awesome advice from philnoir for all of us to follow even without weight problems and i would just add that you could really benefit by adding a friend to do some cheer-leading and be some company as you begin going to the pool and fixing the right things to eat.......is that possible?
Sounds like you have multiple problems.
Obesity causes tremendous strain on the heart, and can cause the entire smorgasbord of symptoms you list: edema in feet/ankles/calves and breathlessness.
How's your blood pressure? Has your doctor listened to your heart recently?
And it also strains your lower back and knees.
Is your doctor managing all this? If I were you, I'd first make sure that everything cardiac is in order, and then get the knees done.
This is going to take a while -- knees are done one at a time, and it takes months to rehab from knee surgery. That involves lots of exercise.
Before you get this surgery, you may have to lose the weight and gain muscle to deal with the rehab. You also need to know the condition of your heart as no one will operate if you're on the verge of congestive heart failure.
Again, your PCP should be managing this process.
Many people with knee problems get their exercise in a pool. Swimming burns many calories and strengthens the large muscles in the legs. Being in the water helps remove the effect of gravity on your joints and connective tissue, while allowing your muscles to strengthen. More muscle mass helps burn calories which leads to weight loss. A slight change of diet will help with weight -- more vegetables and protein, less carbohydrates and fat. This means no soda pop, fast food, snack foods, junk food. Eliminate sugar and corn syrup altogether. You gotta read the labels.
I'm sure you've heard all this before and are resistant to the idea of exercise, but if you want to feel better, you're going to have to take the initiative, do the work in the pool, and in the kitchen.
But at the same time, you're going to need some pain management.
Each week you wait makes it more difficult, and if the edema and SOB is related to heart trouble, you're at risk for even more severe health problems. I sure hope that tobacco has no part in your life.
Talk to your doctor about these things -- your heart, your back, your knees, and getting some help with pain.