It all started in May. Well, I guess it really started before that when I would feel my knee "catch." It's hard to explain but at times I would get a sharp pain and have to re-adjust my knee. I got used to it. It was worse on the treadmill. I told my regular doctor and he said to lose weight and all that. However, in May I noticed something different, a duller ache. I noticed it mostly when I was sitting in my gamer's chair. I would try to stretch it and get up and move it. Then, it started to hurt more. I started to limp. The pain got worse. I started doing the things you do: ice, Motrin, soaking it in epson salt, and trying to stay off it. It got worse. I was limping at work and everyone kept saying, "Go to the doctor." I kept limping. It was so bad that I couldn't really walk on it. I missed a day or two of work trying to ice it all day. It was swelling up more and more.
Things reached a climax when on Mother's Day my brother bumped my leg and I yelled out in agony. My aunt was there and she insisted on taking me to the hospital. I went. At that point, I was worried. It just seemed to be getting worse.
At the emergency room, they did an x-ray. The PA said that they didn't find any arthritis so that was good. They said just keep doing what you are doing and if it gets worse, call your doctor. Well, it got worse. I made an appointment with my regular doctor who is a doctor of osteopathy anyway. He thought that there might be a "body" in there. He tried to drain it but nothing came out. So I got the steroid shot and the referral to the orthopedic surgeon. My knee got better. I was still limping but optimistic. I figured I'd have to get the knee scope "procedure" and then move on. However, that's not really what happened.
I went in to see the surgeon. In the back of my mind, I thought he was going to say, "Your knee is fine. Just lose weight." Instead I heard, "You are going to need a total knee replacement." Yep, that's not what you want to hear at any age, especially 42. It turns out that a piece of cartilage (or pieces) must have broken off from behind my knee cap a few years ago. Some of them got covered in bone and then were moving around in there (hence the "catching") cutting up more of my cartilage. Before this, I didn't even know what cartilage really was. Now I read about growing it back with stem cells and plasma and all kinds of things that seem like science fiction. None of the "experimental" treatments are covered by insurance of course. The doctor has told me that I have extensive arthritis and the knee of an 80 year old. I won't make it to 50 with this knee. Actually, I might not even make it to 45. It's that bad. However, due to my age I might be a good candidate for any trials or experimental treatments that come up. A lot is "in the pipeline."
|A few days after the knee scope|
|Trying to keep my knee dry while showering was not easy. I finally taped saran wrap around it. It did stay dry but I almost couldn't get the tape back off.|
It's like I feel through the rabbit hole into a world of crutches, canes, and pain. I guess I'm still in shock. I just can't believe that my knee is that bad but I have seen the pictures. I'm doing well now. I feel like I'm barely limping. At times I do limp a little though. I just never know what the day will bring. I have another appointment next week.
I guess there is a process to this. It seems that I'll have to go through years of shots and pain until I basically can't walk. Then, people typically have to do physical therapy before the operation. My biggest worry that they my left knee is starting to ache more and more. It doesn't "catch" but it hurts. One TKR is enough, I don't want two.
I am freaked out because of the pain and recovery involved. Plus, the knee might only last 10-20 years so I might need another one! Looking back, I really don't know what I could have done differently. Not exercised so much? I mean the "catching" wasn't bad enough that I would have gone to a surgeon for that. At any rate I have to look forward now. There are much worse surgeries out there. I think I can handle this. I have to.