SO LONG OLD KNEE

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!



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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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131 Comments
  1. I hope you surgery is uneventful, your recovery swift and not too painful , and we said a prayer for you to be back on your feet ASAP!

  2. I always love reading your blogs. Thoughtful, reflective. Thanks for sharing.

    Ellen

  3. Hope the surgery went perfectly and wishing you a super speedy recovery.

    Made me think about my own knees and wonder if they are going to hold up forever…..or not.

  4. Warm thoughts for you.

  5. It’s 10:51 Pacific time and I trust all has gone well and you are happily recuperating…

  6. Good luck – I’m sure you’ll get it working 100%. I just had hip x-rays so may be following you. I only just found your blog so I’ll be having a peep at earlier ones

  7. Good luck! I was a head nurse on an Orthapaedic patient unit- total knee replacement works very well- most of our patients were so enthused with their outcomes. 30 years ago you would be relegated to a wheelchair. I have complete faith you will do very well and will relish your new knee! Pain be gone!

  8. Wishing you a quick and full recovery!

  9. Well you got a good attitude about it.

    Wish you a speedy recovery so you can dance the maranga in no time.

    🙂

  10. Love the way you write Jane! Good luck with the surgery and take care. Laura in Kansas

  11. Warmest thoughts to you for complete and swift healing.
    Julia

  12. Good Luck Jane! I have a feeling you will be climbing those mountains again. My son had to have a full knee reconstruction.. not the same for sure but his hosp roomie had a replacement. My son had goals to be able to 1) play basket ball again 2) Ski again and most importantly 3) Jump up on a surf board and SURF! I am happy to report he was his own therapist 7 days a week at the gym. He is now able to do ALL 3 and more. Took him less than a year. I will be hoping fro a quick and as comfortable as possible recovery for you!

  13. Hope your surgery is successful and you are back on your feet soon.

  14. Dear Jane: Touching article. I have gone through many medical challenges. No bones replaces yet. The day will come. But strong challenges and I just keep writing. Persistence. Climb through the beautiful woods, change the world for the better, write works to move people and impact issues, look Mother Nature in the eye and smile; see the dog smile, and live every moment. Heal as you can. Prayers are all around you. Angels Abound!

  15. Jane..I have a right knee was going out on me I ordered these special vitiams for everything which might be going wrong and corrected my knee from having sgry. now I can walk and exercise 3 times a day and walk up the stairs. The
    results have not only saved myself, but an 88 year old friend and a 92 year old mother from having knee srgy.
    Here is the phone to get set up on the vitiams, IF its not too late. Tell them a friend in Tennessee referred you.Its Vita Power -(888)848-2797..The Vitimans women take are called endless youth..try this Jane you will be sorry,please do not think I am selling these. I want everyone to know about these vitimans they have been a blessing to me. thanks, hope its not too late. They would helo anyway. Love, Lashinal

  16. Rumor is that the new titanium knee, will, after about 2 months, feel much better than the old knee. And a scar is better than nothing at all.

    good luck

  17. OOPPS sori you will not be sorry & the vitiams will hellllppp!!

  18. Wish you only the best of luck with your knee surgery
    and will be hopping around real soon making those
    movies.

  19. Good luck!

  20. Dear Jane,

    I really hope you will recover soon although it might take a while through rehab… My husband had a knee surgery last year. It took a few weeks until he could finally put a strain on it again.

    I am recovering from muscle pain in both legs today. Can’t stop jogging these days. I put a good shot of rubbing alcohol on them and they will be brand new tomorrow. Guess this won’t work with your knee, uh?….

    In any case, get well soon and enjoy life with your new knee.

    All the best from Germany
    Carola

  21. You’re so cool I can’t stand it. ;-P

    A couple of decades back, my grandmother had both her knees done; the first when she was 79, and the other when she was 83. She had deep concerns before undergoing the first surgery. She had no concerns undergoing the second surgery, because she had experienced such relief after the first surgery.

