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. Dear Jane-
    I hope your knee surgery proceeds smoothly and you are feeling better in short order.

    Bob

  2. Jane,

    I love your writing. Were you always this is clever, or did you learn from Lillian, you character in Julia?

    You will do great in recovery and will turn this experience into helping others. Such a positive and inspiring person. The 80% recovery is over — and not just for you.

    Please take the time you need to heal…don’t overdo it too quickly. Keep us posted — and best wishes.

  3. The life we lead and how it weathers our bodies.

  4. Good luck Jane–hope theirs not too much pain–you are very brave –writing all about your knee–if it were me I couldn’t write about anything. Well anyway GOOD LUCK–AND STAY HEALTHY–

  5. I think you already have a whole lotta people praying for your recovery. I’m on that list too. Promise you’ll do your breathing exercises and make sure to keep moving as much as you can while in bed. (It’s not just a bed–it’s an exercise mat!)

  6. Hoping the new knee serves you well. I had my left foot fixed earlier this year and life has since been much more comfortable. These marvelous bodies of ours! So grateful they can be tuned-up so that form and function better align with intention. Heal quickly!

  7. What a great blog. Jane, a lot of people could not bend over and kiss their knee. I like this reflection. I hope it’s over, went extremely well, and that you have a speedy reovery. Will you have to go to a recovery rehabilitation facility? How long will that take.

    Many hugs. Hope you can have Tuleah with you.
    B

  8. Best of luck! Hope you heal quickly!

  9. I hope your surgery went well Jane. You sound like you definitely have the right attitude about it. And, I think it’s great that you’re sentimental about the knee you’re replacing. I agree, just because something wears out doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pause and show respect for all of the great things it helped us accomplish along the way. Much respect for the original part and best of luck with the new!

    Looking forward to the post-op blog.

    Best to you,
    Susan

  10. I’ve been meaning to reply to your blog since it has really meant a lot me. More about that later, for now best wishes for a speedy recovery. Tom

  11. You are amazing!! My positive thoughts are with you as you undertake another journey to wellness.

  12. Jane you’ll do great. You’re very resilient. 80% doesn’t apply to you. It’s more like 100%.

    Kelly in Arizona

  13. Thank you for the beautiful pre-op post. Like many others, I’ve been thinking of you today and sending you positive energy and best wishes. Will be following your progress and recovery with great interest. It’s my left knee that slows me down, too.

    Sheila in South Georgia

  14. Here’s to 100%!

  15. I hope your surgery went well. Many people have said they wish they had done it sooner instead of putting it off. My mom meets with her surgeon on the 1st to schedule her knee replacement. She gets to have it done now that she is six weeks out from her stroke.

    Have you ever been to Fonda, Iowa? That is where my mom lives.

  16. Best of luck with your surgery Jane! I know all will go well as you are a strong woman (after all that exercising throughout your life!) Your knee will heal fast and you will be ready for your trip to the Himalayas! My thoughts and prayers are with you!

    Debbie

  17. Best of luck on your surgery. You have such a positive attitude this will help your recovery.

  18. Take care Chris x

  19. You will do great!!!! Thanks for setting the standard for us gals..Read your book and loved it…reading Ted’s now. You guys are so interesting…..stay friends.

    love ya,

    Susie

  20. Wishing you well as you recover from knee replacement surgery! You were an inspiration to me when I had my hip replacement exactly two years ago.

  21. New parts. Glad they can do it. I predict you’ll do great. We’re all with ‘ya. Can’t wait for your next movie or whatever you do. Keep hoppin. baby!

  22. Reading your blog is like listening to a dear friend. Hope all went well with the knee surgery. You are such a trooper!
    I like your knee surgeon. He sounds like a gem!

  23. Sending you much healing energy on the day of your knee surgery. I look forward to your new round of videos helping us to stay and get healthy. I still enjoy doing your yoga video (know it by heart).

