Friday, February 15, 2013

The Knee Chronicles - History

If you follow me on Twitter, or know me in real life, you know that I've got some wack-o knee issues. Since I've been getting a bunch of questions about what's going on, I figured I'd share with the world. ;)
Obviously, I am not a doctor - nor do I play one on TV. ha. I'm just using the terms that doctors have used with me.
So, let's start with a timeline that will bring us up to date... the "knee" is almost always my right one, by the way.

While playing soccer, I tripped and twisted my knee. Had to sit out the rest of the game (and then the rest of the season). Went to an orthopedic and was told I had "teenager's knee."
Apparently the muscles on the outside of my thigh weren't growing fast enough, so since they were shorter than my inner thigh muscles, my knee was being slightly pulled out of alignment. I was assured that I would outgrow this and good as new once I was done growing.
I'd like to note, whenever I've mentioned this to other doctors they look at me like I'm crazy.

Let's pause here for a little diagram of the knee anatomy. Wooo.. fun! haha

During Labor Day weekend, I was at a friend's house and we were getting ready to head to The Last Fling - our town's big end of the summer fair that has a concert. Cheap Trick was playing and we were all totally psyched to see them. While goofing around, my foot slipped off the edge of the sidewalk, causing my knee to twist and "pop."
I muscled through walking around to see the concert, and later that week got in to see an orthopedic. I was told that I probably tore my ACL and would need surgery to repair it. The ACL (or Anterior Cruciate Ligament) sits in the middle of your knee, behind the kneecap.
Went in for the surgery, which was done via Arithroscopy (aka, little tiny cameras inside my knee). They discovered that my ACL was fine. I had actually dislocated my knee. They also discovered that my knee has "no groove"

Basically, the end of your femur is shaped like a "V" and your kneecap is all cozy inside that V. Except my femur doesn't have a V. So my kneecap kind of goes wherever it wants. Obviously, this isn't a good thing.

The doctor sent me to physical therapy to strengthen my quadriceps (thigh muscles) so that they could help hold my kneecap in place. I did the exercises even though they didn't seem to be making much of a difference.

(There were a few times during these 6 years that my knee would "act up" after being twisted or bumped funny - but I just wore whatever knee brace I had on hand and rested until it was better)
After going to a Cubs game in the city, I was busting some moves on the dance floor at my favorite Wrigleyville bar, High Tops (which has since closed, SO SAD!). While rocking out to some Britney Spears' Toxic, an empty bottle rolled under my foot - so that when I stepped down, I went one way and my knee went the other. Luckily I was quite intoxicated, so I didn't feel the full extent of the pain. haha.
Later that night, when I could no longer put weight on my leg, I went to the Emergency Room and was told I had dislocated my knee. I got to wear one of these lovey braces for about 6 weeks:

Again I was put in physical therapy, to regain my mobility and to strengthen those pesky quadriceps.

Bob and I were living in a 3rd floor apartment with no elevator. That means we walked up and down A LOT of stairs every day. Especially grocery shopping days. The stairs started to wear on my knee and one day while vacuuming, the knee did that same twist/pop that it's been known to do. The combination of the twist and all those stairs sent me to the orthopedic... AGAIN.
This time I was given my "bionic knee" brace:
And told to wear it, well, basically all the time. As my knees started to wear down from all those stairs, I ended up with one of these braces on each knee. It was quite fashionable ;) Again, I was sent off to physical therapy.
Eventually, the orthopedic basically said if I didn't stop doing so many stairs, I'd need to have surgery. And that the recovery time for the surgery was 12-18 MONTHS. We went and spoke with the folks in our apartment office and relocated to a 1st floor apartment (and thanks to a note from the doctor, got out of some ridiculous fees).

About every year or so, I've had a spell of "bad knee." Where I'm forced to wear one or both braces for a week or two, but then things get back to normal again. Usually, I can't even remember what made my knee start to hurt.

On February 4th, I was helping Bob shovel snow off our driveway. It was exhausting, but nothing too bad. I didn't fall, twist my knee, or anything. Later that evening, my left knee was a little sore. The next day it was hurting pretty badly, so I wore my bionic brace. Since I was favoring my left knee, my sickly right knee was holding most of my weight - which then caused it to start hurting. I was coming home from work in tears every night and actually missed a couple days of work.
I called a new orthopedic and got in to see them last Monday.

This new doctor wrote down my lengthy knee-related history and took one look at my xrays and jumped right to ligament reconstruction surgery.
Scary! But as he said, obviously braces and physical therapy (or "conservative treatment") wasn't helping. He referred me to the knee surgeon/specialist in the same office.

I saw that new doctor (Dr. Bare) yesterday. Again, we went through my history, he checked out my xrays, and wiggled my kneecap around. He agreed that surgery seemed the next step. But, he said that ligament reconstruction wasn't going to be enough for my chronic knee problems and dislocations.
So they're going to relocate my patellar tendon. Here's another look at that knee anatomy:
Basically, they will detach the tendon from my tibia, move it towards the inside of my leg, and reattach it. Ew, right? But, this should prevent my kneecap from sliding off to the outside so easily - which would mean NO MORE KNEE PAIN!
It's approximately a 3 month recovery time. But as I've been told, 3 months is a fair trade for a lifetime free of pain.

Right now we are just waiting for insurance to approve the surgery so we can schedule it ASAP. I plan to keep as many people posted on the status as possible - whether it's via Facebook, Twitter or here on the Blog. I've already had a wonderful outpouring of support, which has been so appreciated, since I'm scared witless about the surgery.

So, there ya go. A huge, boring rambling about my knee. Kudos to you if you read it all! haha


  1. What a long (and awful) saga! I hope the surgery is approved, you recover well for 3 months, and then you will be done with the knee pain. Keep us posted!

  2. Hope this surgery is the magic dust for you and you are busting moves to Toxic soon!!!!

  3. I completely understand now, because of those graphics :P

  4. Ouch! Sending positive vibes for your upcoming surgery.
    Maybe this will cheer you up a bit...I like your blog. I enjoy reading it, so much so, that I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Follow back to my blog to find out what is is and what to do if you want to accept it:)

  5. Ouch! Sounds like you have suffered enough! I hope the surgery goes smoothly!!


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