How to Totally Blow Out Both Your Knees

by Mark on July 5, 2012

Normally I don’ t share too many deep personal things on my blog.  And recently I haven’t shared  much at all here but over the last month I have developed some new interests particularly around the use of technology in the medical field. So I thought I would tap out a few posts on the subject, though the reasoning behind it has a lot to do with my current health situation.

Anatomy of a KneeYou see today is the my one month anniversary of an extended hospital stay.  On June 4th, I took a fall down some stairs and completely r
uptured my right quadricep tendon and my left patellar tendon leaving me unable to walk. I wish I had a better story like I dove out of stands in the outfield to catch a homerun ball during an Orioles game or landed badly after making a tomahawk dunk during fantasy basketball camp with Michael Jordan. The bottom line is I had a bad day at work, went running downstairs to grab something to drink between back-to-back calls and missed a step. The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground a the bottom of the stairwell unable to move my legs.

Patellar Tendon Scar Patellar Tendon Scar Left Leg

The experience was surreal, as I flopped around like a fish on my living room floor. I didn’t catch myself because I had my iPhone in hand and heaven forbid I drop the phone in the name of self preservation (insert heavy sarcasm). The bright side is because I didn’t drop my phone I could immediately call 911, I believe I might have even uttered the words, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Soon I was rushed to Rex Hospital in Raleigh where I was immediately diagnosed with a right quadricep tear (the telltale sign is a large indentation above the knee). The left knee was not so easily diagnosed but after an MRI my surgeon confirmed that I had completely ruptured my patellar tendon. Either injury on it’s own is bad but both at the same time is totally debilitating, it’s something that never happens. Leave it to me to beat the odds. This also considerably extends both my recovery time and the complexity of my recovery as with a single leg injury you can compensate with your good leg. Right now  I don’t have a leg to stand on.

knew imobolizers Try walking with these things wrapping your leg.

On June 5th I had surgery to sew the tendons back together, both procedures that my orthopedic surgeon indicated would have a fairly high degree of succes. Here’s the catch, for six weeks I am confined to a hospital bed or when out of the bed both knees are required to be immobilized and locked out at 100%. That means it’s literally impossible to stand from a sitting position and walking is extremely difficult. Locomotion is accomplished by shuffling your feet a few inches at a time while struggling to maintain your balance with a walker.  The best case scenario is that on July 20th, I’ll be able to bear some degree of my weight on a partially bended knee though I am reasonably sure that without crutches or a walker I’ll just fall into a pile on the floor.

Luckily, I have health insurance and for a large part of my stay they have been covering my hospital stay and physical therapy. Though sitting in my hospital today, unable to stand on my own or accomplish many basic daily tasks and barely able to climb into a wheelchair my claims are being rejected. It is really opening my eyes to the shortcomings of our health care system.

Though I didn’t write this post for sympathy or to lament my misfortune. Actually the opposite, this experience has changed my outlook on a number of things. First, I don’t want to trivialize my injury, it’s bad. This experience has been the most humbling thing I have ever had to go through. The pain is constant and some days pretty severe and the road to recovery will likely take over one year. Despite that I am grateful as this situation is temporary. The rehab hospital where I am staying is the home to many folks in much worse shape than I. They won’t recover and many won’t make it out of here ever (this facility is also a nursing home and I am probably 30 years younger than the average patient) here.

That’s the backstory, to be continued…

Here’s a few links about patellar and quadricep tendon tears



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