Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?


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“An optimist is someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster; it’s more like a cha-cha.”

I’d had a post about the last few weeks ready to go, detailing the weekend of massive swelling that set off a chain reaction and sent my mind down into a deep, dark hole and made me feel rather defeated (because there was no good reason for the swelling). Then I saw this quote come across my FB wall, and it settled in my brain like a happy mantra worming its way through until I realized I had to make a choice. And I choose to be an optimist.

I’m not struggling. I’m dancing!

I had another appointment with my OS (orthopedic surgeon) last week. We talked at length about what the next steps are and what options I have left. Doc mentioned PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment that has shown some promise in a couple of studies (here’s a press release about a study from the Hospital for Special Surgery earlier this year). I don’t know if I’m interested in trying this or not. He’s mentioned it once before, and it doesn’t seem to carry a whole lot of risk since the cells that would be injected in my knee are my own. I’m reading up on it. So far, I’ve learned that high-profile athletes have had it done (it’s all the rage), but there doesn’t seem to be too many objective studies that definitively show good results. At least not for cartilage regeneration; it’s mostly been done to treat tendons and ligaments (e.g. Hines Ward had PRP therapy for his MCL sprain just a few weeks before the 2009 Super Bowl).

We also talked about surgery. I asked if the screws sticking out the front of my tibia might be some of the problem with the tenderness throughout my tibial plateau. “Possibly.” I asked about removing them and what that entailed. “General anesthesia.” I just stared at my OS at that point. He knows there is nothing I hate more than GA. “Well, we can try local, but if you start kicking me, I’ll have to put you down.”

Fair enough.

We talked about doing an arthroscopy at the same time. We’ve been avoiding this, but I think we both want to know what’s going on in there with the cartilage transplant. He can use the opportunity to see if he can do anything about the scar tissue in the anterolateral aspect of my knee and if there’s anything that can be done to address the old and new chondral defects.

After that appointment, I went to my PT and asked for help. Again. And she came through with a few more ideas because she’s awesome like that. She admitted we’re pretty much making stuff up at this point, but I’m still willing to follow her lead. So the last two weeks have been full of jabs to the thigh, foam rolling, taping the patella, heat, ice, shock therapy and strengthening exercises. Jury is still out as to whether it’s making a difference or not, but I have an interesting pattern of bruises on my thigh that is testament to how hard I’ve tried.

Regardless, because I’ve plateaued for the umpteenth time, my last PT session was yesterday. I’m on my own again. Or, as my PT put it, I’m no longer on the short leash; I’m on the flexi lead and it’s up to me to keep moving forward. She said my motivation isn’t the issue; it’s appropriately harnessing my energy in the best way for my knee. I’m a little intimidated and scared that my progress is once again squarely on my shoulders.

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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