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Germany with an arthritic knee - do-able?

Germany with an arthritic knee - do-able?

Old Jul 12th, 2010, 08:12 AM
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Germany with an arthritic knee - do-able?

My husband and I would like to take my mom to Germany next summer, but she has an arthritic knee and I am concerned about the logistics of that, if it is even realistic for her to go. Well, we THINK it is arthritis, but she won't go to the doctor about it, so we aren't sure and we don't know if the condition is treatable. That is a whole 'nother can of worms though, more suited for the Lounge. Bottom line - she has limited mobility. Some days her knee is ok, sometimes it is really bad. Stairs are a problem, which is probably the thing that concerns me the most about Germany because I don't remember seeing many elevators, esspecially in restaurants were the bathrooms seemed to always be downstairs.

An example of her mobility - on Saturday we went to lunch and a museum - walked about 2 blocks from the car to the restaurant, another 2 blocks to the museum, wandered around the museum for about an hour and a half, with breaks in the middle sitting on benches. By the time we were out of the museum, her knee was pretty much shot, so my husband went to get the car while she and I hung out on a bench. Once we got back to my house, she had a hard time getting out of the car with her knee or even walking around in the house.

So what do you guys think? I would hate for her to go all the way to Germany and then not be able to do much more than hang out at the hotel. We were going to go to Munich and then some smaller places - probably Bamberg and the Mosel Valley. Munich is the biggest hurdle, I think, because we wont have a car and there are so many pedestrian zones, etc. I suppose though that if we stayed at a hotel right in the heart of the Altstadt and took a city tour by bus, that she could see most of the main sites without much walking. Once we leave Munich, we'll rent a car so that would be easier - smaller towns, less walking, can drive around the countryside.

Anyway - I am looking for input from others maybe who have or have travelled with people with bum knees. And how did you/they manage the flight?
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 08:34 AM
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How about renting a wheel chair when in Munich - trains i know have special places for chairs - she can walk a bit then take the chair.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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It is a shame not to see a doctor. I have two arthritic knees that my doctor describes as bad. Weight loss, ibuprofen and exercise are what keeps me going back to Germany each year. I tell my friends that when I walk, I am training for vacation to Germany. If your Mother is not getting out and walking around home, she may not be able to do so in Germany.

Assuming that you really want to share this with your mother, why not drop Munich his year? Take a car vacation, which are also great in Germany. Years ago my parents came to Germany when my Father had cancer and was very weak. Drives in the Alps and along the Mosel/Rhein valleys were very exciting for all of us. Tailor your vacation to your mother's needs.

Regards, Gary
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 09:52 AM
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One of the hardest things on the knees and ankles are the cobblestone streets common in European countries.

I had knee surgery for a torn cartilege last August, 4 weeks before we were scheduled to go to Germany. I went to the doctor for MY knee because I really wanted to go on this trip.

Most of the hotels I booked had elevators. It's not impossible to find, but it does limit your choices. But there were times when I had to climb stairs or walk up an incline, which definitely was not easy with my sore knee.

Does your mother take ibuprofen, Aleve or anything else to help mitigate the knee problem? I was taking an anti inflammatory as well as pain meds when needed.

If you want to really enjoy Germany, you need to be able to walk. Sure you can drive around and look at the mountains in the distance, but you can't get up close and personal.

If you mother isn't willing to go to a doctor for her knee, then she should probably stay home IMO.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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Remember that it is not uncommon for joints and blood vessels to swell during long flights, especially for someone who does not have room to elevate their legs. I climbed up lighthouses last fall; two weeks after some extensive knee surgery, but I have mental toughness and stamina. That fact that your mom's knee is giving out after a few blocks of walking does not bode well for a trip to Germany.

Yes, you can see mountain landscapes by rail or car but to tour inside cassels, and other landmarks, you mom is going to need a degree of mobility. Does she know of our concerns regarding her health and the trip? Perhaps, as Gary stated, if she began some anti-inflamatories and exercise to build stamina, she would be okay. However, any of this is iffy if she will not make the effort to even visit a doctor.

