Written by Alicia Brown, edited by Samantha Deasy
'A good knee, at least for the next 15 years’
Runners to your marks! Get set… Go!!!!! And then the boom – signalling me out of my blocks, and into the 100-meter dash. At 14, I made the varsity track team, and while my older teammates towered above me, I was fast as hell. By Grade 10, I was anchoring the 4x4, and fully dedicated to the sport.
The first time my knee ‘popped’ out of the socket (or at least that’s how I would describe it to the paramedics), I was 13, and had been running competitively for only a year. The pain was excruciating, yet oddly the acute incidents were never associated with sports. It would happen during daily routine activities such as getting out of a chair, and pivoting my knee ever so slightly. My left knee was the star of the show, but it would also happen to the right from time to time. Upon examination, medical professionals could never put their finger on the culprit. All I knew was that eventually, if I relaxed my muscles and breathed through the pain, whatever felt out of place would go back into place, and I’d only be left mildly sore for about a day.
The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body and the most commonly injured by adolescent athletes. Apparently, our gift as hunters is our endurance, not our ability to sprint, so while I ceased to run track after high school, it is not shocking that six years of competitive sprinting took its toll.
I would continue to live my life without knowing what the heck was wrong with my knee, and eventually learned how to quickly straighten it when it locked up, clicking it back into place before it got stuck. I’d get to practice this trick two to four times a year, and just got used to it.
Fast forward to 35, and my meniscus had been slowing tearing for 22 years. The result of my arthroscopic surgery was the removal of one-third of my meniscus (mostly they don’t like to remove more than a quarter). As Dr. Lynch explained, based on my history, my meniscus had been deteriorating since my early track years, and occasionally getting caught on a joint. This time, due to the tear having grown so large, it was completely locked, and was diagnosed as a ‘bucket handle tear of the lateral meniscus’.
The meniscectomy cleared away the damaged tissue, and he repaired the meniscus to the best of his ability. As the doctor put it – I had 'a good knee, at least for the next 15 years’ (but who's counting when you’ve been peeing in a bucket for the past few days).