Since my last post, a lot has happened. At my 28-week check-up, I told my OB (Dr. S) about my frustration with my injury and he asked a simple question: "Why haven't you had an MRI?"
That's when everything shifted. You see, all the ortho staff told me there was NO WAY they would do an MRI while I was pregnant ... and I never questioned them. But, if anyone would know about the safety of medical procedures for pregnant women, it's an OB. And I trust mine wholeheartedly.
So Dr. S said an MRI would be perfectly safe for me and baby, and he questioned why the orthopedic surgeon would make me wait in pain til the end of my pregnancy. I was given Dr. S's cellphone number with instructions have the ortho office call with any questions. Boo ya!
The next day, I was magically scheduled for an MRI. This was HUGE. You see, the ortho surgeon basically refused to do anything for me since he couldn't give me a definitive diagnosis ... but with an MRI, I would have answers and he would HAVE to do something, RIGHT?
Well, no. The MRI showed a meniscus tear and cartilage damage. The ortho surgeon (or D. A. Hole as I now call him) said I definitely needed surgery, but there was no way he would do it while I was pregnant. And, oh yeah, the cartilage repair procedure (called micro-fracture) would require me to be on crutches for six weeks.
"So I'll be on crutches for six weeks ... WITH A NEWBORN?!" I asked.
"Yeah. It sucks but you'll have to find a way to make it work," he told me. Basically, TOUGH SHIT. I tried asking more questions about the procedure and recovery, but he brushed me off. He told me there wasn't any point in discussing it further because we had to wait until I wasn't pregnant anymore. He offered me a knee brace and cortisone shot to
shut me up help with the pain.
When the nurse came back in to go over everything, I asked if they had another doctor in the practice who would provide a second opinion. SHE LAUGHED AT ME. No, really. Then she basically told me I'd better accept the hand I was dealt and move on. "This is your best option," she said.
"Ummm, you guys also told me I couldn't have an MRI, and that wasn't right," I said.
"Well, if you don't trust us, maybe you shouldn't be here," she replied.
She was right. So with that, I left their office (in tears - I think I scared the woman at the checkout desk) and vowed to NEVER go back.
So ... after talking to Dr. S again, I was referred to Dr. L (an ortho surgeon at a different practice) for a second opinion. Dr. S supported the idea of doing my surgery now, with a spinal block (same anesthesia as a c-section), so I could heal before birth. He apparently knows Dr. L really well, and Dr. L agreed to consider my case ... but offered no promises until he could meet with me.
I had to wait a week and a half for an appointment with Dr. L, because apparently he is REALLY popular. Coworkers, friends, and nurses who work with my husband all sang his praises and told us I'd be in good hands with him. That was comforting, but it was still the longest week and a half of my life.
Well, Dr. L was worth the wait. Both he and his PA took time to thoroughly explain what was wrong with my knee and what could be done to fix it. More importantly, they took time to listen to our concerns and didn't brush us off when Kyle and I asked questions (I asked Kyle to come with me so he could hear all the medical jargon firsthand ... I suck at relaying what doctors tell me, plus I was sorta traumatized by the experience with Dr. A. Hole).
In the end, Dr. L recommended a different cartilage repair called an OATS procedure. For younger patients like me, this repair will last longer AND it will only require four weeks on crutches instead of six. Unfortunately, he said I should still wait until after I give birth to have the surgery. (WOMP, WOMP, WOMP ...)
Because Dr. L was very thorough in his explanations and empathized with my situation, I was OK with waiting for surgery, but I was immediately concerned about getting on his surgical schedule at the end of the year, when a lot of other patients will be trying to get procedures done before insurance resets (as I said, he's REALLY popular). You see, Dr. A. Hole told me he'd "Do his best but no promises" to do the surgery this year because he wouldn't schedule anything until my baby was out.
Dr. L was much more understanding. He said I should talk to my OB about my recommended recovery time after birth, then call ASAP to schedule my surgery in advance. I see Dr. S again in a few days, so I could have a surgery date by the end of next week. (Fingers crossed!)
Looking at the Positives
- There's an end in sight. For weeks, I had no idea how long this injury would last and if/when I could get treatment. I finally feel confident about the answers I've been given, so I can start to look forward to a REAL recovery plan.
- I'm more motivated than ever to have a VBAC. I wanted to avoid ANY surgery this year ... but since that's not an option, I want to at least avoid a c-section.
- I'll be taking up a new sport: swimming! The elliptical and bike both aggravate my knee right now, as does walking ... so I haven't exercised at all in a MONTH. But, I haven't tried swimming yet. It's highly recommended for knee injuries since there's no impact, so I'm in the process of upgrading my gym membership for pool access. I'm happy for the chance exercise and focus on something new for the next eight-ish weeks of pregnancy. Then I will have to see how my recovery goes, but ideally I'd like to turn my need for more low-impact exercise into an excuse to finally try a triathlon next year (maybe).
- Dr. L and his PA explained that my injury was NOT the result of one bad day of running, or even the last few years of running ... it takes a LONG time to build up to this kind of damage. My run on July 15 just brought everything to head, and it was "bound to happen eventually" with my history (you can read about all that here). So, I was right when I said my obesity was finally catching up to me - which kinda sucks, but makes me feel better because I can FINALLY stop feeling guilty/stupid about the day I felt the snap.
- I'm not crazy! I normally see my therapist once a month, but I had to reschedule our regular session when I had my MRI, which means the other day I had to catch her up on six weeks of emotional vomit. When I was telling her about Dr. A. Hole, she asked, "Wait, what's his name?" When I told her, she said. "He did my knee replacement! He has the WORST bedside manner ever. I'm so sorry!" OMG what a relief! Here I was thinking I may have been an overreacting, over-hormonal pregnant lady, but she agreed he has an awful attitude and doesn't like to explain anything to his patients. So I'm not crazy ... well, at least not about the situation with Dr. A. Hole. ;)
Accepting the Negatives
I realize a knee injury isn't the end of the world. But, it's certainly rocked mine. I have plenty of issues with guilt and anxiety already (see monthly therapy comments above) so there's nothing you can say that I haven't already said to myself ... "You should be grateful it wasn't worse." "You should just focus on your pregnancy/baby." "That's what you get for all that running." "What kind of mother would consider anything that could be a risk to her child?!"
Guess what ... none of those things takes away my physical and emotional pain. None of those things changes the fact that I miss running ... I miss being active ... I miss feeling good about myself. To top it all off, I have no idea if/when I'll get back to being the person I was before all this happened. (Though, I guess we can never really be the person we used to be ...) I'm finally on the path to treatment/recovery, but it's littered with a bunch of question marks along the way.
So it's NOT the hormones, and it's NOT selfish. Sometimes, sucky things happen. And, it's OK to feel sucky about them. So when I feel sad about all this, I try to just accept the sadness. Realize it's normal. Realize it's a feeling and feelings are temporary.
The rest of this year is going to be hard. Pregnancy will be hard. Birth will be hard. Knee surgery will be hard. And then, I suspect the recovery process for most of 2017 will be hard.
BUT, it's going to be OK. (Fans of "Scrubs" chime in: "We hope.") I guess that makes it all a little less hard to accept.