After fighting the lack of parking at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, I ended up parking on a side road, not very close to the hospital (good job I don’t have a bad knee!). I checked in and very soon was ushered through for an X-ray of the offending knee. From there, it was through to see the consultant, Mr Brown. He asked what I was expecting.
“A new knee,” I replied. Why, was his response! “Why have a new knee when most if it is in good condition?” His solution was a partial knee replacement. This was, despite my reading up on knee operations, the first I’d come across a partial knee (more on that later) or Unicompartmental Arthroplasty. He showed me the X-ray which clearly showed the offending side (the inner (medial) knee. No cartilage to speak of and bone growth where the bone had touched bone. I was, apparently, a prime candidate for a partial. Any questions?
I mumbled a few but couldn’t think of many, but was reassured when he told me that one of his patients had only missed one Parkrun after her surgery. Off I went with a skip in my step(!) and when I got home, set about trying to find out what questions I should have asked.
Trying googling “Partial Knee Replacement”. Clicking through the results it was evident that not much was written about partials. A token paragraph here or there but they soon revert to Totals.
Anyway, to cut a long story slightly shorter, the date was set for the beginning of August which suited me fine; my wife being a teacher could devote her valuable summer holidays to looking after me. All was good and I decided I would get as fit as possible prior to surgery.
I’m no slouch and am out walking the dog every day, road or mountain biking once or twice a week and when the weather is poor I’m down in the cellar on my turbo trainer, cycling on Zwift (zwift.com). I was pretty fit but this was time for a concerted effort. I took to the turbo at least five days a week and occasionally went outside (Although I always had this nagging worry that if I fell off the operation wouldn’t happen!).
The fitness increased (as did the pool of sweat in the cellar!) and the date loomed ever closer. It was as I was setting off for an early evening ride outside a couple of weeks before the op, that my phone rang. It was the hospital telling me the op had been cancelled because Mr Brown wasn’t doing partials anymore. I’d have to see another consultant and go back on the waiting list again. I was less than happy and took to calling the appointments department regularly to check on progress. I eventually got an appointment to see Mr Stoddard at the end of July 2019.
He agreed with his colleague that a partial knee was the best solution to my problems and promised to do what he could to get me on a list during the school holidays. I returned to the turbo and continued my sweaty odyssey.
At last the date came through – 27th August 2019; totally messing up our summer holidays plans and also cutting down the time Sue would be around to look after me post-op from 5 weeks to a week, but hey, I had a date. A week in the Forest of Dean was booked the week before and I spent it trying not to gather any insects bites or falling off on the one ride I did on the newly tar-sprayed roads.
And so the day arrived. Up at 5.30 for the antiseptic shower and the nose-swab, and we left the house to arrive at the Theatre Admissions Unit at the Hallamshire for 7 am. It was a bit like queuing at the airport! The unit reception was packed with eager travellers, sorry patients, and we were quickly summoned through to our waiting bays. Paperwork was completed, then James Stoddard came through for a quick natter and to draw a black arrow on the correct leg and finally, I met the anaesthetist. I told him I was wanting a general as I didn’t want to hear, nor smell, what was going. He said they’d prefer an epidural as blood flow was better and recovery time was quicker. I had my iPod so I could turn up the volume and ignore what was going on.
Most patients would have sat in the TAU all morning until being taken through for the op but my daughter was in the nearby maternity hospital so I asked permission to go across and see her. Permission granted I messaged her and found out that she was likewise preparing for an op that afternoon, so would prefer if I didn’t go. So Sue and I headed for the nearby Botanical Gardens for my last walk as a complete person!
It was a slightly surreal morning. Sipping water whilst Sue had a lovely looking bowl of porridge and wandering around the gardens in lovely sunshine. But soon it was midday and I was back in TAU awaiting the call. Eventually, it came and off I went.
The Op went fine, the spinal was much better than I imagined even if the anaesthetist did spend most of the op talking to me so I couldn’t keep my earbuds in! It was slightly odd feeling when the surgeon was wielding the hammer and chisel… it felt like someone was tapping me in the small of my back through the mattress!
After a couple of hours it was all over and after a slight wait in theatre, whilst the recovery room prepared for my arrival, I was wheeled through and monitored until deemed OK enough to be taken down to the ward.
Now for the long road to recovery!