    Here’s something funny that happened to me three months ago when I had a hysterectomy: the hospital bracelet had my name and birthdate and patient numbeon it, of course, and two different nurses asked me to tell them my birthdate aloud when they read my bracelet, because, they said, “You can’t be 51! You look great!”

    I feel that 51 is young, and so am I, and even though my doctor told me a year ago that “both your knees are shot”, I’m not yet at the point of needing replacement…I am working out and eating well and trying to find good balance in my life, and when the time comes for knee surgery, I will go into it with the same loving and warm attitude you show in your blog today.

    You ARE an inspiration, Jane!

    Brina in Seattle

  24. All the best to an awesome lady..hope this goes perfectly for you..I adore you..

  25. I hope everything will be just fine with your knee. Hugs & kisses! <3

  26. I hope you are feeling much better the day after surgery.
    Best of luck with your new knee. Thank you for blogging.

    Carole

  27. How did it go? I hope everything is well. Painful, I’m sure, but on the mend.
    Your blog gave me pause…You always have the ability to put everything in the proper perspective.

    I’m really getting close to the stage where some of my parts that I’ve been “in touch” with for 70 years might need to be replaced, and however good the replacement might be, I know I’m going to miss the original.

    I hope that the surgery and rehab are a great success.

    God Bless you (you are amazing)

    Sil

  28. My 7 year old daughter thinks you are the best. She watched “Sunday In New York” and became a fan. She wants you to know that she likes your acting.

    Take care and best wishes.

    P.G.

  29. Dear Jane,

    Best of luck in your recovery. I have first hand experience of knee replacement. It took a year but I was back at 100% (not 80%). Yesterday was my five year anniversary and the mobility is BETTER than my old knee ever had.
    You’ll be dancing around in no time. I wish you only good things, and am sending healing thoughts and prayers.
    Take it easy and let yourself be cared for the next couple of weeks…
    Looking forward to hearing how it went!

    Deborah

    Deborah

  30. I said a prayer for you…..you will be back better than ever…..I agree 80%….not you Jane!

  31. Best wishes Jane, for a speedy recovery. We need you back with us asap!
    Looking forward to your muscle and strength workout plan.
    love,
    Kathleen

  32. I Love the way you think and write. I said similar stuff when I said goodbye to “the girls” before my mastectomy. Now I have new ones that are as good as the originals. I wish your knee similar success.

  33. I’ve been thinking about your blog all day. I hope it was all a success and you are feeling better. I’ve been in a meeting today, and noticed that the knee of a lady sitting near me had a vertical scar. I will assume she had a knee replacement. It was a scar, but didn’t look that bad. You can look at the scar as a badge of courage and wear it well-be proud, even. And Jane, you can still definitely wear a skirt or dress above your knee, and wear it well.
    B

  34. I wanted to wish you well with your operation… and a speedy recovery too. Hope you will be climbing mountains again very soon ! Short skirts and climbing boots not a good look anyway.
    Best of luck from Ireland!

  35. Hey Jane – Go girl!!! I know you will have a successful recovery and hike up many many mountains – sending lots of love and good energy from Montana !!!! Karen

  36. Will be thinking of you recovering!! Hope all goes well! One bit of advice….do everything the doctor advises you to do for a full recovery! My son had a serious fracture in his foot last year. He had to have two surgeries and seven different casts before it had healed. Then he went through physical therapy! I was worried at first if I’d have to be constantly reminding him what the doctor had told him to do, because he’s in his twenties and you know how young people are sometime! Well, I never had to remind him of a thing the doctor had said to do or not to do. I complimented him one day how well he was following the doctor’s instructions. He said,” I want to do everything the doctor said, because I want my foot to heal properly! You don’t play around with a broken foot!” You’ll hear of stories about people who didn’t follow their doctor’s instructions and had problems! You’ll do great, Jane! One thing becomes more evident to me as I get older. Life is constantly changing and so are we, but isn’t it wonderful we live in a country where we can get medical care? Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward!!