I am not trying to sound harsh but I have a mother-in-law that we will not travel with for similar reasons. She would rather complain than attempt to address the problem. I say......send her post cards. Her knee is better suited for a cruise.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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One more thought, as I was doing PT to rehab my knee, there were some older ladies also doing PT. They had not had surgery or anything, but had some mobility and pain issues, and their doctors had prescribed PT to help them rebuild strength and flexibility. They were taught exercises to continue to build strength at home. Day one they complained. By their 3rd visit, they were really into it and saw the progress. Good luck.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 10:09 AM
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Munich is no hurdle at all. Use the rickshaws. These can be used like taxis, or you can hire one to give you a tour of the city centre with the driver as your guide. They can enter any street with a bike lane, thus a lot of pedestrian areas a car could not enter. The central point to find them is in Marienplatz but they can also be ordered by phone to any place in the centre. The only problem - a rickshaw seats only two people, so you and your husband would have to take turns (or hire one bike to accompany the rickshaw on).

There are several companies. Unfortunately the websites I found are in German only (use a web translator), but they promise that all their drivers speak English and some other languages. I am sure your hotel will be of help when you are there.
http://www.muenchen-rikscha.de/unser...ghtseeing.html
http://www.rikscha-mobil.de/index.php?id=18
http://www.rikscha-ring.com/
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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Take a wheelchair with you. Hundreds of people travel with wheelchairs. It only means that companions will need to do a bit surveillance on ramps, elevators, etc...totally doable. Even if a higher percentage of the trip is a road trip, so what, I can think of worst ways to spend travel time than driving on the beautiful German countryside. Go; it is never as bad as you imagine it will be.....
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for your replies so far. I am leaning toward telling her that she can't go in her condition. I am really frustrated with my mom for not seeing the doctor. I don't know why she won't go - my husband says it is the martyr complex, which does run in our family. Regardless, she is too young to be this limited. And honestly, it makes me mad. I want to make sure that my opinion that she shouldn't go on the trip is based in reality though and not a function of my frustration and anger at her.

My mom is a really fun person and very interested in all sorts of things - it just frustrates me that she is so limited in what she can do. If she had been to the doctor and there was nothing to be done, then fine - we'd make accomodations for her disability and that would be that. But to not even go to the doctor...grrrrr.

When we first floated this Germany idea a couple years ago, I told her that she needed to do something about her knee in order to go. I thought that this would be good motivation. But she hasn't done anything. Everytime I bring it up, she says that she knows she needs to see the doctor, but nothing happens. She went so far as to make an appointment with the doctor and then cancelled it.

We are going to DC next month, which will also include a fair amount of walking - DH, myself, my mom, and my aunt and uncle. I will use the trip is a test - see how she does on the flight, see how she does with the walking - the results will illustrate whether or not she is fit for a 2 week trip to Germany.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 10:44 AM
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Germany is such an efficient country you will have no problem with wheel chaurs.

The alternatively bring her to the UK. We have a piece of legislation called The Disability Discrimination Act which promotes civil rights for disabled people .

The bottom line is all restaurants shops or public places have to have wheel chair access. Being British everyone obays the rules and its really easy to get around no matter what your state of mobility. Even trains and taxis have to have ramps available.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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As with Bugler above, visits to the PT were a critical part to my understanding what I needed to do to get into condition to be mobile at home and while traveling. Maybe your mother fears surgery; who doesn't. A trip to her family doctor and a referral to a PT may be the keys to avoiding surgery for years to come.

Regards, Gary
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 01:02 PM
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My husband and I took my mother - then 76 - to Germany and Austria with two bad knees, two years ago. The trip was stressful for us and difficult for her. I told her then no more trips to Europe with us until she got her knees fixed as it was just too much of a burden on us.

She got one new knee last year and is having the other done next year. She gets cortisone shots in the one that still needs to be done and that helps a lot for a few months at a time.

