Knee analysis

This morning I went in to physical therapy, walking flawlessly down the hall. “So what’s up?” my PT asked. “Funny you should ask….” He looked downright put out when he heard the extent of the interior damage. “Let’s retest you and get a new baseline.”

So I laid down and bent my knee. I straightened it. He moved it left and right, up and down, all around. Finally, he put his hands on his hips, “Are you sure they had the right MRI, because there’s no instability at all in your knee.” So it’s not just me… I really am super stable sans ACL.

Still, I have a big decision to make. It’s not ok for me to spend the next several years of my life never bending my knee. Moments like that dinner will happen again, and you know… sometimes it’s not convenient not to be able to walk for several weeks. So I’ve more or less decided to get surgery. I was sure pretty much from the get-go that I’d get the meniscal tears mended. The recovery time (as in normally walking) is 2 – 4 weeks on that, probably more like 4 since I’m having two procedures done. I can do both ACL and meniscal procedures at the same time. The recovery time for an ACL reconstruction is 4 – 6 weeks. Both procedures will require months and months – up to a year for ACL – of physical therapy afterwards. With the ACL reconstruction, it will be 6 months before I’m up to my usual habits as an elite athlete. (Oh wait…)

On one hand, I seem to do pretty darn well without an ACL. On the other hand, the “incremental” cost of an ACL replacement is 2 or so weeks from just a meniscal tear. I also save “incremental” physical therapy costs by bundling the surgeries. Additional data points to consider:

– not having an ACL makes it more likely I will tear my meniscus… which means this whole scenario could happen again
– meniscal tears make arthritis more likely
– I am pretty active. I like hiking and would enjoy playing raquetball.
– my children are 2 and 5 … a two year old is hard to manage with a healing knee

So my tentative plan is this:
1) Plan for surgery in mid-September. (I’d like to enjoy my summer, thanks!)
2) Spend the next two months getting my knee super strong and healthy to make my recovery period as short as possible.
3) Can’t help but wonder if it would be better if I could lose some weight. Of course, if that was easy vanity would have already accomplished it.
4) From mid-September, with say 8 weeks of serious knee instability, I’m likely to be walking well by mid-November. This means that by the time the snow flies, I should be pretty stable.
5) Six months from September means that by next summer I should be fully healed, and should be able to, for example, go backpacking.
6) Surgeries are done on Tuesday. I’d probably take the remainder of the week off (sort of depends on how I’m doing with pain meds) and then work from home for another week or two.
7) I’ve done some investigation on my dr. and hospital, and they seem middle of the road: not the best in the state but perfectly fine. Is that good enough?

There’s absolutely never a good time for a young, working mother to be out of commission for a month. But I do need to be able to walk, and this appears like a permanent solution (assuming I never, ever, ever go skiing ever again).

So I’m curious what you guys think. Am I missing a data point? Am I correctly interpreting the abbreviated recovery? Do I need to replace the ACL at all given the stability? What would you do in my place?