Along with all the Emotional Turmoil, We Had to Decide About Surgery

September 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Posted in ACL recovery, attitudes, Move to Park City Utah, Self Esteem | Leave a comment
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Along with all the emotional turmoil we were going through we also had to decide which doctor to do the surgery and even if Jamie wanted to do surgery again. We are now living in a mecca of ACL surgeons. All of whom are thought to be excellent, the best, none better. We went to a couple with the same result. Just what we knew anyway- Surgery with six months of physical therapy before going back to sport. And no better than an 80% success rate- with extreme athletes it lowers to almost 50%.

This was dismal to Jamie (and me for that matter.) Not only how would she stand it, but how could I, as her mother, watch her just hang around another winter.

So here’s the thing. When Jamie first tore her ACL last Dec she told me about a synthetic ligament. I was totally dubious, and guided her to the tried and all American method of using human grafts, either autograft or allograft. Autograft is the fancy term for using something from your own body. Allograft is the fancy, polite term of using something from a cadaver. And cadaver is the fancy, polite term for a dead body. The term for getting the tendon is called harvesting the tendon.

Anyway, Jamie harvested one of her hamstring tendons already.
So we were looking at using an allograft.

She began to study in earnest the synthetic ligament. There were some drawbacks. First, it wasn’t FDA approved. This could be serious or it could be all the red tape it takes to get anything FDA approved. This leads to the second drawback. It wouldn’t be covered by insurance. So it would certainly be costly! The third drawback would be having to travel for the surgery. The fourth drawback would be the fear and emotional chaos of trying something not well known to those around us or us. And the fifth drawback is the fact that this technique is only 15 years old.

Of course there would be perks and advantages of using the synthetic ligament. First, it would be stronger than a human graft- either autograft or allograft. As a matter of fact, it would be lots stronger! Second, the recovery time would be cut in half. Thus meaning that Jamie would potentially be able to ski this winter- possibly even competing. Third, the rerupture rate is almost nonexistent. Fourth, Jamie knew people who have this synthetic ligament and are truly thrilled with their recovery.

I started to really investigate this possibility. I scoured the Internet; read every article, blog post, and blurb I could find; watched YouTube videos by athletes who had had the surgery.

I was set. I had my ideas confirmed as well. Using the synthetic ligament with an allograft was the perfect answer.

We contacted coordinator of the Canadian doctors to discuss Jamie’s case.

Still I needed more. Many consider me a leader, but in my heart I want to be a follower just like everyone else.

So I contacted, vie email, blog, Facebook, and twitter, every athlete I had heard of with the synthetic ligament. And low and behold I heard back from some. They had only positive things to say about the whole process of going to Canada, the man who coordinates everything, the doctor who does the surgery, the physical therapy, and the strength and stability after words.

The only thing no one could talk about was the longevity, because no one had been longer than two or three years.

Then we heard back from the dr. He would do the surgery, but instead of the allograft he wanted to do another autograft using a piece of her quad tendon.

Now came decision time. I was torn. Would this harvesting of a tendon affect her strength or stability? Once again I sought out athletes who had had this exact operation. Most of these athletes had already had at least one ACL reconstruction.

Everyone agreed 100% to go ahead. I even had a mom contact me; she was very supportive of the results for her daughter.

So yes- I wired the money for the surgery today, bought our airline tickets, and we head off to Canada Oct 4.

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