A Day in the Life of my Knee

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Today I met with my knee surgeon: my six weeks post-op appointment. Two months ago today, I was minding my own business, eyes closed, letting my fifteen year old drive us to the local junior college where she takes a few classes, when…BOOM! CRUNCH! BAM! Breathlessness and pain rocked my world, as did the acrid odor of angry engine and airbag propellant. Dear daughter was not fit to operate heavy machinery; she was drowsy, but failed to tell me, even after I asked her directly at one point, “Are you okay to drive?!”

Yeah, about five minutes after that question left my lips, she crossed over the center line on a local two lane road, colliding with another car. Gratefully, the other driver was fine, considering a Buick LeSabre had just invaded her space, pushing her car’s tail into a ditch and requiring the driver’s door to be cut from its moorings in order to extricate her from the black Honda Accord. My daughter was largely uninjured, too. Nothing that wouldn’t heal quickly, anyway. I, unfortunately, had my knees bent, feet on the dash when our airbags deployed. I took a direct airbag blow to both knees, though the right one got the hardest impact, and my left made a beeline for my sternum. Two weeks later I was having surgery on the same meniscus I’d just had trimmed seven months before. Happy day.

I haven’t walked on two feet since the surgery, so I was incredibly anxious to talk my surgeon, to see if it was “time.” But as the minutes ebbed on in the the grocery store freezer case my surgeon’s group calls their waiting room, I got bit paranoid. I’d waited four plus weeks for this appointment and felt like this was going to turn into one of those days where the staff would keep all of his patients waiting two hours before finally fessing up the the fact that Dr. J was never coming in! It was bad enough that I hadn’t eaten anything but a Power Crunch protein bar at 6 a.m. and I had a free Egg McMuffin coupon burning a hole in my car door, a hole almost as big as the one being gnawed in my stomach by Hunger!

Thankfully, I did get a reprieve, though well after McDonald’s stopped serving breakfast! It was only fifty minutes after signing in that I heard my name called, then another twenty before his bald pate entered my room.

Our little chit-chat went well. I told him I had little faith that the repair he’d done to the medial meniscus in my right knee was healing properly. I described the “burning, tearing, searing” sensations I’d felt after the first day of physical therapy, and to a much lesser degree at points thereafter. He shrugged and casually told me, “Scar tissue.” (WHAT??)

However, Dr. J did alert me to a few things I didn’t know before today, which I greatly appreciated: 1) the tear I sustained was right at the outer margin, which is a very, very good thing. Outer margin = blood flow = oxygen = better shot at healing; and 2) he never would have attempted the repair if he didn’t feel I was a good candidate/ the tear was in just right place for a repair to work. There is a pretty good risk that I’ll be under the knife again in 5-6 months if the thing doesn’t heal; the odds are only 60/40 that it will, even in youngsters). Okay, well, I do feel a bit better now.

The last thing he said, waving his right hand towards my crutches, those accursed things that have made ambulation possible, but wreaked havoc on my ability to juggle for the last six weeks, was, “Get rid of those. You’re done with them. You can start walking again as of today.”

Gee, doc, I didn’t realize you were quite as good as Jesus Christ. As much as I was hoping to hear words similar to those today, I expected they might be tempered just a bit more! Seriously, If you don;t mind, think I’ll continue to go to physical therapy for the next four to six weeks and learn how to do that whole ‘walk’ thing again. But thanks for the vote of confidence!

So, what I have I done since returning home? Messed around with that walking thing, of course. Grasping on to furniture, counter tops, walls and door frames, I actually managed to vacuum my living room and kitchen for the first time in two months! You have no idea how good that felt! And the knee did okay, too!

Maybe in a few more weeks I won’t look more like a new born colt than I do a grown woman who had just completed a half marathon just weeks before an airbag took my breath away!

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