From Deadman's Trail

Note from Vic - My left knee quit working!

Aloha Pat,

On 25 January 2012, my left knee seized. That's right .... it locked up. No accident. No injury. Didn't fall off a step-ladder or a mountain. The leg just locked up with incredible pain. Couldn't move the knee in either direction until the ortho guy shot it up with steroids.

The MRI showed that the cartilage had worn away and the miniscus (pad between the bones) was torn. The principal villian here is arthritis which runs in my family. Lots of biathlons, triathlons, marathons, obstacle courses, squats, mountains and 321 parachute jumps also contributed. I've probably put 10 million miles on that knee. During the previous 2 months, I had done a lot of climbing on steep mountains like Koko Crater, Koko Head and the Koolaus plus a ten mile hike with our son and his bride. There were a few clues when my knee started "nibbling" at me with pain, but I thought I could walk my way through it as I have often done before, but when it locked, I knew I was in for a different experience.

That's the problem. So far, my solution has been 3 shots of an artificial synovial fluid called "Supartz" directly into the knee ... which didn't work. Many hours on the stationary bike and nordic elliptical to maintain cardio-vascular fitness plus lots of weight training and swimming, but walking has not been in my agenda for almost 5 months. I have arthroscopic surgery scheduled tomorrow and the doc is giving me a 50/50 chance of "status que ante", ie, being able to walk again without canes or crutches.

If this operation doesn't work, the next and final option is a knee replacement which probably won't happen soon. I'm going into the surgery with a positive and optimistic attitude because I've had 8 other surgeries on conditions that would not have healed without the surgery: ganglions in both feet, a seized "trigger thumb", a bone spur in my right shoulder, plus a few other little nasties like plantar facscitis and lower back pain that needed the knife and/or therapy. All 8 of those surgeries and all the therapies were successful, so I'm cautiously optimistic on this one.

I'm sharing this with you and Tim, so that other classmates, who might experience the same problem will realize that this condition is not as uncommon as people might think. Since my knee went out, I have met a LOT of people, particularly paratroopers and other infantry soldiers who have the same condition. Some of them have been suffering from this since their late 40's. I didn't get hit until I was almost 66, so I should be counting my blessings ... and I am. I'm also grateful that I'm not living in a place like Nigeria or Bangladesh because when those folks get hit with an injury or sickness, prayer is often their ONLY solution.

One way or another, I hope to fight my way out of this, but just wanted to let our fellow old folks know that life sometimes has surprises that we don't think about ... until it hits us. If you have any spare prayers, I could use a few.


Vic '68

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