Pt. 1 ‘Things take a turn’
Written by Alicia Brown and Edited by Samantha Deasy
It was the summer of 2013 and things had taken a turn. After three days of dancing and dehydration at the Meredith Music Festival in country Victoria, I came back to Melbourne tired and dusty, only to land myself in the ER trying to get out of a chair. My knee had locked up again, and I knew this time was different. It was completely stuck, with pain so intense that it was hard to breath. I couldn’t dangle my knee, as with it being ‘locked up’, the traction was excruciating. I was totally immobile. When the ambulance came, it took 20 minutes (and lots of screaming) just to get me onto the stretcher.
At the ER, there had just been a massive car wreck, and I waited hours to see a doctor. During this time, an intern of some sort, who may or may not have been in his teens, tried to manipulate my knee back into place while I huffed on gas for dear life. By the time the orthopaedic surgeon came into my room (with blood on his shoes), he was clearly a bit checked out. After barely touching my knee, he told me that it must be a cramp and sent me home with ice and Panadol. My fiancé and other housemates were tasked with the painstaking duty of getting me into the car and carrying me back into the scene of the crime, feeling confused and defeated.
I remained bedridden for three days (still unable to dangle my knee without extreme pain and unable to use crutches). My poor fiancé proved his weight by dutifully waiting on me day in and day out, going as far shifting me to the edge of the bed and meeting my bum with a bucket every time I needed to relieve myself. This was clearly not a bloody cramp!!! And so, on day three, at the advice of a physio friend, we went to Alphington Medical Centre to see a wise physio named Kaye.
Kaye examined my knee and told me that I should immediately see an orthopaedic surgeon and that she suspected that my meniscus was the culprit. Where was she when I presented to the ER?
Dr Bernard Lynch at St. Vincent’s agreed to fit me into his schedule that afternoon, and by fit me in, I mean we met in what seemed to be a supply closet. Based on Kaye’s notes, he simply put one finger on the lateral side of my left knee and applied a bit of pressure. When I screamed bloody murder, he looked me in the eyes and simply said, ‘Have you had much to eat today? … because you’re going into theatre’.