ACL Diary: Making Choices

“Someone, Please Tell Me What To Do!”
One of the complications of living in the United States, and I’ve often made this observation when facing a big decision, is that there’s far too much choice. I may have first had this feeling when doing something as trivial as walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Looking at an overwhelming wall of some 500 choices of commercial brands alone—and who knows how many generic—more often than not, I still end up choosing the tried-and-true yellow box of Cheerios.

There aren’t as many orthopedic surgeons in Tucson as there are brands of cereal; however, I’d say there are at least a hundred, and since we know several girls who had torn their ACLs and had repair surgery, personal referrals were quick to arise. (By the way, EVERYONE thinks his/her surgeon is a rock star!)

When considering credentials, you must decide whether or not your child should still see a pediatric surgeon, and this may be based on the state of her growth plates. The x-rays we took at Urgent Care showed that the legs of my 16 year-old, 5’-9” daughter would not grow any longer—growth plates decisively closed—and therefore we chose to treat her as a “level one athlete” rather than a child. This led us to consider surgeons specializing in sports medicine. And naturally, we wanted a surgeon who’d already accomplished many, many ACL repairs.

One of the surgeons whose name was high on our list—we knew two girls who’d recently been his patients—had an early afternoon cancellation two days after Willow’s injury. Wanting some immediate answers, we jumped on that appointment. Dr. Tucker (and his fellow), each gave Willow what’s known as a “drawer test,” to determine the nature of her injury. Tucker was certain he was looking at another torn ACL, but regardless, he gave Willow odds prior to scheduling an MRI. This was her Facebook status update after the appointment.

Soo 75-90% chance it’s my ACL. in my mind that means 10-25% chance it’s not. 

Willow didn’t beat those odds, bless her heart. And as a result, we had to make another major decision, and that was what type of ACL repair surgery we wanted to use. And this was, perhaps, the most difficult choice we had to make.

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