The Road to Recovery... Part 2: The Diagnosis
Its been just over a week since I started a 6 week plan to get myself back playing football since ankle surgery earlier this year. The first week of training has gone well: solid gym sessions are addressing the strength through my ankle; rehab exercises and massage is helping the joint settle down; and a running session at the weekend has given me confidence that progress is being made.
In my last post 'Road to Recovery: Part 1' I started to tell the story of my ankle injury and how after 5 months I was on to my 3rd hospital in an attempt to get a diagnosis. I continue the story on a snowy night in Manchester...
... To a mobile hospital in the car park of a bingo hall, yes thats right a fold away hospital on wheels! I waited for a while and then went in to see orthopaedic surgeon number 1: after a few initial questions and a quick examination he decided he didnt know enough so sent me for an MRI scan.
A couple of weeks later I had the scan, and then a week after that I was called back to get the results, cue orthopaedic surgeon number 2. I know what youre thinking... a different guy?... I was thinking the same! Why am I not seeing the same surgeon? Who was this other surgeon? Talk about NHS inconsistencies! Anyway I went in to get my results, I was getting anxious Id been injured before but somehow deep down I knew this time something wasnt right. Surgeon number 2 talked me through my scan, he explained the root cause of my pain, he told me that unless I had surgery it was unlikely that I could play sport again.
The cause of the pain and the root of the injury was the cartilage: there was damage to the inside of the left ankle; damage that wouldnt naturally heal; damage that even with surgical aid may not fully recover. As I couldnt jog without it hurting, surgery to me was the only option I had if I wanted to get back into sport. So I made a simple decision: I took the surgery option, which sent me to my 4th hospital and to orthopaedic surgeon number 3.
After a considerable wait I went in, and to my surprise I wasnt seeing the top man but his number 2. We had a long chat where he explained the procedure: this would involve an arthroscopy (investigation of the joint through small incisions and inserting a camera), followed by some drilling of the bone to stimulate the growth of a new fibrocartilage. The fibrocartilage would fill the gap left by the damaged cartilage thus forming a full layer of cartilage. Although the risk was that as this fibrocartilage isnt the same as original articular cartilage the joint would never quite be 100% again. But with the fact that if left alone the ankle wouldnt get much better and I might not be able to play sport again, it was a risk I thought worth taking.