Diagnosis - 17th Jan. 2013

Discovering My Fate

MRI - Magnetic resonance imaging.  Medical imaging technique used in radiology to visualise internal structures of the body in detail.

Image taken from ;- http://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/consultant/consultantdetails?p_name=Vinod-Shah&p_id=43622 for illustration purposes only.

October 18th 2010

I got the phone call over the weekend (you may notice the date skips from October 15th to October 18th) and I was due for my MRI scan this Monday morning.  Quicker than I expected, much quicker, but this was only a good thing.  As I became more realistic with my hopes, I was already training myself in a positive mindset, "the quicker I get diagnosed, the quicker I can recover, whatever it turns out to be".  I'd had an MRI scan before, as I mentioned earlier, I'd suffered a broken arm and wrist which also required a similar scan.  For those of you who haven't had an MRI scan or seen the machinery, it's pretty daunting.  The noise of the working MRI machine is so loud you're required to wear headphones and you're told not to move an inch but at the same time the positioning is so uncomfortable that it becomes a difficult task just to lie still.  Below is what an actual MRI scanner looks like, as you can see, for some people it may be quite scary, in terms of how close the space is (claustrophobia etc.)

MRI scanner, for some, a daunting prospect, but others, a wonderful piece of  technology

It took around 25-30 minutes to complete all the scans they needed and I was sent on my way with a promise that the results would be available on Friday for me to see, although saying that, being shown an MRI scan without explanation would mean nothing to me at this point.  I had already been assigned my new doctor, Mr.Shah as he would be known, and he'll begin to feature a lot more throughout the blog.  As I went through the whole process of my injury, Mr.Shah was my information point.  He came across as an excellent professional and explained every little thing in detail, always asking if I was clear and wanted to know anything else, he was obviously a really intelligent man who knew his profession inside out, back to front, which is very reassuring when you're beginning to realise he would be more than likely performing an operation or two on one of your vital limbs.

Mr Shah, the hero of the story

I arrived to the BMI Bearwood hospital in Blackburn on the Friday morning for my appointment with Mr.Shah and was hoping for some relatively "good" news, if that was even possible in this situation. There was a 30 minute delay on appointments as his only appointment times are Friday AM and with the volume of patients awaiting his advice, this was to be expected.  It seemed longer than 30 minutes, far longer but it wasn't, it was just one of those situations that you wanted to come along quickly but it dragged on and on.  Eventually I got to see him, I hopped my way over to his office on my crutches and sat down beside my Dad and across the desk from Mr.Shah.

MRI imaging was displayed on his computer monitor, at an angle that I couldn't make out what was going on, although seeing it in front of me would have made no difference.  He turned the screens to show the display and began to explain, with a somewhat worried facial expression.  He first of all explained how my frame and build made me more likely to suffer a serious knee injury while playing a sport such as rugby or football, which I already understood prior to this as the weight exerted on my joints when pivoting and turning is greater than somebody of smaller build or shorter height, being 6 foot 1 and 15 stone in this situation wasn't "ideal" as such.  He began to point out what had happened on the screen.  There were 2 scans, one of a complete ACL, one that wasn't damaged but clean and smooth in shape, then, next to that, was my scan.  One of a completely torn ACL, one that basically showed nothing there, as it had literally snapped clean in half, gone.

Left image shows completely torn ligament, right image shows intact ligament

So, i'd torn my anterior cruciate ligament, totally ripped it to pieces and slightly damaged my cartilage, the latter easily fixed through key hole surgery.  But, as i'd torn my ACL, I knew there were at least two operations in the waiting, something which I had never experienced before and I had no idea of the time scale of recovery that I would be about to embark on.  Mr Shah was keen to get it sorted though, he made it clear that he wanted things done as quickly as time and my body would allow.  He officially told me that I had a "complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament with minor damage to the cartilage in the surrounding area".  My Dad's immediate reaction was "for fuck sake", mine would have been much worse had I reacted out loud but I starred at the wall, the floor, my knee and wherever else my mind took me, I couldn't believe what had happened, despite thinking the worst, it's a lot different to actually finding out the worst.

After 4/5 minutes of "cool down" time, Mr Shah was keen to get the first operation booked in and sorted, so was I at this point, I wanted it all done with and wanted to get back playing football as soon as possible.  This was naturally the first question I asked him, he said "ahhh, I wouldn't be thinking about the for a while yet, 12-18 months, possibly longer, depending how your body reacts to the new ligament and physio".  This was another blow but one I was then already expecting, but he also stated there was a 10% chance that I would never be able to play a physical, competitive sport again, depending how the operation went and how my body took to the new ligament.  I was booked in, November 6th 2010, the first of what would be 3 operations in total.  This one was arthroscopy aka key hole surgery, minimally invasive surgery that would be used to see the internal extent of damage first hand, to clean up the floating tissue and shave and reshape the part of the cartilage that I had damaged.  This one would only leave the smallest of scars, unlike my next operation........

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