My Left Knee.

Yet another 2 spectacular scars to add to my collection!

Yet another 2 spectacular scars to add to my collection (And YES they operated on the correct leg!)

In between writing that will actually EARN me money this year (what a concept!) and doing a lot of house-and life-cleaning that somehow eluded me last year, I also squeezed in a little time to have knee surgery on Wednesday. What fun!

Not really. I realized how much I didn’t want to have surgery to repair “unspecified” damage to the meniscus of my left knee at my pre-op appointments where I was the biggest sour-puss you can imagine. I scowled at the

My addiction

My addiction

nurses, got into an utterly pointless gun control argument in the waiting room of the surgery center (I really was in a bad, stupid mood), and resented every rule and regulation I was given. When I learned mine would be the last surgery of the day, I couldn’t believe I’d have to fast for 16 hours — and skip my morning coffee. It only occurred to me later that it also meant my knee would be the final task in somebody’s long day — not the coveted surgical spot. But once I learned that I could, in fact, have coffee in the morning, I was totally cheered up, fear and loathing passed, and I moved on to acceptance.

The day of the surgery was beautiful, sunny and I filled it with errands, mailing off my daughter’s Valentine’s package and making soup.HEART

handMy friend Patti took me to the center (my husband Larry was in DC until 3 pm) and we chatted and laughed until I was ushered into the surgical waiting area.  Then the fear resurfaced big-time. I hated being in a hospital gown, hated getting an IV, and hated the idea that something was the matter with my body. (And yes, it did occur to me that I am going to be a very cranky old person.) I was swabbed, covered in warm blankets (nice touch!) and wheeled into the surgical room and remember nothing more until I popped out from under anesthesia and felt remarkably …good.

That night I took one pain pill, had some soup, crawled into the sofa nest I’d made for myself, and watched TV until midnight. The only real pain I felt was in my back because the dumb sofa was too soft. And the next morning, I was dying to get up and get around. Crutches really slowed me down. I couldn’t find a way to carry my water glass and hold my crutches; I had to ask for things; I was dependent and felt — lame.

Still Life of Betty -- augh!!

Still Life with Betty — augh!!

Friday I went back to the doctor’s to get my stitches out and get off the crutches. My knee looked puffy but remarkably normal. My surgeon showed me the photo of my meniscus. The inside hadn’t been too bad — a tear we never saw was easily buffed out. The outside meniscus was a hot mess — like spaghetti instead of a round disc. She’d done what she could but isn’t sure if it’ll ever come back to full strength. I felt good that I wasn’t a total wimp and there really was something wrong with my knee, but felt bad that there was something that wrong with my knee. In fact, she said the inside meniscus was a 49-year old’s knee; the outside was a 69-year old’s. Ouch! That hurt! knee anatomy

I’m committed to being a model rehab patient and getting everything back, but I can’t do yoga or pilates for two months. I’ll be confined to non-lateral movements on the bike, flat treadmill and elliptical — three machines I pretty much loathe. But all things considered, it wasn’t bad. My knees are old but they’re not shot. Lucky me!

46 thoughts on “My Left Knee.

  1. This must be the Year of the Knee in the Chinese calendar. I have so many friends dealing with bad knees and one had both knees replaced last week. I don’t remember any of our parents complaining about knees so what are we all doing wrong? Is it the type of shoes we wear? I don’t think it’s that we are more active than our parents or grandparents. I’d be curious to find out what has caused an near epidemic of our age group dealing with bum knees.

    Glad you are on the mend. Hobble forth!

  2. Those knees have a lot of miles on them, Betty. (I mean physical distance, not years.) It seems amazing that you got away with just some spaghettified meniscus. I’m glad you’ve recovered. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

    • Thanks, BB — and have a great Valentine’s Day, too! My knees DO have a lot of miles on them — literally and figuratively, so I guess I kind of earned this surgery. But rehab is going well and I’m totally committed to making lasagne out of spaghetti!

    • Oh, my husband is a ROCK — seriously, he gets these terrible sports injuries and in two days, he’s back doing some insane workout. Plus, he was a super good nurse to me when I was on crutches (for a day) so I am nothing but grateful. He’ll be back on the tennis court and/or bike before I can blink… believe me!! Thanks for your good wishes, TWJ!

    • I agree, Susan — who’s responsible for making it so FRAGILE??! And guess what? Larry just snapped a ligament in his calf playing tennis so I guess now I’ll be waiting on HIM hand and foot (great metaphor) — payback time! This getting old crap is for the birds!

