After sustaining a serious knee injury, I found out I would need to undergo two rounds of leg surgery to regain my capacity to walk and move freely. I have decided to document my recovery in word, so this is part I of the ‘getting my legs back on track’ series. Click here to read part II and here to read part III.
The night approaching May first, was a night of many firsts.
It was the first time I grabbed all attention on the dancefloor. Not because I was suddenly the most charming or elegant ballerina. Not because I executed the routine of that night with the greatest finesse. But because it was the night I dislocated my knee so horribly that I broke my arm whilst attempting to minimise the damage.
It was the first time I truly experienced the kindness of strangers. In the hour I waited for the ambulance to arrive I was held by four pair of hands. One friend and three people I had not properly met before. They were there for me. No questions asked, no panic, no judgement in response to my cries of pain. Just presence and it was that gentle reminder of care that got me through the first phase of my knee-ordeal.
It was the first time also that I travelled through London in an ambulance. As I spelled out my details to the patient paramedics – somewhat spaced out and in a lot of pain – I realised that I have truly managed to master the English language well. That realisation made me feel strangely peaceful and it meant I felt calm when they put my patella back in place.
That night I came home feeling exhausted but confident that I would be fine in no time. But as the days ticked away, a recovery period of a few weeks turned into a few months and it eventually became clear that my knee wouldn’t recover naturally.
When it dawned on me what that meant, I feared a descend into darkness. Dancing – and yoga in equal measure – had become my refuge. Two places I could turn to when struggling to swallow my emotions. Two places I could turn to when struggling to connect to myself at all. Yet the nagging pain in my knee and my incapacity to walk without a crutch were a I reality I couldn’t run from.
Many hospital sessions, scans and assessments later it was found that the failure of my knee had been unavoidable. My misstep during that dreaded salsa routine in April had not been the cause, it had merely been the last straw. Scans revealed misaligned legs and a chronically misplaced patella. While seeing the scans validated what I had felt for so many years, the solution presented by the orthopaedic surgeon sounded somewhat daunting.
I would need a double level derotation osteotomy, tibial tubercle distilisation and medialisation and MPFL on both legs. One leg at a time, with a gap of at least three months in between.
After taking in what that exactly entails – because really, who actually knows the meaning of all these medical terms – I decided it would be a good idea to search for a few people with similar experiences to mentally prepare myself and build a master strategy to combat any anxiety I might feel during the process.
Although I found a few encouraging accounts of people undergoing an osteotomy or an MPFL reconstruction, I didn’t find anything on a combination of all of these. This is why I figured I should document some of my own experiences in case a searching stranger might find that helpful in the future.