Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Long Strange Injury Trip

Roller coaster ride doesn't even begin to describe what my knee--or at least its prognosis--has been through over the past 6 months. No need to rehash the injury and diagnosis, which I've documented and updated many times here since October.

After getting the diagnosis for a possible mosaicplasty (otherwise known as osteoarticular treatment surgery or OATS)last December in Fairbanks I set out to find a doctor. I chose not to stay local for a couple of reasons. One, the doctor I saw must have told me to stop running (for good) at least 4 or 5 times during a 10 minute consult. Moreover, his apocalyptic description of the injury didn't quite jibe with the MRI and his own report, which described a small (~1.4 cm lesion) at the end of the femur.

See the lower left portion of lateral lobe for a view of the injury last November, a month after NYC Marathon. It looks like a portion has been gouged out, and the entire lobe is inflamed and filled with fluid

So after some searching on my own, my friend Grambo (who had the same type of injury and procedure done on him 9 years ago) suggested Dr. Eberhart in Portsmouth, NH would be a great doctor. A long way to go, but I wanted someone with a good track record on this procedure, and Dr. Eberhart was among to first to introduce mosaicplasty in the USA.

So in last week of March, off to the Granite State I flew. Met by Grambo and hosted by his gracious family, I braced for surgery on the 25th. We met Dr. Eberhart on the 24th and he went over the MRI, showing the probable site of the divot on my bone and what to expect for surgery and recovery.

It was pretty grim. Two weeks of bed rest before I could fly back to Alaska, and then another 6 weeks on crutches. Could maybe resume running in 3 to 6 months, but even Dr. Eberhart suggested that at 52, I should look into mixing in other sports with the running.

Anyone up for rollerskiing on Farmers Loop? NOT!

The night before felt almost like a marathon, after tossing and turning for a bit I slept for about 3 hours and that was it. I just lay there for another 3 hours waiting in anticipation for the time to get up.

My BP was high going in, 159/110 to start, but it settled a bit before they shot me up with anesthesia (a little something to make you think you just drank a 6 pack of beer before we give the real stuff, said the the anesthesiologist).

Next thing I knew after they wheeled me into to operating room was that I was already dressed and Dr. Eberhart said something about good news, "We didn't find anything, your cartilage is clean and smooth and we didn't need to do the mosaicplasty."

Other than a stiff knee and a little nausea for a few days that was it! The doctors and staff were "flabbergasted" that the injury appears to have healed on it's own with no damage to the articular cartilage. A minor miracle, perhaps.

The camera images indicate a clean cartilage and any bone injury has healed on its own!

On Monday the 29th, 4 days after surgery I was given the go ahead to start running, and so I did, a 2.5 miler with Grambo near his home in Concord.

So this chapter is more or less closed. The build up will take longer than usual, but by June or so, I expect to be feeling strong and gnarly and ready to take 'em on at the Midnight Sun Run, and to go for a 6th age group win. To break last year's 35:45? Hmm, not likely, but we shall see.


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