Knee surgery – Part 1

As mentioned a few weeks ago my knee has not been in the best of conditions and that some surgical operations would be required in order to make it more stable. I thought I would provide a few updates so that those of you that are may experience the same issues know what to expect. I’m also writing this out as for those interested in the medical fields.

Last November I side stepped aggressively and reached back to grab a disc. I was in significant pain and unable to put any pressure on the left leg for several days. Following a month of physiotherapy sessions as well as regular visits to the doctor I was unable to fully straighten my leg. My leg was not stuck bent but rather only 1 or 2 degrees away from being fully straight despite how hard I tried to naturally straighten it with my muscles. Following a MRI it was determined that my medial meniscus had folded upon itself due in part to a lack of ACL holding the knee closed during lateral movement.

Now into January I had a referral scheduled with a surgeon, Dr. Bailey, whom I met on February 9th. A knee arthroscopy was scheduled for late March in order to remove as little as possible of the folded meniscus to fix the issue. A few days following the meeting I received a phone call that a moved up surgical date was available for February 24th which I accepted.

On the 23rd I had a big lunch at Nando’s with plenty of protein as well as a dinner of fish and chips. At midnight I was to refrain from all food and drink. On the morning of the 24th I went into work prior to the 1100 designated arrival time at the hospital. When I checked in I put on a mask as I had a small cough. At 1130 I was admitted to the surgical pre-check area. At 1145 I went into a small room with a bed to change into gowns and start the pre-work.

By 1315 I was informed that they were running ahead of schedule so I was prepped with an IV, my temperature was taken (due to the cough/cold), and I was given antibiotics (regular for the course). All through this process the staff, nurses, and volunteers were friendly, supportive, and assertive. I am also rather friendly talkative so I suspect that helped with ensuring good communication between the various parties. I had also been asked my name and date of birth approximately a dozen times by now; all part of the process to ensure they had the correct patient at each stage.

By 1330 I walked into the OR. It was a large brightly lit room with machines beeping but unfortunately not the machine that goes ping. Dr. Bailey was on the computer but came over immediately to shake my hand and start going over the process with me and understood what we were doing. Once I was on the operating table we once again went over the process and I also had a short conversation with the anesthesiologist before wishing everybody good luck. That is my last memory before waking up in recovery.

Recovery started out well with me, as best as I can remember, apologizing for anything I may have said or done. I was informed that I was a perfect gentleman, of this I am unable to verify accuracy. Regardless, I was discharged from recovery into my original bed area for further recovery and was asked to sleep. I drank ginger-ale, some yogurt, and had a cup of water. My first steps were stable but I was dizzy and I was having hot flashes so I was asked to rest again. Finally, around 1730 we tried again and I was able to walk down a hall and back. The IV was removed and I was discharged from the hospital.

I was extremely sleepy and managed to make it home without falling fully asleep (note, I was driven home). The moment we pulled into the driveway I ejected the contents of the meal during recovery into a bag that the hospital had provided and felt much better. From there it was into the house where I watched plenty of television while returning to work.

Now, the following morning, I continue to recover. There is some new dizziness but nothing serious. The general anesthesia continues to wear off while the local anesthesia on my knee has supposed to have worn off during the night. I am not yet feeling any pain in and around my knee which makes me wonder whether that has yet to wear off or my tolerance of pain around my knee is rather high.

My first post-op, and I believe the only scheduled one at this time, is in two weeks. I have physiotherapy starting soon and am doing my own exercises at home prior to then. I expect to return to the gym after the first post-op and be fully recovered in six weeks. I have now gone close to 3 months without playing Ultimate and am itching to get back into it.

Here are a few other items of interest:

  • Much of my leg is pink. It is a sink cleanser and depending on the supplier it can also be blue.
  • There is also a gurgling in my knee when I bend it. This is due to a saline solution inserted to inflate the knee. Most of this drained at the end of the surgery but some remains and is reabsorbed by the body over time.
  • No showering for several days and no submersion in water of the knee/sutures for 2 weeks.
  • I was able to walk immediately and have been able to do so without pain. I am not putting pressure on the knee beyond weight bearing and being careful on the stairs.
  • I was able to eat normally from yesterday evening on. Some are not able to do this but for me I have been able to maintain a high protein diet and high fibre diet for the past few days which helps with recovery following surgery as well as with the digestive tract.

For those interested in the costs here’s what I can recall to date. I do not have health insurance as my startup (Minute School) is not yet in a position to do so. To date I have paid for physiotherapy and shall continue to do so out of pocket; each session is ~$70. There have been some pain medications as well that have amounted to less than $20 as well as crutches that have also cost less than $20. I have not had to pay for any doctors visits, the surgery, or the MRI.

In the future I may have ACL reconstruction surgery. I have deferred this based upon advice from the doctors as well as a lack of time to recover over the coming year. I also have a brace that I am comfortable playing with and that should provide sufficient support for the next few years. Will it be necessary as I age? Apparently, not. In 20 or 30 years my knees shall be much stiffer and I shall not be hindered by the lack of an ACL. So, I’m in a wait in see mode but I suspect that in 3 or 4 years I’ll re-evaluate the situation. This is not only for Ultimate but for the great many other activities that I participate in (speed skating, trail running, etc.) or plan to participate in (long distance hiking and climbing).

I hope this has been interesting for you, I’m pretty boring so we’ll now return to our regularly scheduled posts.


Also published on Medium.

One thought on “Knee surgery – Part 1

  1. Hope you’re feeling better soon. Having been through it a number of times, I feel like it’s the mental recovery, rather than the physical, that take more care a time.

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