    Thanks for sharing Jane.

  22. What a glorious post this is – truly, Ms. Fonda, you inspire. My mom, age 73, is also a happening woman. She had double knee replacement last year. I’ve included a post I wrote about it. Her surgery inspired me to start exploring the world while I still had the knees.

    http://empty-nest-expat.blogspot.com/2008/04/i-knees-to-do-this.html

  23. you will be
    well – keep safe. thanks for sharing all your “happenings” will keep you in my prayers.

    Love and light…Palestar

  24. Goodbye, left knee! Good-Luck, Jane!

  25. Jane Fonda, I LOOOOOOOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Hi Jane,
    So good hearing from someone who’s so positive about recovery, life, getting on with it etc… Very refreshing. Keep it up and don’t change.
    Best regards from Germany
    Jason

  27. jane-
    best wishes on rehab–i have no doubt you’ll be good as new in no time.
    this is my favorite of all your posts so far–says so much.
    thanks once again for sharing.

  28. Speedy Healing to you ! Deep breathes during the physical rehab…that may be tough….to get thru. But move forward! My 86 year old mother had both knees done to imrove her ‘quality of life’ and boy is she happy she did! Watch some funny movies while you’re recuperating. from one of your neighbors in nyc! Linda

  29. Hello new knee and many adventures yet to be!!!

    Take good care of each other we need the news
    from the heavenly muse!!!
    Light and Peace,
    Susan B

  30. aww 🙂 love this post, I too know what it’s like to say a goodbye to the old faithful and beginning anew with a few modifications 🙂

    Hugs to you Jane!! will be praying for your surgery sucess 🙂 love your blog…thank you for your generous sharing in it. I look forward to each post.

    jackie

  31. Hi Jane,

    Hope your knee surgery and recovery goes great! I am waiting to hear when I will have my knee replaced. A bit nerve racking though………take care!

    hugs,
    Marg

    • Marg, I had both knees replaced at Joseph Brant in Burlington in 2007. I was very nervous. There were some challenging times but well worth it. From using 2 canes to hobble about I now walk easily and pain free. All the worry I went through in anticipation was wasted. Best wishes.

      • thanks for your reassurance Larry!!

  32. As you say, Jane Fonda is not the sum of the bones, but the soul, what is inside you, your essence. The important thing is that you’ll walk and everything that you allowed your knee go. Everything is a matter of adapting to your new knee “bionic”. Good luck, early improvement. Followers of your blog, we will accompany you. From Uruguay with love.

  33. It’s 4:30 EST here in Florida, so I am sure your surgery is now complete. I work in an Orthopedic Office, and I know you will do fine…..A lot of physical therapy after, but, then, you could probably write the book on that!! Good luck and can’t wait to hear from you again.

  34. My mom just had one three months ago. It was her second in two years. There will be pain after surgery and down time so load up on the DVDs, then hit exercise after a month and you will be fine. My mom doesn’t regret it because she says she feels a hundred percent better, no limp, no pain, good as new. She had it done at Cedar’s Sinai. Best wishes to you.

  35. Jane,
    Our bodies are a wonder with all the movement they endure. The nice chisled knee is a nice feature but as long as those knees get you where your going thats all that matters.
    And your knees & legs look slim, strong and elegant.
    All your good care has paid off.
    Sending you good healing and love.
    You are surrounded with love so all will be well.

  36. Two years ago I had both knees replaced. One in April the other in Oct. The first was horrible while the second was a breeze, hopefully yours will be a good one. Pain is worst first night the gradually subsides. I was home in 5 days after surgery. Results are great and I have done a LOT of exercise on them but I feel like I have full motion in them. I am not ready for the Olympics but feel great for my age. The scars are very pronounced but all the sympathy and hugs make up for it. I wish you a fast and full recovery.
    Larry

  37. Interesting analogy about Noah’s Ark! Of course you will still be you, Jane! Looking from the outside in, we don’t know the difference, because that’s not what we see when we see Jane Fonda! Hope all went well with surgery. Maybe you should have autographed his knees!

