The Knee – Take 2


Regular readers will recall that I’ve had a pretty difficult summer, being wracked with repeated “breakout” pain crises, too often reaching beyond Level 10 … morphine territory!

And my SCI readers will surely know that sudden severe pain for a paralyzed person can be set off by Autonomic Dysreflexia (“AD”) – the body’s confused response to an injury or an internal problem that often is not immediately obvious.

Even an ingrown toenail can kick off an AD crisis with spiking blood pressure and breakout pain.  The challenge, typically, is to figure out the source of the problem and do something about it as soon as possible.  An overfull bladder can be emptied; an ingrown toenail can be cut away, etc.

Well, this summer we knew there was something wrong with my right knee, and X-rays revealed the femur had been broken.  The hospital staff told us that the break was an “old” one, probably from a couple years ago they concluded.

While I couldn’t recall when this might have happened, that my right leg had been broken was clear enough.  And I thought that maybe the ligaments had been either stretched or torn in June when I first tried to stand and walk a few weeks after spinal cord surgery.

When the severe pain breakouts persisted week-after-week, indeed right through the summer, my Dad began to suspect something else might be going on.

But what?

So my mother flew back to the U.S. a few weeks ago and took along with her both X-ray and MRI images of my knee that has been made in July.  The idea was to retain the services of an experienced orthopedic surgeon in Miami for a second opinion and some advice on what to do next about the broken leg.

My Mom contacted an exceptionally experienced orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and asked him to take a careful look at these images.

Here’s the surgeon she visited:

Dr. Herrera took a close look at both X-rays + MRI and concluded:

  1. No ligaments had been stretched or torn.
  2. A major bone in my knee had been “recently” broken … meaning specifically, he said, “within the past two to three months.”

His diagnosis:  “Non-displaced distal femur fracture”

Here’s a link to a paper that describes my injury:

Distal Femur Fractures

Dr. Herrera said that if I had been his patient at the time of the injury, my leg would have been secured immobile in a straight position for at least six weeks.

In the event, however, the injury was not correctly diagnosed when it occurred.

As a result, day-after-week my right knee was bent for me to sit in my wheelchair and repeated attempts to get me to stand and even “walk” were made by the rehab staff.

So you see, day-after-week I was grinding away on a broken leg!


No wonder, then, I’ve had such seemingly inexplicable, severe pain … or that my knee remained swollen for over two months.

Well, today we just have to play the disappointing hand we’ve been dealt and get on with life.

Tomorrow I’m having another set of X-rays and MRI (soft tissue) images made that we’ll send over right away to Dr. Herrera to assess how things look right now and take advice on anything I should or should not be doing going forward.

As far as I can tell, the big femur must be healing itself, because I can now bear my own weight standing without the goose bumps, drenching sweats and fast-spiking neuropathic pain that I still had just a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I suppose I’ll get over it.  A lot of good complaining will do me!

Next up will be our attempt to execute Professor Wise Young’s ChinaSCI Lithium Protocol to see if this can drive a permanent reduction in neuropathic pain levels.

Here’s a link to clinical trial we’re trying to replicate:


We have plenty of lithium carbonate on hand, but we have not yet identified a lab in Kunming that can measure blood serum lithium levels.  My Dad is presently working on that and just today got a very promising lead at the teaching hospital affiliated with the Kunming Medical School.

6 responses »

  1. Wow! I cannot believe that it is that difficult to determine if your leg is broken! As always, I learn something new in every one of your posts.

  2. Ali, I just can’t believe the twists and turns in your health since you arrived in China. And you just keep persevering through it all. You really are like the energizer bunny. I hate the fact that we can’t just hop on a plane to see you. Thinking of you every day. Hoping for a positive outcome with the lithium protocol.

  3. Ali —
    Sorry to hear about the un-diagnosed problem, glad to hear you and family and doctors got to the root of the pain. We are always on your side.

  4. Wow, so sorry Ali. You deserve a break from bad luck! I truly think you’re amazing. I’ll be keeping everything crossed that the lithium protocol gives you some relief.

  5. Kudos to you and your parents for getting an outside opinion. Glad to hear he is now part of your diagnostic team. Looking forward to your next update.

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