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Climbing Injuries // Meniscus Tear Repair: Pt 1

The trials and tribulations of a meniscal repair - Knee Surgery Recovery

In August 2015 Beth Thomas went into hospital to have a repair of torn cartilage (also known as meniscus) in her left knee.  This article series is about her journey, from hospital to getting back to climbing.  Thank you to Beth for sharing.  We would love to hear your comments about her journey - please tell us what you think about her story.   

In the Hospital

I’ve never had any procedure in hospital, let alone come face to face with a hospital gown (which, by the way, is breezy up the back) so I was apprehensive about the day itself.

A meniscal repair (and a meniscectomy) is usually a day admission. I was in hospital a total of 6 hours, 1.5 of those actually under the knife. The last few hours in hospital were a haze of post anaesthetic bliss followed by intense nausea, and attempted toilet trips. I was probably released too early and did not get the physiotherapy support and advice I needed, not to mention the pain management.  I did get some photos of the repair which were pretty cool!

Meniscal Repair

The moon landing or meniscal repair?! Knee Surgery is interesting when you start to delve inside.

The first 48 hours after knee surgery

Post-surgery my knee was heavily bandaged and secured in a straight brace. I was instructed to keep this on for 24 hours and the bandage for 48 hours. When these eventually came off it was very bloody but actually looked quite neat.

Meniscus repair - post op recovery

The day after surgery, my knee in a brace, being cared for by nurse Emma Cat.

What followed next was the most vivid and uncomfortable 2 days of my life.  I was on a cocktail of drugs for the first week and was in and out of dozy dreams. I kept a pain diary to manage my medication otherwise it would have been easy to overdose due to the mental confusion I was experiencing. For anyone who has this procedure, I wouldn’t make any plans for the week following.

Knee Surgery Pain Management Medication Chart

Knee Surgery Pain Management Chart/ Medication Chart to help me remember what I had taken and when

Download our Knee Surgery Pain Chart

to print out and complete.

The first two weeks after surgery

Everyone reacts differently but for me, once the anaesthetic had worn off, I was heavily nauseated for at least 2 weeks.

Getting used to walking on crutches during the first couple of weeks was interesting to say the least. I found my bum bag essential to carry around phone/pain meds, thermos (with handle so you I could attach to waist strap with a mug!).

After the first couple of weeks I started enjoying myself! I am a very busy person, and like it this way. For the first time in a decade I found myself with nothing to do except eat grapes and sit in the sunshine.  Despite my pangs of longing to be out on the rock, I had reserved the next 6 weeks for healing.

Practical tips after knee surgery

Donning my Bum Bag in the sunshine - recovery not so bad after all.

Of course the honeymoon period of having nothing to do soon wore off (around the 10 day mark!). I enrolled in an online college course, filled my diary with visiting family and friends and dusted off my old pull up bar.

Next post I will look at how to gain back upper body strength after knee surgery, the extent of muscle atrophy after knee surgery and dealing with the fallouts of medical complications:

Climbing Injuries // Meniscus Tear Repair: Pt 2

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