Thursday, January 19, 2006

Zombie Knee

Back in September, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which sounds like a very sexy sports injury but I wasn’t cutting across a backfield at the time. I was walking down my stairs backwards and slipped. I sat on the landing and cursed a little and then limped the rest of the day. At that point my ACL was probably just a little torn. The next morning I twisted my upper torso and heard a much louder TWANG and I was then in excruciating pain. I won’t tell what I was doing, but it happened in the restroom of a Starbucks. Pretty humiliating.

Rather that do the emergency room route, I decided to go straight to an orthopedist. I had one on file from when I broke my ankle last January. I called to get an appointment and since it was Monday and all the surgeons cut on Tuesdays, they couldn’t see me until Wednesday. I also had to get an X-ray or they wouldn’t let me in the door. So I had to call my primary care physician to get a radiology referral. Referrals at my doctor normally take three to five days and there is no way to talk to live person through their voicemail hell. After leaving three messages at the referral office, I decided to just drive down there and camp-out.

Once I had my referral in hand, I had to go to the X-ray clinic and wait there. By three o’clock I had an x-ray that proved to everybody what I already knew, that I hadn’t broken anything. The orthopedist explained that it is just the procedure that needs to be done before he can write a prescription for what I really needed, an MRI.

The MRI was really cool. Big white tunnel. Really loud magnet. Having to stay real still. Finally I was getting my insurance money’s worth. The MRI showed my ACL completely torn and dangling uselessly. It seems the ACL doesn’t do much except keep your knee from bending backwards like an ostrich and there is no urgency into replacing it unless you need to be in shape for the pre-season. So for the past three months I have been walking on eggshells avoiding anything that could cause my clumsy self to slip and completely rip apart my knee.

The doctor went through all the options for ACL replacement, saving his favorite for last, donor tendon tissue. Which is the polite way of saying the tendons of someone no longer using theirs. Mostly because they’re dead and their tendons are frozen in the UMMS meat locker waiting for a recipient or for the cafeteria to run out of beef stock. The other “selling” point of the donor tissue is that eventually new tissue will grow around it, making it as real as me. Somehow that doesn’t comfort me.

The one stipulation I made was that I had to be able to walk my dog the next morning since my working wife doesn’t do 5 am. In his used-car-salesman smile, the doc said, no problem you will be as fully mobile as a person in a leg brace can be. Which turns out to be not much. I’ve got the Frankenstein lurch down pretty well, but it’s going to be months before I am running care-free though the fields.

The doc also neglected to tell me about the IceMan. For seventy-two hours, I have to be attached to this six-pack sized cooler full of ice water. It has a little pump that circulates cold water around my knee so I don’t get any swelling. Look at the cool pictures. Retail price $198 and it’s all mine as a parting gift from the hospital.

So now I am recovering at home with a knee tendon donated by the kindness of strangers, hooked up to this humming cooling contraption, and feeling very Borg-like all because I am clumsy and have brittle tendons.

It’s a bitch getting old. I recommend against it.

23 comments:

mg said...

Maybe the wife will dress in a "hot nurse" uniform and get you to feeling better in a jiffy!!!

;)

The "ice man" contraption totally saved my knee after I had it scoped a few years back. It will come in handy after physical therapy, let me tell you!

Feel better soon!!

mg

used*to*be*me* said...

You poor old bastard! First of all, never go down stairs backwards. Secondly, avoid bathrooms at Starbucks. You never know who is lurking around behind you causing you to spin and tear simultaneously.

I agree with MG, maybe the wife will don a nice little nurse outfit and 'fix' you up...

Adouble said...

If horror movies have taught me one thing, it's that you better hope that wasn't the donated tendon tissue of a homicidal maniac. That leads to murderious deeds. If horror movies have taught me something else, it's that no matter how hard you try, you cannot make the tooth fairy scary.

mg said...

oooh! What damage he could do with a murderous knee! Groins, beware!!!

*cue evil music*

mg

trusty getto said...

Gee, I had no clue I was hanging out in the blogosphere with an "old" dude.

Hey, at least the ticker and the CPU are workin' well, no?

yellojkt said...

Thanks for all the kind words. Unfortunately, Mrs Jkt doesn't share my fondness for dress-up games, but you didn't need to know that.

Zombie Groin Knee-er does sound like a good monster movie parody.

Claude said...

Wow. I tore my meniscus last May but I've managed to make it so far with just physical therapy.

You know what would have been really cool? If the doctor had told you about how you needed the IceMan and then Jerry Butler came over to your house and sang. Yes, I'm a million years old.

If you were squicked out by donor tissue and went with it anyway, how bad were the alternatives?

Feel better quickly and take good care of yourself.

Wickwire said...

I do wish there were a better system for us. The health organization has to completely wear us out before they can do what we've wanted them to do for us in the first place. It's only obvious to everyone what the problem is. The system. hmmph.

flasshe said...

It is hell growing old. How did our parents handle it? I've been suffering through a pulled hamstring for months and have lately decided that I'm going to run through the pain anyway, since being lazy didn't help. Seems to be working.

Your knee story scared me and I live in fear of the same sort of thing happening to me. This loss of flexibility thing with age is daunting. I hate being inactive/immobile.

I hope your recovery goes well and you are back to full mobility soon. That IceMan thing looks pretty cool. I am so sick of freezing gelpacks.

yellojkt said...

The other alternative was to use tendons from elsewhere in my own leg, which is a more invasive and longer surgery. Since the bonehackers like to fit as many people in, they naturally push the shorter surgery.

Plain Jane said...

Surely you can fit an extra bottle of beer in there while you wait....

Karen said...

Surgery's not fun, but getting old is a lot better than the alternative, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

P.S. Here are a couple or three kids who have an uphill climb to any kind of sane adulthood

Courtney said...

Ouch.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those anonymous lurkers that you wrote about (and that person over at the paper napkin blog seems paranoid about)... been reading your blog for a little while now (found you through joshreads.com found him through msnbc.com) anyway, I digress, I hope that you feel better soon and that your knee isn't possessed or whatever... actually, I kind of hope that it is possessed, that would be a funny post (kinda reminiscent of that 'b' grade movie idle hands)... no really feel better and heal quickly

-m

Mooselet said...

That cooler is very cool! You can use it afterwards to chill bottles of wine or whatever it is you drink. The Hermit could've used one of those last year after his second knee surgery to repair more torn meniscus and remove scar tissue, especially as he refused to take time off from work.

Actually, my dog tore her ACL when she was 18 months old, and I distictly recall her leg looking like a huge plucked turkey leg, all shaved and swollen. Hope that's not you!

2fs said...

Maybe if Starbucks (and other places) wouldn't mount their toilet paper dispensers so you either have to bend over nearly to the floor or twist around sideways behind you... Just guessing. I...smell...(no, not that)...lawsuit!

kontan said...

that is so not funny, but your writing is so amusing. happy healing!

lisa said...

so are you gonna tell us why the heck you were walking down the stairs backwards?

Bob said...

You totally need to stick a couple Iron City aluminum bottles in that thing.

Thumper said...

ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow...

yellojkt said...

Lisa, i had gone up the stairs far enough to yell at my kid to get off the computer and was just backing down. So I gues it's all his fault.

Momma Cassie said...

MRI pretty cool? *twitch*

Being shoved into a tiny white LOUD hole and not being allowed to move....

*twitch*

*twitch*

Not my idea of "cool". I guess I have issues. :)

Hope that whatthemaheckever you tore gets better soon so you can be all twisty happy in the potty again. :)

Flyboy said...

hi,
Now I finally get the whole story.