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22nd July 2015

Me, my new knee and my trek up Kilimanjaro

Jay Nickolaus was the jolly old age of 61 when he decided to undertake the climb to Kilimanjaro.

If you’re like me, your first introduction to this monument of mountains was Disney’s The Lion King, where it appears as a golden oasis of peace and tranquility with an inviting flat roof ready to welcome you after your climb.

But that climb is anything but easy. Even fully functional athletes rarely make it to the top due to the lack of oxygen, so you can imagine doctors aren’t chomping at the bit to prescribe 60 plussers like Jay a next-to-impossible mountain climb.

Jay not only was a ‘mature’ 61 year old, he had also undergone total knee replacement surgery just six months prior to the day he began the climb. Yet, armed with his new knee and a megatonne of determination, Jay hiked the entirety of the Machame trail to Kilimanjaro’s Uruhu peak, something he would have never dared to dream himself capable of before the operation.

A new knee?

Total knee replacement is often a last resort for patients who have been badly affected by injury or arthritis. The idea of having one’s knee removed (!) and replaced is a sour pill to swallow, but that leap of faith can pay dividends, as it did in Jay’s case.

Total knee replacement basically works like this: metal, ceramic or plastic substitutes replace cartilage and damaged bone to reduce pain in the joints and in most cases can restore full functionality.. The original bone remains, but is just covered at the ends by more solid and resistant layers.

After Jay made it to the top, he wrote a pretty awesome letter to his doctor. Have a look.