CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice says he needs knee replacement surgery, probably in March.
The governor discussed the impending surgery conversationally during a Thursday news conference. He also alluded to knee problems at the beginning of his State of the State address, when he explained his need to sit down rather than standing.
Depending on the date, surgery in March could put him past the regular legislative session, which ends March 9. Because he is also a coach, Justice is probably also concerned with the West Virginia Girls High School Basketball Tournament, which is March 6-9.
When he has the procedure, Justice will join about 4.7 million Americans who have had knee replacement surgery.
The surgery usually becomes necessary when cartilage in the knee becomes damaged or worn, leading to pain or immobility as the bones rub together. Replacement is done by capping the knee joint with metal or plastic components or by using a prosthesis shaped as a joint.
People who have knee replacement surgery usually have to stay in the hospital one to three days, followed by up to three months of physical therapy. Patients can normally drive again after four to six weeks and return to work after six to eight weeks.
Toward the end of Thursday’s news conference, Justice said his wife, first lady Cathy Justice, had double knee replacement surgery in September.
Justice said he told her doctor, “Listen, we don’t need to be just dinking around with my knees and everything. I’ve got to have this surgery, and I know I’ve got to have it because they’re terrible.”
The governor said he wanted to have the surgery at the end of October.
Justice said the doctor counter-offered to perform surgery in the middle of November.
Justice responded, “I can’t do it then. Because two or three things are on the agenda. I’ve got the ball season. I’ve got the session coming and everything else. I won’t be ready for either one of them if I have it done then.”
So the surgery was scheduled for March.
At first, Justice said he was upset that the date was not convenient.
“To be perfectly honest, I was hacked because I had this all planned on how I’m going to pull this off. If I could have done this at the end of October everything would have worked, and now I’m going to have to go through all of winter and I’m going to hobble around all winter.”
The governor mentioned his aching knees toward the beginning of his annual State of the State address. A stool was put in place so he could deliver the speech from a seated position.
“But tonight, they’ve made a little more room for me, and they’ve given me the opportunity to sit on my stool,” he said.
“Now, I do that lots of places, and I do that because my knees are in really bad shape. Of course, you know that. And I’ve had 10,000 surgeries — and I’m exaggerating to make my point, but — and I’ve still got to have some more. I was just too slow in sports to get out of the way, and so I got hit a lot.”