I’ll be going in for surgery tomorrow morning to repair a torn meniscus in my left knee. “Repair” in this case means poking a hole in my knee and slipping in some tiny surgical tools to remove the torn bits. There’s not much else they can do, but I’m told I’ll be able to resume normal activity fairy soon and will probably be fine for years — as long as I don’t take up jogging. I’ll still have padding in my knee, just not as much.
There was no dramatic injury that caused this. It’s more of a wear-and-tear injury. I had the dramatic injury to this knee when I was ten, and the surgeon believes I may have never fully healed from that one. There were no MRIs and no arthroscopic surgeries in 1968, so when I tore something inside in my knee in a backyard football game, the treatment was to put me in a cast for several weeks.
The knee felt okay for most of my adult life, but in the past few years I’ve had little spikes of pain now and then. The joint also became kind of floppy for awhile … when I walked, the leg would sometimes go beyond straight and bend backwards a bit. I saw a joint specialist about it when we still lived in California, and she recommended some physical therapy and exercising my leg muscles to keep them strong around the knee.
My legs definitely got stronger, especially after I switched to Slow Burn. I eventually worked up to lifting the entire stack of weights on the leg press and leg extension at our health club. The extra muscle tone seemed to be keeping the knee stable until a couple of weeks ago. That’s when I started getting little pain spikes again when I walked. I took to limping when the pain kicked up a notch.
I went to see a bone and joint specialist, who ordered some x-rays. I was relieved as soon as I saw them – there was a clear gap between the bones, so I knew it wasn’t a bone-on-bone situation that might require a full or partial knee replacement. The specialist scheduled me for an MRI and told me we’d look at the images when he returned from vacation. That appointment was set for later this week.
Turns out I couldn’t wait. Last Sunday I was walking down our driveway, no real pain in the knee, when all of a sudden I felt a pop followed by a sensation of something ripping. I immediately invoked an old Gaelic blessing which, to the untrained ear, could have sounded like a sailor cussing really loudly. Then I hobbled into the house. The next morning Chareva went out and bought a pair of crutches so I could go to work and crutch my way around the office.
The knee has been swelling regularly, so I’ve been applying an ice pack instead of taking the ibuprofen the doctor recommended. I did end up taking ibuprofen on two nights after the pain kept waking me up. I’ve taken to sleeping with a pillow between my knees so they don’t press against each other.
I went for the MRI on Tuesday and told the admitting nurse I wasn’t going to wait for the first specialist I saw to return from vacation. We’re supposed to be heading to Illinois next week to visit my family for a few days, then continue on to Chicago to attend Chareva’s father’s 70th birthday party, and I don’t want to be in constant pain (which I have been since the knee popped) and hobbling around on crutches.
So I saw a different knee specialist on Wednesday. He pulled up the MRI results on a monitor and showed me where the meniscus is torn. Yup, that would be right about where I felt the pop.
I’ll be under general anesthesia for the surgery, so I’ll likely be groggy for a day or two. I’ll also be taking some kind of opiate-based pain-killer afterwards. I’ll check comments when I can, but I’m not sure when I’ll be up for writing another post. It’s a minor surgery, so with any luck it won’t be long.