Knee: version 3, the long road ahead and a look back.

Many of you know that I have just had surgery on my knee and I thought everyone knew the story behind it but it turns out I was wrong there as I keep being asked what it was for and why I needed surgery.

Here is the story from 1980 through to today.

Warning: some of the pictures are not for the weak of stomach.

 

Knee: version 1

Created 1980 through natural growth

Terminated through malignant bone tumour 1995

 

Version 1

Born 1980 with playing on my mind. Always active, never still. Strong, fit and ready to rock and roll be it cycling down a muddy hill, climbing a tree, swimming for the school or cross country running alongside horses. I was moving and you better believe I had no intention of slowing for anything.

First word was playtime and I’ll be dammed if that wasn’t spot on.

Knee version 1 served me well…until 1995

Knee: version 2

Created 1995 in a lab, installed by Prof. Cobb, UCLH Middlesex London

Terminated 2013 through excessive use, fun and life

 

An X Ray of my actual implant, side on.

Version 2 side X-ray

 

In 1995 I spent 6 very painful months discovering I had bone cancer, another 7 months receiving chemotherapy, having much of version 1 leg removed and replaced with leg version 2.

Half of my tibia, some of my femur and half of my knee cap were removed and replaced with a custom made and adjustable implant which is was held in place with cement and securing rods drilled into the thigh bone and remaining shin bone.

This means no attachment points for thigh muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings etc. Clamps were utilized in place of natural tendon insertion points which results in much weaker movement.

One quad was removed proximally (hip end) and wrapped around the knee for protection, the same for the medial head of the gastrocnemius (calf muscle). Tendons were removed from hamstrings and grafted to the calf muscle to allow more tissue for protection of the implant.

 

Time from original version 2 implant to walking unaided: 3-6 months

Time to cycling and falling around drunk: circa 1 year

Time to above average strength training: 2 years upwards.

 

4-6 further surgeries due to growth over the next 7 years and one surgery to replace broken parts in circa 2007 which didn’t go well, replaced nothing and gave me an infection which destroyed the cement holding the implant in. Frustrating times.

Early 2013 saw me suffering in my other leg and lower back: too much strain over the years can add up so I backed off training heavy compounds for the lower body as advised by the surgical team.

It only held of the inevitable for a few more months when the implant really gave out in the summer.

Walking was screwy and my leg was now capable of hyper mobility in all the wrong ways by 20 degrees.

Time for version 3.

 

Termination Version 2

Termination Version 2

Oh yes, as it turns out version two may well have been broken for a very long time as evidenced by the pictures taken during surgery.

The one above shows lots of dead tissue and broken down plastic components.

 

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Metal components removed

 

This photo shows the two main metal implants which were removed, the bigger one was from the thigh and basically fell out, which it in no way should have done. Surgeons commented on how amazed they were that was I was still able to walk. Always fun to hear.

 

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Broken bits and dead bits

 

The tray full of black bits and polyurethane is more of what was removed: dead, damaged and broken  implant/tissue. It’s hard to tell which is which.

 

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Snapped titanium

 

And this is the truly snapped section of implant which connects upper and lower portions (thigh and lower leg). Clear to see now why walking was so awkward and I could make my leg knock and rattle. It was actually quite satisfying to see the surgical teams faces when they heard the knocking.

 

“That’s metal on metal that is, bushings, what bushings?”

 

So with leg version 2 well and truly broken I have just come out of hospital after having leg version 3 installed.

Knee: version 3

Created 2013 in Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and installed by Mr. Pollock

 

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Version 3. over 30 staples and a drain tube for good measure

 

Version 3 is an upgrade to all the broken components you see in the above images.

Along the way this meant shaving off a little more of my thigh bone and cutting away damaged tissue. Surgery took about half the time of the original V2 implant installation and will hopefully have half the recovery time too.

My strength levels are a joke right now (6 days post surgery) and walking without crutches resembles something from a black and white horror movie, lasts about 3 -5 steps before uncontrollable staggering takes hold and collapse becomes unavoidable. Amusing to watch I am sure.

Think I’ll stick with crutches a while longer.

As painful as waking from surgery is, I am dosed with copious amounts of “don’t give a shit what’s happening drugs”. I assure you that having the drain tube removed from 4 inches deep whilst fully awake is far less preferable.

 

So with a long road ahead of me back to full recovery I am both excited to getting back a fully active life and work but also mixed in there are thoughts like:

 

Will I be better than I was before?

How long will it take?

I am going to have this done all over again at some point, fuck.

 

2013 has been a year of set backs, anticipation, recovery and plans. Plans for 2014 to be a strong, active and uninterrupted year of progression in all areas of my life.

The toll this takes can go unnoticed due to its chronic nature but this year has been particularly tough and one which I have no care to go through again. Next year will be a breeze with less burden to shoulder and more freedom to enjoy.

The power of physical strength and independence is mighty.

I look forward to it’s hard fought return.

 

 

Thanks to all my clients that have had to take a forced lay off for my surgery time and for being so understanding. We’ll be back to it soon I assure you, even if I am still on crutches, you’ll be getting pushed harder than ever. Fact.

Thanks to my friends and family that have been there as support. Thanks Jon and Chris’s for Dog sitting, chauffeuring and personal shopper job roles. Thank you. I’d be even more screwed without you.

As always, thanks Mum x

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