Monday, March 27, 2017

Needing a Knee

Almost 25 years ago, I tore up the cartilage in one of my knees in a freak concrete pouring accident. I was crouching down on the edge of a form putting the finishing strokes of trowel work on a pour job and my knee refused to straighten up. As I half through myself away from the concrete to not ruin the job, my cartilage tore. It was misdiagnosed several times during that summer and finally six months after it happened initially and several times afterwards, I had surgery to fix the problem.

The knee was patched up but evidently it was kind of a hatchet job on the surgeon's part. I spent the next ten years of my life suffering from knee pain and swelling whenever I did anything instead of the three months he promised. Fortunately, I had a bike wreck on a mountain bike that re-tore the cartilage in the same knee ten years later. It was fortunate because the second surgery was miles apart in difference from the first one and after about six months, most of my symptoms went away. When I quit work five years back, even the remaining symptoms have disappeared and it feels better today than it has in the last twenty five years.

Still habits die hard and I tend to favor it when doing anything strenuous. So when my daughters were playing around on an old steam locomotive outside of a local museum, I decided to climb up there with them and used my good knee first in climbing the steps. I used that knee to successfully lift me up but as I was throwing my other leg with the "bad" knee onto the platform, I was hit with a crushing pain in my "good" knee and the realization that my lower leg appeared to be adjacent to my upper leg. 

After about passing out a couple times, I managed to lower myself to the ground and hobble over to a nearby bench where I caught up on blood flow to the brain region and things cleared up. I quickly realized that I had dislocated my kneecap, which had snapped right back into place after the initial bolt of pain. It turns out to be a fairly common injury when you are putting pressure and twisting on the joint, both of which I had been doing. After a few minutes it felt fine enough that I could walk back to the car and get home without further incident.

Later I would go to the doctor and get a steroid injection to take down the swelling and found out that I probably tore one of the muscles that hold the kneecap in place judging from the blood  in the joint. Modern medicine dictates just to allow it to heal for six weeks, rehabilitate it and go on with life. At this point a little over a week later, it is still a bit stiff and swollen but I can walk around without limping with a knee brace for support. I was able to do a little hiking during our recent trip down to the Ozark mountains of NW Arkansas but I kept to flat smooth trails and limited myself to less than a mile each day. 

So now I have a new "bad" knee and an old "bad" knee which is feeling the best it has in 25 years. I'm hoping with a brace for future strenuous activities and strengthening exercises, life will go on with only minor inconvenience for the foreseeable future.  The joys of aging!


Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Oh, knee injuries are no fun at all and we take that joint for granted. I'm glad it was a "common" injury and not something you were in for a long haul of surgeries or rehabilitation. I will say that after watching my mom go through the surgery of knee replacement, it is a tough go BUT had an amazing outcome. I'm impressed with how quickly she recovered and how "good" that new knee is. It sounds like you are far from that road, but it's good to know that option is there if needed.
I hope you have had a nice trip!

Kelly said...

Oh, man.... that sounds SO painful!! At least your "old" bad knee has been holding out okay, so maybe it will still be quite some time before it gets to the point either has to be replaced. I've always been told you'll know when that is.

I had a hip disease as a child and, from the research I've done, I've learned that with age the joint is prone to arthritis. So far, I've been spared. (Did you know that, Bob?? Bob had the same disease when he was little, too!)

Ed said...

Pumpkin Delight - I did have a nice trip. More on that on Wednesday.

Kelly - The last checkup I had on the old bad knee now doing good, the doctor thought I could live the rest of my natural life without having to replace it if I continue to take care of it. Now that I type this, I should have asked him if he thought I had a short natural life ahead or it really was in that good of shape!

sage said...

Oh no, I hope it does heal as planned and no surgery... Healing blessings!

When my quad tendon snapped last year, my knee cap was down pretty far on my leg. So far, it is doing well but I wear a brace when on uneven ground, sailing or playing firefighter.

Leigh said...

Good grief, Ed. The trouble with surgery is, there's no way of truly knowing how good the surgeon is beforehand. Dan's had some hatchet jobs as well, which has really lowered our trust in the system. Knees are especially tough because we use them so much!

Vince said...

Hiking down 1:3 slopes and steeper tends to pop them out. Since I've been chatting with people on mountains I hear horror stories.

Ed said...

Sage - I thought of your knee when I was bent over trying not to pass out. I think/hope my injury isn't nearly as severe as yours was. Modern knee braces have come a long ways.

Leigh - Thankfully since those surgeries, there has been this thing called the internet which makes reading reviews of doctors and surgeons much more easily accessible. I don't think I would do another surgery without reading reviews first.

Vince - The biggest part of my recovery has been psychological. I have to learn to trust my kneecap to not go haywire again when I'm out hiking. Until then, I think I will just continue to wear the brace just to be sure.

Bob said...

Here's hoping a knee replacement is not in your future (at least not anytime soon)! We're supposed to stay active, yet sometimes activity ends in an injury. A bit unfair!

Ed said...

Bob - Most definitely unfair. I could understand if I was ski jumping out of helicopters or even doing a handspring back flip but just climbing up the stairs to an old locomotive?