a long road to ”yes”
While playing softball in my late twenties, I somehow strained or pulled the patellar tendon in my left knee. Immediately, I knew that something had changed in my knee. I iced the injury.
I had to take time off from exercise. I saw a family practitioner, who was familiar with Osgood Schlatter Disease. He referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, who was highly regarded among his peers and performs knee surgeries on amateur and professional athletes.
I remember the surgeon being impressed with the disparity between my two knees, which you can see in this picture taken before my knee surgery.
The surgeon ordered an x-ray, and it showed large bone ossicles in the patellar tendon, as well as build up of bone material on the tibia.
He said the surgery, if I elected it, involved separating the patellar tendon fibers and removing the ossicles. I also remember him saying that they would detach the patellar tendon from the tibia and shave down the bone build up a little bit and reattach the tendon.
I remember the recovery for this was being long, since the knee had to be stabilized for a long period to heal. Years later, when I actually had the surgery performed, the standard of practice had apparently changed, and surgeons no longer shaved the tibia.
The surgery seemed severe, and the recovery seemed to be a lot longer than what I was expecting. For these reasons, and for the fact that no one could tell me exactly what it was going to cost, I chose not to have surgery.
Instead of surgery, I decided to rest and ice my knee to give it a chance to heal.
Within a few weeks I returned to sports, and this time I wore a knee brace. I also learned to avoid certain movements with my knee and avoided sitting on my knees or weight bearing at acute angles.
This went on for a few years before I tired of it.
I live on the Colorado front range, and I do a lot of outdoor activities. I like to bike, hike, and run. I live an active lifestyle.
I found myself favoring my OSD knee too much. Also, the pain was getting worse, especially during running. Finally, I worried that with time the knee would become arthritic.
I was experiencing other symptoms in the knee besides only sharp pain in the patellar tendon. For these reasons, I reconsidered the surgery.
I decided that I was ready for surgery, even if it meant a long recovery.
I returned to the same doctor I saw before, since he and his partners had a good reputation. It seemed impossible, but ten years had gone by since my first surgery consultation. Time moves quickly with work, family, and life.
As I would soon learn from experience, the recovery is not that long.