Surgically Repaired

By Lloyd Graff

A Stryker brand knee replacement

I’m writing this column one week after a full knee replacement. The surgeon used a Stryker knee. Some of you may have made parts that are now in my right knee. Thank you. The recovery is going ok, I guess. I’m taking the narcotic Oxycontin twice a day, and I am not used to its side effects which make me dopey, mess up my vulnerable vision, and perhaps give me slight hallucinations. The pain is tolerable, but I am annoyed by my struggle to concentrate. Everybody tells me that the recovery gets easier after the first week, and I feel good that I have written this blog. I will keep you informed as I go along with my recovery.


My son-in-law Scott lives in Palo Alto, California, working at at Google about 12 miles from his home. He is looking to replace his 13-year-old BMW 330i, which is now too small for a family with three kids and a lot of carpools. He asked me recently what I thought he should buy. I stammered a bit and then mentioned the upscale Toyota Camry XLE because it was the car I was most familiar with.

Scott has toyed with the idea of the Tesla Model S, which we looked at together at the Palo Alto showroom and took for a test drive.

We both loved the ride and coolness, but Scott never went any further on it. I think it’s a value question for Scott. If he keeps the car 10 years, which is his pattern, the car will probably have little value eventually because it will be needing a new battery pack.

So I’m throwing it out to you folks. The family already has a Honda van for the family trips and the school carpools. Scott likes the responsiveness of the BMW and is comfortable with tight steering wheel action. I don’t think a pickup truck is the right choice for the carpool life, but I will leave it open to your suggestions.


My Chicago Cubs beat out the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox last night to sign ace pitcher (and cancer surviver) Jon Lester for $155 million over 6 years and a signing bonus of at least $20 million. It is the most expensive signing for a free agent pitcher ever. My question is how valuable over the course of a season is a #1 starter? There are very few true #1 starters in the Majors. Max Scherzer of Detroit, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (30.7 million over 7 years), Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, and Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners are the first to come to mind. On paper they do not calculate as fair value for $30 million a year for six or seven years, because you know their production will decrease over the full span of the contract. But evidently, some smart people in baseball think that wins per dollar of investment are the incorrect way to figure an ace’s value. They believe the feeling of invincibility an ace brings to a team lifts the abilities of the other players, so he is worth more than just his numbers. He may also enable a team to recruit other top players.

You could argue that teams without an ace starter normally do not win a pennant or World Series, but consider the 2014 Kansas City Royals model of having average starters but a super bullpen. Maybe this is the new baseball model and decreases the need for an ace. Although many people would say that the Giants prevailed in 2014 because of their invincible #1 starter and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

In today’s new “dead ball” era of fewer home runs, the big money may not go to hitters. The Kansas City versus San Francisco World Series may usher in a new era of both mega rich ace starters and teams stockpiling power arms for super bullpens. The Yankees’ current signing of Andrew Miller as a left-handed bullet out of the bullpen may be an indication of this trend.

What do you baseball fans think? Does it make sense to overpay for a really top starter, considering all the bad things that can happen to a pitcher’s arm over six years?


What are your experiences with knee replacements?

Does it make sense to pay a starting pitcher $30 million a year for 6 years?

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16 thoughts on “Surgically Repaired

  1. Steve Jones

    Got a Stryker knee 13 months ago. It still feels odd & swells after a long day or golf.
    The good news is there is no pain when I swing the club now.
    20 minutes of ice & it is much better the next morning.
    Just put it to the test on Monday. Our church does an event for kids for Christmas called Adopt -a-Family. I was on my feet from 6am until 11pm & there is no pain the next morning, a huge improvement over the last few years with the old knee. Rehab was brutal since my range of motion wasn’t very good from surgery 40 years ago.
    Good luck & do the rehab (it is the key), I’m still doing it 4 days a week.

  2. Jack

    No experience with knee replacement yet. But with all the creaking my knees do when going down steps, I’m thinking there is a knee replacement in my future.
    Hope yours heals soon.

    Pitcher? It’s crazy what some of them make.

    As for cars. we have a Fusion, it’s a very nice car.

