About 16 or 17 years ago, I injured my knee in a job-related incident. Being young and stupid, and not really understanding insurance and workers compensation very well, I never got around to doing anything about it, beyond using crutches for a while until I could walk without them again. My doctor at the time recommended that I get it scoped for a better look at what the damage was, but like I said, I was young and stupid, and so I put it off.
As a result, over the years my knee has mostly been okay, but occassionally it would “lock up”, requiring me to do odd manipulations of my knee joint to “unlock” it. Sometimes I would twist my knee while doing some physical activity, which would cause it to become swollen and painful for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Like last year, when I re-injured it while playing on a church softball team, and it was stiff for about three weeks. When that happened, I ended up getting a doctor to take a closer look, and an MRI revealed that I had a torn ACL and possibly some damage to the meniscus. My doctor recommended surgery, which I knew I was going to have to break down and do eventually, but I put it off again, hoping to find some extended vacation period where I could recover without disrupting my job and household too much.
So, as normal day-to-day things go, it wasn’t a problem. But I knew I had to avoid a lot of activities, including many forms of exercise, which is obviously not a good thing, and is at least a part of why I am a lot more overweight than I’d like to be. And being overweight means that put more wear-and-tear on my knees. It’s a vicious circle.
With some encouragement from my wife, and the realization that there was just never going to be a really “good time” to do it, I finally scheduled the surgery, which I underwent yesterday. So here I am, laid up in the bed, with a “Game Ready” leg wrap that circulates cold water around my knee, a bunch of pillows propping my leg up, and a regimen of Cephalexin (antibiotic) and Oxycodone (pain killer, which is about to send me to snoozy land, shortly). It’s been well over 24 hours since the surgery, and parts of my leg are still numb. At least I can finally move my foot and wiggle my toes again. Not being able to wiggle my toes was driving me nuts! It doesn’t sound so bad, but think of what it’s like when your circulation gets cut off and your foot falls asleep, and it’s like a piece of dead rubber hanging off the end of your leg. Now imagine that your whole leg is like that, and it won’t wake back up. It’s a bit disconcerting.
I’m going to be on crutches for four weeks, with strict orders not to put any pressure on my right leg, and I’m supposed to start physical therapy as soon as possible. I plan to do everything they tell me to do, because I’m looking forward to eventually being able to do normal activities again — swimming, biking, maybe even Tae Kwon Do again one day.
I’m fortunate to have a good support system here. Between my wife, her parents, and her brother, I’ve got a pretty good amount of help on a daily basis. And this week, we have a nephew coming up to help out, and the week after that my mom will be driving up to help out. I can’t imagine what someone without close family and friends nearby would do.
Kids, take this advice from good old Uncle Dougal — be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.