Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Orthopedics Adventure!

I'm not new to Orthopedics...I've certainly had my fair share of the lovely study of bones and their connecting ligaments, tendons, etc. But this was definitely my first rodeo when dealing with a knee issue so I was in uncharted territory and not really sure what to expect. I went through a wrist injury several years back and let's just say that I didn't have the best experience with the lovely ortho folks. My injury was unusual and it was one that they really didn't understand, so it was a super frustrating experience to say the least. I was eventually referred to a hand and wrist specialist and he got me fixed up with a little fusion and a bone graft in no time at all. I can actually sing the song like this now: My hip bone is connected to my WRIST bone! hahaha - I'm so clever. ;-) I also got to deal with it again when my hubby had an accident that required spinal fusion on five levels (thankfully he was already hospitalized and got a specialist assigned right away that was a totally arrogant a$$, but he knew his stuff so I guess it's okay?). We recently had to go back to Ortho to see if there would be any benefit in removing his hardware and it was kind of hilarious because the doc walks in and pulls up hubby's scans from the disk and literally could NOT get us out of his office fast enough. He wanted NOTHING to do with the amount of hardware in my hubby's back! LOL So off to a specialist we went yet again. On top of all of that - I had two kids with three broken wrists...yep one of those two decided to break each wrist at separate times. So to say I know my way around the Ortho offices would be an understatement. But that didn't alleviate the nervousness of going in for my knee.

I knew ahead of time that there were a couple things I had very clear expectations of:

  1. That the doctor would do a thorough range-of-motion exam and not just go off of the x-rays that were taken almost 4 weeks ago now.
  2. That I would be referred for additional testing of either MRI or ultrasound as I know 100% that an x-ray only tells a small piece of the story. If there is tendon/ligament/cartilage damage, sometimes it will not show on an x-ray.
I also knew ahead of time that there was one thing I would absolutely NOT accept:
  • The doctor blowing me off or telling me my knee only hurts because of age or weight.
I even went so far as to warn a few people that if I didn't come in to work it was probably because I was waiting to be bailed out of the pokey because I went bat-chit crazy on them if they said anything remotely close to that bullet point above. I kid, but only a little bit. hahaha

So I showed up right on time with my referral and x-ray report in hand. The x-ray report noted that I had a small bone spur near the quad and a moderate bone spur in the patellar region. I also had an 8mm calcification protruding over the patellar ligament that indicated chronic calcific tendinitis. On their own, not necessarily something that would cause the amounts of pain and swelling that I've had. After sitting around in the waiting room, I finally got called back and the medical assistant did a verbal history of my issues. Not long after the doctor came in and went through it again. Then - THANK YOU - he did a full range-of-motion exam! Gold Star #1 for the doctor!

So what did that consist of? He started by having me stand up with both feet planted firmly on the ground while holding onto a counter, then I pivoted in each direction noting if, and where, I felt any pain. I did feel some below the knee during that exercise, more when pivoting to the right then the left. Then I raised up on tippy toes which hurt a little bit, but then it was raising up on my heels - uh OUCH! I think we sat down then and he placed resistance on my leg while asking me to push in multiple directions - up, down, each side, etc.

End result was that he felt we needed to get an MRI (Gold Star #2 - my expectations were fully met!) to get the full picture, although he really didn't offer up what might be the problem. I did have to push a little bit to get his ideas of what it might be and then he mentioned meniscus tear. That's exactly what I had self diagnosed myself with! So I was rather pleased with my Google research skills...hahaha. So we are now waiting on the referral for the MRI and then getting in there STAT prior to my follow-up appointment on February 13. 

So even though I didn't really leave with any answers or relief from the pain, I did get all my (good) expectations met. And even though he noted that our joints begin to deteriorate in our 30's I didn't feel like he was brushing off my issues because of age. In the meantime the doctor says I can continue to "use but not abuse" my leg and to keep taking the ibuprofen and using RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. So to that I say "ah darn, guess somebody else is going to have to do the dishes, mop the floors and do all the cooking/cleaning for Super Bowl this weekend". *Insert sad face here*...NOT! 

And because I was such a good girl at the doctor's, I treated myself to a Juice It Up smoothie on my way home!

All in all, I think it was a successful visit and I'm still holding onto hope that whatever is wrong with my knee will be fixable in the near future and that I'll be back up and running in no time! I'll keep ya updated...

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