For orthopedic surgeons, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction has become a routine procedure. However, for the victims… er… patients, the experience is anything but routine.
On Wednesday night I look down and read the two NOs that are written on my left leg. One, in blue, which sits above my knee, is in my own handwriting. The other, a large black NO was written right across my kneecap by my doctor. The fact that I can read these warnings is assuring for two reasons. First, it confirms my strong suspicion that I am, in fact, still alive. Second, it indicates that under all the gauze and tensor bandages is the correct knee, freshly sliced and freshly liberated of the two screws that held my makeshift Anterior Cruciate Ligament in place.
Several hours earlier I had been hopelessly trying to avoid doing my Sharon Stone impersonation for the nice old lady on the other side of the day ward. I can only hope that she suffers from near sightedness as the combination of the hospital’s cold air and my nervousness about my upcoming procedure had reduced me to, um… Let’s just say my flag was at a little less than half-mast.
Today was the first of the two knee surgeries to repair my once again torn ACL. It was an arthroscopy of my right knee with the goals of removing the screws put in during my first ACL reconstruction and of cleaning up the torn tendon. Today’s procedure, I thought, would be minor: just a small blimp on the way to the big surgery in June when my ACL would be replaced once again. After all, I would be able to walk out of this surgery. How much pain could be caused by three small insertions? Minor. And I did little to mentally prepare myself.
However, things did not go according to my plan. Or rather, a small modification to the procedure had to be made on the fly. Before I went under, my doctor warned me that he might not be able to remove the screws through the scope. If that were the case, he would be forced to open up the old incisions. As my knee was already marked with a four-inch scar from top of the cap down to my shin and my outer thigh sported its two-inch twin, I was hoping to avoid this scenario. My doctor did not sound confident in this regard.
Moments later I was lying in the operating room being strapped to various monitors and plastic bags. Even then I was not nervous, that is until I heard the doctor order a screwdriver, and that exact moment is when I stopped trivializing this surgery. For some reason the tone in his voice snapped me awake. I suddenly became aware of my near nakedness as masked voices made preparations around me. I started to shiver. And then I started to fall asleep.
Time to savor the potential last few seconds of my existence, to remember the sensation of the end.
Tags: pain, procedure, sport