My TCO Comeback Story
It was summer, 1964. I was 13 years old, running across Deephaven Beach on Lake Minnetonka. In midair, my left knee went out of joint and I landed in pain. This was the first of many knee challenges. By 14, I had my first surgery to correct this problem. It was gruesome and painful, and a surgery that is no longer performed. I was recently told by a TCO doc that they really didn’t know what they were doing at the time, “we were just getting started.” I spent five days in the hospital and spent six weeks on crutches in a plaster cast from foot to thigh. I couldn’t fully bend my leg for at least six months after that. The surgery seemed to help enough that I underwent the same procedure on my right knee at 17. These surgeries certainly didn’t “fix” the problems I was having, and as an adult, I would develop painful arthritis.
I downhill skied on these knees as a teenager, but would pay with extreme pain afterwards. In my 20’s and 30’s, these knees went on numerous one to two week backpack, bike and canoe trips. I led many Minnetonka High Students on these experiential wilderness trips as part of my teaching position. I would return from these adventures in serious pain. I would dance and they’d pop out of joint. By my 40’s, I had a lot of pain and had trouble functioning in my position as an art teacher. This is when my husband started doing all the grocery shopping and laundry. I was just too sore to do much after work.
I’ve visited orthopedic surgeons my entire adult life. I tried every brace imaginable, tried prolotherapy, acupuncture, had arthroscopic surgery to clean up the bone spurring (the doc said it looked like a bomb went off in my knee, it was such a mess). Some of these therapies helped for a while, but nothing lasted. There was nothing anyone could really do for me. I was always told that I needed knee replacements, but that I was way too young. Finally, at 47, I saw Dr. Wyard, whom a friend had highly recommended. He looked at my x-rays, laughed at the leg-long brace another doc had recently prescribed, and said there’s nothing to be done short of total knee replacements. He agreed to take me on! I had bilateral knee replacements on Nov. 13th, 2000, at Ridgeview Hospital in Waconia.
These surgeries were not pleasant, but easier on me than the ones I had as a teen. I took an entire quarter off of school to recover. I worked very hard, icing constantly and performing the prescribed physical therapy. It was hard coming back to work, but I continued to recover the rest of the school year. By summer, I was a new person!
For nearly 20 years now, I’ve had no further problems. It’s been like a new lease on life with my “new” knees. I can bike, garden, hike, cross country ski (even downhill on occasion!), portage canoes, chase grand kids, and do a lot of yoga. I never have pain and my knees never pop out of joint!
TCO has also helped me with wrist and elbow issues in my 60’s. Once again, these issues have mostly been resolved through surgery and therapy, thanks to Dr. Marek. I’m now able to do “down dog” in yoga without fear of my elbow popping out of joint- a major improvement to my yoga practice.
I really don’t know where I’d be today without the incredible doctors, PA’s, therapists, receptionists and other staff at TCO. Everyone has been so helpful to me over the years. I really believe that without their help, I’d be confined to a wheelchair today with extreme arthritis and pain and life would be very grim for this feisty old lady. Thanks TCO and keep up the incredible work you do!