On the 13th of December it will have been 2 months. Two months since I descended from the Lava Tower to Barranco Camp, whilst climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was on that descent, whilst traversing a slope covered in scree, that my knee slid out from underneath me.
At the time, I thought I had just 'twisted it funny' and continued on. That evening I took some Ibuprofen, stuck some Voltarol gel on it and found my tubular bandage for the next day. I sat with my leg up, enjoying the view that evening.
Walking uphill the next day was not a problem. Climbing? No issues. Descending was another story, and on even the slightest downhill slope, every step was excruciatingly painful. This worried me, as the evening after injuring my knee I would be starting my final summit push.
Many of you will have seen countless status updates, tweets and posts about Dr's, MRI scans, hospital appointments and crutches.
It turned out that the pain from 'twisting my knee funny' was in fact me tearing my lateral meniscus.
Descending, on the other hand, was agonising. My guide, Mzui, took my pack and helped me down, along with a number of other porters. We slid through ash and scree, down to Barafu Camp, where I stopped for lunch before starting the hobble to Mweka Camp. About 2.5km down that path, we admitted defeat.
I was stretchered down the rest of the way. I also had some great pain medication, I could see Disney characters in the clouds, so god knows what I was on but it was brilliant fun.
I got back to the hotel, some hours later, and just crashed. The next morning I could barely get out of bed, let alone bend my knee or put weight on my foot.
Thankfully my Dr had a gap half an hour after I got back from Bristol Airport, so off I went, straight from 14 hours of flying, looking like a total ragamuffin!
He fiddled about with various knee twist/bend/pull tests and decided it was most likely a torn lateral meniscus. On either side of your knee joint between the cartilage surfaces of the femur and the tibia, you have your medial meniscus (inner side knee) and lateral meniscus (outer side of your knee). They're basically shock absorbers that help to center the knee and reduce stress on the articular cartilage.
My Dr referred me to an orthopaedic clinic. Unfortunately, they couldn't see me until December 14th, and that would only be to discuss whether it needed a scan... This would have been 2 months after injuring it.
I was told to rest it, take ibuprofen and wear a knee support until then. It was so swollen that it looked like I had two kneecaps.
Unfortunately, one month in, there was little improvement. I could walk on it and load bear, but not for a long time. Eventually, I was in so much pain, my knee kept giving out on me, and I had to concede defeat and go to A&E.
Sitting here typing this, I had my MRI scan yesterday and I get the results on December 13th. One day before the orthopaedic appointment (which I cancelled) by my GP, where we would 'chat about whether a scan was needed' Hmm.
Since climbing Kilimanjaro, this has only increased, and it was infuriating to go from climbing one of the seven summits, to not being able to walk 1 mile.
This injury was getting me down, I couldn't swim as it would twist my knee, I couldn't exercise, I was miserable. utterly miserable. I'd go to bed in tears from both frustration and pain... Which definitely is not me! I was popping codeine like smarties and not being able to drive more than 10 miles was also not helping. Having to take a train to see my mum, or a taxi because I couldn't walk to the station. Thankfully this week I've managed to drive to and from work, which is something!
My knee still looks like the above photo, I wear the knee support sometimes, but it actually seems to make it worse. I've been cleared for cycling on my exercise bike on the lowest resistance possible now, but ensuring that my knee does not twist out. I am to stop if I feel any pain.
I wore the knee support and did a 20km ride this evening, and I instantly felt the endorphins kicking in. My knee feels great, if anything it feels better for having had the exercise. I still can't really walk that far, to and from town is about my limit, but cycling doesn't put any weight on to my knee, and the freedom I felt this evening was exhilarating.
That being said, I know I need to be careful not to push it.
All I can do now is hope and pray that I get some kind of answer along with my MRI results on Tuesday. SO if we could all cross our extremities that it will be sorted out asap, I would appreciate it<3
Update 13 Dec 16
MRI did show that I have hypermobile joints, so when I 'twisted my knee funny' on Kilimanjaro, it just meant that where the range of motion in my joints is more than most people have, it actually pushed my kneecap against the top of my bone, roughening the edge of the knee cap and the cartilage (chondromalacia patellae), so descending was making my knee push against the bone, which is why it's now ongoing pain.
Consultant seems to think 3 months of intensive physio and a lot of cycling to build my legs back up should be enough, but we'll see how it is in March when I have my review!