SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014
My sign is vital, my hands are cold
And I’m on my knees looking for the answerAre we human or are we dancer?
Up until November 2013, I was a fully functioning 29 year old with a full-time job who moonlighted as a Zumba instructor 5 times a week. As I’ve come to understand it, Zumba is my passion. Starting a business and dance classes from scratch in a small studio on the outskirts of town has been my biggest accomplishment thus far.
So when I learned that I would be on the bench for 7 months, my world started to crumble. Thoughts of losing everything I worked so hard to build, disappointing the people who came to class night after night, and losing my mind from lack of physical activity were the only things I could think about.
It all started with knee pain. I thought some of it was normal and I would work through it. Going to the gym 5 times/week, running 4-5 times/week, and also teaching my dance classes 5 times/week was my life for about 3 years. In November 2013, the pain increased to a point of discomfort during activity, so I went to an orthopedic doctor. He told me I had Chodromalacia (inflammation under the patella, the patella is your knee cap, in result of cartilage breakdown). He gave me a cortisone shot and recommended that I wear a brace.
Fast forward to February… there were good days and bad days. I was chronically using anti-inflammatory OTCs to prevent internal swelling. It was on vacation in Florida, where the pain became so excruciating that I didn’t want to walk. Climbing/descending stairs was impossible without pain, squatting was impossible without pain, and a month later, tying shoes was impossible without a little pain.
I took myself back to the doctor and got an MRI. The diagnosis was Patellofemoral arthritis and the recommendation was a lateral release. A Lateral release is when the fibrous bands holding the patella are too tight and need to be cut. This will help the patella shift back into place, so that it’s not gliding along a surface that will break down cartilage at an alarming rate.
This meant 4-6 weeks out of commission, and my world was turned upside down! Ok, time for a 2nd opinion. I was a little skeptical about the current doctor, so I figured another opinion can’t hurt.
I sent my MRI results to a doctor from the Hospital for Special Surgery. Without even seeing me, he decided that I didn’t need any kind of surgery and pawned me off to another doctor who I decided to not see. At this point, I was already in the process of sending my results to another doctor at the Hospital for Special Surgery. A doctor/surgeon who was renowned in the world of knee surgery.
These results finally got to the 3rd doctor, and I was scheduled for X-rays and an appointment 30 days out. I was told that I could call everyday in case of a cancellation… I did just that! I told the appointment person that we would become best friends, but she was not amused. If I was going to be out for 6 weeks, I needed to get the ball rolling. Finally, a cancellation! I had my appointment within 2 weeks!
That was the worst day of my life!!!
Doc informed me that my patella were maligned and that not only would a lateral release be a terrible option, but that I wasn’t even a great candidate for the recommended procedure, patella stabilization/realignment. The cartilage in my right knee was nonexistent and the cartilage in the left knee was barely there. He said a lateral release would only prolong the inevitable, a realignment or multiple total knee replacements. The stabilization would mean 6 months of recovery.
I am 29… why is this happening?! Genetics and general wear and tear.
I got new MRIs to confirm the diagnosis. Apparently MRI quality is not the same everywhere. So he got me the “Ferrari” of MRIs… I’m sure my insurance was pleased. I am a get shit done kind of person, so I scheduled the surgery for May 7th. They couldn’t do both knees at the same time, so the right knee was first.
I spent my last night before surgery, in my bedroom, crying and hoping that all of the work I put into life wasn’t going to be thrown back up like abnormal bile.
Posted by Christine Gonzalez at 8:37 PM