Last fall I should have listened to my instincts and gone ahead with surgery on the torn meniscus in my left knee. It had been popping out some last summer, but when it stopped acting weird going into winter I thought perhaps that surgery wasn’t necessary. When I met with the doctors, they fairly warned me it was a “significant tear.’
So I was wrong not to get it fixed last December. Now I’m walking around wounded and making plans to have the surgery done as quick as possible. The minute I started back into cycling late this winter, the knee started getting funky.
What caused it?
The MRI last fall showed the damage. I caused it by hurdling a street cone on a snowy road at the Sno-Fun-Run back in 2015 or so. At the time, I did not know the meniscus was harmed. It felt like a hyperextension of the knee, and that much was true.
But it’s gotten worse by the year, and the meniscus actually sticks out from the knee on some occasions during a run. Then last summer it sort of slid out of place and I spent a day hobbling around. So I kept deceiving myself that I could get along.
Torn about it
That’s how it is with injuries. I wasn’t necessarily trying to hide from the fact that I was a member of the Walking Wounded. I’ve been through two (count ’em, two) torn ACL incidents. The first was profound during an indoor soccer match. It was traumatic, sudden and horribly life-changing.
But I had surgery on that knee and replaced the ACL with a cadaver part I called Jake. Two years later I tore it again. Jake died all over again.
From then on, I’ve gotten along fine without an ACL in the left knee. I just don’t play ballistic sports. Running, riding and swimming are all fine and dandy.
Then I had to go get fancy (and stupid) a couple years ago by jumping over that street cone. Now the consequences of that faux-youthful indiscretion have got me by the meniscus. I have run with a knee strap to keep the thing in place, and that works while I’m not out riding 2-3 hours at a time. I had a bike fit last fall to make sure my alignment was good. But some things are just part of the deal.
Bring it on. Maybe not.
The meniscus is a pad of tissue that cushions the inside of the knee. It’s there to keep bone from rubbing on bone. So I hope that cutting a chunk out won’t turn into arthritis on the inside knobs of my knee. It’s hard enough getting older without bringing things on yourself.
In the meantime, I walk around with a touch of a limp. It usually loosens up during the day, but several times over the last couple years, the knee has buckled a bit and it hurts then. So I try to be smart in all my movements. Life becomes a ginger dance, and I’m not talking about being a redhead.
Present in the moment
Walking gingerly means being present in the moment so that you don’t make things worse by stepping off a curb the wrong way. Some of the worst exaggerations of injuries happen in the most benign of circumstances.
There’s a little pressure on me going into all this. Come late May, my wife and I are going to be in North Carolina at a triathlon camp. We’ll be riding 200+ miles in the hills and that means I need to get some fitness together before then. But having been through injuries before, I believe that after a couple days on crutches, it will actually be good to get out and pedal the knee and the rest of me into shape. Perhaps there will be some physical therapy involved. That would be a good thing.
This afternoon if the weather holds up like it says, I’ll be getting out for a two-hour ride toward twilight. It’s funny how the knee doesn’t hurt while I’m riding, but running the next day is more than tricky. It hurt like hell last Sunday morning. Pain is always trying to tell you something. We just have to learn to listen.
And if we don’t, we get to wander around like the Walking Wounded.