What really happened.

October 9, 2008

HEY!!! So…. if you’ve ever wondered what the heck happened to my knee, here it is. This is a narrative I had to write for my lawyer so it’s pretty devoid of emotion and the really cool spiritual stuff that happened along the way… but, its the facts about what happened, in case you’ve ever wondered. A lot of times when people ask me i just say “oh… its a long story”. And it is!!!! So here goes:

About 4 ½ years ago I decided to begin training for a marathon, a lifelong dream of mine. Having been a very active person my whole life, with dancing, tennis, powerlifting and running, I did not foresee any problems with the intense regiment that this training requires.

It became evident, however, after just a few short runs that something was very wrong. My left knee, with which I had been experiencing some discomfort, but no pain, suffered piercing pain when I ran.

On my initial appt. with Dr. Murtagh he suggested physical therapy. After a couple months of therapy, my knee was no better. He then suggested a cortisone shot, which also did not improve the situation at all. These precautionary actions made me and my family feel very comfortable with Dr. Murtagh. We were thankful that he explored other avenues before jumping into surgery. After those things did not help, I had an MRI.

The MRI showed negative results. I was devastated. I knew something was wrong with my knee and would not get any better without medical attention. We decided to go ahead with an arthroscopic surgery because Dr. Murtagh felt very strongly that because of my symptoms, my lateral meniscus was torn. We scheduled the surgery and he assured me that I would be running again in no time. I even scheduled to be back at work within a week because he said I’d be fine.

Once inside, Dr. Murtagh realized this was not the problem. My lateral meniscus was not torn. He informed us that there was a lot of scar tissue surrounding my knee, probably from an old unknown injury or simply from being as active as I had been my whole life. He also told us that the ligaments or tendon on the outside of my knee were too tight, and forcing my kneecap to shift over. He stated that he did a lateral tendon release, in essence cutting the tendon to release the pressure.

My Dr. was aware that three weeks after my surgery I had a trip to Europe planned. He consented on this trip and said that I would be fine. So after three weeks of therapy, Dr. Murtagh released me saying my condition was improving, although none of the swelling had subsided. He said I would be fine going to Europe and continuing to do the exercises on my own. Europe was a little tough to navigate. The subways were very hard to use because of the stairs, and I stayed home a few of the days because my knee and leg ached badly.

On the first follow up after Europe I informed Dr. Murtagh that I wasn’t seeing a whole lot of improvement, and that my knee was still extremely swollen. Over the next six months he continued to schedule appointments with me because my condition never improved. This was very frustrating to me because I should have been released altogether after six weeks. During this time, what I call the “HOLE” in my knee developed. As the swelling in my knee began to subside, it became evident that something was very wrong. In the place where my kneecap should have been, there was a huge indention. This got worse over time. When I addressed Dr. Murtagh about this, he told me it was a result of the lateral release. He said, and I quote, “I may have cut too much, but you still have about 80% percent of that tendon there so you’ll be fine.” I will never forget those words. But, I believed him to be a medical professional and I believed him when he said I’d be fine. For the entirety of these six months, I was never able to walk up stairs, to walk briskly, much less jog or run, I was completely unable to do a “quad set” (extending the leg out from the sitting position) no matter how hard I tried. My mobility was devastatingly limited and the aching and pain never subsided. After six months of appointments with Dr. Murtagh and more physical therapy I quit going to see him. To me, it was a lost cause.

My physical therapists said I should not work out, because my knee and quad muscle were so weak. So, after my last appointments with the doctor and with the physical therapists, I became completely inactive in fear that I would further damage my knee.

The first week of January, (almost a year after the surgery) AS SOON AS I possibly could have, considering my insurance situation, I contacted Dr. Kozar and made an appointment to get a second opinion. After an MRI and two appointments, Dr. Kozar delivered the devastating news that what had been done in surgery was not reversible. He said that only a tiny portion of my patella tendon remained and that it would never grow back. He said that although it was out of his range, the only possibility was to have an open knee surgery and have a tendon graft, which… as painful and tricky surgery as it would be, would offer no guarantee that I would see any improvement. I then sought another opinion from another physician in Baton Rouge, who told me the same thing. He, however, recommended that I make the trip to Birmingham, Al., to visit the clinic of Jimmy Andrews. Before going to the clinic, I saw one more physician in New Orleans, who had the same news as the first two.

