View Full Version : Big Jack is getting new knees

02-18-2010, 10:55 AM
To any of you WI figure 8 barefooters out there, you probably know "Big" Jack Schuller and have seen him hobble around on 2 bad knees for years. It is amazing a guy that is 6'6" 260lbs can foot as well as he does when he can hardly walk. I found out over deer hunting that he was thinking of biting the bullet and getting new knees, but he did not want to because he said that would end his skiing days. He said that he has heard of people skiing after hip replacement but not knees. I think if he could foot with all the pain he has been in for years, why couldn't he foot with 2 new knees that are pain free (or atleast less than what he has now!)

Well this morning I got an email from his daughter, Dawn, saying that he is having them both replaced this afternoon (2/18). For those that know him (and those that don't but want too) keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Also, does anyone know of someone that skies, water or snow (he loves too downhill too!) after a knee replacement?

02-18-2010, 11:30 AM
I just had both of my knees replaced this past Friday. My surgeon at Mayo Clinic, probably the world's leading expert in lower extremity joint reconstruction, said I could use them however I wanted - snow skiing, water skiing etc. The danger, of course, is the possibility of premature loosening at the bone-cement interface, or premature wear on the polyethylene liner.

Normal failure rate for a knee replacement is about 1% per year in a "moderately sedentary" lifestyle. Big Jack needs to re-evaluate what he wants out of his life, what his priorities are. Likely the more he skis or barefoots, the greater the chance he'll need a joint revision (definitely no picnic) at some point between now and the day he dies.

This info is based on what I know about the subject and what my particular surgeon has told me. Big Jack should take his advice from his own surgeon, who knows his particular situation better than anyone here.

02-18-2010, 11:55 AM
Well he is scared of never being able to skiing again. I think that though he will not be hammering through rollers on his feet or doing double diamond runs down hill, he probably could get on the water for a butter run or some less extreme down hill to get his fix. Which is basicly what he was reduced to the last year or so anyway.

02-18-2010, 01:11 PM
Well he is scared of never being able to skiing again. I think that though he will not be hammering through rollers on his feet or doing double diamond runs down hill, he probably could get on the water for a butter run or some less extreme down hill to get his fix. Which is basicly what he was reduced to the last year or so anyway.

The problem with his activities afterward isn't the pain - he'll likely have no pain in his new knees (after he recovers from the operation). The problem is going to be promoting failure of the prostheses. On the one end...if he had the knees replaced then never got out of bed, no question they'd last forever. On the other end, daily pounding on a basketball court or double-diamond ski runs, he might only get a year out of 'em. One has to strike a balance between an acceptable lifestyle (how much "sedentariness" can one tolerate before becoming depressed) and still providing good longevity to the new knees. Anybody that has gone through a bilateral TKA will tell you they would certainly prefer never to have to do that again. Big Jack already has a big strike against him for joint longevity in that he weighs 260 lbs.

There comes a point in one's life where you just can't do the things you used to do - even the things for which you have always had the greatest passion. We don't think about that stuff - we just assume that the way we are now is the way we'll be forever. But, ya gotta compromise...and the older you get, the more lifestyle compromises you are likely going to have to make. Coming to grips with that...that will be Big Jack's main challenge in all of this.

I don't know if he'll ever be able to barefoot again. Nobody here can give any kind of realistic opinion on that. Whether or not any of us knows any barefooters with bilateral total knees - that has absolutely no bearing on your buddy. He can only get that information from his doctor. And if he doesn't like his doctor's opinion, he should take his xrays and go get another one from a different doctor. I only mention, anecdotally, what my doctor told me. But my situation is completely different from Big Jack's.

02-18-2010, 03:32 PM
I guess you are missing my point.

I know that there are a handful of skiers on here that go to Footstock and other tourneys around here, and if you do, you know who big jack is. So I wanted to let them know that he is having surgery and to wish him well.

Second was that Jack, the last time I talked to him, was having a hard time agreeing to have the surgery, because the way he was looking at it, life as he knows would be over. We all know that if he abuses his knees, they will wear out and then it will be game over and Jack knows it too. I was just hoping for a few people to say that they either had it done or know those that do and loved it, to show him there is still alot that he can still do.

It probably is way too early for you to say something like that if you just had it done less than a week ago. (hope you are doing well also!) From my understanding of it the first several weeks are the worst. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress mac.

02-18-2010, 04:15 PM
A friend of mine had both knees replaced and waterskis regularly, dances, plays golf. I can't think of anything he doesn't do because of the knees. I think Jack's got nothing to worry about.

02-18-2010, 04:25 PM
I guess you are missing my point.

Clearly you missed mine as well, by a wide margin. My comments have nothing to do with me. They are pretty much universal for total knee patients. I understand you're trying to help your friend deal with a life-changing issue, but talk to him before embarking too far on this quest you're on. Presumably, since the last time you talked to him, he understands a lot more about these things, and HE may be able to answer your questions better than anyone here. Regardless, his information and especially his prognosis has to come from his doctor, not from Amazing Tales from the Internet. Sadly, the parts of his life that matter most to him may well be in the past. Or maybe not. It depends on the type of knee prosthesis that's used, the bone quality, his dedication to rehab, the skill of his surgeon, and his willingness to risk earlier failure of his new joints...many different questions that we don't know the answer to. Me...? I'll be ready to ski before the ice goes off my lake.

Thanks for the good wishes. My recovery is going well. I'll be back at work tomorrow, although it will admittedly be a short day. Unfortunately, my wife has taken my car keys so I'll have to get a ride.


02-18-2010, 04:57 PM
Clearly he has already made the decision to fix his knees and risk his skiing ability. Your question has been answered, yes people still ski after knee replacements.