Knee Surgery


Race Report: arthroscopic knee surgery to recovery.




(MRI – See how there is a block triangle on the right in the middle between the bones? That’s the good meniscus. Now look where there should be a black triangle on the left, but instead there is white stuff. That white stuff is the tear.)







“It’s all over”


Huh? And where am I?


“You’re fine, are you comfortable? Do you need anything?”


A few moments later I realized that I was still in the hospital, the same hospital I had checked into, just in a different room, the recovery room which had different color curtains, and no, it wasn’t all over…


How it started


An interesting and frustrating part of this story is explaining how it started. When discussing my case history all I can say is “Feb 2nd I ran a half marathon, week of February 19th I commuted 34 miles a day for three days in a row to San Jose for onsite meetings. That Friday morning my left knee was very swollen and felt like there was a walnut in there sitting on my MCL at the bend in the knee.


There was no low tackle or chop block in a football game. The best answer was something caused the tear and then other things helped it get a little bigger and caused things to rub together and there was a hemorrhage (hematobe) of scar tissue swollen inside, the cause of which will never be answered.


Most likely, the actual tear happened a while ago and it was recent activity that finally gave it symptoms which us ‘users’ like to call ‘pain’.




I went in for the post-op appointment with my doctor and I got to see the pictures from inside my knee. The before looked like someone tried to make macaroni and swiss cheese with the side of my meniscus. The after looked smooth. One thing my doctor did find is I had what they call the appendix of the knee, something called a plica which is a strand of scar type tissue I’d most likely had from birth that would rub against my femur. And probably cause those weird phantom tic like pains that had me crying early arthritis over the years. Well, no more of that, my knee appendix was routinely removed.


Physical Therapy


The first and best news from therapy came at the post-op appointment. My doctor said that I could not hurt my knee further. The only problem with it was swelling, and movement. Sure I could ride a bike today if I could get my leg to go all the way around in a circle. And no, I did not need my awkward crutches.


After a month of therapy to increase the strength and flexibility in my knee, I was told I could try 5K runs.


It was interesting that on that first run my knee did not give me any issues. All the issues were with my ankles and calves. (It was the first run in five months)


Then I rode a week in the Shasta mountains. Two plus hours a day in mountains and rolling hills.


And then it happened, weird knee pains. Were they real? Do I just have week knees?


Ad then there was the fact that I’d gained a bunch of weight, so…


I spent a week in training (work training in a room with computers) with Europeans who smoke all the time. I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable, so I smoked too, for the sake of cultural sensitivity. And they say Americans are all insensitive clods!


Also, I’ve always heard that smokers lose weight by smoking…




I can’t get passed telling you what it was like having all these paranoid(?) issues about this hurting and that.


I had to wait a week before my second and final post op appointment with my doctor. When I went it seemed like everything hurt.


He was real nice about talking about every little thing that was freaking me out and how it was all in my head.


I thanked him and left and it wasn’t for a few weeks before I believed him.


The first tri I tried was Tiburon, a real short sprint tri, and things were okay. Besides my wetsuit feeling a little tight and bulgy.


And it was a few weeks after that that I realized that all the paranoid knee ‘injuries’ that I felt were not real. I feel stronger and harder now after surgery then before because I can completely discount all those weird knee pangs as just growth pains and not serious problems.


I have now completed the Triathlon at Pacific Grove (brought the whole crew stayed in hotels), Bethel island tri and a few other sprints.


I feel better than I did before the surgery. I just wish someone had told me before that running in fact does not destroy knees.


Next week I’m going to ride the forty miles from my house in Alameda to San Jose and then run the SJ Rock and Run half marathon.


Scroll down if you want to see the grosser pic







I had a Partial Menisectomy


dave at calbeers dot com