Left Leg Lessons

22 years ago I fell 40 feet rock climbing in Ogden Canyon, shattereing my left patella, breaking my tibia, and had my ear torn half way off. I had to have surgery where the doctor put in three pins two screws in my knee cap – surgery #1.

Two years after that accident, I crashed snow skiing and received a spiral fracture on the same tibia. A double whammy! The doctor put in a plate and 7 screws to support the spiral fractured tibia – surgery #2.

For more than a decade I favored my bad leg and avoided any major physical activity much more than hiking and some rock climbing… But running was definitely out. I got on an occasional ski slope, but the pain on the plate in the tibia was excruciating! So, about 8 years after getting the plate put in, I decided to have Dr Tom Bauman remove it – surgery #3.

This was a great decision. My pain reduced immensely and I was able to start new exercises such as running and cycling. From age 29 to 37 I’ve competed in more than a half dozen triathlons, finished two marathons, several trail running races, completed several 100 mile century rides, LOTOJA, and several other competitive cycle races. For the first time in my life I was able to become a very amateur endurance athlete.

In 2013 I just started to experience some intense back pain and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. This caused me to reduce my running and to focus more on cycling. After several months of rehab I was able to forego any surgery on my back through lots of core exercises, and hours of yoga and pilates. I’m sure this back problem I experience is a direct correlation with the rock climbing fall I had 22 years before. Nonetheless, I had a great 2014 cycling season, and racing with the AtTask Canyon bicycle team has been a great experience.

Sometime around June or July of 2014 my left knee started to get very painful after long intensive rides and there was a strange grinding feeling in my left knee. I went to the physical therapist and chiropractor and tried several homeopathic remedies to see if it could help with the pain in the knee. However the pain continued, and so I succumbed to going to a doctor to get an xray and an MRI. To my surprise it was shown on the x-ray that one of the screws in my knee cap had been grinding in my femoral knee joint. I couldn’t help but smile at this. After so many years this one accident in my life coming back to plague me one more time.

I was referred to a doctor Cooley¬† who works out of the Park City IHC clinic and is at Tosh in Salt Lake city as well. He is an incredible Dr and came highly recommended by several athletic people and physical therapists. Upon his suggestion we decided to operate again to do in their words¬† “extensive hardware removal” from the left patella. surgery #4.

And Here I am today lying in bed with a straight leg brace with a nice cooling system and loaded up on percocet. I only hope that I can rehab and regain my mobility and perhaps even be a little bit stronger than I was before. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through all this, it’s a lot of humility. I keep having to remind myself that this pain I feel, and these trials I have are to build better character and to help me become stronger.