Melissa, Knee Cap Replacement

My story begins at a young age. I was on the high school track and field team and was throwing Javelin at practice when I had a patellar subluxation. PT gave some relief, but it was not a permanent fix. I battled knee issues all throughout my college field hockey career and was in and out of PT at least 5 times.

As time went on I started to notice my knees seemed to becoming more and more unstable with squatting and lunging. I took up yoga and every warrior and seated chair posture I observed that when I bent my knees to a certain degree it felt as if they were going to give out. I had X-ray after X-ray that never really showed any major issues, but an MRI was never prescribed. I started wearing knee braces to run and snowboard, which were cumbersome.

It wasn't until I had a freak snowboard accident that doctors realized I had a major issue. I remember going in to see my orthopedic; as usual they did X-rays that showed nothing major. She did every manual test to check for torn ligaments and such. I was nervous because I had a half marathon in Disney coming up in a month. She diagnosed me with a badly sprained MCL and told me I could run as long as I could tolerate the pain. I continued my training and got through the race with minimal problems, but still had a tender spot and pushed for an MRI as I wanted to train for a full marathon but wanted to rule out any possible meniscus or ligament issues. I remember her looking at the images on the screen, then looking at me, then looking back at the images. She was shocked I had just run a half marathon because as it had turned out I sustained a rotational stress fracture to the tibia from the snowboarding accident and somehow managed to run on it for a month without having it turn into a full on break. What was more disturbing however, was what the MRI showed with my knee cap... it was noted that I had ZERO cartilage left under my patella. Being that she was not a surgeon, she referred me to another doctor in the practice who specialized in knee replacements. When I saw the knee specialist for my result he told me no one locally would take my case... that my issue was not with the knee joint itself, but was with the patellofemoral joint and no one in the area was specialized to handle my case. I was told I would never run again or snowboard again. I was devastated. I was then referred to Dr. Jess Lonner at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

I waited until after that snowboarding season, then decided to see Dr. Lonner and see what he had to say. As nervous and upset as I was bout the entire situation there was something about Beverly and Dr. Lonner that put me very much at ease. He recommended that I have bilateral knee cap replacements. He felt I was strong enough and in good enough shape that I could have both done at the same time. His main interest was my quality of life. He wanted to know what goals I had for myself post op. I told him I wanted to be able to snowboard, do my yoga, and run. He assured me I would be back on my board, yoga would not be an issue, but he broke it to me as gently as possible that there was a very real possibility I would not be able to run. I had written a list of questions I wanted to ask and he sat there and took the time to answer every single question thoroughly. He made me feel like a real human being, not as another procedure to earn few more dollars.

June 30th came and there I was being wheeled back into the O.R. When I woke up in recovery my legs were under a bunch of covers and all I saw were my feet poking out beneath the sheets. I remember wiggling my toes just to make sure my legs still worked.

Dr. Lonner said everything went really well, and that the main issue was that I actually had no trochlear grooves! I was on my feet four hours after surgery and walking with a walker. I spent three nights in the hospital learning how to do basic everyday things like go up and down stairs, get in and out of a car, go to the bathroom. The staff was amazing. I hate hospitals, but every nurse, doctor, and physical therapist was so kind that I actually did not mind the stay as much as I initially though I would.

I worked my butt off at PT. My PT family was amazing. They worked diligently with me to help me get back to the quality of life I desired

At my 2 month post op check-up in August Dr. Lonner seemed impressed and I was given the green light to ride my snowboard that December. He then spoke the words I never thought I would hear... he said "if you want to try running you can, but try to stay on flat, soft surfaces." I almost broke into tears on the spot... WHAT? I was allowed to try running again??? I was ecstatic. As my confidence grew I decided to ring in that new year by signing up for a 5k. I ran/walked it and was overjoyed when I crossed the finish line. In March of 2012, just 9 months after my surgery, I ran my first legitimate 5k. This led to some fun mud runs, and eventually led to my friend pushing me to ask my surgeon about the possibility of a half marathon. When I went back to see Dr. Lonner for my one year pot op I brought up the half marathon question and jumped off the exam table when he approved. December 8th, 2012 I did intervals of run 10 minutes/ walk 2 minutes at the Rehoboth Half Marathon in Delaware, a year and a half post op. I had my race medal inscribed with a note of gratitude and gave it to Dr. Lonner. I later went on to PR in the Island to Island Half Marathon in April of 2013. Never in a million years did I think any of this would be possible... but there was still one long term goal I had looming over my head... a full marathon.

At my 3 year post op appointment I walked in to Dr. Lonner's office fully prepared to have my full marathon idea shot down. When he looked at me and said "go for it" I was shocked! I was so excited to be given a second opportunity to try and tackle the full marathon. I spent that summer training my tail off... and on September 7th, 2014, after 4 hours and 23 minutes I crossed the finish line of the VIA FULL Marathon... in a tutu =) There were so many reason I wanted to complete a full marathon... 1) was to prove to myself I could, and do redeem myself from my injury laden one back in 2009 2) was to show appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Lonner for his hard work, continued support, and ability to give me a better quality of life 3) to inspire others and show then that anything is possible 4) was to prove the initial doctors wrong who told me to give up on my dreams of ever running again.

Since the completion of my marathon I took a few deserved weeks off from running. I gave my legs the TLC they earned. I am not sure exactly what the future holds for me as far as running goes.  I will be grateful for every day that I am blessed with the ability to be able to run and I will run in honor of those who can't. I apologize for the long winded story, but I hope it has offered hope and insight to those who may be struggling right now with making the decision to have a replacement or not.

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