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Tiff B

Hi everyone,

I thought I would share my TPF story with you all….

I sustained my TPF in 2011 when I was 24 after crashing a quad bike at high speed. My left knee took the impact on the wheel guard and before I knew it was laying on the ground cut up and wondering why I couldn’t extend my left leg when attempting to stand.

When I presented to A&E via ambulance, it was a tedious process to see what injury I had acquired. Due to the way I landed with my leg upright, it was difficult to xray. After putting a Zimmer splint on to pull the joint down slightly to straighten and several X-rays later, it was determined that I had broken my tibial plateau and would require emergency surgery. I was in my last year of studying nursing and knew exactly what the TP was, but the actual damage I had I wasn’t aware of. It wasn’t until I was wheeled into the operating theatre and the surgeon kindly said to me (bed side manner at its best, not!!) “well safe to say your knee is stuffed and will never be the same. I’ll wait and have a look at the damage shortly but at this point in time, we will need to replace the top of the tibia with coral, fix screws and plates to the tibia, clean up any ligaments that are destroyed and assess anything else that may need repairing. And you will not be able to participate in any high impact sports that involved running, pivoting etc.” If that wasn’t a kick in the guts I don’t know what was!! I was petrified! For starters, coral??? Need being able to do any high impact sports?? Not something a dancer and netballer wants to hear.

After the 9 hour operation on my leg, I did in fact have coral to replace the top of my tibia that was shattered, 15 screws, 2 growth plates and a busted ACL. The coral was absolutely bewildering, I had no idea if could be used for such things. It essentially acts as a scaffold for the vessels to grow through and the body takes it on as a piece of bone. I had become the bionic woman!

The immediate recovery was horrendous. To be fair, I didn’t suffer much in the way of pain, it was more the loss of independence. Simple things that you take for granted like taking a cup of tea from the kitchen to the lounge. I had a Zimmer splint for 7 weeks where the leg was to remain at 180 and straight the whole time. Even being a passenger in a car to get to orthopedic appointments was a real test.
Following the 7 weeks I was fitted with an increment brace where each week the angle would change by 10 degrees to allow the knee to slowly start to bend.

12 weeks post op I was able to finally have the brace at full movement and weight bear. Woo hoo!! But this was just the start of a very long winded and frustrating recovery. ROM exercises ruled my life, and walking to the end of the street with crutches and weight bearing at the same time was a high five moment. I felt like I was cautious when walking around and would risk assess everything for fear that the ground might be unsteady, the floor could be wet, there was to many stairs for me to climb etc.

The hardest thing for me since the TPF has been weight gain. Going from being so physically active to struggling to walk up a road with a slight increment. And of course, the more weight you gain the more pressure there is on the joint. But how can you lose weight when you have lost majority of your physical activity!??

I appreciate that the extend of a TPF can differ, but my word of advise is to maintain your recovery exercise from the moment you get the green light to commence them. You need to build up the muscles you lose whilst not being mobile and get use to that foreign feeling of having metal in your leg!

I was told by my surgeon that come the time I’m 30 I would be needing a total knee replacement. Can’t help but be a skeptic and think would this make my mobility any worse or better??

I wish you all the very best in your recovery. Stay strong and use forums like this because you do sometimes think “woe is me”, but knowing you aren’t alone in the drawn-out process is comforting 🙂