I was very active in my youth. I hiked, ran, raced sailboats, played basketball, and both scuba dived and sky dived (not at the same time though). As I aged I developed severe arthritis in both knees. I had my first knee surgery in 1999 at the age of 32 when a lateral meniscus tear interfered with motion of the patella and effectively "locked". Microfracture was performed due to extent of cartilage loss and I was advised that I needed a knee replacement despite my young age.
I had my second knee surgery in 2010 to remove several cartilage fragments that were floating in the joint. Then I developed an insufficiency fracture in 2011. Through 2011-2014 my knee pain progressed significantly. I walked with a limp. I went to bed every night in pain. I got up every morning in pain. My physical activity was very limited which frustrated me, my wife, and my dogs.
In 2014 finally had my right knee replaced in April and my left knee in September. I so very much wish I had replaced them sooner. I am able to walk, hike, run, and ride a bike all without pain. I can kneel both at church and while working around the house. I can walk for miles and I rarely have any pain at all. Compared to before surgery I am entirely pain free. I plan to resume sky diving after I lose a bit more weight (psst don't tell my wife or my surgeon).
The surgery itself was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. With each knee replacement I was only in the hospital for 2 nights and was able to take care of myself at home, including going up and down stairs, with no difficulty. HSS has a great program and incredible staff and makes the whole process and easy as it can possibly be. I will admit that Physical Therapy was painful but it is amazing how fast I progressed and it was really not all that bad; taking a pain killer before PT and then icing and elevating after PT made it quite bearable.
If I had to do it all over again I would have replaced both knees back in 2010. If your doctor tells you that you need knee replacement then I enthusiastically recommend you do it sooner rather than later.
I recommend HSS and my surgeon Dr. Sabrina Strickland to all of my friends; I actually learned about Dr. Strickland myself through a friend.