Knee Surgery – The Main Event

29 Apr

The hat really makes the outfit.

We’ve just passed 36 hours post-op and things are looking up! My pain has noticeably lessened since yesterday, and I am already able to put some weight on my leg. Before we get too far down my road to recovery I want to fill you in on the surgery itself. Don’t worry; I won’t get too gory or graphic!

First things first, I’ll give you a quick and dirty knee anatomy lesson: Each knee has two menisci: the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus. The lateral meniscus is the cartilage on the outside of your knee, and the medial is the cartilage on the inside of your knee. Your medial meniscus does about 85% of the meniscal work, that is it provides 85% of the cushioning between your bones. The lateral meniscus provides the remaining 15% of support.

Once my surgeon, Dr. Carey, and I decided that surgery was the best option, we discussed the game plan. As I explained in my last post the diagnosis was a discoid lateral meniscus and meniscal tears in my lateral meniscus and possibly my medial meniscus. Dr. Carey explained that the best course of action was arthroscopic surgery. He planned to make two small incisions just below my knee, one incision would play host to a tiny camera and the other to the probe and snipping tools. The fancy unpronounceable name for this procedure is a Partial Meniscectomy (try saying that three times fast). Which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: taking out a part of my meniscus. For the past six years Dr. Carey has been exclusively performing knee and shoulder arthroscopy, so I figured he knows what’s up.

Flash forward to surgery day, we didn’t have to report to the hospital until noon, so the morning was spent doing practical things like turning the living room into a temporary bedroom and going to the grocery store to stock up on quick, fun foods. Upon arriving at the hospital, we were introduced to a game called “hurry up and wait.” I was rushed through each step, check-in, pre-op, holding, etc. only to then sit and wait for at least an hour. At the beginning Alex got to hang with me, but as I got farther into the depths of the hospital I had to fly solo.

Of course I have no recollection of the surgery. I remember going into the operating room, and I remember asking them to cover my arms, as they were cold, other than that, I’ve got nothing. The next thing I remember was being in the recovery area where they try to convince you to wake up. Waking up was difficult, but I was determined. I knew the sooner I woke up, and convinced them that I could stay awake, the sooner I would see Alex and finally get a snack. At that point I’m guessing it had to have been at least 6:00 p.m. and I hadn’t eaten since 10:30 p.m. Thursday night.

Dr. Carey filled Alex in on the surgery itself. He showed him the pictures they took of the inside of my knee, and explained what they found and what they did to correct the situation. I was left out of the loop, because when you’re drugged up on anesthesia your chances of remembering anything the doctor tells you are pretty much zip. When Alex debriefed me afterward I learned that Dr. Carey’s projections were correct, he found significant tearing and degeneration in my lateral meniscus and slight tearing and degeneration in my medial meniscus. He removed the torn section of the lateral meniscus and then reshaped and smoothed the meniscus to give it the proper thin crescent shape. My medial meniscus was in much better shape, and required just a quick trim of the damaged area and a little smoothing.

What was projected to be a six-hour adventure turned into eight-hours and twenty minutes. We checked in to the hospital at noon and were finally allowed to head home around 8:20 p.m. On the whole our Penn Presbyterian Medical Center experience was pleasant. The nursing staff was caring and attentive, and I am still completely impressed by Dr. Carey.

Tune in next time for a journey down recovery road.

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