Knee Surgery

There comes a point in every young man’s life when he has to look himself in the mirror and say “Well, at least it’s only an arthroscopic, minimally invasive surgery. The recovery shouldn’t be too bad.”

Or at least, that’s happened in my life, twice. The other time I was looking myself in the mirror, the surgery I was facing was a lot more severe.

I have Osteochondritis dissecans, which is “a joint condition in which a piece of cartilage, along with a thin layer of the bone beneath it, comes loose from the end of the bone. Caused by reduced blood flow to the end of a bone, osteochondritis dissecans occurs most often in young men, particularly after an injury to a joint. The knee is most commonly affected, although osteochondritis dissecans can occur in other joints, including your elbow, shoulder, hip and ankle. If the loosened piece of cartilage and bone stays put, lying close to where it detached, you may have few or no symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans, and the fracture can often heal by itself. Surgical repair may be necessary if the fragment gets jammed between the moving parts of your joint.”

I had one initial surgery in 2006 to have a very large bone fragment removed from my knee, and the scar is still visible on the lateral side of my left knee. After that there was very little activity in my left knee until 2008, when a small bone piece splintered and had to be removed. Unlike my first surgery, the doctors were able to perform this surgery arthroscopicly, which means they used little robot pieces and tiny little pincers to flush out the bone from the problem area–no big scar or recovery time.

It has been three years since I last had to have surgery, but I injured my knee again in the beginning of June, mostly due to my own idiocy. That morning I was on my third day of the workout DVD “Insanity,” which is hinged on a lot of freeweight plyometrics and cardio. The workout I performed that morning was filled with squats, legs raises, and other weight-baring activities that my knee should not be doing. I could hear crepitus as I worked out. I finished the workout fine though, and later went to the gym with Fitz to play basketball. I played three very good games of basketball, and my knee was still feeling fine. I started to explain to Fitz and some of the other guys playing, exactly what kind of exercises I was doing for Insanity. I showed them a standing squat, and as soon as jumped, I knew I was going to the doctor. No one thing really did it, because my knee can do one squat without getting hurt, it’s not that bad. It was a combination of the two workouts that left my knee vulnerable and weak, and when I did the squat, I was unlucky, but I think almost anything could have done it.

At this point, my knee does not hurt all the time. In fact, it is functional to the point where I occasionally think that the bone fragment was a figment of imagination, and that my knee is actually fine. Then I try to sit down. Around 40% of the time, my knee will lock up as the bone fragment gets in the way of my knee’s normal bending motion. I can see the bone fragment protrude from my skin, and if I am able to, I push it back down into my knee so I can sit comfortably. Very often though, I cannot see the fragment because it is not at the surface of my knee. When that happens, I have to shake my knee around like I’m doing the durty burd and flex and relax my knee in an erratic dance to try and get the bone fragment into a different part of my knee.

The worst thing about the injury is that I can’t run because that would be seriously bad for my knee, and it would probably hurt me. I really like running though, and it benefits me physically as well as mentally, so it is a big loss. Instead of running I have tried to walk more, but in the suburbs of San Antonio, places to go and reasons to walk are rare. I am a lame duck sitting at home, hoping that I can have surgery as soon as possible.

My doctor’s name is Dr. Schmidt, and he is one of the best in the country. That’s right, the country. He is a doctor for the Spurs, and he told us yesterday about some really avante garde work he is doing with prosthetic limbs in Iceland; and as my mom said, “If there is anyone I want to cut on my son’s knee, it’s him.” Sadly though, unless the surgery can be squeezed in this week (not likely), I will have to wait a whole extra week because Dr. Schmidt is traveling to Iceland. It’s not that big of a deal, because the recovery time is a cinch. I have to be careful with it for about a month, but after two weeks I’m cleared to start running again. I just want to have the surgery now so I can begin that period and stop wallowing in immobility.

I’ll keep you posted the knee deets, but God willing everything goes according to plan and my knee is back to normal in a few weeks!

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Knee Surgery

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