Flying post Osteotemy and managing pain in the USA

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

In April 2018 I traveled on business from London, UK to Detroit, USA – a journey with 2 connecting flights and over 15 hours of combined travel time.

I do like the F250 type truck, this one will do also!

In my previous blog, I forgot to mention that I continued taking pain killers such as standard Ibuprofen, Paracetamol (when needed) and calcium tablets. The purpose was to manage the pain; after 3.5 months, the swelling and pain was still prevalent, advice from the Physio was to take the tablets when needed; pain management is key, you cannot be a hero as the healing process is still ongoing.

So on the flight over, I did not sleep, I kept moving on the aircraft. I decided to work on my laptop standing up and it really worked. When I landed in Chicago (1st stop) I was able to walk OK and the swelling was not bad. I did get some assistance from ground staff, which was great. At my next check in for my flight to Chicago, I boarded first, placed my crutch in the compartment above my seat and rested up. The rest of the journey from the Airport to the hotel was uneventful.

As soon as I did get to my hotel room (around 2pm), I crashed for a few hours and then drank a lot of water. Again, no pain!

A fancy head, in a restaurant!

As I adjusted to the timezone and to the extended work day, pain management and rest was key. The key thing was not to slack off but to keep to the routine to date. I was also conscious of not acting like I was a special needs case – If I needed to use the crutch I would otherwise I would try to walk and ensure my posture was correct. Its so easy to get back pains, impact the good knee or develop hip joint pains; a symptom of overcompensating.

I have seen this building in a movie shot in Detroit, the city is changing by the way; more gentrified

Physio improving; getting ready for flight overseas

In January 2018, I underwent a Tibial Osteotomy at the One Hatfield Hospital in the UK. I had been suffering from the onset of arthritis on my right knee and needed a solution that would avoid a knee replacement operation and get my life back to some level of normality.

By continuing physio exercises at home every day is making a big difference. I took advice from the Physio and bought a Bosu Ball.

Amazon.com is the best place to get a Bosu Ball

Among previous strength building exercises were :

  • walking up and down stairs holding the banister
  • simple lunges
  • balancing on 1 leg

Using the Bosu Ball , the key exercises I practiced were:

  • Stand on 1 leg and balance (as the image below) – this is good to build up core strength. Alternate on your legs as you would have lost strength on your good leg.
  • Jump and hop onto the Bosu ball and then jump off – this is harder the first time, but the shock impact is needed to build core strength.
No, its not me, but shows what is needed

I gradually built strength in my legs so I could stop using the single crutch. In part I used the crutch as a “”safety blanket” as I had restarted my commute into work ( a 20 minute train ride to Kings Cross, London) and had to make my self visible to keep people at distance and not bump into me. However I also found that by the end of the working day, my leg was painful; I still needed the crutch.

At the start of May I had to travel to Detroit for business – this would mean 2 flights to get to my destination; London to Chicago (7.5 hrs) and then Chicago to Detroit (1.5 hours). Three weeks before my travel, I met with my Physio and asked for advice on how to stay on top of things and he recommended the following:

  • Take at least one of the crutches to help in case I get tired
  • Keep moving my leg by walking around
  • Don’t sleep for too long on the flight
  • Drink lots of water

I was flying with British Airways from Heathrow Terminal 5. I decided to park my car at the POD car park. You get a driverless car taking you straight into the airport terminal. As my flight was at 8am, the the whole airport was quiet at 5am. At the baggage check-in desk, I was advised to call a service line after security check-in so that a porter can take me to the terminal in a wheelchair.

Security was simple as the staff helped me pass through the scanners. When I met with the porter, he wheeled me across the large terminal; he warned me that people are ignorant to people in wheelchairs and he was not wrong! So many people are in a dreamland state and either do not move for you or bump into you – and its your fault!

Anyway, the nice chap helped me board the aircraft as one of the first passengers and the BA hostess gave me an aisle seat within a row where I had nobody sitting next to me. At least I could stretch out. Great job BA!

In my next blog, I’ll share my time on the plane, the connecting flight out of Chicago onto Detroit and the state of my knee.

Until the next blog!