Sunday was good; I had just attended a friend’s wedding. The day was even better since I got to meet my school mates Rony and Dony, as well as some of my old school teachers. As I came back and crashed off on bed that night, I was looking forward to the coming weekend, when I would be travelling to Hyderabad for a conference I was long awaiting. But it all went wrong the following morning.
I found myself unusually lazy starting off the new week. Was running late preparing an assignment I had pending and quickly got ready for work skipping some of the chores in store. I reached the department and read the duty roster for the week. My eyes lit up when I noticed the seniors posted with me..not only do I enjoy working with the lot, I learn A LOT as well.
As I was going through the motions in the morning, I sat on a swivelling chair writing an ultrasound (USG) report my Sir just dictated to me. He followed this up with asking me to ‘do the next scan’. As I tried to get up from the chair to obey his orders, I felt an excruciating pain rise up from my right knee, the feeling so intense that it literally left me gasping for breath. In the exact same rapid motion with which I tried to stand up, I fell back languidly onto the chair and I immediately had that strange gut feeling.. “Oh no, this is so not good”.
My heart was racing, I tried to regroup myself. I started fidgeting with both my hands, trying to physically unlock my knee by subtle manipulations; but none worked out. At times like this, I hate the fact that I belong to this profession, I knew immediately I was in deep deep trouble!
As time wore on, I was wheeled from one department to another to find a conclusive opinion on what needs to be done, but the 2 words from my HOD (Head of Department) made the decision making easy, “It is a really bad tear, if you go in for surgery now, they might just be able to fix it!” I felt like I was sinking, with water filling into my lungs, running out of oxygen to breathe, I knew that due to one God forsaken moment, what I planned for weeks was going into a puff of smoke. I mustered some courage, tried to put a straight face as I met one familiar face after another as I left my department. The incessant queries: ‘What happened?’, ‘OMG’, ‘Why did you go to play?’, ‘Couldn’t you take more care?’ kept coming, but my mind was fixating onto only one thought..how my plans were shattered by that one God forsaken moment..
My consulting doctor scheduled me as the 3rd case for the following day. Having done my internship in Orthopaedics from Manipal’s Arthroscopy unit, I knew what the surgical management would be. My friends and colleagues frantically ran around to help me get admitted. My pre anaesthetic investigations were well within normal limits bar the elevated blood pressure, likely from the pain.. which subsided as soon as I was on a pain killer. This experience was a first, and surely a least expected one.
I was kept NPO (0 oral feeds) from midnight and shifted to the OT complex (Operation Theatre). For long I have been at the other end wheeling patients in and out, but here I was instead lying on a trolley, watching the overhead corridor ceiling lights flash past as I headed to the OT complex. As I was wheeled into OR-8, I shifted myself onto the operating bed. The anaesthetists took over, cannulating me and preparing me for a spinal anaesthesia. I could hear the senior anaesthetist guide the junior as she informed and prodded me with the LP (lumbar puncture) needle. As soon as she injected, I could begin to feel a numbness slowly setting in right from my lower abdomen down to my legs. Slowly my sensations were limited to vague limb movements and I spent rest of the 2.5 hrs of the operation watching the scopy live on the screen. I was surprised at the amount of damage I had inflicted on my meniscus but glad I had decided to act on it immediately and that I was in the safe hands of a doctor well versed in his expertise. In the two odd hrs of lower limb numbness, I experienced what it felt to not be able to moves one’s own legs.
Being an athlete, I always had a low heart rate; and somewhere down the line during the operation, I dozed off. The anesthetist quickly woke me and indulged in a conversation as she was beginning to worry when my baseline HR dropped to 40/min while asleep! Talking to a her ensured my HR returned to normal 55 plus :D.
The 5 hour post op ICU experience was more eventful. With the spinal anaesthesia still acting, I had no voluntary control over my bladder, so I had to physically palpate for bladder fullness on and off and apply suprapubic pressure to avoid being catheterized! The attending nurse was young, attractive and seemed somewhat familiar (?deja-vu) in my post op drowsy state. She ensured that my short stay in the ICU was as comfortable as possible and I am thankful for that.
The whole surgical experience was totally unplanned and out of the blue, though I still don’t enjoy the irony of the timing of it at all. That one God forsaken moment..