Pediatric Knee Replacement - Being 30ish and too young for a lifetime of pain
Too young for a lifetime of pain.
I consider you a Pediatric Case." Said the second OS I saw. Sure I wanted a second set of eyes to review my condition. But I didn't expect the next sentence to come out of his mouth. I would only consider doing your knee replacement once you turn 40. I didn't fit the 60 year old profile that many doctors consider the ripe age for replacement.
After the doctor said that I tuned him out. He just told me the unexpected that he'd rather see me in pain for the next five years and pop painkillers, Sit at home and bunker down because the pain was unyielding.
My Scope photo after Chondroplasty and Partial Meniscus removal. Done January 2006.
Standing X-Ray Taken March 2006:
Rage and rebound:
I didn't fit the 60 year old profile.I just sat in tears. I don't remember why I didn't try to grab his tie and choke him into feeling the same pain I felt at that moment but now as I think about that experience and I often wonder how many other young people out there in the world face this type of discrimination.
See I was all set to go with my OS.#1 Actually had a comfort level with him that he would be the only doctor I was going to see. Than the unthinkable happened. My very young OS had his hip replaced. Looking back perhaps I was too caught up in my own pain to notice he had pain. When we last talked about the timing of the replacement in August 2006. I said around October and the last few weeks of August he had his hip done. Sure I was a bit stunned when I got calls from his PA. The doctor has to postpone your next office visit one week and when the next week rolled around full disclosure. He was still on the mend. I took this as a chance to go see his partner for a second set of eyes. Was this guy torn between taking his partner patient away or having someone hobble around in pain.??? Did he take the well you waited this long approach? Or did his core really believe that I was far too young for his standards. That is one of those questions I may never find the real answer with OS #2. So why linger on it? I will tell you why. Just like the second OS had the right to back off and decline taking action for a few years. I had every right to seek a unattached medical perspective. All this drama in New Jersey. Who would have "thunk" it. I started going through the Aetna site looking to see who was In Network. I got co worker referrals on who treated them nicely. I got support from my boss who was going to take me into NYC to see someone. Not only was I in intense pain. I was now in panic mode. I started calling local doctors and screening them. Do you take on young patients who need knee replacements? Than a different kind of OS emerged. The kind that wants 50% cash up front. I guess those NYC rents for office space demand cash in advance moola.
Ummm. Lets roll back a bit here and get back to the story I really wanted to tell. So here I was thinking.OS # 1-- I am sure he must be only a few months younger than I am. And was with me every second of the way during my knee crisis. Yet it totally took me by surprise to find out he too had a replacement faster than I did. I am sure there is some irony here. People would have lost big bucks if they said who would be a joint replacement patient first. Yet he found a doctor that fixed his hip and gave him back his ability to saw and chop others. :) (**side note:***I might add he told me that he went and had his done in Vail and they wanted a 5 grand deposit before he entered the OR to have his hip surgery***). So while he was out doing his healing thing. I thought no way would he be healed fast enough this year to do my replacement in 2006. So I did what thought best in this situation. Worry and Panic :) Do I believe what one doctor had been telling me for a year that I needed a total knee replacement or believe that somehow I could make it another few years in unbearable pain. So I saw a third OS.if only for a tie breaker.
Oh yeah .. I was going to be on the defensive give him all the pros of why he shouldn't be age bias. But that never happened. He took one look at my scope photos and my x-rays and said. Both knees total knee replacement. I had been taken aback..Not only did this guy want to do one knee but do both knees. What the hay? What? No,wait till I am 40 remark? His words set in and echoed into my eardrums. Wait you want to do both knees now? Shock Shock. You can get me on the table in a months time.
My left knee wasn't that bad. I felt I have a few good years left with it and I didn't want to do two. Bottom line.
- OS #1 -I go from lets wait a few months till FDA allowed the Zimmer Gender knee out on the market. This was in March 2006. when OS#1 first mentioned it to me.
- OS # 2 Lets wait until you are older. At least 40 years old in Sept 2006. ( I don't want to take away my partners project???)
- OS # 3 I can get you down on a table in a month and do both knees in Sept 2006. ( Hum of power tools and a yee ha in the background voice lifted threw my mind).
Talk about choices. I had to really think about what I was going to do.
I decided to go with whom I trusted. OS # 1 who just had his hip replaced four months before he tackled my knee replacement seemed like a logical choice and the right choice. Why not go with the one person I had the most trust and confidence placed???Plus had real life pain empathy.
Now I must stress to everyone, There are no givens in life on how long this replacement or any implant will last but for me the choice of being in pain for years or prematurely having both knees done only goes to show the old saying .. Shop around. I also would like to add that OS #2 saw checked in on me post op and called me his teeny bopper patient. Plus was my best advocate during an SubAcute care nightmare. When you start paging people in the middle of the night that things are going wrong in the rehab place. I couldn't ask for a better guy to stand up for a patient respect and care post op.
Find a doctor who has your best interest at heart. My OS wanted to wait until Zimmer Gender Replacement was approved by the FDA. This implant is designed and contoured to fit a womans bone shape. Deep down I know if I was unwilling to wait I would have gone for the Stryker knee and would have been just as happy. Some doctors will say there is no differnce between the Zimmer High flex knee and the Stryker High flex knee. It may be true. But once you start holding a femoral head in your hand and look at one that is gender netural. I thought I wouldnt wear guys underware or guys jeans. I got curves why not go with something that will lower my fear of how the implant would feel inside my body.
So the combined pro's on how much ROM could be obtained after the surgery plus something streamlined to my bones gave me a sense of security. If me and this hunk of metal are going to be one for many many years why not think of shape. I wouldn't wear or keep buying an uncomfortable bra years. Why temp fate and go with a knee that may weird feeling?
Bottom line nobody feels your pain but you and don't give up if you hear that your too young. I doubt anyone in that much pain at a young age is out going to orthopedic surgerons to cut and slice and hammer metal bits just for the hell of it. A pain free life after the surgery is what everyone wishes for. Young or old find someone who sees the best possible outcome for you and wants you to soar.
December 2006 - First walk to chair. 24 hours after
January 2007 Post op Visit.