Update on my Knee Situation

Many of you have very kindly been expressing concern about my recent knee injury. I went to an orthopedist on Thursday, and I thought I’d give you an update on how I’m doing.

Diagnosis: They now don’t think it was a dislocation. They now think it’s a torn meniscus. (The meniscus is a disc of cartilage in the knee joint.)

Prognosis: They kind of don’t know. It could be a lot better fairly quickly; it could take a long time to be fully functional, or indeed even close to fully functional. It probably won’t need surgery, but there’s a reasonable chance that it will. They said I should let pain be my guide: activity won’t injure it worse, so I can whatever I feel like I can do, as long as I add activity back in slowly. But I should expect bad days and good days, bad hours and good hours, fairly unpredictably, at least for a little while.

How I feel: It varies a lot from day to day, and indeed from hour to hour. Last night I had a very bad stretch of about an hour, where it hurt almost as badly as the night I injured it. Today, it feels almost close to normal, I can put weight on it and everything, and today I’m on a cane instead of crutches.

Psychologically, I’m still pretty groggy and out of it. Maybe partly left over from the Vicodin (I haven’t taken any today, but I’ve been on it close to around the clock for close to a week). Probably mostly just because, as Nurse Ingrid reminds me, pain and stress and fear are exhausting.

Writing prognosis: I’m going to try to get some writing done today, but it’s a little hard to concentrate, and I have a tendency to ramble, and did I tell you about the weird quasi-dreams I’ve been having with the Vicodin, they’re not like dreams exactly, they’re more like thought processes that gradually shift into dream form, and… yeah. Like that. I may not be blogging very much this coming week — especially since I have a couple of magazine deadlines, and whatever degree of attention and concentration I have will be going into those. But I’ll do what I can. Not being able to write has been one of the most frustrating things about this whole thing, and I’m going to get back into it as soon as I can. In the meantime, I’ll probably put up a bunch of kitten pictures. Thanks again for the kind words, and I’ll be back full-time as soon as I can.

Update on my Knee Situation

19 thoughts on “Update on my Knee Situation

  1. 2

    Do what you can and take your time. I think a lot of people underestimate the psychological toll that physical injuries can take. Try to keep it as stress free as possible. Your readers will still be here when you get back to a regular posting schedule.

    I’m 7 months into not running (which was a 5 day a week activity for me) because I did something to my Iliotibial Band and it’s just not healing correctly. Sometimes even going to the grocery store causes pain around my knee and it gets super frustrating.

    Hang in there and take it one activity at a time!

  2. 3

    Never, ever forget that pain can have lingering effects much like a virus. Post viral fatigue is, I find, a lot more bearable than the recurring yesterday-was-a-bad-day for pain so today I feel completely-and-utterly exhausted.

    Take the activity gradually. And stop! if it hurts too much.

  3. 4

    I recovered from a torn meniscus using the “let nature take its course” treatment. I could walk without pain on level ground fairly soon, but had to watch up or down stairs and hills for a couple of months before that felt solid. Bear your weight using the good leg (= good leg uphill).

  4. F

    I hope you can get good function with little pain without a surgery.

    Vicodin messes you up like that for real? Wow. I remember having my wisdom teeth out and thinking Vicodin was a joke. I threw it away. Much later in life I had occasion to take it again, and it actually helped, but still did not case anything noticeable other than pain relief. I guess user reaction is more highly variable than I had previously guessed. (Of course experience varies by user and dosage, my surprise (for lack of a better word) is at the spectrum of variability.)

  5. 6

    Hmmm, injury equals kitten pictures?

    …I sense that you may have put yourself in danger from the ravening hordes of militant atheists who bully people ’round these parts.

    And get well soon.

  6. 7

    I never realized how truly exhausting pain was until I started experiencing what turned out to be arthritis in my knees–finally diagnosed about a year ago after months of increasing pain. In my case, it turned out to be complicated by a torn meniscus (or probably mensicuses). If you do turn out to need surgery, it’s not as bad as it sounds (had surgery for my right knee about 6 weeks ago).

