"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hamstring harvesting

Doesn't sound that appealing? My doc thinks it's the way to go. He says the cadaver grafts are popular in the Bay Area but he's not very keen on them, says the joint may be more likely to react (this is the kind of thing where 'reaction' is generally synonymous with 'bad reaction,' I imagine), says cadaver grafts have been heavily marketed (because the procedure is more expensive?) and it's all fun and games until there's a "bad batch" of tissue and the doctor has to call all the patients and say, oops...or whatever the doctor says in that situation. He said the recovery from having a bit of hamstring relocated is not such a big deal. He said the total process from surgery to 100% green light is about six months. He said I need to do physical therapy to get my full range of motion back before the surgery (which confirmed what I'd heard already). I will call the PT's office tomorrow to schedule my first appointment.

He showed me a video about the procedure. I'm going to do some checking on YouTube to see if I can find something like it to link here in the future. I was impressed that when he looked at my MRI images he sounded like he knew what he was looking at..."See, these are your meniscii...they look just fine...there's the posterior cruciate ligament [which I could see]...there's the ACL [which I couldn't really see, maybe if it weren't torn asunder I could have seen it better]?"

I felt like he spent a decent amount of time talking to me and answering my questions about why he doesn't favor the cadaver graft procedure, though I was a little surprised to hear him say, "well it's from a dead guy!" in a tone that sounded like he was kind of grossed out by the idea. Before he looked at my x-rays or the MRI he asked me what happened in some detail, making me feel that my own experience of the event was potentially of some clinical importance, then he looked at the film / MRI images, then we watched the movie. Two small incisions, knee is filled up with water for better viewing, old trashed ACL is snipped out, tissue is "harvested" from hamstring tendon [gotta love that word, "harvesting," in the context of body parts], it is neatly folded in half and sewn together at the ends, holes are drilled in the leg bones and they thread in the new ligament and pin it in place. Oh and of course this all happens while I'm sleeping.

After the movie, he looked at my knee for awhile, bending it this way and that, but not in any ways that hurt, which kind of surprised me. The last time I saw an orthopedist about ten years ago, in an attempt to divine what was causing my knees to go click...click...click with every step when I walk or run sometimes, the doctor seemed to delight in causing discomfort. Oh, does this hurt? Oh, it still hurts when I do the same thing again? How about this time? Still hurts, does it? [All we ever found out was that it hurt when he did that.]

One bit of news I liked was that I can have the surgery AFTER my bike ride down the Oregon coast in September. Should get home from the around the 8th, surgery is tentatively scheduled for the 11th or 13th. Meanwhile I'll be fitted for a sports brace and get going with PT. Feeling a lot more hopeful that the way my knee currently feels is not at all what I'll be stuck with until the surgery.


wordsfromhome said...

It is good to know the plan of action. If he had only told you that you can never play football again on a harvested ACL...

Bellabell said...

What wordsfromhome said. Don't suppose there could be a vote. . . .