I had knee surgery earlier this week – bilateral knee arthroscopies, to be precise.
My orthopaedic consultant was unable to spot anything serious on the MRIs I had following the dance boot camp in August, but, because of the symptoms I presented, he was pretty sure that there was something wrong, and wanted to perform keyhole surgery in order to ascertain what it was. Because I’d been experiencing knee pain for a while, he wanted to do the same procedure on the uninjured knee just to make sure.
Now, as you can imagine, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Well, it was, and it wasn’t. I’ve never had surgery before, not even to have my wisdom teeth taken out, and, now, all of a sudden, I’m being told I should have both knees cut open and will be out of action for a number of months?
Still, my consultant pointed out that I’d tried rest and physiotherapy and that the minor incident I’d had with closing a window should not have caused the amount of physical discomfort and pain that it had. He also reassured me that it was a pretty standard operation, although I’d be having it done on both knees, so it wouldn’t be anything major.
As my knees tend to hurt more in colder weather, I decided to have the procedure done sooner rather than later. I also didn’t want my parents to worry when they visit later in the year. I contemplated waiting for a better time at work to have my knees done, but, truth be told, work will always be busy, particularly when you’re a one woman team like me, and, the longer I delayed my surgery, the higher the chance I would do something to injure myself further.
So, in the fortnight leading up to the surgery, I joined my boyfriend’s Mysore Ashtanga yoga class, mainly because his teacher had had the same surgery, and, I figured, he’d know how to keep me from injuring myself. Also, I’d read that stronger knees would help speed up the recovery process. I also threw myself back into dance classes, and, even though there was still pain by the end of the night, and I was still ill from a chest infection, I had lots of fun.
Last week, I asked my dance teacher for one last west coast swing before the surgery. He told me, much to my surprise, that my connection was really good. Now, it may not mean much to non-dancers, but that’s the thing I’d been working on since the boot camp. It’s also one of the most fundamental things that any dancer has to get right, and I was thrilled to hear that, if rather frustrated by the timing.
I experienced something similar in the yoga class as well. I’d progressed faster than I or my boyfriend expected, and if I had another week more, I would have got the whole standing series, pretty good for someone who’s not done “proper” yoga, according to the boyfriend. To be fair, yes, I’ve been going for yoga since the beginning of the year, up until I got injured in May, but, I’d not managed to go for a dynamic class for that long, because something would always start to hurt.
But, yes. Imagine being told you’re getting good just as you’re forced to take a break. There’s the fear that you’ll never manage to touch these heady heights again, much less surpass them. That’s how I felt when I returned to social dancing, knowing how I used to dance when I was at university.
In any case, my yoga teacher was so enthusiastic and encouraging about the surgery, that it did help to make me feel a little less scared. “Focus on the end goal,” he told me on my last day, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, while pottering on my crutches.
I’ll admit though, the first time I had to go to the toilet following the operation, and found that I couldn’t quite bend my legs, and needed my boyfriend’s help to sit down and get my trousers off, I couldn’t help but think, “I didn’t quite think this through!”