“What big events have taken place in your life over the past year?”
That question is too big to answer all concisely in a blog post like this one. This past year has been filled with a great number of challenges… challenges that have tried to take me out one way or another. But this year has also been filled with big, positive milestones – such as, moving to a new state, my car crash case finally being settled, and being promoted at my job.
Over the past year, I’ve also been in and out of physical therapy because of my knee. Flash back to September 2021, I first experienced my knee injury in a practice and then got into my car crash five days later. A wicked week back in September indeed.
Although physical therapy has helped my knee to an extent, I sensed that something deeper was the issue. How was it that after the one year mark, my knee still wasn’t 100%? Wasn’t this supposed to be a typical knee contusion injury? This past week, I used up the remainder of my vacation days from my job for a little R&R after my big move to Texas. I took advantage of the ~two week vacation by booking several follow up appointments for my body – one appointment for my knee of course.
The first appointment resulted in a MRI exam the following day which turned into the doctor telling me that “if I’m serious about running, then I might want to consider surgery.” Yes… surgery. Surgery after a little over a year of my incident.
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t shocked by his statement – it was more so a relief. A relief that A) I haven’t been tripping over nothing this entire time and B) I hinted at surgery (or an alternative procedure) early on after my track injury/car crash conundrum. But of course, the MRI back in September 2021 didn’t reflect what my recent MRI here in December 2022 showed – most likely due to the insane amount of swelling my knee experienced for the first few months.
Once I got home, a mixed range of emotions finally settled over me after running errands post-appointment to distract myself. “Why now?” “Did I have a different MRI scan back in September?” “How serious is it that I need to consider surgery?”
Well… my doctor explained to me that “my knee contusion was so severe that a piece of bone cartilage (probably about the size of a fingertip) had broken off and floated to the other side of my knee.” So yes… more serious than I initially thought. The finding was also difficult for me to wrap my mind around at first – if I had a “free body” floating around in my knee, then how was I still able to walk or squat weights when at the gym? But after giving it some more thought, parts of my range of motion has been limited, it still hurts if I accidentally trip over something, I still struggle to stand on one leg when it comes to washing my legs in the shower for example… the list can go on and on but I realized that I completely normalized, or compensated, my condition due to being in survival mode. Something I’m far too familiar with.
My surgery isn’t scheduled just yet though. My specialist/surgeon has ordered me something that’s called a Diagnostic Arthroscopy Chondroplasty – a pre-step for the actual surgery. This DAC (I don’t feel like typing out that long medical term again) is basically a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to repair damaged knee cartilage using arthroscopic technology. This will give my doctors an idea on what my actual missing bone cartilage size is.
After the DAC, the next step would be surgery. The doctors will use the findings from the initial procedure to make a “cast” of my (probably disintegrated) cartilage to insert at the injured location. Post-operation pretty much looks like the first 2-3 months being non-weight bearing for my leg. Once I can put some weight on my leg, my recovery time solely depends on my physical therapy plan (will I ever escape going to PT?).
I’m sure I’ll experience a range of emotions over these next few months, but mentally, I have accepted that this is the road I have to take if I truly want to be 100% again. Here I am missing out on yet another track and field season and watching everyone train and compete like this SpongeBob and Patrick meme:
My therapist has mentioned that she believes that this setback will open up some doors for me once I’m fully healed. I’ve done so much work mentally, emotionally, and physically (even with this nagging injury) over the past year. I can’t wait to see what I can truly become once I’m finally clicking on all cylinders.