Category Archives: Knees

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.

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updates

School is almost out for summer and I cannot believe that my first year of teaching is almost officially over. Between wrapping things up for the end of the school year and completing my first year of BTSA (theCalifornianew teacher induction program), I haven’t had much time to write.

Just yesterday Zac and I celebrated our anniversary. It is hard to imagine that we have already been married for two years! Just in this past year of our marriage we bought a house and adopted our puppy. We celebrated our anniversary at one of our favorite restaurants, Northwoods Inn inWest Covina, and during the drive we discussed just how much our lives might change in the next two years. It is just incredible to think about. I love him. I love our pup. And, most importantly, I love our life together.

Surgery is still scheduled for June 8. I am getting pretty nervous about the surgery, especially because of the surgical mistake that happened during the last one. I’ve been trying to prepare myself as best as I can by reading articles and watching videos about the surgery. I don’t think it helps. There is just something about watching surgical videos where the surgeon takes an electric saw and cuts all the way through the bone. Yikes!

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.

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.

Downs, and more downs

Lately, I’ve been experiencing some issues with my knee. I would classify these issues as minor setbacks in terms of recovery, but major inconveniences for me. After teaching all day, my right knee is so sore. It swells up and is sore for most of the day. While I do remember to ice it when I get home, I need to start heating and icing it much more. Also, I need to remember to take my prescription strength anti-inflammatory medication everyday. Is that even safe? I need to ask my doctor.

Also, my knee started this new annoying, and sometimes painful, habit of clicking and popping every time I straighten it, which is, to say the least, very annoying and frustrating. I notice it the most when I am doing leg extensions. So, for now, I was told by PT to only rehab my knee in the range of motion that doesn’t pop or click. Apparently, the popping and clicking is coming from beneath my knee, which is cause for concern.

I do have a doctor’s appointment this Monday though, so I am making it a point to make sure that I talk to my doctor and ask him about these two things. I feel like I am no longer making any progress toward recovery. I feel like I am at stagnation, and possibly even regressing. Hopefully it is all either nothing, or just a minor bump in the road. For now however, I need to be extra cautious with my rehab and ice and heat constantly.

In addition to the above mentioned complications I started to notice, I was hit with a flood of emotions the other day at the gym. While in the locker room washing my hands after my workout, I saw a girl walk in with a t-shirt from the St. Paul’s Harvest race that I was the overall female winner of last October. It was a small 10K race and my time of 45:19 earned me the title of Overall Female Winner. I remember that race like it was just yesterday. I knew I was in the lead. Actually, I held the lead female position for almost the entire race, but when I rounded the last corner and I heard the traffic directors mention that I was the first girl, it felt so great. I was so proud of myself. All summer last year, I trained so hard and I was at my peak performance. However, I digress. While in the locker room at the gym, I recalled this race, my win, my amazing (for me) time, the accomplishment I felt, the joy I felt, and every other feeling that accompanies running an awesome time (PR) and winning a race. All of those emotions, however, happened within a matter of seconds. Suddenly, a pang of despair hit me square in my chest. My heart ached and I fought back tears. Negative thoughts raced through my head. Thoughts about not ever getting back in that great of running shape again, thoughts of never racing again, thoughts of never running again. It was all too much.

It really is amazing how the sight of one t-shirt, one symbol of something so special to me, can bring about such a raging storm of emotions.

2 months of progress

It is hard to believe that my surgery was only two months ago. It seems like so much more time has passed since I have my revision ACL reconstruction and meniscus removal surgery. In that time, I’ve gone from not putting any weight on my right leg to doing one-legged squats and one-legged wall sits on my right leg. Our bodies and their amazing healing powers are truly amazing.