She will be 79 this year and we are taking her on a combination land trip and river cruise to Germany and Austria. We had a heart to heart about what we will be doing together and what she will not be able to do so everything has been discussed and agreed to. When she is tired we will put her in a cab back to the hotel where she will be on her own until we get back. While we love her dearly and want to include her when we can, it is also our big vacation and we are going to enjoy it as well.

The river cruise will be an easy way for her to see as much as she is able without us being totally responsible for her each day. She can do the short included tours in the mornings then head back and rest and we will meet up with her for dinner. We like to walk all day long so we will be able to stay in the towns we visit as long as possible and enjoy these areas at our own pace.

Really, if she is not willing to get her knee under control, this will be a very frustrating trip for you and the stress just not worth it. Maybe if you leave her home and do not back down, she will get the message.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 01:24 PM
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I checked out the link for the pedi-cabs - I love those. We use those at home with my mom pretty frequently, usually after hockey games Even if my mom's knee is in better shape, we might use those - looks like a great way to enjoy the Englisher Garten without walking long distances.

The wheelchair idea is a good one, but I think my mom would rather stay home than go around in one. And stay home may be just what she has to do. Like kfusto said, if she doesn't get her knee under control, then she doesn't get to go. Tough love - I can do that.

Gary - I think you may be right that she has it in her mind that knee replacement is needed and that scares her. First step - get her to the doc to see what is really going on. I think I will give her a deadline.
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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 01:29 PM
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November_Moon, I so feel for your frustration. I have a dear friend who is just in her early 70's. She has several health problems but her biggest problem is her knees. She has gone to doctors and specialist however. But does she follow their advice, such as going to PT, doing excersizes at home..NO! She is now at the point that just walking a block or two is more than she, or rather her knees, can handle. I love her dearly but when she asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would get her to San Francisco I had to be honest and tell her there is no way since she can't even manage a couple of blocks here where we live. I am frustrated with her as are her family members and other friends. Your thought is lovely but unless your mother gets her act together and works towards helping her situation I would not consider taking her to Germany. And don't take this the wrong way as I so hope your mother will get the medical attention that she needs and that consequently she can go to Germany with you. Best wishes, you are a wonderful daughter!
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Old Jul 13th, 2010, 05:40 PM
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Thanks for your kind word LoveItaly - I really appreciate it. We live near SF and my mom loves the city, but we hardly ever go because it is too tough on her knees.

I appreciate everyone's input on this. You guys are great. And I am back with an update. MOM HAS AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE KNEE DOCTOR THIS WEEK!!! I talked with her last night -she promised to call the doctor and she did. Finally. So now we can see what is really wrong and what can be done about it.
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Old Jul 13th, 2010, 10:25 PM
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Good luck....keep us posted.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 02:45 AM
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November_Moon, I am very happy to hear that! Sometimes tough love works.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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I will definitely keep you all posted. Thanks again.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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november_moon, you've gotten plenty of well-meaning advice but some of it is, unfortunately, not based on experience. I have an artificial knee with a limitation of 100 degrees mobility and have traveled extensively throughout most parts of the world and, in particular, Northern Europe. We've been on extended trips in Germany multiple times and I can tell you from our activities, Germany is a very unfriendly place for knees.

The suggestion for rickshaws is an example of good intentions but not at all practical for me, at least. First, one has to find one. Second, one has to be able to climb in and out of one, not a mean feat. Third, being able to sit comfortably in one might not be possible. I've gotten in and out of small planes in Alaska and in and out of Range Rovers in Zambia and Botswana and they were major challenges. On a more practical level, restrooms in Germany are often in basements without benefit of lifts.

Even with a handicapped placard, just finding a place to park can be a job and a half. Yes, someone can drop you off and pick you up but even finding a spot to do that can be brutal. Cobblestones are deadly for walking and steps abound. Even using buses or trains to get around requires going up and down steps, sometimes very high ones.

Sorry, but, based on your description of your mother's knee, it is my belief it would be a kindness to all involved to wait until she can gain some additional mobility.
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Old Jul 29th, 2010, 02:26 PM
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So what did the doctor say?
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