In Alabama I met Dr. Jeffrey Dugas, who performed the tendon graft and reconstruction on my knee. He said that he had never seen my condition before, in person or in medical journals or books, and he had never even heard of it. The surgery he performed was entirely experimental and new. Because of this, he offered no guarantees, but we all prayed it would help.

I believe the surgery was successful. I now have a fully operational knee and tendon. The deformity in my knee is better, although there is still a hint of a depression. Two years after this procedure my left leg is still very weak, my knee pops while walking, and often gives out while I’m simply standing. My quadriceps muscle is severely atrophied, measuring an entire 2 inches smaller than the right leg. Mobility is still a challenge. Quad sets still prove to be very difficult and I have to be cautious about every daily activity.

Some of the lasting affects of my condition are plentiful. There is a huge list of things that I cannot do, so I’ll do my best just to list a few. I cannot work out the way I need to. Jogging, after as little as 15 minutes becomes painful to my leg. I’m still unable to do much muscle conditioning on my quadriceps and hamstring muscles because they are so weak. Some of my passions, including tennis and dance are either off limits or I have to be extremely cautious while doing them. I cannot wear high heels, which becomes a big problem working in the fashion industry! For a long time I would not wear shorts or skirts or dresses because I was embarrassed of the way my knee and leg look. Holding a child is very painful, as well as lifting anything over about 20 pounds. It puts too much pressure on my leg causing it to give out or tense up. Sitting in a car or movie for too long can be very uncomfortable if I am unable to stretch my leg out every 30 minutes or so. A long day of walking, such as going to an LSU football game, is pretty rough. By the end of the day my whole leg pounds. I could go on and on. I am extremely thankful that my knee and leg are better than they were after the initial surgery, but I realize that I have a lot of work to do and this will be a very long and probably never-ending process. I have learned to live with my condition and do not complain much about it, but it affects daily life in huge ways. I’m continuing to jog as much as I can, in hopes of strengthening my leg so that one day it will be “normal”!

SO now you know! Even though there is a TONNNNNNN more about what happened, its too long…. if you’re really interested lets have a long talk. )

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4 Responses to “What really happened.”

  1. Lauren Says:

    Amen to Dugas and the Anderson Group. I was told by doctors in BR to continue PT, which I did for YEARS. No improvement. Dr. Dugas took a risk Louisiana doctors were too cautious to makeand completely realigned my right knee in 28 minutes in 2006, 6 years of deteriation under my kneecap had to be removed along with the realignment. I was told by doctors I would be limited in my activity for the rest of my life, and on Tuesday I rode a bike for an hour, and then ran with the Happy’s Running Group, 5K. I don’t know what I would have done without Dr. Dugas!!

    LK

  2. Johny.B Says:

    yes I would love to sit down and talk with you one day about all that happened with you knee.

    Lana I personally can relate in so way to your situation when you knee got injured and that put a hamper on what you loved to do ,but i can totally relate on this on to a T being embarrassed for the way a part of your body looks . my back if you have ever seen it has a scar that looks like a train track down it my back sticks out from when my bone were brittle and I had 9 crushed vertebra ,I did not like taking my shirt off i mean boys don’t normally get that way about a shirt because I was scared of what others would think.One day while out side cutting the grass and burning up I said i don’t care what others think and i took my shirt off because I knew even as a kid God made me ,and he was not embarrassed.But,what i also wanna share is at a young age of 5 I loved to workout lift weights,I had hopes and dreams of being a body builder and i still wanna walk up one day on a stage at a muscle and fitness competition and flex because I am about to workout still,but imagine being told you wont be able to workout,and imagine even before and after surgery the treat of being paralyzed is still great ,so i know how you feel I totally do ,and I am here for you if you ever need me. Oh and if you ever need someone to help you in working out I used to help be a spotter for my mom and my God mother ,so i have experience!!

  3. Johny.B Says:

    The point to my story is look how awesome God is!!!!!!


  4. thats awesome, jonathan! you are such an inspiration to all of us and im sure to lana as well 😉


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