Category Archives: Injuries

Finally some good news

Yesterday, I had two follow-up appointments. I had one with my surgeon and one with my primary care doctor and my appointment with my surgeon couldn’t have gone better. He evaluated my knee and said that it was looking good. He cleared me to ride my bike and to do more stuff at the gym. I am so excited. I feel like I’ve been waiting for a good appointment forever, well, at least since February of 2010. The only negative thing about my appointment is something that I am already coping with….no running. Even though I’ve already accepted my no running fate, my doctor thought he needed to emphasize that for me. He said that pretty soon my knee will feel like running and that I cannot do it. He warned me that if I run, I will most likely need a knee replacement surgery in 15 years. While I loved running and it was such a big part of my life, I have to say no to it. My overall health is so much more important to me than running. Just the thought of a knee replacement at the age of 42 is enough to keep me away. Yes, I miss it terribly, but life moves on and there are more exciting things I can do. For one, I plan on pumping up my bike tires and riding my bike a lot more now. I am also looking into outfitting my bike with a clipless pedal system.

I feel like it is about time that I finally get good news at a doctors appointment.

Devastating News

It has been quite some time since my last blog post. I’ve been waiting to post until after my doctor’s appointment, which was on Monday, January 31, but since then, the news I received at my appointment has, up until now, been too difficult to discuss in length. I braced myself for what I thought “the worst” could be. Unfortunately, the doctor delivered some unsettling news that I am still grappling with. Basically, I can no longer run, my knee is messed up, and I require an additional surgery. That is the cliff’s notes version.

The good

While trying to keep things positive, there is some good news in my life. For one, I have a good lawyer who is enabling me to navigate through the murky waters of worker’s compensation insurance and I am not getting the medical care that I needed. Without taking this action several months ago, I could have been released from my claim permanently injured without knowing it.

The bad

The bad news starts with my most recent trip to the new orthopedic surgeon who has taken me on as a patient. This was a follow-up appointment which took place on Monday that informed me about the results of my recent CT scan. According to this new doctor, there are several things wrong with me knee. First, I have an impingement. This may be caused by the “not ideal” placement of my ACL graft. While the ACL graft isn’t placed in the “wrong” location, it isn’t ideal and my new doctor said that he wouldn’t place a graft in the location that mine is in. Additionally, the “not ideal” location of my graft only makes my impingement worse.

I knew that something within my knee was not right. During my recovery this summer I began regaining range of motion; however I could never really fully straighten my knee. It hurt and the pain only intensified when I put weight on it. I was told by my old doctor that it was nothing and that I would regain all of my range of motion. Well, he was wrong. Sometimes you just have a gut instinct that something is wrong and even back then I knew that some of my results were not typical.

In addition to my impingement, I also have a problem that is even more troublesome. I do not have any medial meniscus in my knee, which is currently causing my legs not to be aligned and which will cause imminent arthritis in the future. My right leg is slightly knock-kneed, which is the opposite of being bow-legged. Currently, the only thing that preventing my femur and tibia from rubbing and causing painful bone on bone rubbing is a small amount of articular cartilage lining each bone.

The ugly

This second problem is where the ugly news begins to unfold. First and foremost, I am no longer able to run. I am under strict orders that I can’t run or do deep squats. As a runner, this is devastating news. Imagine never being able to do what you love ever again. That is pretty much how I feel. I truly feel like I lost a part of my spirit this past week. Part of me, a very large part of me, no longer exists.

In addition to not being able to run, I will need surgery to fix these current problems that were caused from my previous surgery. Without one of two surgeries, I will get arthritis in the future. Also, additional surgery is the only option to alleviate the pain I experience on a daily basis. Both surgeries are considered major surgeries. One is a tibial osteotomy. This option includes sawing my tibia in half and inserting a wedge-shaped bone graft into the tibia to make sure that I am aligned. Yikes! The second option is a meniscus allograft, which is a transplant surgery that would place a cadaver meniscus into my through the use of bony plugs. My understanding of this option is that the meniscus would eventually wear down and this surgery would most likely need to be performed again in the future.