  3. Ha!! You sound like the type of patient I am …not so patient!! In 1998 I broke my wrist snow skiing in Vermont. The doctors here took me out of the cast too soon which caused the bone to collapse , requiring surgeries, and I was without my right hand [of all things since my left hand is retarded] for 8 months that year. I have to admit. It was good to be able to walk around!! Good thing you did yoga and pilates before so you will know how to ease back in!! What do they say “listen to your body”. Wish my older body didn’t have so much to say!!

    • You make me laugh, Deb! I hear you …and am trying not to get too enthusiastic about doing too much too soon. NO way do I want to do this again anytime soon! It’s humbling, though — and gives me a lot more compassion for people who really have major health issues!

  4. I would’ve been bad tempered too if I’d had to wait for the final surgery of the day. You look so happy and comfortable laying on the sofa are you sure you just had surgery?
    I’m glad you included the photo of your knee. I’m surprised to see that its hardly swollen!

    • Rosie, I was pretty happy on that sofa — but luckily it was only one day! And I really surprised to see how relatively normal my knee looked less than 48 hours after the surgery — and the minute they took the stitches out and removed my big bandages, I was OFF those crutches, believe me!

  5. Laughter is the best medicine – for me as well as you. Thank God we live in the age we do, and thank him for the wisdom and knowledge he gives the medical profession. After all you do, enjoy letting others do for you. You deserve it. All the best…….

    • Thanks, Anita! My doctor was a tiny little dynamo over 60 named Letha Griffin and she was amazing — like a miniature Doris Day with the most perfect blonde flip — I loved her!! Where would we be without these docs??

  6. I had meniscus surgury about five years ago, and the relief was unbelievable. Unfortunately, it didn’t take away my need for total knee replacement, which I had a couple years later. I always schedule surgery as early as possible. I never eat breakfast, except if I’m told I can’t eat. Then I suddenly turn into a lunatic at being denied food. I can’t believe you waited the entire day. I would have been knawing on the doctor’s arm.

    • Renee — seriously, you know you’re obsessed with food when that’s the FIRST thing you think about being denied when it comes to surgery. Luckily, I’m such a ridiculous coffee addict I almost didn’t care about the food thing as long as I could have my Venti Half-Caff … and believe me, I got up early in order to get it! Wow .. can’t believe you had to have a total knee replacement after the meniscus scope — and I also can’t believe how common that is! Oh well — I’m in total denial that I’ll ever have to go under the knife again — and ignorance is bliss! Thanks for the good wishes!!!

  7. I wish you a speedy and an non-annoying-as-possible recovery. I had a minor meniscus tear several years back. They told me it wasn’t bad enough for surgery (“well, if you were an athlete, we’d operate”), but that because there was very little blood flow there, it probably wouldn’t get better either. I eased back into yoga (the doc said it was the one thing that might help) and had to go real slow for a while. But it did definitely help! It’s nearly healed. I know the pain I was in for just an itty-bitty tear; thoughts & prayers going out to you.

    • Oh JM, with all you are juggling (career & 5-kid wise), I can never believe you have time for yoga — but I guess it’s essential to your peace of mind. You inspire me to get back on the mat – and I loved that your tear is nearly healed — bravo!!

  8. A real pain, surgery, but then it can do amazing things! I hope you have a total recovery and could climb a mountain soon, if you wished to!

  9. Even in recovery mode, you make me laugh. I can totally understand. I have been babying my knees to stay out of the surgical suite, both of mine have issues. Glad you are doing well. Miss you!

  10. You sound as though you are doing great! I have had a tibial osteotomy, and 15 years later, a knee replacement so you have my full empathy and support. I can especially identify with not being able to carry anything with crutches. Hang in there!

  11. You will be sooooooooo happy that it was fixed. I can’t believe what a difference two total knee replacements made in my life. Congratulations. You’ll be back to our old super athletic, competitive self in no time. Baseball anyone? Come back. Come back. so much more to do.

  12. I think I’d be the same way! Love the comment about the age of your knees! I hope my knees hold out like that and my dads who has amazing knees and still runs and hikes with me! Good luck on a speedy recovery!

      • oh, I thought you meant your knee looked 10 years younger than you. I misread it! Our knees sure take a beating though. My husband is 42 and his knees are already gone. Runs in the family as they are all tall and have bad knees. I’m glad mine are still ok as I love to run, hike and climb. Hope your recovery is going well.

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