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Pop, crack, crunch… OUCH. My bad knee was like a depressing cereal box commercial. I no longer could run, ride a bike, or really play with my kids without pain. Though I knew I was young, it was time to finish the chapter of “the bad knee” and take back my life.
Everyone has a story on how their joint or joints got so messed up. Mine is years of injuries and accidents, some being a little crazy. So what is your bad knee story? Leave it in the comments or contact me here, I’d love to hear it! Read on to read my bad knee story and ultimately the reason I ended up getting a partial total knee replacement at the young age of 34.
Where the Bad Knee Story Began
I was an active young lady in high school. Basketball, volleyball, band, and softball. Basketball and volleyball fell off the first couple of years but band and softball, oh I truly fell in love with those. Now some might say band, that isn’t hard on the knees? Well, those people have probably never been in a marching band or color guard. I did a combination of both Colorguard and marching band. That meant long hours of practice, sometimes on concrete, yeah it’s rough on the joints even at a young age.
Softball, I don’t think that takes a whole lot of explaining. The sliding into bases was probably the worst. I also played first base. My right leg would be planted on the plate as I twisted to catch the ball, in turn, my knee would rotate as well.
In college, I went on to march in the color guard during the fall at the football games and compete in the winter in the winter guard. Phew, the high school band had nothing on college. Even longer hours, more practices, and the good old knees got beat up even more. Let me add before we go on any farther that during these years I was in shape, but I’ve always been on the bigger side. Some might call it big boned, but I definitely wasn’t a small gal.
Injury and Surgery One
Fast forward a bit. I gained weight and lost that “athletic tone” somewhat during college and even more so after college. This was when the first accidental injury to my right knee came into play.
In early 2007 I fell off a curb, twisting my ankle, and tore my medial meniscus. As a result, I landed my 1ST surgery, a right knee arthroscopy to repair a medial meniscus tear. Pretty simple operation. Done as an outpatient procedure. Recovery is a week or two with some physical therapy to follow. My knee felt fantastic after it. I promised my PT I would keep up my exercises. I did for a little while. I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret, consistency has not always been my strong suit, shoot who am I kidding, it still isn’t. Which meant the exercises fell off rather quickly.
Injury and Surgery Two
2nd surgery came in January 2010. I remember this one very well, as I was still in crutches and a knee brace shopping for a wedding dress for my first wedding. This surgery was the same type of operation as the first for the same exact knee. (I learned many years later this was due to a birth defect on how my bones lined up and how I walked. More on this in future posts)
This surgery/injury was caused by a fun trip and slide down the stairs while carrying luggage. As my grandpa use to say, I’m an accident waiting to happen. Recovery went well after this surgery as well. The doctor warned me people are only born with so much meniscus (thickness), and I’ve already lost over half of mine. The doctor continued to say. I needed to lose weight, wear proper shoes, and take extra care of my right knee. Well, I did these tips for a while, maybe not to perfection but I tried, but then, well life happened, and we all still remember my secret from before right?
The Career-Ending Type of Injury (okay it didn’t actually end my career)
In 2015 the final injury that did my knee in happened. Like…career-ending, you are screwed. Figure out a new plan type of injury. I was in the beginning stage of my new relationship with my now-husband. We had a whole day off together, with no kids, and we were planning it for weeks.
Luckily the injury happen that night I guess, so I was able to enjoy still the whole day we had planned. I ended up in E R at midnight, and I knew this injury was far worse than the others. I ended up blowing out the rest of my meniscus and tearing my MCL. I won’t go into more details about this injury… I’ll leave it to your imagination.
A few days later, I graduated from PTA school in a huge knee brace and crutches. I walked, well limped, across that stage to get my diploma without any assistance, with my friends waiting with a wheelchair on the other side.
Call it pride, bullheaded, or whatever you want. I worked too hard to not walk across the stage. It was symbolic to me. I had to find a way to heal this knee enough to start my career as a PTA, hopefully.
A couple of weeks after graduation, I met with the orthopedic specialist. He told me I needed a total knee replacement, but I was far too young. But I was in pain, a lot of pain. Plus I needed to start a new career and take care of my 3-year-old. Basically, the answer was, deal with it as long as you can. He prescribed a cane, which I rarely used, and a handicapped parking pass, and he sent me on my way.
Heading to the Final Outcome
4 years, yeap that’s right 4 years I dealt with no playing tag with my kids. No long walks and running, ha no way. I bought a particular bike that worked great for a while but even the last year that became too painful. My knee would randomly give out, and at times it would make me lose my balance so much I would fall. I just kept telling myself I had to hold out till I was older.
I was able to start my career as a PTA and enjoyed it for 7 months until actually, a car accident ended that career. (Maybe grandpa was right, refer to above) I wore a brace every day I worked and ate OTC pain meds till I got home and could ice. But I truly enjoyed my time as a PTA, and it actually came in handy throughout this whole knee replacement journey from prep to surgery day and into starting post-op rehab.
Through friends and social media, I started hearing about this new knee surgery where they only took one part of the knee that was bad. They were showing doing them on younger patients with decent success rates. It definitely had my attention.
Finally, in early 2019, I went to see the Father-son surgeon team that performs the partial knee replacements I had been hearing about in our area. What once was going to be many years of waiting in pain and frustration. Turned into just a few month’s wait. They told me they would be able to get all arthritis out, replace the medial side only, and straighten my lower leg.
By doing all this, they were 98% sure I would never need another surgery on this knee again. I literally jumped up and hugged them both. At 34 years old, I was going to get rid of my 80-year-old knee (Doctors’ words) and get my life back. The chapter of my bad knee story could finally close.
What a story right? Do you have a similar experience? Let us know below in the comments section!
Want to hear about my knee replacement journey from the beginning? Start HERE,
Until Next time… Take care!
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Yep .. going on 80 so match your 80 year old knee! In the time of Covid,
TKR delayed for 5 months for more “urgent” cases. Friend in my 30’s (50 years ago ) said my flat feet, knock knees, lack of rhythm were only greater than
my lack of athleticism .
Long story. At 16 , the horse jumped over a fence and I splatted on the other
side, then breaking my ankle missing a backhand playing tennis,
fracturing my hip falling over a crack in cement, having operation for
spinal stenosis after falling off the gym running machine, being in a “drunk
driver” ( the other driver) crash my knee is indisposed. So I am grateful
that you share your partial knee replacement..
Wow! That’s one bad knee story! Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry your replacement is getting delayed because of Covid 🙁 Do you have it on the books yet? Whenever it does happen I hope it goes smoothly and it heals well! Safe journey! Thanks for reading <3
I also did marching band/color guard in high school and started having knee issues during that time. Things weren’t too bad until I started martial arts in my late 30’s. I dealt with the pain until I finally passed my test for a 3rd-degree black belt, and broke down to see an orthopedic. They did a scope and shaved away some of the frayed cartilage and bone, which was supposed to make me good as new. But of course it didn’t! I’m now getting a 2nd opinion from another orthopedic. Waiting on MRI results to decide which way to go forward. My new doctor mentioned the partial knee replacement, so that might be where I’m headed. I’m glad you finally got the surgery you needed!
I can imagine martial arts would be rough on the knees as well, but hey… we gotta do what we like to do right? I’m sorry the first surgery didn’t work for you! I hope your second opinion goes better. Partial knees are a great option for a lot of people but they definitely have a good year’s worth of a recovery! Good Luck and I hope you find some answers and some pain relief! Thanks for commenting!