  3. Richard R

    If Scott wants a car to last ten years, and he doesn’t care to make a statement of his station in life (I know your kids; none do) he should buy a well-made mass-produced car like a Honda or Toyota (current airbag problems notwithstanding). More exotic cars will break more often and be more expensive to fix. Mercedes and BMW can certainly be made to last with religious maintenance, but even routine service is more expensive.

    And, in ten years they’ll all be worth essentially zero compared to the cost of a new car.

  4. Misterchipster

    No knee yet but had a hip done 9 months ago. In and out of the hospital in 1 day, therapy for 6 sessions over 3 weeks. Took pain meds for 7 days(didn’t need them after 5 days), none since. Went back up on a wakeboard at 5 months and loved it, no pain and great range of motion. Kudos to Dr. Manning @ Northwestern.

    Sports professionals are paid what they are because of the advertising dollars that support them. The consumers that support them are the foolish ones.

    Buy a good quality mid line vehicle, do the proper maintenance, drive it until the wheels fall off. Not a one is worth anything when it is worn out no matter what you paid for it new, go for value.

  5. Peter Redel

    I have had many ortho-surgeries. Knee replacement, back and shoulders, all went well. I do offer a word of caution about the oxycontin. Many people have problems with this 12 hr. release pain killer. It can cause bad nightmares and very odd behavior when awake. Read the side effects for this drug. It is considered a synthetic heroin on the street and is sold for $20.00 or more a pill. All of us guys are getting to the age when the body fails and repairs are needed.

  6. Dave

    If your son is used to driving a BMW, he won’t be happy with a Toyota or Ford (I speak from experience). I’m on my 3rd BMW X3, which is a practical SUV, but still is “the ultimate driving machine” and is highly rated for safety. Plus, as an added bonus, the X3 is “assembled” in the USA. You could consider a certified pre-owned model to save some money. I gave my previous X3 to my son and now it has 150K miles and still no problems.

    Sports salaries make no sense to me, as does paying high prices for tickets to support those salaries. But I guess movie stars and people like Hilary have compensation that is also hard to explain.

  7. Joseph

    First I would like to wish you the best on your recovery from knew surgery. It really is amazing how successful and common place these operations are, on the whole.

    What is not talked about much, is the new vulnerabilities that a person that has undergone joint replacement surgery has to cope with for the rest of their life. This mainly has to do with internal infections and the body’s ability to rid itself of an internal infection. Your body has a rapid response to fighting infection via the bloodstream. The system is compromised some when artificial components replace the natural ones. Blood flow is diminished in the areas adjoining the artificial joint. If/when this area gets infected, it is much harder, and so times not possible for the body to clear an infection, even with antibiotic drugs. In some cases, the removal of the artificial joint, and re-replacement is the only solution.

    Why worry? How often do you get an internal infection? Not often, right? Maybe not now being that you are still an active person. Older age people have a propensity to have urinary tract infections, just one type of internal infection. Going to the dentist to have work done is another opportunity to possibly introduce an internal infection to your system. The problem with this occurring, when you are at an advanced age, is that a doctor might find you a lot less likely to survive an operation like having a re-replacement of your knee at 85 years old.

    There is simply nothing better than your original parts. I know if you need a replacement, you need a replacement, and its best not to suffer without it and the limits a damaged joint places on someones mobility and lifestyle. I am a little concerned with what seems to be peoples approach to replacement. I’m worried that people aren’t worried about damaging the original parts from abuse from their working career, being overweight, etc., because you can just get a replacement done and you’ll be fine.

    Everyone take care of your O.E.M. body parts, because O.E.M. replacement parts are not available. At least not yet.

  8. Val Zanchuk

    No knee yet, but probably one in the future. Thanks for the input.

    No advice on cars. I am guided by the practicality equation: snow+ice+rain+mud+pot holes+dirt roads = Jeep

    You have a world class team in Chicago that would be considered amateur if their team average were less than .999. They’re expected to win every game. They draw big crowds all over the world. They’re called the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Their entire musician payroll is probably less than $30 million.

