Location: Oregon, United States

Friday, June 27, 2008


I have recently realized the importance and value of knees. They hold you up, and they keep you stable. If one of yours is not working properly, you suddenly feel like you are in your own personal earthquake and cannot catch your balance. You realize how many steps it takes to get everywhere. For instance, I need to take three steps just to get a spoon in order to measure out my coffee in the morning. (I have put a cupful of spoons next to the coffee now). You need to recalculate how long it will take to cross the street, because you cannot run anymore. Without a properly working knee, you cannot do a lot of things you used to take for granted. Skiing, horseback riding, hiking, Taekwondo. Not to mention just standing.

I blew out my knee at Taekwondo the other day. I was paired with a tall 14 year old and we were practicing take-downs, which are extremely fun. But working with him is like trying to take down a rubber band or a Weeble - he just won't go down. So I said, "Fine, if you're going to give me a hard time, I will make it harder for you to get me down." And I planted my foot. Note to self: planting your foot in Taekwondo is not advised. So, he went to do what we call a "sweep" and he couldn't get me down. (Ha! It worked!) So he made another sweep, this time even harder. Note to self: sweeping harder is not advised. The proper move is to get the person off balance, then sweep again. When he did the second sweep, he nailed me good but I was ready for him with my firmly planted foot, which stayed in place while my knee went "Pop!Pop!Pop!" and went out from underneath me.

After the initial shock there was no pain but my leg would not support me. So a chair was brought onto the mat and I sat there for the remainder of the class then wobbled off the mat and back home. (I am not a weeble, I wobbled AND fell down). Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" was on the radio. "The sun is the same but in a relative way but your older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death." Yeah, thanks for the reminder, as if I hadn't noticed. My leg felt like spaghetti. I looked up knee injuries on the internet and decided I'd better raise it, ice it, and see the doctor in the morning. We had a few good laughs because I looked like Tim Conway doing his old man routine on the Carol Burnett show. Hysterical.

The doctor was pointless but set me up with an MRI and offered to get me out of having to go to work until he found out I just sit around all day. When I told him it had happened while I was doing Taekwondo, he said, "So you do this for fun?" Perfectly serious. And I'm like, "Well, yes, that is the idea..." I got a call this morning with the results from the MRI - he said it was a partial tear or a bad sprain but they wanted me to see the orthopedic doctor this afternoon.

The orthopedic doctor, who looks like he's on steroids, wears custom tailored shirts because his shoulders are three feet across, and goes to the tanning booth regularly, informed me that I do have a partial tear on my medial cruciate ligament (MCL), which will heal on it's own with time. Then he said I also have a complete tear of my anterior cruciate ligament, which can only be repaired with surgery. Surgery is optional in a way, if you never want to do anything where you plant your foot and push off from it again. Like skiing. Or climbing. Or Taekwondo. Or riding a motorcycle or a horse. In other words, I can take it easy for the rest of my life or I can opt to get this fixed. I'm opting for surgery.

So then the doctor asks me if I'm ready to hear about what surgery entails. This can't be good if he frames it like that. But I had been looking on the internet and knew that one option is to use "harvested" tendon from a cadaver. The other option is to harvest tendon from your own knee and use that. Both have risks, and it's pretty much a toss up re: which is better for me. I'll be thinking about that one. Then, and here's the kicker for me, you are on strict bed rest for 7 - 8 days. I hadn't read about that yet. You may only get out of bed to eat and go to the bathroom. You will be hooked up to a machine that will move your leg constantly in order to promote healing (but, I'm guessing, it probably doesn't promote sleep or sanity. I hate the machine already). You will be in rehab mode for 3 - 4 months. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But after all of that, you are supposed to be able to do the stuff you took for granted two days ago. And maybe you will forget how many steps it takes to get from point A to point B. And you won't worry about which foot you should use to go up that step, or how on God's green earth you are supposed to get your foot in the pant leg while balancing on what amounts to a piece of spaghetti. And you will never plant your foot again when you are doing take-downs in Taekwondo, and you will be thankful and grateful for having your knee back. At least that's how I'm thinking the story will go.


Blogger Mark Heuring said...

Sorry to hear about your knee, Lydia. When I had my surgery last year, they put those things on my legs to keep them moving. It's true that they facilitate healing, but there's a more important reason - to prevent blod clots from forming in your legs while you are immobilized. Blood clots are very bad things.

Hospitals do a very good job these days with recovery, much better than even 10 years ago. You'll be up and around very soon.


6:15 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Oh, Lydia.
It'll be tough. But you're tough. Not only can you handle it, but you'll have some great stories (and insight) to add to your blog.
Even so, I'll pray for a quick recovery! :-)
Love you,

7:30 AM  
Blogger Strolling Amok said...

Hi Lydia. Please keep us all informed about how things are going. Take it easy and get well soon.
The muscle from the cadaver sounds kinda cool btw, you'd be part zombie!


10:25 AM  
Blogger Lydia said...

Awesome! Being part zombie DEFINITELY tips the scale for me! And the best part is, even if you can't run that fast, you can still catch people!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Lydia - you have some of the coolest friends!
I'm so sorry about your knee... but I am fascinated by your description of balancing on a piece of spaghetti.
How descriptive will you be on the rest of the adventure?
My prayers for your healing.
Love ya,

4:32 PM  

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