As the one-year anniversary of my meniscal transplant approaches, I sit down and marvel how something as small as a meniscus can have a very BIG impact on your life.
It all started eleven years ago, on March 18, 1999. I was sitting on the floor in school doing a project with some of my classmates when I tried to get up. I could not open my knee. After a visit to the orthopedist, I was diagnosed with a meniscal tear. My knee was “locked” and surgery was the only option for me at that point.
Fast forward… surgery was done, and I thought I was done with this condition, but unfortunately God had some other plans for me. Two months after being discharged from physical therapy I re-tore my meniscus. Again the doctor said surgery was the only option, but I wasn’t ready to go under the knife again. Two years, a new doctor, and many other nonoperative treatments later, I went under the knife again for my second menisectomy. This time around the surgery was considered “successful.” For over five years I was pain free. Fast forward to 2007–sitting as a passenger in a car involved in a MVA, I reinjured my knee for the THIRD time!! With a bucket handle tear and my knee again in the “locked” position I had no option but to undergo a third menisectomy.
In 2009, with the beginning stages of arthritis forming and a failed third meniscectomy, my NY surgeon, Dr. David Menche, suggested that I may be a candidate for a meniscal transplant. So off I flew to Chicago to meet with Dr. Brian Cole and his team.
After consulting with Dr. Cole and his team, the final decision was made to start the process of finding a match for me. When the call came a few months later that a match had been found I was confronted with making the “real” decision. Do we proceed or not? After some back and forth, the surgical date was set. Still unsure if I had made the correct decision I boarded the flight to Chicago, knowing that recovery was supposed to be long and painful. But with the help of God I was proven wrong. My recovery was uneventful. I had minimal pain which was under control with the use of the “Game Ready” ice machine. (I did not take any painkillers throughout my entire recovery process.) Later the same day of surgery, I was walking (on crutches and braced) through the hotel hallways! It felt great!!
With the help of God and the constant support from my family; Dr. Brian Cole; Dr. David Menche (NY); PA’s Kyle Pilz and Natalie Podboy; and the entire staff of Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH and Metrosportsmed (NY), I was able to make a full recovery.
This ordeal has taught me not to take the “little” things for granted in life. Something so small as the meniscus can have a life-long effect on a person and his quality of life.
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