As the doctor was delivering all of this news, I stared blankly in disbelief at him. It didn’t even feel like reality because the news was just so much more than I could have ever imagined. I am still coming to terms with this diagnosis, and I believe that it will talk me quite some time to fully accept this new reality that I am faced with. Honestly, I am heartbroken and as much as I try to stay positive, it is incredibly difficult. I would be lying if I said I was okay right now. It isn’t even about just not being able to run either. I am upset about facing another painful surgery with a trying and difficult recovery process. I am upset about the time I will have to spend doing this all over again. I am also upset about my future prospects of my health. I would like to start a family with my husband in several years and I am worried that my knee may not be able to keep up with my future children’s activities. I am worried about the possibility of always living in pain. Yes, I’ve gotten use to the pain in the past year, but it is no way to live. I can only continue with my at-home physical therapy regimen, do my best to maintain a positive mindset, and hope for better news to come.

Where I go now

On Friday, I went to an imagery center to have a special x-ray that my new doctor ordered. It was a weight-bearing alignment x-ray that captured my legs from my hips to my ankles. This x-ray will be used to determine just exactly how knock kneed I am. It will also help determine which course of action will be best for me.

One year without running

As hard as it is to believe, I have made it through one year without running. Last year on this day, January 17, 2010, I attempted to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half marathon and found myself with a big fat DNF due to a foot injury https://christinaruns.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/rnr-az-12-race-recap/.

 Right before I was able to get back on the road and run after my few weeks off from my foot injury, I injured my right knee very badly. https://christinaruns.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/my-foot-is-the-least-of-my-worries-now/. I had a partially tore ACL already, but I managed to fully tear it and also make a “large bucket handle” tear in my meniscus. This injury, which unfortunately happened at work, had been a constant disappointment and frustration. My surgery did not seem to go very well and I am still trying to get all the answers I need. 

How life has been

It is unfathomable for me that I have been without running for a year now. Part of me thinks that I went though, and am still going through, a minor identity crisis because of this. Before all of this happened, I identified myself as a runner. My passion was running. My interest was running. My goals were running related. My entertainment was running. My running calendar dictated my social life. My life was running and I was a runner. But now I am not a runner. Or at least, it is definitely difficult to identify myself as a runner when I have not run in a year.

Am I a former runner? I don’t know. I hope not. I hope that I will be able to get back out there. Am I a sidelined runner? I don’t know. Usually people have a timeframe that sets parameters around injuries. I have no idea when, or even if, I will be able to run again. Am I still a runner? I don’t think so. I feel like a fraud sometimes saying that I am a runner because I cannot run now and haven’t run in so long.

Not being able to run has taken a larger toll on me emotionally that I thought it would. It was a large part of my life and it was who I thought I was. Now that I can’t run, it is like a piece of me is missing.

 What can I do?

In terms of exercise, I do have some options right now outlined by my new orthopedic surgeon. I can walk, cycle, and lift weights as long as my knee does not bother me. I also have home weights, a heating pad, an electric stem machine, and awesome ice wraps at home so that I can continue therapy at home since my insurance company prematurely cut me off.

In the future

I really miss running so much and I am hoping that it isn’t another full year until I am able to run again. In 2011, I would like to get back out there and gradually ease into running. I would love to do the Couch to 5K program and complete a 5K. A 5K is far from a marathon, but at least it is something.

Can you read a CT?

Sometimes I really wonder about all of the radiation that I expose my body to because of all of my injuries, especially my latest one. To date, since my initial injury on February 2, 2010, I’ve had an X-ray, MRI, another X-ray, and now a CT scan. I only bring this up because yesterday was my CT scan. During the test, I was lying down on my back holding my foot and knees still in a particular position. The machine looked like a big donut; it was round and had a donut hole. The platform that I was on lifted up and quickly went in toward the donut hole and then paused. After a brief pause, the light that looked like a “caution: radiation” light blinked and the machine made a loud noise. It did this several times. At least my lower abdomen was shielded by those aprons they make women wear.

Overall, the CT scan was painless and actually quick. I was expecting a longer test, especially since MRIs take so long, but this one was maybe five minutes. After I was done, the technician made me a CD with all of the images on it.
So of course, the minute I get home I have to load the CD and look at the images. I must say that the picture of both of my knees is pretty startling with the amount of metal my knees are packing. In total, I counted two screws in my left knee and five screws and some sort of odd-looking plate in my left. In my opinion, my left knee should not have that much hardware at all! My previous orthopedic surgeon should have taken out my old hardware before completing my revision surgery. Or at least, that is what all of the doctors online say in all of the ACL revision surgery articles I read. You can even see the screw that is protruding from my right knee. It is the one that is on the lower right had side going diagonally that looks like it is placed just underneath my patella. Ouch.

