little voice in my brain saw that JF needed her left knee replaced and said; “Hey Carmen, you ruined your left knee lo those many years ago doing Jane Fonda workouts! Karma?”

    May your recovery be as painless and swift as can be had.
    PS Your PT will not actually be the Devil. They’ll just emulate his business strategies. 😉

  15. A family friend at the age of 72 had both knees replaced and he feels like a new man. He is now 76 and so happy! I know you are going to THRIVE from your surgery. xoxo

  16. I will be eagerly awaiting future posts on your recovery and P.T…..I am your age (49 :)……and will be having my left knee replaced before the new year….Good luck with everything……I am making you my personal mentor for what I will be facing soon……

  17. Je vous souhaite un prompt rétablissement LAFY JANE!

  18. The point of having a knee replacement is to live WITHOUT pain–and I have been without pain since having my knee replaced in 2007. The scar faded and is almost invisible. But who cares, I can walk, dance, go up stairs without pain, but I cannot run–which seems like a small trade off.

  19. Très chère Jane,

    Hélène et moi-même Dominique, vos admiratrices et amies de Montpellier (south of France), nous vous souhaitons un très rapide rétablissement de cette opération du genou gauche! Ce vaillant genou gauche qui vous a portée longtemps et partout dans le monde, à la rencontre de tant de gens que votre présence, vos actions militantes, ont rendus heureux! Oui, nous aussi, qui vous aimons, nous lui devons une pensée émue à ce genou gauche qui vous a menée jusqu’à nous! …
    Mais le titane vous rendra à la marche, aux voyages, aux rencontres, à l’action, au monde, aux amis qui vous attendent! Alors, chère Jane, mille voeux pour une complète réussite de votre opération !

    Montpellier vous attend et les cigales qui chantent au soleil aujourd’hui vous adressent depuis le sud de la France, cette jolie comptine du poète Robert Desnos :

    Ce sont les mères des hiboux
    Qui désiraient chercher les poux
    De leurs enfants, leurs petits choux,
    En les tenant sur les genoux.
    Leurs yeux d’or valent des bijoux
    Leur bec est dur comme cailloux,
    Ils sont doux comme des joujoux,
    Mais aux hiboux point de genoux !
    Hou ! Hou !
    (Robert Desnos)

  20. The fact that the doctor has to “saw” it off sounds rather gory, but I guess there’s no other way to have it removed.

    Jane, I bet you’ll prove them all wrong and have full use of your knee post-op. The Himalayas won’t know what to do with you:D

    All my best,

  21. Beautiful post! God bless your knee lol!

  22. If you will rub extra virgin olive oil on your surgery scars once they have completely healed your scars will fade tremenously.

  23. Hi Jane–
    Best wishes on your recovery. I had both of mine replaced on June 16th. I am doing well–pt makes a big difference. Hang in there–slow and steady is the key.

  24. My first visit to your website. Skimming thru the blogs, I noticed something about a knee replacement.
    I am now wondering how you are doing with it several months later.
    I am 74 and started with my arthritis problems years ago (possibly all the tennis, hiking and biking–never enjoyed exercising per se). Started in back (stenosis) and then was involved in auto accident 7 yrs. ago where I broke a lot of bones and needed plate and rod in leg, plate in wrist and 5 ribs. Lived in a rehab for 3 months and then did out-patient therapy for 3 months. Then had hip replaced two years ago. Now struggling with that bad leg and shoulder problems. Problem tho is that since it became so painful to stand and walk, I had to stop the walking and most activities and have now gained a lot of weight, which has added to the problems. I eat healthfully but probably too much because of my lack of exercise. Got any good ideas?
    I am scared of back surgery (would need a rod and heard of too many back stories). In fact the idea of any more surguries and recuperation periods just gets me down. Just wish I could get this weight off and see if that would help. Love to travel, tho without being able to walk my legs off seeing everything, it would be a lesson in frustration. Always wanted to see Machu Pichu but would never be able to hike the trail there and climb all those stairs now. Also now that health insurance (including copayments and deductibles has gone up so) and we are now living practically on social security, those dreams of traveling are just about over. Even find it a problem these days to try and clean and cook and get my Beardie out, so I rarely have people over. My husband is not much help either. Horrible way to end days not being able to look forward to fun things and gets one depressed.
    Just wanted to say I have enjoyed your books (my saving grace is my love of reading). Envy you having a place in NM. Was there many years ago and loved it. The architecture, food and mixture of Spanish, Indian and West is fascinating. Even thought I would love to live there. The Indian crafts were so beautiful and enjoyed driving to the pueblas. Think it would be great at Christmas time. The new O’Keefe museum and seeing her house would be interesting. I’ve studied interior design and always thought it would be such fun to decorate a house out there.
    Take care and think it’s wonderful you have gotten thru some rough spots in your life and seem to be thriving.

    • Carol, it;s really critical that you try to get the weight of==as you know. Try Kim Lyons’ program on DVD called “Sit Down and Shape up.”” Walking is also effective. My walkout audio tape hs just been released on ipod by a company called Rhino. Good luck.

  25. Hi Jane,
    I have followed your knee replacement and am in the 4th week of my rehabilitation for my right knee replacement. I have done pretty well; walking fine especially when I am concentrating on the “correct” way (heel and roll up on the toes). It’s becoming more natural. My problem is bending. I am riding the bike for approx. 10 min. 4 to 5 times per day and sitting on a big exercise ball while eating or just for exercise (rocking back and forth for bend to the knee). It seems I am making “very slow” strides but maybe I am just anxious to get it done. Also, every morning it seems that I am practically starting over. I have to work through the stiffness and work on the bike, etc. a couple of times to get the motion back to where it was the night before. It does get frustrating but I guess this is normal. I am going to p.t. and am able to duplicate most of what we do there at home. Hopefully, this is just a slow process. Am I overly anxious or is it truly a slow process. I am also doing strengthening exercises, etc.

    I was thinking the other day, I wish Jane had made a knee rehab. video doing some things to music. It would have made it a little more bearable perhaps! I’m seeing that you are doing some new videos and are looking very fit and the knee seemed to be moving very well. I am about 9 years younger than you so I’m hoping to have similar results. What degree are you bending your knee at and did that continue to improve over a year to two? You are an inspiration. Thank you.

  26. Dear Jane,
    this is nice blog, and you are a wonderful actress and remarkable, outstanding woman.

    This posting about your knee is especially interesting for me because we are consulting the world market leader for grinding machines for the production of knee and hip implantans.

    I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned your blog in the grinding blog:

    Maybe you have a HAAS knee now, who knows? Here is the link to HAAS:

    The other reason why I like this posting is that I can wave it under my old fathers nose and tell him that staying fit and in shape is the best he can do, even with his knee and hip implants.

    Have a great day!

    With best regards

    Norbert Kraas

    P.S. Just an idea: Could you think about holding a speech at a knee implant producers conference in Germany?

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