Blog 20 - The Prognosis.

May 3, 2021

My frisbee training took a break this week as I ventured down to England for a knee appointment. Here’s how it went.

The morning was like any other when I visit home. My Mum made me unbelievably perfect poached eggs on homemade toast and we headed off over the winding roads to Blackburn. We arrived, I opted for the hand sanitiser and was greeted with a pint full of the stuff, and proceeded to spend the remaining time in the waiting area waving them around to get them dry. I was called through where I was brought to a desk. I had seen this specialist before – once when I broke my leg when I was 11, and once just after I had my surgery. I reminded him of the date of my injury and surgery and I was asked if I had any pain with it. I was about to say I was fine but I remembered back to a small pain I had in my inner knee when I went back to doing squats in the gym so I told him about that and followed it up with ‘but other than that I’m good yeah’. It was one of those passing comments that I thought I’d mention but I didn’t think much of it. We went over to the bed area and he did his assessment starting on my ACL- Lachman Test and Pivot shift, I knew the drill. He remarked that yeah, I had a good functioning ACL – which I guess was good to be reminded of. He looked at the bottom of my feet and told me to stand up. He asked me to hold out my arms (like one would if they were putting them on someone’s shoulders) and he would push down on them with my goal being to resist him. He pushed down, and I struggled a little to stop him from pushing my arms down. He thought a little to himself, and went over to a shelf behind me and picked up a small plastic square- it was about 6cm squared and only about 5mm thick. He slid it under my right heel and proceeded to ask me again to put my arms up. I did, he pushed, and I resisted- this time weirdly improved. He took the square away from my heel, pushed down, and I couldn’t stop it. He put it back, and I could. He figured it out.

In the BBC show Sherlock, the main protagonist would scan over a scene or body and would evaluate everything about them. The wear of their shoes, a loose hair on their trousers or a subtle tan line could be used to deduce their emotional state or occupation as he took note of little details and pieced together a conclusion. Similarly, the specialist remembered that I broke my leg when I was 11 and his diagnosis then was re-fusion of my tibia had resulted in a slightly longer left leg. This explains the way I bob when I walk – I slightly fall. This leg difference means that my right knee would be more likely to cave in to compensate for the disparity, and can be seen by the resulting calluses on my outside right foot, and inner left as I push against the caving in. This natural tendency to cave in probably resulted in my ACL tear, and is currently causing a slight abrasion to my cartilage, which caused the pain I was having in the gym. The bad news is there is no muscle workout I can do to compensate and I can only wear bespoke insoles in my shoes to try and balance me out until I get arthritis in my right knee or wear down the cartilage until I can’t run anymore. Long story short is, I’m fucked.

We went over to his specialist equipment area (see my Moonwalking blog) but instead of the dope treadmill, he asked me to walk on this catwalk. After waltzing up and down, trying not to be self-conscious of the way I walk, I came over to a computer when he showed me the results. The catwalk was pressure sensitive and provided a heat map of where I had walked, my balance and weight distribution on each part of my foot when walking. The results echoed what he had analysed, the bespoke insoles were ordered based on the pressure map I had made on the catwalk, and I left.

I don’t think I let on how much this bothered me to my Mum- but yeah, it sucks. The effects of this won’t be seen now, or tomorrow, or probably even 10 years, but after that, who knows. This was arguably harder to hear than my ACL tear- at least that was fixable.