I shattered my femur over two years ago…
I think at this point most people know that and have an idea about it but don’t really have much of a clue what I’ve been doing since then or what I’ve done to get back to the function I have now.
I still haven’t told my entire story, either on camera or written form, so I should probably do that too, but in this blog I wanted to highlight the therapies and things I have done over the past couple years to strengthen and heal my leg.
If you had no idea that I shattered my femur….well….SUPRISE!!! LOLOL. Yeah, on March 9th, 2017 I was in Orlando, Florida with my family at a big essential oils and wellness conference. I was scheduled to be the keynote speaker and was also scheduled to get on stage and start to do my thing that same night. But my oldest (he was 9 at the time) wanted to do the FloRider (constant wave pool surfing simulator). I thought that was a fun idea and I had time so WHY NOT?!?
We jumped in the unit and Harper (my oldest) looked fantastic and rocked it…. Me on the other hand….
What I didn’t know was that I had a benign tumor that had grown inside my femur called a Giant Cell Tumor. It had hollowed out my femur so when I got into the wave machine and then fell….it ripped off half of my knee and shattered my femur. Not my finest hour.
It took them another full week of tests and torture, even after we got back to Texas, to confirm what I already told them…..I had a Giant Cell Tumor, which is benign and wasn’t going to die but was going to want to from all the pain from the procedure and from rehab.
I had my surgery to repair the knee (an allograft procedure) on April 5th, 2017 and the doc had me stay in a wheelchair for almost 11 months to give the cadaver bone and cement time to fuse up and my bone to start adhering to the plate they put in.
So for the next almost 6 months….not only was I in a wheelchair but was not moving or doing ANYTHING to the leg because of waiting on the fusion.
By the time I stood up to begin to walk again, things had atrophied and bones had become so weak that Cindy (my bride) and I both at multiple points never thought I would walk again unassisted. It was painful but worse than that…it was terrifying. I was looking around at my 4 young children and I told myself: “I will NOT be the dad who sits in the stands at their soccer games with his cane or walker and doesn’t participate. I WON’T”
So I jumped into therapy like I do everything else in my life: 100% full on
But the place I started might surprise you: I started with my mind.
I was having such horrific anxiety since breaking my leg and being in a wheelchair that I could barely function. So I sought out some help from a friend of mine to work with my mental health before I began working on my physical health. Since the brain controls and regulates every single thing that we do it makes sense to take care of it first so that you get the results you want from the physical….yes or yes?!
There are many different emotional supporting therapies out there from NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) to EFT to Emotion Code to AFT (Aroma Freedom Technique) to straight counseling and everything in between. The key is to FIND SOMEONE and then to actually do it with them and let them help you.
The first physical therapy modality I did on my leg at all was a machine called a Dolphin Machine. It is a micro-current machine that helps with nerve healing and scar tissue release and it WORKS. I had it done because the topical sensitivity to the area around my surgery was unbearable. Plus I wanted to help the circulation in my foot on that side and work on that. I did multiple treatments and the scar completely calmed down and I was able to touch it and the kids could drive their HotWheels over my scar and I didn’t scream anymore. HUGE change.
My next stop was to a physical therapist that was really close to my house but had a great clinic reputation in our area. Since I’m a Chiropractor by training I was already getting adjusted but I wanted someone trained in rehab to work with me one on one to help get range of motion and function back into my leg.
I remember the intake exam and how demoralizing it was. I only had 12 degrees of flexion and I couldn’t straighten my knee to 0 degrees….more like 5 degrees so technically I only have like 6-7 degrees of range of motion in my leg AT ALL!!! I was crushed and had an emotional breakdown in the car on the way out of there. Cindy had to pull over and the whole nine yards.
I did therapy for a about 6 weeks and just didn’t see any results at that point. Read to the end of this and you’ll see that PT helped me a ton later, but it just wasn’t working at this point. This is the key reason whey we tell you guys and teach you to learn and know your body and take charge of your healthcare because most people would just keep coming and never see changes until they eventually just never show up again. Since I knew I wasn’t improving I told them I was going to try some other things and come back in a few weeks.
My next stop was to an Acupuncturist to evaluate my leg and see what he could do with my healing. Now remember, I had been seeing a PT for weeks and weeks with absolutely no change in the range of motion no matter what they tried.
After seeing Dr. Li for a month, 3-5 times a week….I went back to my physical therapist and they were amazed because I had increased my knee flexion by over 28 degrees!!! And that’s without me actually trying to flex it more at all!!! At that point I was a huge believer and I began seeing him regularly and I still go see him intermittently as I need to now. So I highly recommend finding a good Acupuncturist in your area to work with you. The thing that they do differently is they truly work on helping your body function better overall and help to reduce inflammation so that your body can heal quicker and heal more fully.
That’s not to say that Physical Therapy isn’t valid or doesn’t work. Shortly after that I went back to my PT and saw them along with Dr. Li and saw some pretty incredible results. The way I structured my visits was to see my PT twice a week and then the two days after either of those appointments I scheduled to see Dr. Li. That way it helped with soreness and recovery along with swelling.
One of the difficulties I had with my recovery (your particular injury or surgery may be different) was fusion between my bone and the graft and plate. There was a particular spot that was taking longer to fuse than we liked. So I reached out to a classmate of mine from Chiropractic school (Thank you LORD for good contacts!) and got a referral for a doc who used Pulsed EMF Therapy (PEMF). We had used this therapy back in school when it was new, but one of the biggest results that had been seen in the field with this new therapy was with building and strengthening new bone.
So I got in to see a Chiropractor who had one of the units. There are different ones out there like the BEMR mat and such, but the one I use still and love is from Pulse Centers. It’s a stronger, more focused unit and it completely fused my leg within a couple weeks and was the single reason I was able to get out of the wheelchair when I did. This therapy is like cellular exercise. It helps with scar tissue, muscle injury, nerve injury, surgical repair, bone damage….the list is pretty long. Go check that out.
Another type of therapy I have used on my leg very very consistently that we have used in our offices for over 14 years is Cold Laser Therapy. This therapy uses light focused in a narrow frequency range that speeds up the energy production in the cell to help with healing and repair. The Avant laser from Shedlight lasers has been incredible. This has been one of the biggest things therapy-wise that has made the difference in my healing time. To check them out go HERE (website for them: www.shedlightcoldlasers.com)
Lymphatic massage and specific muscle work like cupping and Graston have both been key as I have worked through the scar tissue and muscle tension and imbalance.
Here’s the point: do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you can to benefit and help your body do what it needs to.
I still need other surgical interventions but overall I have shocked the doctors with how well I have recovered.
In the next blog I’ll talk about the Essential Oils & Supplements I have used in my journey.
My physical rehab journey…
I shattered my femur over two years ago…