About six weeks ago my left knee started to experience some strange sensations. There was pain on the medial side and the whole joint felt thick but didn’t seem swollen. I found that a bike ride or even a run temporarily got rid of the problem but it always came back. Some days were worse than others, but after foolishly hammering it one Saturday morning with the Mavericks, I awoke the next day to a different picture. The knee was swollen, stiff and it seemed to buckle under me. I bought a thick brace and this seemed to give me some stability until I got to see some medical professionals on the Monday.
I saw my physio first and he straight away feared a torn meniscus and when I saw my GP the next day he concurred and so we ordered an MRI, which confirmed the diagnosis, along with revealing a stress fracture along the face of my tibial plateau. Hmmm, not a great Christmas present. Next I saw a specialist, the same Doc who’d taken the metal out of my rebuilt left leg in 2010, so he knew my story well. Straight away he said surgery to remove the floating piece of meniscus was probably inevitable, but with the Christmas break almost upon us, he recommended just resting it to see if it would settle into the new year.
Nothing really changed. I couldn’t ride anyway in the frigid realm of Scotland where we went for a week, so I just ate, drank and merrily got fat. Upon returning to Singapore in the first week of the new year, I sought a second opinion, and his diagnosis was the same, get the surgery. With any luck I’d only be out of action for a few weeks before restarting a program of with gentle spinning.
With a big season of riding and racing coming up I was keen to go under the knife as soon as possible but my chosen knifeman, Dr Chong, was overseas at a conference and then we had to rush to Sydney to deal with a family situation for a week. But by the marvel of modern communications I managed to set a date for the op to take place, January 22nd at Gleneagles Hospital. The proscribed arthroscopic procedure promised to be a short but relatively simple one, although going under general anesthetic is always slightly daunting.
Anyway, after a few hours in a ward coming down from the drugs of unconsciousness, I was out of there on my trusty old crutches, which saw very good use in the aftermath of the notorious Genting incient. Dr Chong said the op was a success and showed me the attached pictures of the inside of my knee as proof. I was a bit alarmed when he told me he’d removed 50 percent of my meniscus, which is a cartilaginous mechanism that acts as a buffer between the femur and the tibia/fibula, but he said not to worry. I think. I was still a bit woozy at that time. Guess I’ll find out more on Monday.
Yesterday I vegged out on the couch and drifted in and out of concsiouness in front of the TV. Today, I feel great, no pain from the knee and I’m only taking one tab of Arcoxia a day. I feel like I could walk on it, but instead I’m following doctor’s orders by putting half weight on the offending leg using both crutches when I occasionally get off the couch.
I’m also doing the leg raises and ankle rotations that the nice but over-cautious hospital physio instructed me to do. My regular team at Physio Focus know my broken and rebuilt body well so I can’t wait to let them loose next week.
I’ve also started a calorie counter. Pathetic, yes, but I’m already at 75kg, which is a 4kg heavier than I was at the Tour de Bintan in mid-November and my ideal climbing weight for April’s Tour of Friendship (where I have a title to defend) is 70kg. Cycling and eating are my equal passions and they have served each other well, but now that I’m severely limited in what I can do for a few weeks, I’m going to attempt to not-quite starve myself.
And that’s it for today. I’ve had a productive day and I’m feeling upbeat. Mentally, some days are always better than others during a recovery process, but even if I wake tomorrow feeling slightly down, I’ve got to remind myself that it’s just a sports injury. There are people out there in far worse predicaments than me. As the father of a friend told me just before Christmas, if you’re feeling sorry for yourself, go and visit a children’s ward in hospital. Just the memory of that statement is enough for me.
Hobbling out, Alan.