Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Too legit to quit

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This week has flown by in a righteous whirlwind of holidays, a nasty bout of the stomach flu, two more PT sessions, and heading back to work after a long 4-day weekend. Sadly, there was no hangover.

The last time I saw my surgeon (who did the DeNovo NT transplant and tibial tubercle osteotomy), he asked me if I thought I should continue with PT. (He was asking because we were discussing the major pain issues I have when bearing weight on a bent knee.) I just looked at him, confused. I had no clue how I would continue to improve strength and function in my knee if I didn’t continue with PT. He told me to try the magic unicorn cream that he was prescribing and go to PT once a week. Well… I have already openly admitted that I tend to take doctor’s orders as little more than well-intended suggestions. This was no different.

For the past three weeks, I’ve secretly been seeing T-Bone TWICE a week behind my surgeon’s back. I talked it over with T-Bone, and he still recommended twice weekly sessions. He also seemed a little flummoxed about the whole, “Do you think you should still go to therapy?” thing. So whatevs.

Fantastic news this week! T-Bone suggested on Monday that we try to tape my knee. Yeah, better patellar alignment is one reason that I had the surgery, but I’m willing to give anything a shot at this point to get rid of some of the lingering pain (please reference the magic unicorn cream). So, he taped my knee. And you guys, it WORKED. I’m not saying it was pain-free, but it was BETTER. At least on most things. I still wanted to punch someone in the throat when I had to do step-downs. But the step-ups were noticeably less painful.

McConnell tape for knee

This taping technique is actually rather simple. Or elaborate in its simplicity. It’s called McConnell (I assume for the guy who came up with the idea). It requires leukotape, a non-stretch sports tape with a strong adhesive. The white tape underneath is basically there to protect the skin. Oddly enough, I can’t find a good video on YT to show the application. At least not the one I use. Basically, you pull the kneecap medially and tape it down.

I have tape at home because that was one of many things that we tried when I was in my I’d-rather-eat-knives-than-have-surgery phase. And I have the common sense of a slug, so I decided bright and early Tuesday morning I needed to test out just how well that tape was going to work. (For reference, Tuesday was New Year’s Day, and the fact that I was in the gym at 8 in the morning gives you some idea of just how wild my life is currently.) I took to the elliptical and thrashed out 10 minutes. Pain, but bearable. Then I did all the therapy stuff (single leg press, step-ups, step-downs, swiss ball leg curl, single-leg bridges, squats, and dead lifts). Step-downs still hurt like hell. I cannot, no matter how hard I try or how loudly I grunt, keep my form on these. I cannot keep my hips equal because the pain is a whopping 14 on a scale of 1-10. But whatevs. Because the important part is where I then went and cranked out 25 minutes on the bike AFTER all that.

The bike has been the thing to cause me the least pain, but I still wasn’t able to do much. My best post-op ride had been about 6 miles in 40 minutes. Lame. But 9 hours into 2013, I made 6 miles in 22 minutes. Boom.

The next day, I limped into therapy with a very sheepish look on my face. I didn’t admit to what I had done until T-Bone commented on how my knee was a bit more swollen than usual. Then my face turned red, and I had to ‘fess up. I may have overdone it with the previous day’s activities, but I had nearly broken my arm patting myself on the back that I was able to do so much. (It might not sound like a lot, but if that’s the case, you’ve never had major knee surgery.) T-Bone kind of just shook his head.

I’m not going to hold my breath just yet, but for the first time in more than 6 weeks, I have real hope that something is going to work. My PT sessions over the last few weeks have only been survived through sheer willpower and with the use of leftover narcotics. I am happy/thankful that I didn’t give up, and I am hopeful that I will be able to strengthen my knee (especially that darn VMO), which will, in turn, take away the lingering pain. And, for the record, I did not need any narcotics this week.

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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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