Feb 4, 2011

Ding ding ding...Round #3

I'm pretty sure that in a previous post, I mentioned my knee injury.  Well I guess it's only fitting that I tell the whole whopping story. 

Round #1: Once upon a time, in a faraway land of Bakersfield, CA, while I was a senior in high school, I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) while at a gymnastics practice.  I was a Level 9 competitive gymnast through most of my young life.  I had a custom brace made and continued to tumble on a torn ACL until a few months later, I tore my meniscus (cartilage) too.  At that point, the orthopedic doctor and my parents agreed that no more gymnastics could occur until reconstructive surgery was done.  So the summer after I graduated, I had an ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair.  The surgery of course was not the most fun thing to go through, but I figured after 6 months of physical therapy I would be much better off.  I even began coaching gymnastics as a part-time job in college about 12 months after surgery.  Things were good.

Round #2: Unfortunately, 18 months after the surgery I started feeling unstableness in my knee, and while coaching a gymnastics class, it went out on me.  A drive home and an MRI later, my surgeon confirmed the worst case scenario.  The ACL along with the meniscus were torn AGAIN.  I had a second opinion done and sure enough he said the same thing.  So, in December 2006, I had my second ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair on my left knee. Aside from knowing what to expect from surgery, the second surgery and recovery were no easier than the first. But I prayed that I wouldn't have any more problems and that this was the last knee surgery for a long time. 

In the summer of 2008, I started having severe left knee pain again.  I had been pretty active during the two years following surgery #2.  I had started running regularly, among other things.  I had a third MRI done and my second surgeon said that again my meniscus was torn.  He also said that there was a small cyst that had developed in my knee.  He suggested a possible arthroscopic surgery, but I was hesitant to go back under the knife unless it was really necessary.  We agreed that I would keep it in mind and continue to watch it for awhile.  If problems persisted, I would contact him.  Luckily, I had no real issues for quite some time.  I continued running regularly, running some 5K and 10K races, and was about 5 weeks into training for a half marathon when I reinjured that darn knee again.

Round #3:  In November 2010, while my parents and I were traveling in Scotland, we witnessed a woman being robbed of her purse.  In an effort to save the older woman's personal belongings, I ran after the guy and attacked him by jumping on him and trying to grab the purse.  He threw me off him and though I had the purse in hand, I landed funny wrenching my knee and causing extreme pain.   ACTUALLY, I was putting on my shoe in the hotel room one morning, my knee popped loudly, and I fell down in pain.  It is NOT an interesting story, and almost embarrassing to tell people.  The one I made up is way better.

My parents drove us back to Newcastle as fast as possible.  It was an agonizing car ride, one I don't want to do again any time in the near future.  Josh rented me crutches from the Red Cross here in Newcastle.  They were the strangest pair of crutches I've ever used (and I've used lots).  Apparently, this is all they have here in the UK.  Here's a picture of them.
I was on these things for almost 4 weeks!!
I decided not to go to the Doctor and to just wait until we went home for Christmas to see my surgeon.  It takes forever to see a specialist here in the UK due to socialized medicine, so I figured it wasn't even worth trying.  When I got off the crutches, I still had a major limp.  Since our main method of transportation in the UK is our feet, this made leaving the flat very difficult.  Needless to say, this princess was stuck in her English castle for weeks.  I think over the course of the six weeks before we went home to CA, I only left the flat about 5 times. 

Once home, I had my 4th MRI of my left knee and the doctor informed me that my small meniscus tear had turned into a rather large one.  On top of that, it had "flipped up" and jammed itself in my knee joint making it impossible to straighten out my leg and very difficult to walk.  Surgery #3 was a must. To say that I looked extremely pathetic for about 8 weeks until surgery would be an understatement.  I had surgery on Jan. 5, 2011 to trim off part of my medial meniscus.  Trimming your meniscus is not an ideal option at a young age as you can never get it back and it usually leads to arthritis, but it was my only option.  Needless to say, left knee surgeries are still in my future.  I think my ortho doc would rather not have to see me anymore.  My left knee looks like a canvas for doctors to do art on.  Here is a picture of it now.

I like to think it looks like a face. The two dark spots are eyes, the long one in the middle a nose, and the small thin one off to the side, a crooked mouth. Kinda like this :--/
Surprisingly, this surgery was by far the easiest recovery I have experienced so far.  I was walking within days and I had little to no pain.  I never even touched my pain killers.  Let's just hope this is the last one for awhile.  Because the score is currently, KNEE: 3  STEPHANIE: 0.

The End

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