Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

A llama broke my leg

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T minus 18 days.

I’ll be headed to the OR on September 18 for an as yet uncommon procedure to restore cartilage in my right knee.

Funny story how this all came about. Well, not so much funny as painful. I fractured my right lateral tibial plateau just over 2 years ago in a totally freak accident while I was out hiking with one of my llamas. Though I usually omit the part about the llama when I tell people who don’t know me because they hardly believe that’s the truth, or they think I hit my head in the accident, too. The fracture was non-displaced; I was placed in an immobilizer for a week, NWB for 8 weeks, and it healed uneventfully. At my 3-month follow-up, I told my OS that I had a very sharp pain any time that I had a bent leg while bearing weight. His response was a terse, “You just broke your leg. Give it a year, and if it still hurts, get back to me.” I felt incredibly foolish for complaining, so I continued to work with my physical therapist for another 6 weeks, until I could do all of the prescribed exercises, albeit with quite a lot of residual pain.

Fast forward through a new job in a new city. Right at one year, I went to a new OS–one that came highly recommended by more than one of my new co-workers. He immediately scheduled an MRI because (perhaps obviously) I shouldn’t have been having the level of pain that I was having a year after my initial injury. He diagnosed me with Hoffa’s fat pad impingement and scheduled me for arthroscopic surgery to remove the scar tissue. Op notes indicated that the scar tissue from the fat pad was quite large and stretched up behind my patella in “tongue-like” fashion. The cartilage on the back of my patella was severely damaged at this point. “Not what we’d expect to find in a knee of someone this age (31).” My OS cleaned everything up, performing an “extensive synovectomy” and smoothing out the damaged cartilage as best he could. He also noted Grade III fissures in the articular cartilage on my lateral tibial plateau, but he has since indicated he doesn’t think there is much that he can do to help that particular bad patch.

I was a complete rock star in PT following the arthroscopy. I’m not bragging; my PT told me so! That lasted about 6 weeks, until I had an “uh oh” moment. I much prefer “ah ha” moments, but this wasn’t one of them. The pain was back and in a huge way; my knee was terribly angry. It was at this point that I named my knee “Hank” and started berating him for acting like a whiny child. My OS suggested continuing on with PT and trying Synvisc injections to see if the extra lubrication would help. So, he injected rooster comb derivative into my knee. Kind of gross, if you ask me.

To be continued…

Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

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