My knee problem started in my adolescent years. I had many doctors look at my situation from Orthopedic Surgeons to Sport Trainers to Chiropractors. After many theories, the diagnosis from the specialists was that I have Osteochondritus or Osteonecrosis of the Knee (To read about Osteonecrosis select the link above). Basically, from some kind of stress or injury, the bone in my knee couldn't supply the blood it needed to keep it healthy. As a result the bone died and broke off inside my knee. The incident got so bad that I had loose bone chips inside my knee. I've had three knee operations and to tell you the truth, I'm ready for a fourth one. Check out the video link on this site to see parts of that surgery.
What happened? I believe that I got this disease from an injury in football my sophomore year in high school. The practice field that our team was playing on had some holes. I stepped in one of these holes while trying to catch a pass. The misstep jarred my knee creating a bone bruise. My knee was very sore and tender. I couldn't walk on it for a couple of days. After a week of rest, I began practicing with the team. I came back from my injury because I thought that I would be playing in the games. My knee felt better after a month and I thought is was OK. I continued to play sports in high school participating in football, basketball, tennis, golf, and track. Little did I know that the bone was dying inside my knee, by the time I was a senior in high school the varsity football coach told me that he wouldn't play me because I was limping when I ran. I didn't notice this because my body learned how to protect my knee. When I had a physician look at my knee he took some measurements of my leg. The measurements showed that my right leg muscle mass was an inch and a half smaller than my left leg. My body learned how to use my left leg more than my right, creating muscle atrophy in my right leg.
The first physician looked at my knee in August 1982. He ordered some X-rays to see what's going on inside my knee. After the initial X-rays, he noticed the Osteochondritus and ordered some more X-ray. The second set of X-rays showed the loss bone mass inside my knee. The doctor's first approach was to wait. The theory was that it would heal itself. He said that I should stay off my knee for 2 years. My mind frame at the time was O.K. I'll stay off it and in two years it will be back to normal. That was the most difficult time in my life and I was so naive about knee injuries at the time as well. I took up golf my senior year in high school. I went from a score of 109 at the beginning of the season to low 80's at the end of the season. My senior year in high school didn't go well. I was waiting for something that never was there. My first year in college I wanted to complete in sports but had to stay off my knee. I decided to participate on the swim team. Of course the last time I competed in swimming was when I was 10 years old. I was so out of shape and weak. However, by the end of the season my 50 yard free time was consistently around 23 seconds and my 100 yard free was 51 seconds. I had fun participating but really didn't earn any points for the team. After my second year off my knee, I went to a second physician. He took some X-rays and couldn't confirm the Osteochondritus was healed. We scheduled My first Arthroscopic surgery on my right knee in May 1985. After the surgery the doctor said that he couldn't see the Osteochondritus but he did clear a lot of scar tissue in my right knee. I started physical therapy and I thought I was on my way to recovery from the bone disease. (What little did I know about the disease, especially from my first two physicians). I went back to playing tennis, at 12-13 years of age I was a ranked Jr. tennis player in Santa Barabara region. I tried to make the college team, but with little preparation (one month after my surgery) and little support, I never competed in a tournament. However, my swim coach noticed my springboard diving over the summer break and asked me to compete in diving. With some reservations, I said yes because I never competed in diving before. My only experience in diving was when I was six years old, I taught myself to do flips. Anyway that very same day I competed in a swim meet as a diver. I flopped on my first dive, a 2 1/2 forward somersault in the tuck position. I mustered 9 dives for the competion. I worked very hard that season on my diving. I had two a day practices and by the end of the season I showed some improvements. During the league championships, I was a few points away from making Sectionals. I was 8th in the 3 meter and 7th in the 1 meter. They take the first six divers for Sectionals. That day was special to me because for the first time in 4 years I was competing on a college team for a league championship. My efforts along with our number one diver helped put our team in first position before the swimming events the next day. We won our league championship and I felt like I was a real member on the team. I had a great time participating on the swim team but I really never felt I fit in the swim scene. After failed attempts at College Tennis, Golf, and Baseball. My third year in College I went out for the basketball team. Basketball is the game I enjoyed most in High School. Naturally after all this time off my knee and it's been a year after my first knee operation, I thought I was ready to play basketball. I made the team through attrition. We had about 13 players on the team. I started out slow (I haven't played organize ball since I was in high school 4 years ago). But by the end of the season my 3 point shot was ripping and I was able to dunk the ball with ease. My assets was that I had a quick step and I could knock down the 3 point shot. I was in great shape from swimming and felt like I could play basketball all day. My weakness of course was my knee. I couldn't strengthen my right leg because of the pain in my knee. I showed steady progress throughout the season but couldn't earn any playing time. During the season, I had to cut down on my running activity which hindered my progress. At the end of the season I was in a catch 22, I was becoming a good ball player, but my knee was getting worst. With much regret now, I called it quits to focus on my studies and earn a degree. A year later, 1987, I went in for my second knee operation. The videos on this web site are the videos from my second surgery. The doctor took some X-rays and noticed the bone loss in my knee. He ordered an MRI, which was the latest technology in 1987. The MRI showed a better picture of my knee than an X-ray. Once he pinpointed the Osteochondritus in my knee, we set up for surgery in May 1987. The procedure was to clear out the bone fragments in my knee and burr out the remaining Osteochondritus to produce some bleeding. The bleeding was suppose to simulate the bone growth. After the surgery, he started me on physical therapy. However, I still had to limit my activity. They removed the diseased bone in my knee and I had to wait a year for the bone grow back and fill in the empty space in my knee. After all these years, my knee still feels the same or worst than back in 1982, when my disease was first diagnose. I've gotten used to having a bum right leg. My knee swells up when I walk too much or do little running. It cracks, lost it's flexibility, and is weak. I refuse to take aspirin or other pain killers because I don't want to get use to them. I have to ice my knee when the swelling and pain gets overbearing. I'm looking into partical knee replacements. Stay tune....