  38. Nice Jane I am looking at eye surgery, I think looking at is the right word myself. I am wondering if it well ever be the same.hell I am blind now in the eye so what is there to loss.
    Thanks Jane you have given me the image of someone French Kissing your left knee.that is somthing to keep in mind.

  39. It is the knee that propelled you across the stage in 33 Variations.
    It is the knee that brought you up to the stage at the Rose Bowl for your speech at Peace Sunday.
    It was the knee that trod Alcatraz and the Andes and stood with Harvey Milk.
    It was the knee, part of a wonderful sum, that made anyone with a heart to feel the burn of social responsibility.

    The new knee is all about Act III. Stay tuned. Stay well. I know you’ll recover and shatter the popular “80%” expectation just as you’ve shattered conventional wisdom. Here’s to a knee well used and what’s to come with the new!

  40. Good luck with the surgery, Jane. I’m a first-time visitor to your blog here. I dropped by because my editor is having me do a story on retro exercise videos and I’m on my 4th Fonda workout video today. I am taking a break just to see what you are up to in 2009. I’m convinced that you are not human – you are something better than that, I’m quite sure of it. Something else I’m sure of, you’ll soon be using that new knee to kick all our butts quite soon. Thank god for you, lady.

  41. Hey, Jane, good luck with the surgery. I hope it goes really well.

    My best friend, Virginia, had one knee replaced last summer and just had the other one done a few months ago. The first one healed really well but the second one is still healing. She is a plus-size woman which is part of the reason her knees needed to be replaced. She is in her early 50s. But she is doing very well, now.

    I know you will bounce back because you are an amazing person.

    Lots of love. I will send you some Reiki.

  42. HI Jane
    I’ll bet that after recuperation you’ll be even more active—and thats saying alot.Hope it wont affect the filming of your new movie.
    Please keep us posted on availability of the mug shot caps,bags,mugs etc.

  43. I have read a few of your blogs, and I find them very entertaining. You truly have a gift for writing. Hope your surgery went well.

    Julie

  44. I love your sense of humour and bravery during this time of the knee surgery. I hope you have an easy recovery. You’ve got such a good spirit with this – may the rehabilitation time be as comfortable as possible. It’ll be a good time to read a good book! Take care.

  45. Well I guess “break a leg” might actually be appropriate here! Get well soon!

  46. Dear Jane,

    Had a feeling today was the day, and was praying.
    Love the analogy about Noah’s Ark, and Essence. We are greater than our broken parts. Medical advancement in orthopedic, neuro surgery has truly transformed it’s self over the last 30 yrs when they didn’t use hardware. Amazing when you see it all on the x-ray.
    I trust all has gone better than expected, and that the pain is miraculously minimal. Between the great physical shape, positive attitude, and determination, you will recover twice as fast as others. I feel the challenge for you will be resting, no doubt you will be conducting business at your bedside:) Yes we must defy the odds given, for if we only believed Dr’s statistics we would surly be limited and or defeated. I would never walk again if I did. Sure could use those video’s now, but look forward to their release.
    Will continue to keep your care and speedy recovery in
    prayer. If I knew where to send you a funny card and flowers I would. Instead I will donate to your wonderful cause gpower2009.org and power the grid to help eliminate teen pregnancy.
    Sending Healing Love Without Measure,
    Roseann

  47. Jane – take care of yourself! I love your determination and inspiration…

    Cheers, Dan Garrett

  48. wishing you a splendid recovery and that you have a beautiful new knee!

  49. And it’s great you can AFFORD to have this surgery; a lot of folks can’t due to being uninsured or underinsured. Good luck!

  50. I hope you’re doing well this post-op evening, Jane.

    Definitely will look for those muscle mass and flexibility tapes from you soon.

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