Today I went to the orthopedic surgeon to find out what options I have to repair (or relieve) my left knee. It’s not totally gone; I can walk a couple miles and I can ride a bike. I can’t go down stairs (or up, really). I spent all winter riding an Airdyne and building up the muscles in my legs, hoping that would fix the problem, and I’m a LOT better than I was when I moved here a year ago.
My X-ray showed a knee that was severely out of alignment. The picture explained why it’s difficult for me to walk and why that leg is bowed and shorter than the other. It’s also bone-on-bone.
The doctor was great and helpful and funny and took his time. He said that because of the deformity in my knee, I could never regain muscle mass in that leg, not ever. He told me that the injury I had in 1992 tore my ACL and the ligament on the outside of the knee (inside side of my leg) that holds the joints in place. He asked if I’d had surgery, and I explained that as I had no insurance, the hospital refused to operate and instead treated it “conservatively” with a brace and crutches. For 3 months…
Point is, it never healed. I was careful. I didn’t put my weight on it. I did the exercises I was supposed to. I even got acupuncture (great pain relief). I rode a mountain bike instead of hiking for months afterward.
The doctor told me it would not have healed without surgery.
I came home from the doctor with a weird set of emotions boiling inside. Anger. Chances are I’d have osteo-arthrtis ANYWAY, but I might not be as physically deformed from it. I had a feeling of betrayal. Why would a hospital do something to a patient that they KNOW won’t help them long term? I haven’t been able to really USE that knee for more than 10 years. Anger, again, that a decision like that was made over MONEY and, what’s worse, and more absurd, my brother, as an indigent, would have been OFFERED surgery. He had two hip replacements. Fear, because I’ve already had joint surgery (hip resurfacing) and I know how fun it is.
And, ultimately, a kind of relief at knowing the truth and having made the decision.
A new knee, next month.
More on this to follow, no doubt. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s had a knee replacement.