Today is the 1-year anniversary of my 3rd arthroscopic knee surgery. I tore the meniscus in the fall of 2011 and tried to rest and rehab my way out of surgery. After the MRI, it became clear that I needed surgery to repair. I was walking the next day and running again within a month. I ran the Detroit Free Press Marathon a little over 7 months after the surgery. The run didn’t go according to plan but I finished which was the primary goal for a first marathon. It was probably too big a goal for such a short time after the surgery but I thought I could handle it. I had a really good 22-mile training run a few weeks before and everything went fine. I tore the Meniscus in my left knee mostly likely while running Dances with Dirt which was an unplanned, and untrained for, race. A friend asked me just 2 days before the race to fill in for an injured team mate on his relay team. It sounded like fun, it was an absolute blast, but I hadn’t done any trail running for several months. I can’t say for sure that is when the injury happened, although it is the only thing that makes sense, but my knee started hurting within a couple of weeks and continued to get worse. After a couple of months of therapy to try to prevent the need for surgery and an MRI, it was determined that I needed surgery.
It was my 3rd surgery on the same knee but was unrelated to the other surgeries. The first surgery was to remove a bone chip over 1 inch in diameter. It turns out that this chip also had all the cartilage from the upper bone in the knee joint. The missing this cartilage would leave me in pain if I walked or ran for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. This caused me to avoid exercise due to the pain. More than 10 years later, I started having a new pain in the back of the knee. The doctor said it was just another bone chip and was no big deal to remove but he noticed the missing cartilage and told me of a procedure , microfracture, that would likely solve the pain issues. Unfortunately, this meant 6 weeks on crutches after the surgery because as the doctor explained it, the new cartilage would be like new grass grown from seeds. If you walk on it too soon, it will die due to not being strong enough. This new cartilage would need to strengthen before I could walk on it. After 6 weeks on crutches, I could barely walk on the leg without falling over due to muscle loss. I lost 2 inches in diameter in my calf during this time. After several months of therapy and then a follow up round of therapy 8 months later, I was pain free for the first time in close to 20 years.
I started running a couple of years later because some friends convinced me I could run a half marathon even though I had never run more than 3 miles in my life and hadn’t done that in 10+ years. I thought they were crazy but 1 of these friends had never been a runner and had lost a large amount of weight and done the half marathon. I started running in February and successfully ran a half marathon, 13.1 miles, in just over 2 hours in September of that same year. I was quite amazed and before I realized it, I was addicted to the running. I completed my last half marathon in 1:54:43, 8:45 min/mile pace just 1 year later. 2 years after that, skipped a year due to the knee injury, I ran the full marathon.
3 surgeries and several scars later the knee is in pretty good shape, maybe a little weaker than the other knee but still as pain free as the “good knee”.