So now I have these images, and my appointment isn’t until the 31st. I have absolutely no idea how to read these images with the exception of being able to spot the foreign metal in my knee. I’m hoping my appointment comes quickly because I am really curious to know what these images mean and what it means for my recovery.

CT scan tomorrow

Tomorrow I go in for my CT scan for my knee. I am hoping that my doctor will be able to get some answers about my knee and then I will be on the road to recovery. I didn’t know this, but because I have three pieces of metal in my knee that were placed there rather recently, I have to have a CT scan instead of an MRI to protect the metal. I am very hopeful that I will finally get the answers that I am looking for, especially because about five months ago I asked my initial orthopedic surgeon for this test and he refused.

I turned the bike on!

Look at that bend! That is what 105 degrees looks like.

Success! Well, sort of. To help facilitate my recovery, I’ve started riding the recumbent bike at the gym two times a week. When I first started, I could not even complete a full rotation. When I was able to complete a full rotation, I could not pedal the correct way. When I was able to pedal the correct way, I could not even turn the bike on. Well, I was able to turn the bike on yesterday! This is just another sign that I am making progress toward recovery. Although, even though I was able to turn the bike on, I could not start the bike. When the bike was on, it constantly read “start pedaling.” Well, I was pedaling, but I could not pedal fast enough. That is another goal that I have, to be able to turn the bike on and start it. When I am capable of doing that, I will know that I am making even more progress in my rehabilitation. As much as I just want to go outside and run right now, I have to focus on small, short-term goals that are evidence of steady rehabilitation. Speaking of progress, I had my CPM machine set to 105 degrees the other day. That is pretty exciting. I keep regaining more and more range of motion. Plus, my knee is looking much better as well. The incisions seem to be healing nicely, but there is still considerable swelling.

On a non-related knee note, Zac and I finally tackled a small project that we’ve had on our to-do list for quite some time now. Since we are slowly converting our home movie collection to Blu-Ray discs, we put all of our regular DVDs in a larger, leather CD holder. We estimate that we have about 230 movies! Wow, that is a lot. We organized our movies into different categories: action, comedy, drama, chick flicks that Zac won’t watch, and cartoon. Within each category we alphabetized each movie and placed it in the case. This was such a space saving project. We recycled three large trash bags worth of DVD cases and now have all of our regular DVDs neatly stored in a compact case. Even though we placed our regular discs in the case, we kept some DVDs out. Our television series DVDs (which only include Grey’s Anatomy, the complete Sex and the City series, and Entourage) are still in the original cases, and I had to keep all of the Disney movies in their cases. We decided that we will still keep the cases for our Blu-Ray discs since they are smaller.

Three weeks since surgery and the bike is getting easier!

As of today, it has been three weeks since I had surgery. While I have not progressed with this surgery as quickly as I have with my other surgeries, I am making progess. Also, seeing as how this is a revision surgery it makes sense for why my recovery is not as aggressive as before.

I went to the gym again yesterday. It is nice because Zac is already going, so I can go with him because I still am not cleared to drive. Day three on the recumbent bike was much easier than the first two days. Zac worked out for nearly two hours, so for almost two hours I was on the bike.

It only took a minute or so to be able to complete a full rotation on the bike. When I first started, I didn’t have enough range of motion in my knee to even do that! Plus, it is getting easier to pedal. While I mostly pedal backwards because there is less resitance in the bike and it is more passive because my healthy leg does much of the work, I did pedal forward more than I have in the past. Unfortunately, I still cannot pedal fast enough to turn the bike on. Once I am able to do that I will be so happy because it will be a huge step for me in my progress toward recovery. People must think I am nuts at the gym. I’m just pedaling on a bike that isn’t even on. Oh well, at least I know that I am helping my knee. Each day is one day closer to running.

As far as my therapy on the CPM machine goes, I had it on 100 degrees yesterday! Yay! With biking and using that machine, I am slowly gaining more range of motion with my knee. My next appointment with my surgeon is next week and I am almost positive that after that appointment I will be cleared for physical therapy. Once in therapy, I will be able to really get the ball rolling, and hopefully I will also be able to stop the atrophy in my leg. My poor thigh and calf, they are starting to look sickly and weak.