Have you ever heard of the meniscus besides in a graduated cylinder in science class? Well I hadn’t until it changed my life…
It all started over the summer. I somehow managed to tear the lateral meniscus in my right knee. After over two-hundred MRI pictures, the orthopedist told us there were two procedures he could do, but he wouldn’t know until he was inside my knee. If he removed the meniscus, I’d be walking within a week, but I’d be at a higher risk for arthritis at an earlier age since the shock-absorbing cushion would be removed from my right knee. The other procedure was to repair the torn meniscus. That was the best possible solution since I am a teenager.
On August 7,2007, I had arthroscopic, meniscus repair surgery. Recovery would now include an immobilizer and crutches for ten days, then a full leg brace for four weeks, then physical therapy until the orthopedist and physical therapist agreed I had built back enough quad muscle. From single leg raises to riding a stationary bike, the recovery process was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, both physically and mentally. The doctor said recovery time would be about three months. This, in reality, turned out to be over four months. But, I believe what does not destroy me only makes me stronger.
I am a dancer. I have been for over twelve years. Ballet, point, tap, and jazz. I love to dance. At first, not being able to dance and watching my friends dance was eating me up inside. I didn’t let – I couldn’t let – that feeling destroy me. I didn’t have to dance again. Nothing or no one was making me dance again; I could have quit dance forever. Just watching class after class, I felt like I became a stronger person.
After what seemed like forever, I was able to dance again. The orthopedist thought I was strong enough after fourteen weeks of physical therapy to gradually start dancing. Eventually, I was able to catch up on all of the dances. I cut back to just ballet, but I added lyrical. I wanted to try something new, and I was not about to let anything stop me.
On February 29, 2008, while still being hesitant of my right knee, I landed a Calypso turn wrong in lyrical class and immediately felt an intense pain in my left knee I had never felt before. I knew from what the orthopedist had previously said that it was a lateral meniscus tear in my left knee. A MRI confirmed what I already knew.
On March 21, 2008, only seven months and fourteen days from my right knee surgery, I had an identical arthroscopic, lateral meniscus repair surgery for my left knee. The recovery process is also identical. Everyday I still believe what does not destroy me only makes me stronger.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.