I have always known that at some point in my grappling exploits I’ll acquire a significant enough injury to keep me out for a lengthy amount of time. I’ve had close calls before of course: a seriously pulled pec major courtesy of a Judo Olympian, a nasty bout of cellulitis from an infection in my arm and a ‘slight’ fracture of my foot….oh yeah, and a broken toe or two.
But all of those were four to six weeks of taking it easy which, whilst tough for any of us that love grappling, is manageable. This injury however is a whole different ball game.
I picked up this pre-cursor for this injury after training at SBG in Dublin back in November of last year. At the end of the week my knees were so stiff after four hours of training each day that I was having trouble walking. So I took it easy for a couple of weeks and then one evening during a boxing class, I pivoted to throw a right cross and instantly fell to the floor. That seriously hurt.
It turns out that I’d got a displacement tear in the medial meniscus of my right knee. I tried a bit of self-rehab for a couple of months (including no grappling!) and actually managed to go on a snowboarding trip in January of this year. However it wasn’t aggressively throwing myself down a mountain that re-injured it, but jumping out of a helicopter after a day trip to a nearby resort. Thankfully it was the last day of the trip but even so I needed to get it seen to immediately.
I love the NHS, it’s a brilliant service but the waiting time for this incident has absolutely wrecked my year. After seeing my GP in January and telling him there and then that I’d torn my medial meniscus and needed an MRI, he referred me to the ‘knee clinic’. They made me see a hospital physio who referred me to a specialist. The specialist ordered an MRI which had to be carried out and then referred back to the specialist once again. I then had to attend a pre-surgery assessment and then wait for a suitable surgery date. Each of those items had a four to six week wait between them.
So what I’m saying is that it took the NHS just under eight months to confirm and act on what I’d told them the very second I walked into the doctors office. That is very, very frustrating.
I’ve been able to train but never to push it really hard and certainly not anywhere like competition ready. My knee will fold every now and then and it’s extremely irritating.
So anyway on to happier thoughts: I had surgery last week to resolve the issue. A knee arthroscopy with either a meniscal repair or a menisectomy (removal of the torn area). It turns out that the tear was pretty severe, as you may expect from eight months of hammering on an already torn body part. So the surgeon removed the damaged area and I should be back up and running in no time!
The actual surgery and experience in the hospital was great. The staff were all very friendly and efficient and I was baffled just how many checks there were that I was me and that they were carrying out the correct procedure on the correct body part!