My Bi-Partisan Patella

This isn't the actual x-ray, the doctor wouldn't give it up.

In Judo class I hurt my knee pretty bad. But I was stubborn and two days later I was in class again and hurt the same knee again. This time it was really bad and it was a lesson in humility for me. I am not indestructible and I need to listen to my body, especially as I get older.

Anyway, on the outside edge of my left knee along the side of the knee cap (Patella) a large amount of blood accumulated. It was a sack full and looked like what it would look like if you cut an orange in half then slid the half orange under my skin. Showing it to people was quite an experience.

Being very concerned about this I went to sports medicine expert. I really wanted some good care for this.

The place was a sports medicine clinic and that's all they did. There was this big main room like an operating room and various offices around the edges of it. A nurse helped me hobble over to one of those examination beds and I sat down on it.

The doctor, in his sixties came out and greeted me then looked at my knee. Hmmm, hmmm. Let's get an x-ray. I hobbled over to the xray room, took the pics and then hobbled back to my assigned examination table/bed while the doctor went to view the results of the x-ray.

I remember the scene as this sixty year old doctor ran out of the x-ray room and sprinted toward me across the big room. He got right up to me and blurted in an excited tone, his face all flush "You've got a bi-partisan patella!"

My Mind raced "Oh no, i thought to myself. This is what I get for thinking I am indestructible. Now it's surgery, rehab, the whole works." I must have looked scared because the doctor took a step back and looked at me. "No, no, it's nothing serious. Follow me, I'll show you." So I hobbled off my table and followed him to the x-ray room where my knee x-ray was stuck up on one of those backlit white screens.

"See look here" he pointed at my knee cap. "This is your patella. And its in two distinct parts. Normally a patella is a single piece but yours is in two halves. It's not caused by damage or by your injury. It's genetic and very rare. You were born this way." He gazed in wonder at the x-ray for a full minute while I stood there on a bad leg then continued. "I have been practicing sports medicine for over thirty years and have taken a lot of knee x-rays. This is the first bi-partisan patella I have ever seen. It's very rare. The only one I have seen was in a medical book." He basked a while longer in the glow of his discovery then we returned to the examination table.

I hopped up and the doctor proceeded to make a careful examination of my other knee! The good one! No doubt he was wondering if that one was bi-partisan too. I could see the little wheels turning as he contemplated taking an x-ray of it. He looked up at me expectantly and I head off the question he was about to ask by saying "Sure, no problem, as long as you pay for it." The mention of cost seemed to quell his curiosity and he returned to my injured knee.

"What we normally do in a situation like this is stick a needle in it and drain out all the blood and fluid then see how it goes." Now I really have no problem at all with needles and it would be no big deal for me. But it is an invasive procedure and I am a minimalist so I asked the doctor "What happens if we do nothing? What are the risks involved? Will my body heal this naturally and on its own?

He thought about this for a moment then said that there was a very small risk of gangrene or some kind of infection but it was very small. We could, if I wanted to, wait and see. Come in every week and monitor it closely. My reply was "Ok, let's do that. "

He grabbed his little tape recorder and spoke into it "At the patients request we will not drain the fluid, we will monitor and watch for progress.

I went to see the doctor every week for six weeks. Most of those on crutches. But by the sixth week I was off the crutches and the swelling of blood and fluid was just a yellow discoloration and my knee felt normal. It slowly healed itself without any help other than my body.

The doctor upon this final examination said I am 100% and won't need to see him anymore. He then added: "You know you made the right decision. I had another case that had the exact same injury come in that same week as you. We drained it, it got infected and now his knee is a mess. He is looking at surgery, rehab and a whole lot of trouble."

The whole experience taught me three important lessons.

1. I am not invincible and now I pay closer attention to my body and what it is trying to tell me

2. The body is quite remarkable and has enormous power when it comes to taking care of itself. So I always give careful thought to my approach in caring for it.

3. I have a rare genetic anomaly called a bi-partisan patella which actually doesn't really mean a whole lot.