Back home after the lovely news, I could not do any real training in martial arts, so I turned to the bike for help. Help in moving through the healing process, help in moving through the fog of disappointment. Riding was easy and cautious at first, but I built up to decent rides after a while. I still limped and had poor extension and flexion though. The summer went by with slow progress.
The follow up to the doc came and went. I wanted to know what my limitations were, my recovery path, more info on why this felt this way or that. Basically, I wanted answers. It seemed to me that that was his job. I have questions he has answers. Apparently I was misinformed. I walked out with more questions than before. Basically it was put to me this way: You should be able to eventually do anything you want to, if you have any stability issues come back and we will operate and we can order you a custom brace ($1000.00) to go along with your life.
Man, that was just not good enough. I guess if I was a sedate, average, slightly overweight Joe who sports program involves Poker Tournaments and watching NASCAR, I would have been satisfied with that. But I had planned to be fitter at 50 than I was at 40 and I was on track to that. It is said that God laughs at our plans. If this was it then so be it, but I needed to KNOW that. I suppose the doc could only say so much, but I felt like I got the best 5 minutes of his day and the options given me were the default check list they teach in medical school: Medicate, operate.
How could I heal and strengthen the damage done? How could I take the years of athletic experience, knowing my body, working through injuries and pain, and let my body heal itself? No answer.
I had read about an alternative therapy called Prolotherapy. It had been around for a few years and is not new, but involves the injection of what is typically a Dextrose solution into the damaged joint, ligament, tendon, etc, where it inflames the area and promotes natural healing to occur. The more I read, the more it intrigued me. It seemed to be an option to consider for the type of injury I had. What can be better than triggering the bodies own healing system? The worst that could happen was that it would not be effective and I would have spent money for nothing. You see, insurance does not cover it. You can get all the Ibuprofen and surgeries ya want, but no simple injections of sugar water.
I remember discussing this with a friend who was injured from a bike crash. He was running through the same HMO merry go round and we were comparing notes. I said that I was dreaming of a medical environment that when you walked in the door, they took a look at the whole of you. They really took the time to ask questions and considered all the options. I asked the Orthopedic at the last follow up about the Prolotherapy. His reply was "They will stick you with needles, make you sore, and charge you a lot of money". No discussion past that. Next patient?
Summer waned and I was ready for another plan. I made an appointment at a local LA sports rehab clinic that was nationally known for not just Prolotherapy, but a holistic approach to injury recovery. Also, I had the MRI re-read by another independant ladb. This time the results were quite different. Instead of a full section tear, the ACL was diagnosed as a "probable, partial tear". Really?
I am past my fourth Prolotherapy injection now and the entire approach has been remarkable. The time spent with the doctors was very different. I never felt rushed and the exams were insightful and intuitive. They looked at my whole posture, leg strengths and weaknesses, any nerve issues, recommended strengthening exercises and some corrective inserts for my shoes on the damaged leg. Supplements were suggested to aid in the natural healing process, but not required.
My knee feels much more solid now and the pain in the joint is still present, but should fade away as the injections wear off and healing continues. I do not know if the Prolotherapy will be the magic bullet or not but I do think it is helping a great deal.
The most amazing part of the experience at the rehab clinic was the whole approach to the examination and healing process. The moral of this yet to be finished process is be careful of what you accept as fact regarding your body. I learned that MRIs are very often misread and one techs read will differ from another. Shop around for your care and consider your options carefully.
If I had listened to the doc the first time, I would be healing from an ACL surgery right now that I may not have needed. Time will tell. I will report back in a few months.