  9. Ed Gnifkowski

    You probably have little to worry about with the knee. I have a six year old Stryker and it’s doing fine. My surgeon is on the Stryker board. doing re hab religously is the key to success.
    If Scott and family are into any counry living style like hunting, camping, etc, the answer would be a quad cab pickup. if not, I would get one of the new sport Cadilacs.
    I have trouble with any ejmployee of any stripe making more than a million a year. Especially pro athletes and entertainment people. You want the big money start your own company.

  10. Tom Firsching

    Not in the knee market yet. (Been skiing since 1968 and I may just have jinxed the season.)

    A friend of mine had both redone a couple of years ago. He is an avid curler and he wanted to be able to deliver a stone in the traditional manner. He did his research but was not satisfied that the products being supplied in the US would allow him to achieve his goal. Undaunted, he with his medical folks, found that replacement knees for the Southeast Asian market would allow more bend as they were designed for people kneeling to pray several time a day. He went with them.

    This type of procedure, like most, is not usually a ” have to do it right now” type of issue. Like we do in our day to day operations we need to ask questions and be comfortable that we have explored the options before going forward with decisions about our health. Politics aside we still are the decision maker.

    He is very happy with the outcome.

  11. Alan Hariton

    I had my left knee replaced 2 1/2 years ago. I was told my recovery was a bit abnormal but up until recently I have had very good success.

    I was 43 when I had it done. I was told it is very unusual for someone my age to need a replacement but I had been bone on bone with no cartilage for over 7 years and couldn’t take it any longer. This lack of cartilage was due to issues I had growing up.

    When I left the hospital I was bending my knee past 90 degrees. I left there and went home where I stayed for 2 weeks getting in home therapy three times a week. I went back to the office after the two weeks. Sometimes grabbing a cat nap from all the Oxycotin I was taking to help sleep and alleviate uncomfortable feeling. I wouldn’t say i was in pain, but it was uncomfortable. The worst for me was not sleeping through the night and the achyness waking me up. That lasted about 5 weeks. I wish someone had told me to expect that.

    If could give any advise I would say just keep bending it as much as possible. Just keep bending it.

    I had some recent issues this summer with internal bleeding. it’s very uncommon but not unusual. After three procedures it seems to now be under control.

    Overall great experience. I had the surgery May 1st and was swinging a golf club on the course end of June, then skiing thanksgiving.

    just keep bending it.

    Best of luck


  12. Lisa Bailey-Beavers

    My husband just had a complete Stryker knee replacement last Monday and was out of the hospital on Wednesday. He is uncomfortable and but the pain is definitely manageable and getting better by the day. On my arrival home from work last night he advised that he now has a new full time job… REHAB, REHAB, REHAB that leg/knee from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. His PT thinks he will lose no range of motion provided he is diligent with the rehab exercises and techniques.

    It is absolutely amazing what technology and the right surgical team can accomplish!

  13. Jerry Johnson


    You’re now a member of the Club!!

    Very important to take the Oxy (also called Hillbilly Heroin). Your body will recover much faster without the stress of the pain. That’s why your Dr. prescribed it.

    Rehab is extremely important with a knee. You’ll need to work on flexion. Very important to work the bending of the knee HARD. It’s not pleasant during Rehab, but very necessary. Ice will help tremendously after each Rehab episode; so will the Oxy.

    Best of luck my friend. Glad you have this behind you.

  14. Dick Crosby

    I have no idea what brand/make of joint I had installed in August, 2003, in my left knee, when I was 71. And I don’t remember taking any serious painkillers, either. The wife says “None!” I’m not sure Stryker was even a name then like it is now. I do remember having to get up and walk the hospital’s halls the next day, and it hurt like hell for a while, but the rehab was the bear. My female therapist was a relentless masochist!
    I was at 105 degrees when I signed out of rehab 10 days after surgery. I’ve had checkup xrays from time to time, always with the same result. “See you next year.” It tweaks me once in a while, and I know it’s not like the OEM in my right knee, but it sure is a miracle to get rid of the pain I used to have at night. I think the secret is get a super surgeon with a ton of experience, and a mean, bitchy, rehab gal. I still love her.
    Anyway, it still works fine after 11 1/2 years. May you be so lucky! “God bless, and Merry Christmas” to all.


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