We Are Legion!I've always suspected that our injury is more common than the medical community lets on, and the number of contributors here seems to be supporting that argument. Sir Charles Barkley and President Bill Clinton were both felled by our shared affliction not long before my first knee fell apart seven years ago, though I'm quite sure they weren't snowboarding in the backcountry. And this past January 29th, when I found myself in the Sugarbush ortho clinic to be told what I already knew (repeat performance, other knee, skiing this time), I had to wait while they saw another guy with the same problem. In 20 years, the clinic supposedly had seen four of these, and yet there we were - two of us there at the same time. Is this the beginning of an epidemic?
So begs the question - what can we old fellas do to prevent this? It's not like we were doing anything stupid - in several cases (both of mine) there wasn't even a fall involved. We were just doing our sporty things - powering a turn, absorbing a mogul, saving a slide on the stairs. And our bodies simply let us down.
In my case, as I mentioned in earlier posts, I had had pain in both knees my entire life. Prior to my first quad rupture, I had actually been seeing an ortho, had xrays and MRIs, and had been getting weekly PT (massage of the region from patella to hip flexor, essentially) for over a year. There was even a suspicious painful lump above my knee cap, which I suspect now was a partial tear. But the orthos dismissed the lump at the time (irritation), it was never mentioned to me at all that it actually could tear apart, catastrophically.
Most of us here are athletes, many very serious, maybe former competitors at an elite level. We may be old now, but still like to have fun. And though we may not have quite the power or reflexes that kept us at the top in our prime, we still have the skills to kick some serious ass when appropriate.
And most of us work out, strength and cardio - in the gym, in the pool, on the road, in the mountains. As a result, our muscles, joints, lungs, and hearts are in top shape.
So what can we do to keep our tendons from being the weak links that they apparently are? What's the use of having powerful muscles if they're held in place by what amounts to old rotten yarn? These questions are not rhetorical - I'm really curious to know if solutions exist.
As to my current situation, week six, post-surgery: life is pretty much back to normal. I walk without hitch for a mile every morning and night. Stairs are completely normal going up, a tad less so down. I can get in and out of my car and drive (5-speed) without the ridiculous contortions needed for same in weeks past (I do still wear my brace, hinged at 70, for that and only that - I never know what sketchy surface I may have to climb out onto). I do weightless leg extensions whenever I'm sitting, ad infinitum. For range-of-motion I slowly lift my thigh higher and higher, letting my lower leg droop until it goes no more. At about 100 degrees today. And then I do one-legged squats, 50 or so, down to about half my ROM. Hands on chair backs, just in case.
My doc was adamant the day my staples came out (Feb 13th) - straight brace, no knee flexion at all, no PT, crutches only, until my next visit (next Wed March 26th). There was no discussion with this guy, simply orders. He wouldn't even tell me if I would be able to tell if I did something to disrupt the healing (damaging his handiwork). I was just supposed to listen and obey, and that's that. "Let it heal." Wise words, maybe, if I were a prince and had handmaidens to tend to my every need. But I'm a dad (wild little girls, 1 and 4), and my wife works evenings. The rules as stated were simply not an option.
Absolutely none of what I've been doing has hurt in the slightest. Stiffness, sure, plenty of that, but I always stop short of the pain point. And I've had absolutely none of the weird panic-inducing knee-wobbles that lasted for months last time around. That time though, I spent six weeks with my leg locked straight, on crutches, as recommended. With zero muscle tone, it's no surprise my leg didn't know how to cope.
Sooo, now I'm wondering - should I hobble in to my appointment next Wed, with my brace on and locked straight, and pretend blind obedience? Just so I don't get the severe scolding I so obviously deserve? Or should I stroll in there, braceless like I've been for weeks now, and let him know that there may be another way to do this - an alternative recovery process that lets us heal, but still allows us to lead relatively normal lives?
Best of luck and healing to all - I'll let you know how it goes next Wed.