Knee surgery has come and gone….
It’s been a little over a week since my 3rd knee surgery in 6 months. This journey has been quite scary, but a learning wheel in my life.
I’m praying the long road to recovery is finally coming to an end – although, rehab will last for years to come to gain my strength and to get my mobility completely back to normal. Thinking positive is a must!
When I was in high school, I dislocated my left knee one night simply by turning around to throw something in a trash can – let’s just say, I’m accident prone. When I did, I fell to the ground immediately. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I stood up and fell right back down. I started to feel pain in my leg, so I rolled up my pants and noticed my left knee cap was completely on the side of my leg. I started to freak out a little bit and my parents weren’t home. I crawled over to the phone and called my parents, who were at a band boosters meeting. They came home immediately and we put ice on it and I took some ibuprofen. I was able to push my knee cap back into place – yes, it hurt! By the time my parents were home, my knee had swelled up tremendously. We went to the ER and they did x-rays and an MRI. The MRI showed that a piece of bone was on the side of my knee cap that chipped off. I was referred to an orthopaedic surgeon in Tampa, FL to evaluate my knee.
I went to Tampa a few days later to have my knee looked at. He decided to do surgery. He told us that he wanted to tighten the ligament on the outside of my leg and make the ligament on the inside looser…it made no sense. Long story short…this surgeon did the wrong operation on me and was supposed to do the opposite. I didn’t find this out until I went to go get my knee checked out this past August.
Surgery was in Feb of 2002. They did a “scope” of my knee. I came home right after surgery and healed perfectly fine. I was ordered to do some rehab as well. Months went by and I still had knee pain. The “cracking” sounds started to get worse when I bent my knee and I even had some dislocations happen. I just thought I would have to live with this issue and to ignore it. I knew what I couldn’t do and what would cause it to hurt, so I avoided those activities. I love sports, so this injury definitely put a big damper on my outdoor life.
Years went by and many more dislocations of my knee happened. I just popped in back into place, threw some ice on it and moved on.
This past August I decided to get my knee checked out because the pain became worse and dislocations were happening more often. I went to an ortho who ordered an MRI. The MRI showed my cartilage was worn down completely and my knee cap was not in place. I also had a bone spur and bone chip in the mix of it all. After the MRI my ortho wanted to me do physical therapy for a few weeks – then do surgery. I understood that I needed to become stronger before surgery, but PT made my pain extremely worse. I ended up scheduling surgery right away.
Surgery day came and I had a lateral release done. The bone spur and bone chip were also removed. It took about 45 minutes. I woke up in extreme pain after surgery and was given a nerve block. The next day I removed the bandage and saw how swollen my knee was. It was unbelievable. I have never seen something so swollen in my life. Thank God my mom came up for surgery to take care of me. She even had to reschedule her flight because I was in such bad shape. Surgery was on a Wednesday and on Friday, I was scheduled to start PT. When I went to PT, the therapist looked at my knee and became worried. She sent me downstairs to the PA and the PA attempted to drain my knee. Only 2 CCs came out.
Over the weekend my knee became more swollen. It literally felt like my knee would explode if I bent it even a little. On Sunday I called the PA and he asked me to come in to try and drain it again. He tried numerous times and nothing would come out. My blood was like jelly. I went to the doctors the next day and he wanted to leave it be and see if PT would help the blood move and start to absorb. I didn’t think this would work at all. I couldn’t move my knee in PT and the therapists were scared to work with me because it looked so bad. Being told your knee is the worse thing they’ve ever seen is not really what you want to hear…
On Wednesday I went back to the doctors office and he tried to drain it on the other side of the incision – nothing would come out. PT wasn’t working either. Friday morning I woke up nauseated. I went to PT and my knee had just gotten bigger. The therapist told me to go see the doctor after the session, so I did. I begged the doctor to surgically remove the fluid and he told me to meet him at the hospital at noon and he would. My mom was worried she would have to leave before I could even walk and get around okay by myself.
Surgery took longer than expected (a little over an hour) and they left a drain in me so it wouldn’t swell up again. This surgery hurt a lot worse than the first one a week prior. I could feel the drain moving inside of me if I moved an inch. I literally cried if I had to get up to go to my bathroom or to my bed. The drain was left in me over the weekend (fri-mon) and seemed to work. I had a blood clot (which I didn’t find out until I received a copy of the surgical notes). The swelling went down eventually and I finished PT in December. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I could finally bend my knee all of the way – I started to get worried my knee would never recover or the swelling wouldn’t go down. The pain never went away and the doctor said it was normal to have pain where the lateral release was done. The pain was terrible though. I couldn’t stand up from a chair, get out of the car or go up and down stairs with out terrible pain. It felt like everything was ripping a part on the side of my leg where the lateral release was done.
My knee dislocated a couple of times after surgery and it never felt like it was in place, but my doctor keep saying my knee was tracking fine and in place. He then said if I still had pain in the beginning of the year to come back and we will go from there. Understandable to wait a month or two, but not what you want to hear.
In January, I decided to get a second opinion – I actually got 4 opinions. Better safe than sorry! The new doctor ordered another MRI to see if anything had changed. The MRI showed the cartilage problem again and that my knee was still out of place. He asked if I wanted to do PT again to regain strength. I opted not to. He then ordered a bone scan to see if I had any RSD (random pain from past surgeries) or cancer that they weren’t catching. The bone scan came back normal – thank God! The areas I had pain were highlighted heavily on the scan. I was sent to yet another specialists to see if anything could be done with the cartilage and they said no. The specialist talked about doing MPFL surgery, but then decided not to. He called my previous surgeon from the fall and my previous surgeon requested not to do surgery on me because it would ruin what he did in the fall.The specialist wanted me to wait a year to see if the pain would go away – That just seemed ridiculous to me and to the other doctor I received a second opinion from.
My next step was to schedule a surgery called, Medial Patella Femoral Ligament Reconstruction
If you want to see the surgery – take a look here!
The doctor seemed certain this surgery would fix my dislocation problem. Surgery was set for April 4th and now here we are…time to wait and see if it worked….so far so good!
I can’t tell you how worried I was about the surgery. I was more nervous it was going to be a repeat from the fall and be in extreme pain and swollen to the point of not being able to walk. The surgery took a little over an hour and I received a nerve block before the surgery because they didn’t want me to wake up in pain – I woke up in pain. Luckily, the doctor was able to repair my own ligament and not use a donor. Therefore, no drilling was involved and no pins, screws or anchors. He tightened up my ligament and reattached it to my knee cap. He said my ligament was completely stretched out from the dislocations, but he was able to repair it.
I came home the same day of surgery. My knee is swollen a little bit, but the doctor does not want to drain it unless it gets worse. I have a small scope incision on my knee cap and also a long incision on the inside of my leg where the ligament was repaired. I have to remain in a immobilizer brace for 3 more weeks and cannot bend my knee fully for 3 more weeks. Physical therapy starts next week – very minor therapy for the time being. This will help the swelling go down and I will eventually regain mobility and strength.
Time will tell! Thank God I can work from home and rest my knee until I’m able to walk without a brace….to be continued!