In the winter of 2007 I was training for the CDA Ironman, doing a long trail run in Tryon Creek.  On the flats things felt fine but I degraded to literally a walk on the uphills.  My left knee hurt.  And not the kind of hurt you can run through; more like there was a very sharp pain and then it just gave out.  Didn't work.

In the three years since I tried everything.  Accupuncture.  Physical therapy.  Abstinence.  Stretching.  Orthotics.  Then, I resorted to surgery.  First a lateral release.  No change.   My doctors at Rebound recommended a Fulkerson osteotomy and ACI.  Scared the crap out of me.  Particularly after reading related postes under Knee Guru.  So I delayed and debated.  Got second opinions.  Got scoped and had a cartilage sample taken for the ACI.  I was awake so that I could guide the surgeons to the spot that hurt.  I recall seeing him sweep an instrument over normal, white cartilage, then he tapped a spot that looked normal and the instrument sunk in - like wet sheetrock.  Bingo.  They took a plug of cartilage to culture for the ACI; I can still recall the thump of the mallet before they turned up the anesthetic and I drifted off.

Then, skiing in Deer Valley in spring 2009, my knee hurt so much that I hardly enjoyed skiing - even on the groomers.  I decided then to schedule surgery.  No easy decision as it meant crutches and a brace for weeks.

Fast forward to September 2010.  My cultured cartilage sample was ready to go in some storage area at Carticel Labs, and they coordinated a courier to bring the sample just in time for my surgery.  My leg was washed, shaved and washed again, then I was covered with warm blankets and wheeled into the operatory.  Got hooked up with a Game Ready ice cuff (amazing) afterwards and began recovery.

The scariest part?  Showering.  A giant black trash bag duct taped over my brace and the careful shuffle into the shower.  So easy to imagine a slip and a fall, and the potential to cock up all the work they'd done - maybe for good.

I had surgery on a Thursday, took Friday off and worked from home on Monday.  Couldn't bear to take more vacation, nor could I bear working from home for the entire week.  So I packed the Family Truckster up with the Game Ready and the crutches and drove our only automatic to work.

Pain was very manageable.  I took partial doses of prescription narcotics  on the first two nights so that I could sleep more soundly.  Regardless of any pain, it's crazy trying to sleep with a huge brace on.  When you want to roll over and have to orchestrate this 1-2-3-Heave to throw the Frankenstein leg one direction or the other.

A few weeks later a range of motion machine arrived.  I learned to take off the brace and swing my leg into the machine.  Laying in bed while the machine slowly extended and flexed my knee.  Week by week the flexion increased - following the guidelines.

The worst part?  Not having any real options for exercise.  I still hobbled my crutches over to Bally's and went through the motions, but it just wasn't very satisfying not being able to be really aerobic.

So now it's May, about eight months post-surgery.  The results are encouraging so far.