Earlier this month, the first time in my life I had an operation and became a patient.
An old knee injury from a skiing accident (my first ever ski lesson saw me tabogganed off the mountain – embarrassing). I’d never really done much about it but it made life a misery. I finally had it looked at late last autumn and it turned out I’d been getting around for the last four years with no anterior cruciate ligament and very badly torn cartilage – duh. So it was off to hospital to get it sorted out.
I’ve always had a fear of general anesthetic, so much so, during the walk home from work the night before the operation I was so pre-occupied about dying I crossed a road without looking and got hit by a cyclist. He managed to slow down enough so the impact didn’t hurt. Being called a “f***ing idiot” did, but I had crossed the road without looking so I guess I had been.
Here is a picture of my leg before the operation. The doctor draws a big arrow in big black felt tip pen on the correct leg so he won’t make a mistake. Because it is so hard to wash after the operation, it stays there for a couple of weeks as a ‘fun reminder’ that there is always a possibility they might get the wrong leg.
Here is a picture after the operation.
The surgeon said the first I would know about whether they had managed to save the cartilage or cut it out would be upon waking, to either a full leg brace (its been saved) or not (its been cut out). When I woke up I went into complete shaking shock and panic and started shouting at the poor poor recovery nurse to ‘straighten my leg out so I could get the hell out of there and get me a drink because I was very thirsty’ we battled over the oxygen mask for a while. I’d pull it off, he’d put it back on, again and again and again until he put one of those ones that goes right up your nose and told me firmly that if I didn’t calm down I wouldn’t be leaving the recovery room, so I was in there for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, a patient was wheeled in beside me and I swear to god, he came around and took a big deep breath in and then out and said ‘aaaaahhhhhhh! it’s so clever how you do that, I feel great’ and then got wheeled straight out. At same time I was trying to pull my paper gown off and escape.
I didn’t realise I had a full leg brace on for a few hours and I didn’t realise I would be wearing it and on crutches for nine weeks. Still if it means I have a full set of cartilage, I can persevere with this. (I’ve got five or six weeks to go now and I don’t think I can persevere with it) and it will never be worse than my knee spontaneously popping out.
This was my first meal after the operation. It had been a full 18 HOURS since my last meal. I had to photograph it and share it with everybody, it was so good and I was wasted.
When I was discharged the next day, I went home and recuperated in bed for another three or four days. My dog Max felt sympathetic and lay with me a lot.
As both pets quickly learnt I was lame and no longer good as a source for food (though left long enough I probably would have become a source OF food to them) they basically abandoned me, seeking me out only when in need of warmth and always, ALWAYS managing to jump and then lie right on top of the spot of the operation and occasionally play fight on top of it too.
Two weeks passed and I was finally able enough to dress myself and walk to the roadside and wait to be picked up by a taxi. So I did and got out at my destination and sat down at this table with my friend Jane (who’s birthday it happened to be) and we ate oysters and steak frites and drank a little Rose and finished it off with these profiteroles, oh and it that an empty glass of dessert wine too? What a joyous few hours of freedom.
Back to work and back to the surgeons office to get my stitches removed and talk about my surgery and ‘watch the video together’!!!???? When did that start to happen? I marvelled at how pure and white the inside of my knee is and I thought I would share a picture of my donor ligament too. Just look how shiny and strong it is! In a couple of months time this baby will be taking all sorts of strain and I’ll try not to wreck it on the ski slopes next winter.