Time flies…really it does. It is almost a year ago since I was nervously getting ready to go into hospital for my very first general anaesthetic for my very first operation; a knee arthroscopy for a meniscal tear.
Rewind 18 months and I was doing something I would come to regret for 18 months!!
I was on honeymoon in LA and my new husband and I were enjoying rope climbing on Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. Gorgeous weather and some healthy competition with the locals.
At 28 years old I still thought I could behave like a 10 year old and get away with it – Big Fat ERROR! I decided to hang upside down on a bar and immediately felt something go in my right knee. Something I just couldn’t put my finger on; it wasn’t right and walking was uncomfortable.
It didn’t swell so I wasn’t too worried. I was only when I swimming the next day and I experienced it locking for the first time that I knew something wasn’t right. The pain was awful and I couldn’t lengthen my leg without kneeling first; sounds weird but it worked. We came back from honeymoon and knee was not improving. I was finding this really hard as all my high impact exercise was put on hold and squats and lunging was out of the question. A GP gave me Ibuprofen gel and said try physio. I’m quite lucky as where I work I can self refer for physio and I had some excellent care. However, I wasn’t getting anywhere. My brother’s fiancee is a physiotherapist and she had mentioned a torn meniscus; something I had stored away and hoped wasn’t the case. It turned out I wouldn’t find out for another 12 months anyway. I just found out I was pregnant and there would be nothing done in this time. Whilst you are pregnant the pregnancy hormone relaxin affects the joints and loosens them so any sort of probing would not be ideal!! Luckily I only experienced the occasional locking and could do some resistance training, cross training, cycling and swimming with no problem right up until 2 days before I went into labour.
Fast forward 12 months and Christmas was on its way and I was going for an MRI scan. This was an experience! Luckily it was only my right leg going in but the noise was something else. Banging, drilling and just general noise. Twenty minutes later I took my MRI results home on a CD and armed with Dr Google, hubby and I were looking at pictures of a torn meniscus. It looked mighty likely and a few days later this was confirmed. Bleugh. Surgery was needed.
Just a bit of background for the medical lovers. The are 2 menisci that are on top of the tibia. Mensici are basically cartilage that protect the knee from general stresses when walking and exercising. I’ve been told a torn meniscus is a common injury for footballers as they can fall and twist their knees when tackling others. Or in my case people who hang upside down! The surgery required is performed keyhole and is called a knee arthroscopy. Bit more info from a trusted NHS source below:
The little bit of torn cartilage I’d torn was going to be trimmed off. So I left my little gremlin in Nanna’s hands and went off for my operation. Have to admit was a little nervous but the other half of me was so desperate to get it sorted. All went well and I having an anaesthetic was nowhere near as scary as expected and actually quite pleasant floating away. I woke up bandaged, swollen and pretty sore and went home after some food. With some help from the in-laws I managed quite well, could still look after my gremlin and had my stitches out a week or so later.
So me being me – was hoping a few weeks, bit of physio and I’d be back to normal. I’m not the most patient of girls. How wrong was I? I had a bit of physio at the hospital where I had the surgery which, to be honest, was pretty dire. I was sent away with limited instructions and told to “build it back up”. The effects of a week of not using my right leg was quite shocking. The difference in my right quad muscle compared to my left leg was very visible; my right leg being so much smaller. Wasting is serious business if you don’t use your muscles.
I decided to go to a private physio recommended by a friend as I was struggling and just not improving. I then embarked on about 6 months of physio where I started right back at the beginning. Shortly after I started we all went to Turkey for a holiday and I was pictured doing my stretches and quad strengthening exercises – very dedicated pupil.
It was quite a frustrating process; not helped by the fact that I wanted to just get on with it now and not wait. My knee would feel great and then I’d push it. I’d do a few too many squats or put the resistance up on the cross trainer or bike and the pain would be back. I iced like mad after all my gym sessions and followed my instructions. I literally started with really tensing my right leg as hard as I could; then lifting it off the bed; finally adding a weight to my ankle. One of my favourite exercises was balancing on my right leg and dribbling a tennis ball around it with my left. This helped with strengthening the muscles and with balance. What had happened during the 18 months of leaving the injury was I’d learnt to live with it. So everything was being done using my left leg, squatting, crouching, jumping. I had to train myself to use the right leg again and not be scared to, as the pain was going. Slowly but surely I could do more and more. I went back to spinning and I was so happy to re-start my Body Pump classes with a knee support. I was doing much lower leg weights but I didn’t care!! Finally the physio thought there wasn’t much more he could do and I had to continue by myself and luckily all continued well. I’m back to my pre-injury Body Pump weights and am looking forward to trying Insanity at my gym next week (a blog post will follow as I’m pretty scared!).
I even jogged down to the gym this morning and I was never so happy to be able to do a burpee again (something I never thought I would say!!)
All in all it took 9 months from the surgery to recovery or 2 years and 2 months since the original tearing. My hubby had a lot of earache from my frustrating and moaning but the physio worked. You just have to work at it.
Here’s to no more injuries and if you ever see me climbing again…remind me of this post!!