A couple years ago I was involved in a snowmobile accident in the Montana backcountry. I was rolling around with Pat Moore and Nic Sauvé on a day we should not have went out on. Total white out. When those conditions exist, it becomes difficult to tell where you are and what type of obstacles may be coming up. Click here for the old post. Fast forward 2 years later, celebrating the last night of our Minnesota Urban trip when Cam Pierce and I are talking shit and I turn to him…and my knee pops and I’m laying on the floor screaming about a Powerbar or something. Cam had taken me out without laying a finger on me. What really happened was my ACL blew in my right knee. The right place, the right time. Needless to say, the next day sucked as it was a travel day and I had to make my way from Minnesota to South Lake Tahoe with a buttload of gear. I was surprised to find that traveling folk are completely rude as I hobbled my way through the airport. This was in February 2011, the snowmobile accident was in February 2009. February being the key word here as it meant that I had to figure out a way to make it through May with a blown knee. The backcountry hadn’t even started for me yet.
Bryan Knox recommended the fine people down at CORE Orthopaedic in Encinitas, CA. Dr. Skyhar came well recommended, especially for action sports type people. I made an emergency appt. and hopped on a flight to John Wayne, rented a car and met up with the doctor. My main objective was to get a brace to get me through the season. While I was there, I also did some x-rays and the all important MRI. I left that day with brace in hand and a diagnosis of a fully blown ACL. Come the end of May, I called CORE’s offices to schedule the surgery. Dr. Skyhar called me back and said that he couldn’t do the surgery because for some reason, a radiologist had inspected the MRI and concluded that I didn’t need surgery. He said “this muddies the waters”. Now I don’t know anything about anything when it comes to medical diagnosis, but I can tell you with the utmost confidence that there was something severely wrong with my knee. He asked me to get a second opinion.
I then called a local well known Doctor by the name of Dr. Orr but only got his answering machine. After leaving several messages with no response I forgot about him. Later, his assistant James called back and asked me to come in because a friend of mine had mentioned that I couldn’t get a hold of him. Before I did so, he wanted me to get a copy of the MRI from CORE. I requested the copy and it arrived a few days later. I went into Tahoe Fracture and was surprised to find out that Dr. Orr just went on vacation for three weeks. At this point, I was over it. Sometimes, you just have a feeling, and I had that feeling from the beginning with this doctor. I’m not saying he isn’t good at what he does, but for me in this situation, he was not the guy. In a conversation with our neighbor, who flies the CEO of Chevron around the world on a private jet, he recommended Dr. Stephen Howell, and said that when he spoke with Doctors about knee replacement, Dr. Howell was the Doctor the Doctors went to.
I had my surgery two days ago and am happy to say that it was a success. Dr. Howell was great and no B.S. The operation took under an hour and the staff and facility were top notch. If you are in Northern California, I highly recommend this Doctor. If you are in Southern California, I would still recommend Dr. Skyhar. He was a rad guy and very knowledgeable.
Here is a link to Dr. Howell’s website where you can watch an entire ACL surgical procedure. I watched it before I went in so I knew what I was in for. *WARNING* – The videos are graphic in nature and may not be suitable for everyone.