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Author Topic: New to the site and seeking bilateral TKR and patella fractures  (Read 611 times)

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Offline Alane

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Hello! I am very glad to have found this site. I apologize in advance for the length of my post.

In February of 2014 I had bilateral total knee replacements. I was 46 years old. The surgery was needed because of a long history of knee pain, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis for which I had tried all types of management until nothing worked any longer. I was a candidate for simultaneous bilateral replacement because I have a very high pain threshold, was very active, in good shape, not overweight, and managed my pain with very little pain medication. Although recovery was difficult, I managed to recover full range of motion and met my goal of being back riding my bicycle by Spring and spent a happy season riding with a great deal less pain than I had in years. I did have problems with swelling for many months post surgery and realized quickly I had an issue with scar development. (This has been a problem for me in general: I have a complex medical history including breast cancer and have had recurrent problems with the overproduction of scar tissue.) Thankfully though as I said I kept moving and managed to have great range of motion.

In the Fall of 2014 the bottom dropped out. Being an avid cyclist on both the road and trail, I had started back to mountain biking. During one outing I fell and landed directly on my right knee. Unfortunately, because I have a high pain tolerance, and am admittedly bull headed I didn't immediately seek medical attention. When I finally did it was clear I had completely shattered my patella. The only good news was that the patellar button put in place during surgery was still in tact. My surgeon recommended total immobilization for two months in the hopes that the bone would heal. Sadly, it did not. I was then left with two choices: 1. Have invasive surgery again to see if there were portions of the patella that were salvageable. The main problem with this option is that my quadriceps tendon is attached to one of the broken pieces, but not necessarilly the one with the patellar button. Due to the unsure nature of removing and trying to reattach the tendon, my surgeon could therefore not guarantee that I would ever be able to straighten my knee again. He seemed less than comfortable with this option. I chose option 2: live with the pain and discomfort until I couldn't take it any longer and would then opt for surgery. So I am still living with an un-healed patella fracture that is thankfully being held together by scar tissue, tendon, and who knows what else. I did manage to ride my bicycle all summer and fall of 2015 all be it with a considerable amount of discomfort. (I should mention that I work in the cycling industry and part of my job involves leading regular group rides.)

Here comes the really depressing part: this November I hyper flexed my left knee and broke that patella as well. The only good thing was that this was a relatively clean horizontal fracture. I learned my lesson and went to the hospital immediately. Thankfully again the patellar button was unharmed. I was immediately put in a full leg cast for total immobilization. After two and a half months bone had filled in the fracture although the fracture line was still visible. I spent another two weeks in a soft immobilizer. When that came off I was instructed to wait another month before I could start actively working to regain total motion and then another month before I could attempt any strengthening. The day my cast came off is the last day I saw my surgeon and no follow up was scheduled. (Frankly, he seemed like he was washing his hands of me!) Since that time I have been terrified of re-injuring myself. I live an active lifestyle in general so I have regained my range of motion. I worked my way to light spinning on my trainer and only just rode my road bike outside to test the waters (mountain biking is totally out of the picture for me forever.) I am plagued with incredibly stiff joints that feel like they are filled with cement. The best way to describe them is that they feel like the whole joint is sucked into itself. I watched the video on arthrofibrosis and recognized myself to a point...although as I said I have pretty good range of motion. I absolutely do not and cannot squat. I know with activity I will be right back where I was on the merry-go-round of swelling and stiffness and pain. The only thing that has been able to help somewhat is deep tissue massage.

I am 48 years old and I am struggling with what my life is like. Without making a long post even longer I will explain briefly that cycling is what saved me after 2 cancer diagnoses. It allowed me to feel strong again and to trust that my body could do good things. Now I am lost. Because of my job I am faced with this reality all day long: what I used to be able to do, who I used to be, and what I can do and who I am now. I am seriously considering quitting my job because it is emotionally hard on me.
I guess I am hoping someone might have some words of hope, some insight, or miraculously something that might help!

Thank you!

Offline Ragge2171

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I am very sorry to hear about these problems. Things will get better as one door closes another opens.
I understand the feeling of not being able to do something because of health problems however keep your chin up, keep well rested  and find another form of exercise that doesn't put further strain on your knees. I know of people taking 6-12 months to fully recovering from knee problems.

I strongly suggest seeking different opinions from knee specialists such as physios and surgeons, make sure your diet is healthy (supplementation in glucosamine, chondroitin etc) and always remember that you are given obstacles in life not to be pushed back but to be to pushed forward . Its up to you on how to tackle this obstacle but never ever give up !

Alane I wish you all the best and if you wish to talk further please pm me.

Offline tinydinosaur

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Dealing with a difficult injury or stream of what seems to be an endless cycle of surgery and rehab is emotionally and mentally draining, it seems even more so because a lot of us on here are/were very physically active people and it feels as that a part of us has been taken away. It's hard to know how we fit in life any more or what purpose we may have when we can't do something that has given us that for such a long time. I've been at my knee problem for 12 years and honestly spent a lot of time stewing over what I am without being an athlete (because that was the one thing I was always sure about, the one thing that when I did it I felt like I was at home, at peace in the world).

The thing is this extremely difficult experience, if you can call it that, can open doors in ways we don't at first appreciate. For me it's been a period of, very slow, personal growth. Realizing that we are more than what activities or passions define us and that usually there are other opportunities and outlets we can explore. That we are worthy of love and valuable as people even without the things society often deems as important qualities.

I would definitely recommend finding a hobby or outlet for yourself in the meantime while you are on your path of recovery. Whether it be music, art, wood carving, model building, old movies, anything that gives you some joy in a positive way.

Also, is it possible for you to hand bike on the road at least? I know those rigs can be fairly costly, but it's something to consider at least.