Being a weekend warrior of sorts has left me with my share of battle wounds, both literally and figuratively. Last winter’s escapades on the slopes left me with a torn medial collateral ligament of my right knee that necessitated nearly four months of physical therapy. Oh, those early morning treks through ice and snow to get to rehab three times a week were no joy ride but, one must do what one must do in order to get the parts working again. Fortunately, therapy was successful and I was back to my athletic pursuits in time for summer tennis fun.
Well, sometimes the left hand does know what the right hand is doing. I think that my left knee felt left out and neglected because around Labor Day I became increasingly aware of pain in (yep, you guessed it) my left knee. Diagnosis: Torn Meniscus (cartilage).
OK, OK…I need to get into a more regular exercise program, stretch more, eat less, and drop a few pounds (alright, more than a few), but that’s for another discussion!
Fast forward to this past Friday, which at the time of this writing was two days ago. I had arthroscopic surgery to repair or resect the torn cartilage. Thankfully, it went without a hitch. I arrived at the hospital at 5:30am. Surgery under general anesthesia was at 7:30. I was in the recovery room at 8:45, and home before 11. Recovery plans were to be a weekend couch potato and be back in the office on Monday (tomorrow) with a somewhat modified schedule. A good night sleep was part of the planned healing process.
But you know the old saying, “The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”
I woke up at 7:45am on Saturday to the sound of my phone ringing. A dear patient of mine called in acute distress. She’d been out for a morning run when mishap struck: she stumbled face-first onto the ground, shattered one tooth, broke two others, and knocked another loose and out of place. Not to mention an assortment of bruises and abrasions. Another saying comes to mind, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night (nor knee surgery) stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Duty beckoned! I met her at my office at 9:30am. Actually, she and her husband picked me up and we drove down together. She had no idea that I had just had surgery (how could she?) but she quickly found out when I climbed into the car with the aid of a cane. Over the course of 3 ½ hours, I repositioned her tooth, restored her shattered and broken teeth, stabilized the fractured bone supporting her teeth and never once thought about or felt any discomfort from my knee. I was so focused on the task at hand and reassuring my patient that all would be fine, that I completely forgot about my own condition.
We all left the office with a sense of relief, accomplishment and gratitude. Her gratitude for me being there for her in her time of need. My gratitude for being able to make a difference. As strange as it may sound, I feel that my own healing was promoted by my involvement in the healing of another.
“Doctor Heal Thyself” may just mean that in helping others, we help ourselves.