It was just five minutes, but I cannot begin to tell you how good it felt.
(Warning. Gross anatomical details ahead. Click through if you care.)
The procedure that was done on my knee is called microfractures. The knee repairman did it because when he got inside with the arthroscope, he could see that the top surface of the outside of my right tibia was completely screwed up. It’s the result of a break 20 years ago playing basketball (I was fouled.) and it for all practical purposes means I’ll be coping with a problematic knee for the rest of my life.
What’s odd is the way I’ve lived my life not realizing the slow inexorable damage going on. I’ve always assumed the surgery 20 years ago left me with a good-as-new knee. I stopped running in the late ’90s, switched to the bike, because of ankle problems. Had I not, this likely would have happened earlier.
Microfracturing involves poking little holes (six in my case) in the bone, allowing gunk to ooze out and form a protectitve surface. That takes a while to heal, which is why I’m going to be non-weight bearing on it for at least another five or six weeks. (I have pictures, but I’ll spare you….) They’re also going to fit me with an “unloader brace,” a contraption that shifts my weight away from the fucked up outside (lateral) to the healthy inside (medial) part of the joint.
Physical therapy for the next several weeks involves keeping the muscles strong and taking various steps to keep swelling and scar tissue down. I’m also working on getting range of motion back. Surprisingly, when I was at physical therapy Friday, I was able to get past the magic 110 degrees, so my therapist, Peter, put me on a recumbent stationary bike for five minutes. Peter’s a cyclist. He understands.
It was tough. My muscles are weak, and I had to left-leg it all – no pushing with the right, just strap it into the toe clip and let it spin. But the windows looked out east, to the whole panorama of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains. My mountains. Before I went in for surgery, I had worked out in my mind a goal – Sandia Crest before the snow falls. It’s clear now that is unrealistic. Not until next spring, perhaps.