Today I spent a half an hour half immersed in a Magnetic Resonating Instrument. I’m guessing. MRI. I have been around the block a few times with this noisy, but amazing bit of technology. It’s my favorite test by far. No injections or icky stuff to drink. It’s loud, but at least I had Pandora’s Fleetwood Mac station to keep me busy.
Too bad the MRI wasn’t around, at least not where I was, in the early 1980s, when I had my first knee surgery. Newton Wellesley Hospital, a pretty good hospital in the area didn’t really have much to diagnose knee problems. Scoping was used for diagnosing, but even then the doctor wouldn’t know what was wrong until he actually opened up my knee. Back then they called it reconstruction.
There were two of us undergoing knee surgery that morning. We were told that if we woke up with a light bandage on our leg, it was just meniscus and we’d be golden. I wasn’t golden; I was plastered in a cast that ran from the tips of my toes to the top of my thigh. Immobilization. By the time my right leg was paroled from prison, my leg was pathetic with atrophy. But my knee had been a mess. In fact, when I got a chance to talk to the other surgery victim, a soon to be former football player, I was surprised that he was hanging up his cleats; he simply said he didn’t want to be like me.
I learned quickly that even though my knee had been put back together again and I earned a nice fancy scar, that my knee was toast. The doctor really was an artist with his scar; I’ve seen some nasty knee scars.
While working with some very good athletic trainers at Northeastern, my knee was used to show the athletic trainer trainees what a large draw was. Put one hand on the inside of my knee, and the other on the outside and push, and that knee joint would open up as if it were saying ahhh. Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears meant the end of the road for most athletes.
No matter how much work I did in getting back into shape, I couldn’t run as much and was hardly ever without pain.
Shortly after moving to Eugene, I qualified to play wheelchair basketball; the team, The Shooting Stars, didn’t live up to our name. I think in the three years we were together, we might have won one game. But I had fun.
And then I had a long love affair with bowling. My knee was okay at first, but the toll of bowling a hundred games a week started to plague my entire body. I became a frequent visitor at Slocum Orthopedic.
The doctor let me watch him scope out my knee; it looked like he were sucking up cob webs out of my knee. He filed down some bone and took out some fragments. It wasn’t that bad of a rehab either, not in comparison to the first “procedure.”
I had fallen in love with the scope. What an incredible tool. Fixed my frozen left shoulder. Fixed my arthritic right shoulder.
In the second knee scoping procedure, Doctor Walton gave me a new ACL. My older tendons were no longer viable, and so I was given the gift of a doner. I really wanted to watch the surgery, but the doc admitted that he was tweaking his style a bit and probably didn’t want me in on his trade secret, though the real reason is it is probably a lot easier to operate when the patient isn’t asking too many questions.
Last April 21st, when my dog Abby tripped me going down the stairs, I was getting ready for a bowling tournament. I had worked so hard. As I fell, my knee and my ankle went in directions that no joints ought to go. All I could do was yell a zillion F bombs. I couldn’t believe it. Out of the blue.
Xrays at the emergency room established that nothing was broken, but I’ve never really trusted xrays for diagnosing structural damage. I couldn’t convince the attending physician to ask for an MRI.
Every so often, I think that perhaps I’m off my rocker and that nothing serious is wrong and maybe it’s just a sprain. I don’t have much motion and the shooting pain is telling me that it’s probably my ACL again. In the five minutes that I spent with Chris Walton, he was guessing that it was my ACL. Emergency room X-rays and Slocum X-rays couldn’t confirm the diagnosis.
After this morning’s MRI, which will paint a better picture, I’ll know where I stand and what I need to do to get back onto the lanes. Perhaps I’ll start to keep a rehab blog. I do know I have a lot of work ahead of me; that is when I’m given the green light.