Monday, December 24, 2007


“You know, I took your physio’s referral for you from the thirty or so ‘urgent’ cases because it looked like the easiest. From the description I though ‘Oh yes – a standard ACL tear. No problem. I’m going to be using your case for a teaching seminar as an example of things being not always what they appear to be.”

“…Right” I replied. “Is that good ?”

That’s what a specialist sports doctor told me about the state of my knee, after some closer examination.

Last week, my physio told me that what I had most likely done to my knee was torn or snapped my cruciate ligament ( or what I called the cruciatus ligament ) – which was a pretty common sports injury. She then went on to explain what would be done to fix this ( cutting off some other ligament from elsewhere in my body , and then grafting it into my knee ) – and I almost fainted. It rather freaked me out.

So – I got a referral letter sent off to a sports doctor at the Wakefield hospital this week, and warned that it would probably be well into the New Year before I heard back from her.

Two days later I got a call from the hospital asking if I were able to make it into them for an appointment. There had been a miraculous opening. “Hell yes !” I said.

So after a morning of Christmas shopping ( which seemed to be going worryingly painlessly for a change ) and made my way to Newtown and the specialist sports clinic.

After five minutes of jumping around in my underwear, the doctor echoed what my physio had said. “ACL tear most likely, considering the means of injury and the state of your knee. I’ll get you to have some x-rays now, and we’ll get you booked in for a MRI scan as well. That’s really busy – so it won’t be for a couple of weeks. I’ll see you again after that.”

So – downstairs to radiology I went, x-rays were taken ( and am I the only one that thinks hospital x-ray machines are rather sinister things ? ), and I went onto the list for an MRI scan.

Then, home.

No sooner had I sat down to do some painting, then I got a call from the radiology dept.
“Can you have a scan done tomorrow ?”

“Umm – Yeah sure. I thought it was going to be weeks before I was going to get this done?”

“Usually that would be true – but we’re going to be here early tomorrow – and we can fit you in at 7.15 if you can make it. Can you make it at that time?”
“You betcha !”

In I rolled early the next morning, and was inserted into the MRI machine. That was an experience ! Yet again, TV has lied to me. Whenever I’ve seen MRI scans on telly, it’s really quite a futuristic affair. In you glide into the machine – badda-bing, badda-bang – hey presto – results ! “Here’s the probem, you’ve got three gall-bladders !”

It’s not like that at all. It takes AGES – about 28 minutes to get my knee done ( and it started to get difficult to stay still. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic too ! ). It’s also REALLY noisy. They give you a pair of those ear-muff things – and it was still really quite loud. The machine makes a lot of disconcerting clicks, and then launches into a full-on power buzz, which makes various changes in pitch and tone. I’m pretty sure there’s been a few people in the world who have freaked right out in one of those things.

Afterwards, they told me to see the receptionist at the sports clinic and see if the good doctor could see me again today. The MRI had confirmed what the x-rays had hinted at – it wasn’t my ACL at all, but instead I had a fracture.

“You had an MRI scan TODAY ?” said the incredulous receptionist “We only saw you YESTERDAY ! That NEVER happens !”

I felt pretty good about the way things were progressing !

So yeah – I have a fracture. Again. This is now my fifth. Still – I feel a lot better about having a fracture. At least I’m on familiar territory here ! And there’s a 99% chance that that it’ll heal fine. I have to go back in for more x-rays early in the new year, to see if things are healing okay ( the doctor was a bit mystified that I was able to walk reasonably normally, as normally someone in my position would be on crutches – and probed me quite thoroughly to make sure that I just wasn’t pretending not to feel pain. “Doc” I said “I’m not the kind of guy to say something doesn’t hurt when it does ! Just ask my wife !” ).

All in all – I feel pretty lucky. If I hadn’t majorly lucked out in so many areas, I would have spent the summer with a fractured bone and not even known – and in all probability made things worse ( the first thing the doctor told me to stop was the rehab stuff the physio had got me to do – like the lunges, which were really starting to hurt ! ).

But it does mean that I won’t be doing anything strenuous of weight-bearing with my leg at all – which puts a major crimp on my exercise programme. Oh well, it’s more important to heal. No dancing on New-Year ( doctors orders ).

I’m most happy about my other ligaments not being harvested in a patch up mission though. Man – that really sounded pretty bad …