    I’m glad you have your loving wife to help you get through this. And sympathies on the Vicodin–it knocks me for a loop, too, although I was sure happy to have it when I needed it!

  7. 8

    I’m glad you have Ingrid there to tell you not to be stupid about using the pain meds when needed. Sure you want your head clear, but getting up and moving is really important and if you don’t medicate when you need to you will slow your recovery.

    I hope you have a swift recovery. I agree with others that the psychological effect of being crippled for the first time in your life is not minor one, and the physical effect of what my doc called pain exhaustion is not trivial either. He said “go slow, but go”.

  8. 10

    As per #9, that sounds like an endoscopic type of surgery, which should be an office visit plus a little physical therapy (but I’m no professional). Reminds me of when I came off some parallel bars and down on my left knee at a bad angle. I can still hear the POP after many years — probably a torn ACL, which I never even went to a doctor about (not recommended). I just powered through it with crutches and a lot of ibuprofen. Unfortunately, my left knee has never quite been the same, and ever since there’s been something floating around in it, like a piece of bone or cartilage that every so often catches on something. Moral: don’t do like I did. Give it some time to heal itself, but if it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to get it fixed right. Then forget about it.

  9. 11

    I have been living with a torn inner meniscus on my left knee for 28 years now. I have no real problems and at a younger age I was even able to do long distance running. I experience some mild pain in the knee when the seasons change, but that’s it.

    Good luck!

  10. 12

    The trick to recovering is not to stop when it begins to hurt (or when you begin to get tired). The trick is to stop while you are still feeling good.

    The first morning you wake up after a good night’s pain-free sleep, feeling great … STOP! Don’t try to catch up on a couple of week’s worth of activities because you aren’t hurting and/or have some energy.

    Kick back and enjoy feeling good, and do half or less of what you think you can do. Stop while you are feeling energetic and pain-free. If you push it when you are feeling OK you will recover at a slower pace than if you don’t push.

  11. f.


    The trick to recovering is not to stop when it begins to hurt (or when you begin to get tired). The trick is to stop while you are still feeling good.

    This is an excellent tip, hard as it may be to follow.

    Greta, here’s hoping for a good recovery.

  12. 14

    They now think it’s a torn meniscus.

    A dislocation is easy to rule out, even though some symptoms are the same (the knee “locking”). I’ve torn cartilage in both knees, both times it was not while doing anything strenuous.

    Get it ‘scoped, you’ll be good as new in days. I had my left done (3 cartilage damaged) in ’91, the right in ’02, …no problems since.

  13. 15

    I’ve had meniscus tears in both knees (less extreme than yours, from your description) repaired surgically. In my experience, the results were fabulous. If you do decide on surgery, my advice is to start working the range of motion just as soon as possible using the recommended exercises. Early and diligent work pays off in a big way. After my second surgery, I was up and running a 5k race within 5 weeks.

    Best of luck, however you decide to proceed!

  14. 16

    That sounds rather painful–I hope you recover well.

    Wait…the cane, the vicodin, the angry atheism, the biting wit…Oh God you’re House now.

    Please tell us that there will be pictures of your best House impression.


  15. 17

    Lots and lots and lots of people get knee injuries. So what? A torn meniscus: you have had it easy. It could have been much worse, and it usually is.

  16. 18

    You have my sympathies. Joint stuff sucks. I badly sprained an ankle this year and it took the better part of 6 months to finally go away. Not being able to walk without pain can be debilitating.

  17. 19

    I don’t suppose that you have any control over what advertisements appear on your blog. Just so that you know, there is an ad. at the top from an ambulance chasing lawyer hoping to find someone for you to sue. Sorry but it made me laugh, have you recently had an accident that wasn’t your fault?

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