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  • The Bionic Woman-we can rebuild her!

    Hello all-I'm happy to be introducing myself and sharing my journey. Thanks to MD and MHP for providing the inspiration to submit my story for consideration.
    I am 33 years old, a physical therapist by education currently working in case management. I have been an athlete of some type my whole life. When I was 9 I began riding horses, began competing and getting involved in the sport pretty heavily. At 13 I sustained a fall and injured my left knee. This was the beginning of my knee(s) saga.
    At age 19 I had my first knee surgery on the left side. In PT school I had a part time job at a therapy clinic with a small gym attached, which was where I worked. Here is where I began lifting weights, albiet a bit misguided at first. Over time I learned more, did more, and after I graduated PT school I took the NSCA CSCS exam. As time passed I continued training, but also took up competitive cycling (traded a horse saddle for a bicycle saddle.)
    Throughout this time I conitnued to have knee pain, but just ignored it, as my previous diagnoses had basically said there was nothing that could be done. In 2004 I had another surgery, arthroscopy on both knees. My doctor saw that I had severe cartilage deterioration behind both kneecaps, but the rest of the knees were perfect. He recommended a new procedure called Carticel-basically a cartilage replacement using your own cells taken in a harvest, then grown in a lab, and reimplanted under a patch using the periosteum (bone covering). It is a new procedure, and despite several appeals to my insurance company at the time, they continued to deny the procedure. My pain continued to get worse.
    My doctor started my on Synvisc injections, which were miraculous from my view in helping my pain. It allowed me to train hard (as long as I got the shots every 6 months) and enter my first figure show. By this time I used the road bike pretty much for cardio only, as my doctor recommended I cut back on long rides. I placed 2nd in the novice divison of a local show and was thrilled. I continued training and learning, subsisting on anti-inflammatories and the shots, and the following season completed 3 more figure shows. My pain began getting worse again, and at this point (November of 2006) the shots weren't helping any more. I had known that they weren't doing anything about the source of the problem, that the cartilage was continuing to degenerate, but they certainly allowed me to function with less pain. My December of 2005 I once again could barealy get out of the car, had trouble standing up from the sofa, and forget about steps. I had another arthroscopy and it confirmed that the cartilage damage had indeed gotten worse. By this time I had a new insurance company, so we pursued the Carticel again.
    This time, it was approved! I needed the procedure on both knees, which to my knowledge I am the first in the US to undergo. The procedure also required moving a piece of bone in the tibia and replacing it with a pin. My surgery was
    April 23rd. I was allowed only partial weight bearing on both legs, and was in braces keeping my knees fully extended. I spent 6 days in the hospital. My scars are about 6 1/2 inches long on each knee. I had to be in continuous passive motion machines 6 hours a day-I was allowed to have the passive motion to certain degrees, but no active motion. I was in a wheelchair for 6 weeks, only transferring to the couch or bed. After 6 weeks, I began to use crutches for short distances. As you can imagine, any and all fitness went out the window. Propelling myself 20 feet left me out of breath.

    Ill try to shorten this a bit-now 4 months post op, and things are going relatively well, although I will probably need one more surgery on the left knee, I see my doc on Tuesday and will find out then. I started pool exercises about 10 weeks ago, and started back at the gym at about 8 weeks post op. I can do many upper body exercises, but Im quite limited in what I can do for my legs at this point due to still having to protect the cartilage grafts. I was thrilled when I could ride the stationary bike and do the elliptical.
    I am not fat, although my body composition is far from what I have had in the past as a figure competitor. Currently 57 at 135 lbs. Being ill and laid up I had lost ALL muscle in my legs and gained bodyfat. My goal is to bring my legs back (come on, muscle memory!!) and continue to build my upper body, get lean again and eventually step on stage once more, my goal is late fall 2008.
    Goodness that was long! Thanks for reading-take care all-

    Hello all-I'm happy to be introducing myself and sharing my journey. Thanks to MD and MHP for providing the inspiration to submit my story for consideration.
    I am 33 years old, a physical therapist by education currently working in case management. I have been an athlete of some type my whole life. When I was 9 I began riding horses, began competing and getting involved in the sport pretty heavily. At 13 I sustained a fall and injured my left knee. This was the beginning of my knee(s) saga.
    At age 19 I had my first knee surgery on the left side. In PT school I had a part time job at a therapy clinic with a small gym attached, which was where I worked. Here is where I began lifting weights, albiet a bit misguided at first. Over time I learned more, did more, and after I graduated PT school I took the NSCA CSCS exam. As time passed I continued training, but also took up competitive cycling (traded a horse saddle for a bicycle saddle.)
    Throughout this time I conitnued to have knee pain, but just ignored it, as my previous diagnoses had basically said there was nothing that could be done. In 2004 I had another surgery, arthroscopy on both knees. My doctor saw that I had severe cartilage deterioration behind both kneecaps, but the rest of the knees were perfect. He recommended a new procedure called Carticel-basically a cartilage replacement using your own cells taken in a harvest, then grown in a lab, and reimplanted under a patch using the periosteum (bone covering). It is a new procedure, and despite several appeals to my insurance company at the time, they continued to deny the procedure. My pain continued to get worse.
    My doctor started my on Synvisc injections, which were miraculous from my view in helping my pain. It allowed me to train hard (as long as I got the shots every 6 months) and enter my first figure show. By this time I used the road bike pretty much for cardio only, as my doctor recommended I cut back on long rides. I placed 2nd in the novice divison of a local show and was thrilled. I continued training and learning, subsisting on anti-inflammatories and the shots, and the following season completed 3 more figure shows. My pain began getting worse again, and at this point (November of 2006) the shots weren't helping any more. I had known that they weren't doing anything about the source of the problem, that the cartilage was continuing to degenerate, but they certainly allowed me to function with less pain. My December of 2005 I once again could barealy get out of the car, had trouble standing up from the sofa, and forget about steps. I had another arthroscopy and it confirmed that the cartilage damage had indeed gotten worse. By this time I had a new insurance company, so we pursued the Carticel again.
    This time, it was approved! I needed the procedure on both knees, which to my knowledge I am the first in the US to undergo. The procedure also required moving a piece of bone in the tibia and replacing it with a pin. My surgery was
    April 23rd. I was allowed only partial weight bearing on both legs, and was in braces keeping my knees fully extended. I spent 6 days in the hospital. I had to be in continuous passive motion machines 6 hours a day-I was allowed to have the passive motion to certain degrees, but no active motion. I was in a wheelchair for 6 weeks, only transferring to the couch or bed. After 6 weeks, I began to use crutches for short distances. As you can imagine, any and all fitness went out the window. Propelling myself 20 feet left me out of breath.

    Ill try to shorten this a bit-now 4 months post op, and things are going relatively well, although I will probably need one more surgery on the left knee, I see my doc on Tuesday and will find out then. I started pool exercises about 10 weeks ago, and started back at the gym at about 8 weeks post op. I can do many upper body exercises, but Im quite limited in what I can do for my legs at this point due to still having to protect the cartilage grafts. I was thrilled when I could ride the stationary bike and do the elliptical.
    I am not fat, although my body composition is far from what I have had in the past as a figure competitor. Currently 57 at 135 lbs. Being ill and laid up I had lost ALL muscle in my legs and gained bodyfat. My goal is to bring my legs back (come on, muscle memory!!) and continue to build my upper body, get lean again and eventually step on stage once more, my goal is late fall 2008.
    Goodness that was long! Thanks for reading-take care all-
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