I first injured my R knee the summer I was 12 years old. I was climbing into the back seat of my father’s very large two-door Chrysler and I turned my body, but my leg didn’t turn with me. PAIN! It subsided after a while and I didn’t have any more problems with it for over 10 years.
When I was 15, my L knee buckled while I was descending the stairs at my parents’ home. I slipped down the next three steps. Luckily, I was close to the bottom of the stairs when this happened. No apparent injury, but my knee was tender for several days.
By my early 20s, I had crepitus in my knees–the crackling or gravely sound that can be heard when the knee is bent and straightened–especially under gravity.
When I was 23 or 24, I went to a house party and danced for three (3) hours straight in three (3) inch heels. The next day, Sunday, I could hardly walk–so very painful. Luckily, it was my weekend off, so I could rest my knees. I learned a valuable lesson that night–I couldn’t EVER do that again.
When I was 25, my husband-to-be (H2B) and I were playing tennis. I went to return a ball and the next thing I knew, I was looking up at the beautiful blue sky we were playing under! THIS WAS THE BIG ONE! My R knee started swelling almost immediately and my H2B and I went to look for some ice. Several days later (this happened on the weekend), I went to see one of the orthopods that worked at Providence Hospital where I worked. He placed my leg in a knee stabilizer –a brace that has long stays in it, so the knee cannot be bent. I FREAKED! I was an ICU NURSE! HOW WAS I GOING TO WORK?? I HAD TO WEAR THAT THING FOR 2 WEEKS!!! I COULDN’T EVEN DRIVE MY CAR (a stick shift)! O.M.G! My father tried to calm me down by telling me that this was very temporary and told me that I was overreacting. I was, I guess, but it was overwhelming to me at the time.
In my 30s, my knees eventually calmed down and behaved themselves or so it seemed, but I became very guarded with them. They seemed to be very sensitive and inflamed and when I bumped them against things, the pain made me see stars! I didn’t let people get too close to them–difficult in intimate family life–or my son sit on my lap without a loud warning to “DON’T SIT ON MY KNEES!”
In my early 40s, it became painful to descend stairs. In my early-to-mid 50s, it began to hurt to walk–OH, NO! Walking had been my primary exercise off and on since my 20s. I had taken it up again at age 40 and did it 3-5x/week for 10 years, sometimes replacing it with TAE-BO or BEACH BODY cardio.
In 2011, the pain during my Yoga workouts when I was on all fours became increased until it was unbearable with swelling. I had to stop doing yoga. Damn. I can’t walk for exercise, I can’t ride my bike, I can’t do yoga. TRIPLE Damn!!! I asked my then PCP (Primary Care Physician) for a referral to an orthopod and she referred me to one that specialized in knees. I saw him, he sent me for x-rays and gave me a diagnosis of Chondromalacia Patellae and referred me to the physical therapy practice that shared the suite with him. I did PT for 5 months. I knew my knees weren’t ‘all better’, but they were much better than before.
I went back to riding my bike and yoga, but, decided to move on to swimming in January 2012–easier on the joints overall. I didn’t have any real problems until February 2014 when my knees starting hurting while walking and then finally during my swimming sessions. In mid-March, I had a really painful episode while doing the breaststroke and the pain stopped me in mid stroke! I had to walk back to the end of the pool. I tried again a couple of times, but the pain came back and I decided enough was enough.
I returned to the same orthopedic surgeon I saw in 2011, but this time, he wasn’t willing to even examine me without me asking him to do so!! He gave me the same diagnosis, sent me for x-rays and I didn’t go back.Not good enough.It didn’t help that the PT practice couldn’t see me after work like they had 2-1/2 years ago. This is not working.
I went to see another orthopod (medical slang for an orthopedic surgeon), who was a high school classmate of my husband’s. I found out after additional x-ray views (the first MD should have done those as well) and an MRI in mid-April that I had a lot of problems in my knees beyond the chondromalacia and arthroscopy was recommended. My pre-operative diagnoses were: Patellar subluxation, knee, bilateral; Patellofemoral chondrosis, knee bilateral; Posttraumatic arthritis, knee, bilateral.
After surgery my diagnoses were:
- Patellar subluxation, knee, bilateral
- Patellofemoral chondrosis, knee bilateral
- Posttraumatic arthritis, knee, bilateral
- Lateral meniscus tear, knee, right
- Loose body, knee, right
English Translation: Basically, I had kneecaps that were out of alignment, a lot of arthritis in my knee, loss of cartilage on the surfaces that move against each other, a very large bony growth in the lower part of my thigh just above my R knee, some overgrown fat pads, poor internal knee circulation, and diseased joint linings. All of this was keeping me from bending my knees and causing lots of pain and swelling.
That evening after I returned home, while attempting to sit on the toilet for the 2nd time, I ruptured the patellar tendon (it connects the kneecap to the shin bone). It was a VERY LOUD POP that my son, husband and I heard, and I felt. It was more like something shifted in my knee vs. outright pain. What it did was make it impossible for me to lift my R leg off of the floor while sitting and I was unable to straighten my leg. During a 2nd post-operative visit and with a 2nd exam room ultrasound, they found the rupture. I had to go back into surgery the following week to have that repaired. I am chronicling my knee recovery with a series of posts that will direct the reader back to this page and to other resources.