Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lateral Meniscectomy and Microfracture - The Road to Recovery

I know what you're thinking.

"Ok, Arun. I get it. You had knee surgery. But what's with all the jargon? What makes you think I have any idea what the thread title is even talking about!?!"

And you're right. A few months ago, I wouldn't have been interested either. BUT, I decided to deviate from my usual extremely witty commentaries and crazy adventures because, before I had this procedure, I was scouring the internet for Partial Lateral Meniscectomy and Microfracture info, and its a bit hard to find, and the treatment and recovery is all over the board.

So, now, when people search, with any luck they'll find a couple of posts by yours truly, and maybe have a couple of questions answered (and obviously discover the most amazing collection of witty writing ever amassed, by "His Humbleness"...ME).

So here's the how it went down.

Several months ago, I had an MRI revealing a partially torn lateral meniscus and lateral articular cartilage damage in my right knee. That didn't sound good, so I went to an orthopedist.

The first doc revealed I would probably need microfracture surgery which, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, is a relatively new-ish surgery in which holes are drilled into the bone such that stem-cell-containing bone marrow bleeds out into the area devoid of cartilage. The stem cells stimulate new cartilage growth, and in a few months, you're theoretically back in action.

There are a couple of caveats though: for starters, the surgery is not 100% effective and there's about 20% of people for whom cartilage regrowth doesn't happen.


Second, a number of professional athletes have never totally gotten back to their pre-surgery all-star form (ie Tracy McGrady and Chris Webber). This bummed me out until I realized A) Those guys are slightly better at basketball than me anyways, B) I'm exactly known for my extreme jumping abilities and C) If I return at Tracy McGrady or Chris Webber's basketball form, I will be 100 times better at basketball than I've ever been.

The biggest bummer of them all though is the recovery time she told me about: six weeks on crutches, no driving, physical therapy for 3 months thereafter.

There goes Arun's summer of awesomeness.

So I did what any sensible person who doesn't care for the prognosis does - I got a second and third opinion and elected to do the surgery with the last guy.

Here's where things get interesting. The last two orthopedists work together in the same practice and have a LOT of experience. They also proceed with recovery much more aggressively than most orthopedists as their experience shows identical post - op results while minimizing patient inconvenience.

So here's my recovery:
Procedure: Partial Lateral Meniscectomy and Femoral Microfracture

Post Op Days 1 - 10: Crutches and non weight bearing. On day 5, I started daily stationary bike with no resistance. Off of pain meds by Day 3 (and probably could have been a day sooner).

Day 10: Full weight bearing allowed while wearing brace. Physical Therapy begins.

Day 12: By now, my limp is pretty much gone and I'm walking without the brace with minimal discomfort.

So here I am now at day 22. My knee is certainly not normal yet, but there's definite improvement. Walking is for the most part, pain free. Occasional dull ache is the knee at both meniscus sight and microfracture sight (though not necessarily at the same time). I've started some light elliptical training and physical therapy is slowing escalating in impact.

Overall, I think I'm definitely headed in the right direction and am well ahead of schedule. Now I won't be running or playing sports for another couple of months, but hopefully I've provided some of you with some positive feedback and information if you're about to get microfracture.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming...

The Gift of Walking

It's interesting how taking the ability to do something that we do everyday makes you realize how important that ability is.

And no, I'm not talking about the ability to look at yourself in the mirror.

I'm talking about the "gift" of being able to walk...unassisted.

Last week I had knee surgery, and for the last two weeks I've been crutching around town. Along with the knee surgery came some other unforeseen minor complications:
  1. Since the surgery was on my right knee, and since the doctors orders were to basically not do anything with that leg, I haven't been alowed to drive. Boom - Independence gone.

  2. The main problem with crutches is that walking just a couple of blocks can be exhausting, so travelling long distances on foot (and by "foot," I mean literally ONE foot) is not an option

  3. A further complication with crutches is that your ability to hold anything while standing is gone. Just to get a bowl of cereal means I have to grab the bowl, set it on the counter, shimmy to the left, stop and move the bowl to the left, shimmy again, move the bowl, etc...until I get to the edge of the kitchen and within plopping distance of the couch where I can sit down and reach the bowl. Going to the kitchen to get food is such a pain that I've opted to just skip my normal snacking (probably good since my normal activity level is way down).

  4. The first 3 nights after the surgery, I had to sleep with this huge knee immobilizer brace thing on my leg which was heavy, uncomfortable, and hot.
Luckily, I'm now 10 days removed from the surgery and have gotten clearance to start walking again.

(In my best Braveheart voice) Freeeeeeeeeeeedooooooooome!!!

I will say this though...the crutches also had an unforeseen BENEFIT.

On Saturday, I went out for about an hour and a half for a friends birthday, and I tell you this: I was approached by four different women within an hour who were offering me their seat, asking me if I was alright, and generally showering me with attention and I was literally doing NOTHING.

Huh...maybe I should go back to the Doc and see if I can keep the crutches for another couple of weeks?

The attention however was unfortunately not just limited to those carrying x-chromosomes. I had a small encounter later that evening. I was hanging out with some friends at a lounge when a HUGE dude (I'm talkin like 6'8", muscles ripping out of his shirt, Jamaican dude) comes up to me. The encounter went like this:

Big Muscle Dude: "Hey Dude. I don't know where you're from, but you're F**kin Beautiful!"
Me: "Uhh....thanks man, I appreciate that"
BMD: "My name's Abdule. What's your name and where you from?!"
Me: "I'm Arun. My family's from India"
BMD: "Mmm Mmm Mmm! Beautiful name, country, AND body. What's it gonna take for you to let me buy you a drink?"
Me: "I appreciate the offer man, but I'm with some friends and I'm straight"
BMD: "Oh ok man, but if you change your mind, I'll be here and you won't have to buy another drink tonight."


I mean, I suppose its flattering. This type of thing has happened before, and I always try to be nice, but on this occasion I made sure to be particularly cordial because BMD aka Abdule could have kicked (or taken) my ass if he wanted! With my limited mobility, escape would have been impossible!

Oh, those crutches. Attention grabbing would be an understatement.