At the start of this year I faced my third knee operation, the second in the last eighteen months. This time though I had a new medical team who have more expertise in the issues I face with my knees, rather than seeing a general orthopedic surgeon who deals with a greater range of conditions.
During the later half of last year I had several appointments and tests at various out patient appointments, and it was a huge relief when my new consultant said he thought he could help me and was prepared to operate. I have struggled with my knees since I was about sixteen, and over the last couple of years they have been getting worse - this could be due to having PVNS but we don't know exactly.
At my consultation before my operation, I spoke with my consultant about my preference to have a spinal anesthetic and to be aware of what was happening, he said he was happy with this as long as the anesthetist was. I have previously had knee surgery where I have watched my own operation so I knew what I was letting myself in for and last time it was a really insightful and interesting experience.
In January of this year I had my operation; it was a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday and I joked with my consultant that his present to me could be to have pain free legs!
On the day of the operation I arrived two hours before my allocated theatre slot and was visited by the medical team who were going to be looking after me. I was feeling anxious, I always do before an operation, I really dislike being in hospital!
As I was last on the theatre list, I posed zero infection risk to any other patients so I was allowed to wear my own comfy PJs rather than the awful hospital gown which doesn't preserve dignity at all. I was offered the opportunity to be wheeled down to theatre but instead opted to walk myself, knowing it would be some time before I would be walking again following surgery.
In the anesthetist room I was greeted by the anesthetist that I had previously spoken to about my request to be awake for my operation, she inserted the anesthetic into my back as I was having a spinal. The anesthetist and I developed a really good rapport before I was wheeled into theatre and greeted by my consultant.
In theatre I was laying down much more than I had for my previous operation, where I actually sat bolt up right, however my surgeon later explained that I needed to lay down so he could get the best results.
About half way through the operation I started to feel a little bit of pain, I told the anesthetist and she asked if I wanted anything for it; initially I didn't, but then the pain started to build up. The anesthetist could see I was getting anxious and distressed and started to put some painkillers into my hand; unfortunately they did nothing for the pain and though further painkillers were given, none were working. I remember laying in theatre thinking I was going to die and asking my surgeon to stop! My anesthetist was lovely and calm and held my hand whilst trying with her other hand to administer more and more pain relief. I am not sure how but somehow the operation was completed. To the surgical staffs surprise, I wasn't knocked out even though I was given enough drugs to knock out a race horse according to the anesthetist.
After recovery I was taken back to the ward where I spent the next four days, I was supposed to only be in a night however my pain was not being managed as well as it could have been. I later found out that one of my existing medicines was interacting with some of the painkillers and causing them not to work! It also didn't help that a member of the nursing staff withheld some medication that I was prescribed for some reason, even though I asked for it.
Fast forward to today and my operated knee is OK. It has started to make some snap, crackle and pop noises and my GP thinks its inflamed, so I have had some steroids injected into it. I am struggling to kneel down as my knee doesn't quite feel strong enough, its been a very long recovery however this isn't the end, as I face surgery again at the end of this year on my other knee.
I am scared and anxious about the prospect of more surgery, especially given that for some reason the spinal failed mid operation and all the issues I had surrounding pain management. I have been assured by my medical team that the issues I faced were very very rare, and we are working on a plan for my future surgery that will include a combined spinal and epidural.
I wish I didn't have to face more operations but I know that it is the best chance I have of being pain free. I sometimes get so frustrated as I feel my life is on hold because of my knees and I long for the day when I can take two steps forward without taking any steps back!