Knee x-ray
Life

Knee Surgery

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In the mists of prehistory, back in the second half of the 1980s when I was young and not so bright, I had a wrestling injury (not an officially sanctioned event) that dislocated my left knee cap. I got my friends to help me stand up, slammed it back into place myself, and we carried on.

Did I mention the ‘not so bright’ part?

At any rate, I limped for a while, but the pain eventually went away, and I continued life as normal.

But I’d done some damage and, up to some point, continued to.

Somewhere in my very early twenties, every so often my kneecap would pop or something behind it would shift and there would be a little bit of blinding pain, fading quickly, and everything was fine.

In my thirties, as a runner, I used to dread this possibility happening while I ran. It didn’t very often, but when it did, it was very unpleasant. Late that decade I had some imaging done. There were “free-floating cartilaginous bodies” behind the kneecap and, every once in a while, one of them would interfere with normal motion.

In my forties, the jamming got more frequent, and I had days where the knee would swell up a lot. At 47, something jammed tight and it ballooned to more than twice its size. I spent a couple of weeks on crutches or just not walking. More imaging. Stuff was still there, but don’t worry, it will grind down over time. It hadn’t yet, but you’re the doctor. Come back and see us when it gets this bad again.

The summer I was 50, a lock at the wrong time – chasing a pair of dogs escaped from a friend’s yard whom I didn’t want to get hit by a car – cost me a tumble on cement. In spite of a really nice shoulder roll, the leg was still locked as I tried to follow through and I messed up the break fall when I rocked back. Fractured elbow and something in the wrist.

The next summer, some kind of pop or jam was a near daily occurrence. More imaging. Another referral. Some questions and quizzes. Finally, an appointment.

Yeah, so the biggest chunk is just over 19 mm long and it needs to come out. Here’s what we’re going to do… knock you out, use water to inflate the knee area to about twice its normal size, stick a camera in to see what we’re doing, and fish out the junk you don’t want.

And then they offered me a surgery date only a bit over three weeks away, rather than months in the future, not thinking I’d take it. After all, who wants even minor surgery two days before Christmas?

A university student in his fifties who’s just finished writing his final exams and has no classes until the ninth of January. I jumped on the offer.

The surgery was two weeks ago today. Staples come out on Monday. I’ve been able to feel things not grinding around in there for a while and I haven’t bothered with pain killers in almost a week. Although, the skin seems to stretch weirdly around the smallest incision scar and every time I get into or out of a car too quickly it makes me swear.

I still haven’t learned not to do that yet.

Special note: I’m well aware of how glad I am that this wasn’t an actual replacement. Surgery is much more involved and recovery is much longer. I’d like to avoid that if at all possible.

But I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to run again. And ride my bike. And actually throw a decent kick without regretting it.

Patience, grasshopper. Let yourself heal.

Good advice after any operation, probably.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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