  37. You are going to recover just fine !! Best wishes for a lot less pain from here on out.

  38. As a long term participant in chronic pain and all its lovely adventures…lol…(I broke my lower back and herniated 4 disks in my neck) …and a long term Zen student, I applaud your grace and humor and wish you well in recovery and good health and a pain free existence. Me, I am waiting for spinal replacement therapy!!! lol

  39. I had my left knee replaced 6 weeks ago. At 4 weeks, knee straightening and bending were both at 100%. My surgeon said I’m her star patient! I attribute this recovery to a stretching exercise I did before surgery and do now, as fully as possible: Sit on floor or firm bed, legs wide apart. Lower upper body between legs, as far as possible. Repeat however many you want; you can go lower each time, probably. This gives a good stretch up the entire length of the leg to higher than the waist. After doing this for years, I can reach the floor between my legs, in spite of being a plus-size woman.

    There will be other problems to face: discomfort, swelling, etc. but I’m sure you will heal fine. I’m now enjoying walking through my neighborhood. Walking poles are a great help during the healing process, much better than a walker or a cane, in my opinion.

  40. Wishing you all the best, Jane. I love your blog and read it every day. You are an inspiration. You’ve kept me thinking positive during sad times.

  41. Thinking healing thoughts for you…Visualize the mending going on now. You rock!!!

  42. Best wishes to you Jane. You’re probably just starting your recovery and I hope it is speedy. Looking forward to following your healing path. With love, J

  43. I hope you are feeling better after your surgery. In no time you will be back in great walking order. I wish you all the best for you are a great example to women of all ages but not Monster Mother in law you could never be I am sure movie was great. Hope to see more new movies with you in them. You are a joy to watch one of my other favorites is Barefoot in the Park.

  44. Hope the new knee is working well for you. Also hope the pain killers are working to the extreme.

    You will be able to do anything with the new knee. You don’t give up! It may be painful, but you can do it.

    BTW, hope the pattern is beautiful, haha.
    You are the only person who would think of a thing like that.

    God Bless

  45. Jane……just read about your having knee replacement surgery and want to pass along my best wishes. You will do just fine that’s for sure!!! I had both knees replaced (yep, bi-lateral knee replacement) on June 4, 2007. Rehab was kinda hard but I got thru it and so will you. Since my surgery two years ago have returned to my passion….playing tennis. But now it’s almost always doubles and beating guys half my age (I’m 57)…pretty fun. take care – and keep smiling!! Mike 🙂

  46. OMG, is this true? I can’t wait till your new workout product comes out! This is HUGE news to generations of Fondettes. More details, please!

    You really kick ass Jane, what an inspiration to us all. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

    God bless,
    Veronica

  47. I’ve always loved you, Jane ! – You’re a Classy lady. – I hope your recovery is a SWIFT one !!! – I’d love to draw for you again – I did the Art card for your fund-raiser, “Jane Fonda’s Comedy/ Celebrity Fashion Show” a long time ago. I have your “Thank You” note framed in my art studio and I’m VERY Happy you are acting again. I am a great Fan of yours.

  48. I’ll never doubt it, even for one second that you will jump on that knee for no time! 80% is for the ordinary people.

    Body parts can be replaced. Souls can not. So let the Doc’s replace what they need. You still are one of the greatest women I’ve ever met (even virtually) in my life time!

  49. je ne peut pas m’arreter de penser aux funerailles de Roger Vadim…
    Toi, Brigite, la Deneuve, et les autres…

    Tu auras un des plus jeunes genoux et tu est la

    plus belle..
    Thanks for 33 Variations enjoyed you imensly
    Franck

  50. My Uncle had both his knees replaced in his fifties. He played Rugby when he was younger and payed for it later! He is battling along fine now. He is the Mayor of his country town in New South Wales!

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