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Surgery: Fear, anguish and pain

*Writing this post on the hospital bed*

Surgery Day:

So with my surgery scheduled for mid-noon, fasting had to start from 5am. The hospital gave me the option of either admitting myself the night before or the day of the surgery. Given the close proximity to home I decided not to stay the extra night which meant admitting myself at 7am of the day of surgery. When I walked in at 7am Dr Tai was already in and working away on his computer.

I had in advance requested for a single room but all the single rooms were fully occupied so that meant I had to share a double room while I awaited a vacancy – It seems like patients who patron the Ara Damansara Medical Centre share the same preference for single rooms.. What was interesting for me thought was that my roommate for half the day turned out to be a 19 year old national rugby player. It was his second surgery with Dr Tai this year and his first one happened last year on his left knee, also due to a meniscus tear… He told me that this time round he had unfortunately torn his ACL in his right knee and that it would be a real shame if his career had to be cut short due injuries so I hope he has a speedy recovery.

Moving on, Dr Tai came by at 8am and needed me to sign a consent form. The form basically was seeking consent to perform a knee arthroscopy and fix any meniscus damage. He also added a line that he would fix any other injuries should the arthroscopy allow. This to me suggested he was still leaning towards a meniscus tear oppose to a cartilage tear as suggested by the radiologist report.I was made to take an antiseptic bath at about 10 am and by 12pm I was wheeled down to the operation theatre. I was introduced to Dr Wong the aesthetician and I was informed I would be going under a general aesthetic. I enquired if that meant I would be vomiting post-surgery and he replied the days of vomiting are long gone. Again I had to sign a consent form and I was then put under. Said my Bismillah and then poooooof, I was unconscious and poooooooooof, few hours went by just like that

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I remember waking up at 5pm and everything was a blur. A nurse came to attend to me and I told the nurse my knee was hurting. She replied short “of course” as I just had my knee operated on. She told me that she would put me on some painkillers and I then got wheeled into my single room which had now become available. While I was being wheeled, I was told that the operation was completed at 4.10pm which confirmed the fact that I was in the surgery room for about 3 hours.. Anyway, remember about how they say ‘days of vomiting being long gone’? Ahah, guess who started vomiting just about half an hour into being conscious..

So yes, Dr Tai came by at about 7pm to provide an update of the whole thing. He said he had cleaned my meniscus but that was not the problem. Indeed I had a grade 4 tear to my cartilage, it wasn’t a big tear but unfortunately the tear was at the load bearing portion of my knee. This meant he was required to perform a microfracture surgery that works by creating tiny fractures in the underlying bone – this causes new cartilage to develop but they are never as strong as the original.

Guys, I think everything still sounded okay to me but what Dr Tai had to share next left my heart feeling heavy. He said as a consequence of my injury, I can no longer play any sport that requires running or jumping. Dr Tai then said but if I insist on playing sports, then there were two options. The first is to have a knee cartilage transplant and the second was to have a knee replacement. In both cases it would be an open surgery and they were complicated procedures. I looked at my wife Nur and her facial expression reflected what I felt inside. While all prior pain was physical, this time it was emotional pain. Despite having my family and in laws drop by later at night, lingering in the back of my mind was the decline in quality of life I had to accept.

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Being positive was a struggle.

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