Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Bone Grafts But Were In Too Much Pain To Ask

Tonight marks exactly one week since my osteochondral allograft.  One of the main purposes of this blog is to help others that may someday be going through something similar.  Hopefully my research and information will help another soul along this path called life.

One of my favorite bloggers, the lovely and talented Ulyana, recently went through a similar surgery.  The affected portion was her ankle, while mine was the left knee.  Her posts have been inspiring, funny and informational.  It was Ulyana who gave me the idea that YES!  I needed a shower chair.  Most of us think of a shower chair as something only folks of advanced ages would need.   Not so.  I am going to encourage us all to purchase this nifty little device.  Think how great that will feel after a long run or workout of any kind.  If you have a significant other; allow your imagination entertain some very interesting possibilities.  Chihuahuas in the home?  Just set them on the high chair adjustment and bath time will now be a a breeze.  They also come in many fashionable designer colors.

Many of you have asked for more details, so here goes:

My diagnosis was osteochondral dessicans.  Translation: A portion of my knee (the medial femoryl condyle) was dead, dried or dessicated, is the technical term.  There's no way to know how it happened as there was never an acute injury.  In other words, I didn't step in a hole and scream out in pain.  This affliction affects children and no one knows why.  I've spent the past 20 years or so of my life as an ultra marathon runner.  Folks love to blame it on that, but it's not the case.

The surgery involves waiting for a donor with a viable graft that fits my size knee.  It has nothing to do with blood type, sex or anything at all other than size.  Once a donor graft finds its way to the donor bank, it's tested for disease and must be used within fourteen days.  In my case, I got the call on Friday and was in the O.R. on Wednesday.  As you can tell by the photo, this is not an arthroscopic surgery.  Nope.  A good old fashioned incision is made.  The dead portion of my knee is removed, then the donor graft is inserted.  This procedure utilizes a surgical saw and a core reamer until the graft is properly seated, all the while my leg is put through various manipulations to ensure proper flexion.

Three days were spent in the hospital.  Now that I'm home, I'm non weight bearing (NWB) on the left leg for six to eight weeks.  The Doctors are very strict about this.  The graft has got to settle in and re-grow in concert with my own bone and cartilage.  I currently walk with a walker (another great invention) and will soon be on crutches.  In home physical therapy starts right away.  My kick butt P.T. who also happens to be a former NFL Super Star is putting me through the paces.  The movements wouldn't have seemed like much in the past.  But now........  Ouch!  Thank God I've been so active all my life.  I've got strong arms, a strong right leg and a strong will.

When my good friend and training partner, Chris, came to visit me in the hospital, I showed him the physical therapy outline which slowly yet steadily progresses over the next year.  His response:  "WOW.  I had no idea how intense this was."  When I asked him if he would've done the same given my situation, there was not a moments hesitation.  "If it helped me get back to a normal life, heck yes!!"

Pain meds:  Necessary at this point, they grafted my bone, guys, but am cutting back.  I was a bit concerned about constipation but I found a supplement that works like a charm.  Perhaps it will help you even if your, ahem, stoppage is from another source.  It's called 3A Magnesia by Lane Medical.  Love that stuff!

No cast or brace required, thankfully.  Showering is allowed for as long as your hot water heater can perform.  Mine is being put to the test.  I've learned to appreciate every little thing I previously took for granted.  Showering has become one of the highlights of my day!

Sleep:  Our bedroom requires stairs so we're sleeping in Ruby's room.  Ruby sleeps in a California King Size Bed with a pillow top mattress.  Ruby is our fourteen year old black kitty whom we rescued from the pound.  She purrs really loud and she snores.  It's quite soothing.

Food:  I have a great appetite.  Kerry is getting the hang of shopping at Whole Foods and is learning how to use the VitaMix.  I have advised him that when I'm dead and buried, he'll be a great cook and housekeeper.  No getting on my case for this one, guys.  So far as I know, no one gets out of this one alive!

Life, my dear friends, is extremely good.  Cherish every step you take today.

1 comment:

  1. WOW. Truly loved your post. Your humor and inspiration is truly contageous! I can see your knee is still swollen but soon it will be good as new and who ... but you... deserves and appreciates this wonderful new knee. WAY TO GO!!!