I saw Mr Wade the orthopaedic surgeon again this morning at the Murrayfield Hospital. I had been to see him last week and he had, subject to an MRI scan, diagnosed a combination of a meniscus tear, perhaps a Baker’s cyst and some general ‘wear and tear’ that was causing me my current knee issues. Those issues being that I can’t run freely, especially when descending.
I was taken for an MRI scan and was then called into Mr Wade’s office. I was expecting, perhaps naively, (given the meeting I had with another surgeon, Mr Keating, last year) that this scan would reveal the above, specific, problems. Problems that could be fixed by surgery, or at least physio. But it’s fair to say that what he told me could be defined as, for me, life changing.
He told me that while I did indeed have a tear, and this could be potentially eased by arthroscopic surgery, this is merely the thin edge of a very big wedge. He told me to imagine a pair of jeans that were worn at the seat. The material there can be patched, it can be sewn, but it will tear and break again and again. That’s what surgery would be about for me. In short, I have severe osteoarthritis in my knees and it ain’t going away. Specifically, I have a combination of misaligned patellas, (severe in my right knee), and patellofemoral and medial degeneration. He showed me a scan of another patient of his, aged 59, and his knees were much, much better than mine. In fact, he told me that he has rarely seen degeneration of knees as bad for ‘one so young’. I just sat there, slack-jawed, my eyes burning into the image on his screen.
He tried to console me by saying that it was because I’m so active that I’ve managed to last this long – my genes have thrown me a bad hand of cards – and my (in his words) ‘slight frame and high level of fitness’ have allowed me to compete despite the state of my knees. In his opinion, my competitive running career is over. I need to focus on keeping fit, watching my diet and other forms of competitive sport, such as cycling.
He threw me a bone on the way out though. He told me that he’s a surgeon, and he’s been wrong in the past. With physio, hard work and managing my distances there may be hope that I can deliver some kind of running performances again, but the chances are against it.
A bone’s a bone though. I’ll take it. Anyone fancy a run?