Sunday, November 22, 2009

Out with the OLD and In with the NEW

The surgeon gave me a set of pictures taken during my ACL reconstruction and Meniscus repair.
While these procedures are well known, proven and 'nothing new', it's always more interesting when it's ones own knee that's being looked at.

The first picture shows my old torn ACL which has literally been hanging around and doing nothing for a decade, it was removed.

The second picture shows the guide wire that was used to thread the donor ACL graft into place. Holes were drilled in my upper and lower leg bones to allow the replacement ACL to be drawn into place by pulling on the attached guide wire. The replacement ACL was then screwed into place with the amount of tension that is required for it to perform it's binding function.

The third picture shows the new ACL graft in place. It's the fuzzy white blob in the middle. As the graft doesn't arrive until shortly before surgery, I requested of the surgeon that he abort the surgery in the 1/1000000 chance that the donor graft looks deficient in any way. After the operation he told me that the graft looked good and was 9mm in width (mmm.. slightly more than 1/3 of an inch).

The fourth picture shows the meniscus repair. The edges of the torn meniscus were roughed up to make them bleed which stimulates the growth of repair tissue. The surgeon stapled the ends together to hold them in place and the body will do the rest. There's a 90% chance that the repair will take and that I will emerge from my 5 more weeks of crutch-encrusted life with a whole, complete meniscus.

I'm really looking forward to a future with a strong and healthy knee !

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Last Stand

For a while...

I reported to the Hospital at 6am this morning for ACL reconstruction surgery on my knee (thanks Sis and Mom for getting up so early to shuttle me over !).

10 years ago I completely tore the ACL (ligament) out of my right knee during my fight at a full-contact martial arts tournament. I had gotten knocked back and fell backwards onto my knee 'the wrong way'. My corner man had kept urging me to 'go for the kill' as I had stunned my opponent numerous times with strong but nearly undetectable body blows which left him completely open and defenseless against any quick followup attack. I found out in the ring that I had no desire to beat down a helpless person for sport (it would be a completely different story in cases of real combat or legitimate self-defense, of course !). So, I hobbled out of that match gaining some self-knowlege but losing an ACL.

Barring a few minor mishaps, the torn ACL had not been an issue until I took up dancing 3 years ago. Through all my dance training and classes, when I would start to advance to the next levels of technique my knee would have trouble handling leaps, jumps and general hopping off the floor (well, the landing parts of said manuvers anyway). I would get swelling and painful knees and have to take a break to recover. Finally, having been through numerous of these hop-injure-recover cycles, the time has come to finally have the ACL reconstructed, especially before it leads to more serious injuries: cartiledge damage and arthritis (which a torn ACL will eventually lead to dancing or no dancing).

There are a number of techniques for reconstructing the ACL. All of them involve attaching ligament material to the leg bones where the torn ACL was. Some of the methods involve taking the ligament material from yourself (patellar tendon or hamstring tendon) and another involves using a ligament taken from a deceased donor. I've opted for the 'Frankenstein' donor method. Miraculously after the foriegn donor graft is 'accepted' by the body (there is only a slight chance of rejection), the body begins to grow blood vessels into the graft and accepts it as it's own !
The long post-surgery recovery time (6-9 months) is required to regrow the drilled out bone material (holes required to able to thread and secure the new graft into the bones) and for assimilation of the donor graft..

It will be nice to able to hop about on an uncompromised (well, less compromised) knee after the recovery is complete !

Update: 16:20 I just got off the phone with the surgeon. Looks like I've gotten a bonus Meniscus repair in the back of the knee.. 6 weeks on crutches while it heals ! I need to see about getting a handicap permit !

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stuntman the 'Thelonious Monk' of BBoying

Rarely within established styles of artistic expression do we come across an individual with a developed style that is truly unique and is also at the top of the 'expression' game.

In the 'classic Jazz' realm, Thelonious Monk was one of those artists. His style was 'off-beat', totally unique and supremely expressive. I don't think I've yet run across another pianist that plays like he did.

Similarly, in the BBoy 'Breakdancing' world I've noted the unique dancing style of 'Stuntman' with 'Originality Stands Alone'. Over the years, 'Breakdancing' has come to have a staple of 'classical movements': Headspins, Air Flares (legs in the air spread out a stretch and spinning like a helicopter blade), etc. Often watching Breakdance contests can be like witnessing a gymnastic or ice skating competition, there are a number of well known moves and you judge their execution (and because this is dancing, also on their musicality): OK, here's the Air Flare, now a Headspin, Oh wait, that 6-step seems to be rushing ahead of the beat. 'Stuntman' on the other hand has a completely unique style that doesn't really utilize much of the repertoire of 'standard' moves, but still fits within the boundaries of the BBoy style. I really like it. It's imaginative and it's highly expressive. It takes a complete disregard for convention to show up
at a BBoy contest and dance like no other dancers do, judges be damned. Kind of like Thelonious Monk was when he played the piano and made music in his own unique way.

YouTube: Stuntman, Originality Stands Alone vs Hound Dawg Truckers

Stuntman @0:00 @3:04