Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Knee - An Embarrassing Story That Shows How Uncoordinated I Am

In 2003 I was a grad student struggling to get through the grad level stats that was a requirement for my Master of Psychology. It was a struggle for this girl who only had her grade 11 math and didn't inherit her father's math gene. The goal was to get the B- needed to pass the course. The plan was to spend 40 hours per week studying stats.

On one such January day, I had been sitting cross legged at my desk for hours pouring over my text book. When I finally went to straighten my legs, there was a very sharp pain in my right knee. I hoped it would go away but after a few days knew this needed medical attention.

My doctor referred me to the Sports Medicine Clinic at the University, where I saw one of the doctor's who provided care to local professional athletes. He diagnosed the problem as a torn meniscus. He said he could only confirm it 2 ways - one an MRI that would take a year to get and wouldn't fix the problem, or he would schedule an arthroscopic surgery that would show what was wrong and allow him to fix it. It would also take about a year to get. We went with the latter.

I should make it clear that while my knee hurt, I was able to walk on it and live most of my daily life. To help keep it as strong as possible, he sent me to physio and for the following 13 months I went 2-3 times a week and did my daily exercises. I was always embarrassed, particularly at physio when people had been injured in accidents etc., when people asked me how I hurt my knee. Saying you did it  studying is just so lame!

Finally, the big day I had been waiting for arrived. 14 months after the initial injury, it was time time for surgery. Not knowing how my recovery would be, and given my husband couldn't get a week off work, my mom came to help. The surgery went well, and confirmed the doctor's diagnosis of a meniscus tear. I was given some meds and sent home. It turns out, I would have been fine without my mom's help (although it is always nice to have it), as recovery was amazing! I continued at physio to help minimize any long term problems and had scheduled a trip to Disney 10 weeks after surgery.

10 weeks later, in Disney, my knee became sore and very swollen. It hurt more than pre-surgery. We finished the trip and I came home and called the surgeon. As I was already a patient, getting a follow up was easy. He believed what may have happened was he didn't get all the meniscus and said I needed a second surgery.

I got really lucky, as I happened to return the call to book my second surgery (this is about 2.5 months after the initial surgery) and the receptionist had just hung up from someone cancelling their surgery the following week and I was given that spot. It was very soon so I couldn't get support to help me, but given how the first surgery went, I wasn't worried.
The knee today - you can just make out the scar on the left

Turns out, it was not meniscus the second time, rather it was fat pad. The doctor guesses because I had to wait so long for the first surgery, that it just was too aggravated. Fat pad removal is extremely painful. I woke up from surgery in significant pain. I could barely get up to go to the bathroom. My recovery was made worse because I was also given pain meds that contained codeine by accident and couldn't sleep, had heart palpitations and was hallucinating. At least I knew I was hallucinating. A phone call got a new prescription and my sister was able to come and help me some while my husband worked. I continued physio for about another 6 months and more or less healed my knee. Occasionally I get some pain in it where the fat pad was removed. The doctor said as long as I didn't take up a career where I was on my knees all the time I should be fine. (Funny as I write this post and any time I talk about it, my knee hurts!)

So that is how studying for statistics resulted in needing 2 surgeries and I didn't even get a good scar out of it (I asked for one, but the doctor said only bikers could have good scars).

I ended up with a B+ in Stat. This mark was well below what I was use to, but I was thrilled. It is the mark I worked hardest for in my entire 14 years of post-secondary education. 

1 comment:

  1. Having also taken a Stat class at university I can totally understand how you injured yourself - lol! Glad you didn't have to wait so long for the second one. I have some fat pads that need removed . . . a lot of them and none are in my knees . . .