[personal profile] ajohns
When I first injuried my knee (about two and a half weeks ago now), my first thought was "Shit, this is bad. I just tore my ACL." The ER doctor said my ligaments were fine, the ortopedist thought they were fine last week, but as it turns out, I was right. The MRI has the very clear indications of a torn ACL.

The ACL is one of the four ligaments in the knee. The jobs of the ligaments is to keep the two bones (three if you count the knee cap) in the places they are supposed to be. Now that I don't have an ACL, the femur and the tibula are moving in ways they aren't supposed to be.

I have two options: live without the ACL, go through rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee so that they learn to compensate for the fact that the ACL doesn't exist. Most people who live without an ACL can walk just fine, and do some sports. Tae Kwon Do, however, is not really one of the sports that one can do without an ACL. I think one of our instructors might be missing a ligament, but he wears a brace all the time, and has to be very careful.

The other option is surgery, and not the happy-fun arthroscopic surgery. We're talking general anesthesia, open-knee surgery. It's a very common one, and one with a very good prognosis (about 95% of people who have the surgery have no problems whatsoever). If I get the surgery, I should be able to do whatever sports and activities I want after a signficant period of physical therapy. The orthopedist said he starts people on a stationary bike a few days after the surgery, but that it would probably be six months before I could do Tae Kwon Do again.

So, this sucks. At best, it'll be six months before I can do Tae Kwon Do again, which makes me really unhappy. But the alternative is to give it up entirely, which I'm not really willing to do. And it's not just about TKD (though it's largely about TKD). I don't want to have to worry about my knee being unstable for other things, either.

Sylvantechie strongly suggests that I should get a second opinion, and while I am awefully impatient (if I'm having surgery, I want to get it done ASAP so I can start recovering), I rationally think that he's correct. Anybody have an orthopedic surgeon in the area that they really like? I like the guy I've been seeing, and I trust his diagnosis, but getting another perspective on the issue may be helpful.

And has anybody had ACL surgery? The TKD instructor who doesn't wear a brace tore his ACL at one point (not at TKD), so I'm going to go talk to him about it just to see how it was.

And I'm going to have to be on crutches for another two weeks after surgery, so if anybody has any brilliant ideas for keeping me entertained and not too depressed, I would welcome them.

Date: 2006-09-28 03:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ethicsgradient.livejournal.com
I have a friend here at work that wiped his ACL playing ultimate. He had knee surgery to repair it and plays sports again, albeit with a brace, but he is hesitant to play ultimate again, due to the stresses that that sort of running/cutting would put on his knee. If you have specific questions, I'd be happy to ask him about it...

Date: 2006-09-28 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winterborne.livejournal.com
Oh man, I'm sorry. Happy to loan you the Civ 4 expansion so you can veg out at the 'puter... nothing like hearing the lamentation of their women to take your mind off the knee...

Date: 2006-09-28 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minyan.livejournal.com
Oh — *hug* — I'm sorry. No good advice, just wishing you some from good sources, and shoulder , and hoping you mend quickly!

Would this be a good time for early holiday sewing projects, or knitting bright colorful socks, or going over seed catalogs, or cooking things that take some preparation (but not a lot of stirring), like peeling apples for a pie and listening to the last HP on CD ... or maybe making gingerbread?

Date: 2006-09-28 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] osirusbrisbane.livejournal.com
My father has had ACL surgery and wears a brace, but still plays tennis.

Boredom-wise, I've got 4 DvDs worth of The Family Guy and more humor books than you can shake a stick at that you're welcome to borrow. And of course my podcast is a bottomless pit of fun. Also, though I have few shiny new ones, I do have a bucket of computer games you're free to borrow.

Date: 2006-09-28 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
Hell, indeed.

Getting a second opinion seems wise. I can understand why you'd want to get the surgery over with and get to recovering, but I think it's always a good idea to get a second opinion before surgery if possible. I don't know any orthopedists, so can't be very helpful (though you might ping [livejournal.com profile] squirrelhaven, since she may have seen some folks when she was initially dealing with her own knee stuff.)

I am really sorry that this is happening. Count me in as one of the people who will endeavor to entertain you once the surgery happens.

Date: 2006-09-28 06:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elklad.livejournal.com
That's a bummer. I agree with those who are recommending a second opinion, but unfortunately I don't know any orthopedists.

Date: 2006-09-28 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pseudosilence.livejournal.com
OK, so I don't have any personal experience with knee surgery, but my father does. He blew out his ACL skiing at the age of about 55 (it's a *very* common skiing injury). He had to argue with the orthopedist to convince him that yes, surgery was necessary. (My father is the most active guy of any age I know, but they were initially just looking at his age).

At any rate, they repaired the ACL with donor tissue from a cadaver, and it worked very well. Dad doesn't wear a knee brace, and he's back to skiing and biking and hiking and horseback riding and yoga. As far as I know, his knee is basically as good as new.

So looking at your age and level of activity, I'd say you should definitely do the surgery. Long-term, it's the best option.

Unfortunately, his orthopedist is in New Mexico, so probably not a useful recommendation for you.

As far as entertainment - well, if you don't already have it, I'd say it's a good time to get Net Flicks.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


Date: 2006-09-28 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pantshead.livejournal.com
Drats! Sorry to hear about your new diagnosis. :(

For what it's worth, one of my kids (who's probably 21-22 now) tore her ACL in high school (figure skating? I think?), had surgery after NOT having surgery for 9 months and being on crutches and all that, and now (to me) seems fine. She works as an intern in my department and has never mentioned it giving her any trouble. However, we don't do TKD! She did say that she had some pretty significant physical therapy after the surgery, but this might be due, in part, to the wait before surgery.

Based on [livejournal.com profile] pirateofcatan's recent shoulder experiences, I'd say that surgeons seem to think there is sometimes benefit in waiting to do surgery so that the area can get stronger--whereas my gut reaction was "do it now, get the hard part over with, and let him start recovering!" (example: they need to remove the screws from his shoulder, but they want him to get a good couple more months of therapy in before they do so. And then they'll cut him open again, but he'll be better positioned to recover after that, having been stronger before the surgery.)

Good luck & thinking about you!

Date: 2006-09-28 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nadyezhda.livejournal.com
I have a GREAT recommendation if you want to travel to Boston.

Date: 2006-09-28 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nadyezhda.livejournal.com
and since it doesn't look like anyone left you a name or number, here's mine. He did knee reconstructions on two friends of mine (they're sisters) and handled my ankle surgery and my knee as well.

Dr. William Mitchell

He's out near Brookline IIRC.

Date: 2006-09-28 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wavyarms.livejournal.com
Wow, I am so sorry to hear about this! I have no contacts or advice, but good luck, and please keep us all posted on how things develop!
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