Scott turned 32 on Thursday.
Scott came home with a cadaver on Friday.
Happy birthday, Scott!
Scott tore his ACL almost two years ago playing baseball. It required surgery. The surgeon cut a part of his patella tendon out. He used that piece of tendon to make a new ACL.
Two weeks ago, Scott decided to play a pick-up game of basketball. BOOM! Knee injury. Same knee. The MRI showed a torn meniscus – a piece of flap in between two bones. His ACL looked ok. But Scott would still need to have surgery to carve out the meniscus. Short term, a few days recovery and he would be back to normal. Long term, early onset arthritis because the “cushion” would be gone.
Scott had surgery on Friday. The surgeon told me I would only have to wait 45 minutes to an hour in the waiting room. An hour went by. The surgeon ran out and sat next to me. He was out of breath. I paused my Candy Crush game.
“Where did Scott have his first surgery?”
“Ha! Like his knee.”
“I don’t know. Like right in the middle?”
This is why I’m not a doctor. I’m not smart.
“Ohhhh….uh….I don’t remember. It was in Wichita.”
“Scott has a screw in his knee that I have never seen before. We have the equipment for any type of screw. This screw is too big and the placement is awkward. I need to know what type of screw they used or I’ll have to wake up Scott.”
“So are you replacing his ACL?”
“Oh yeah. It’s blown to pieces. I’m surprised he was able to walk on it. I need to know immediately where he had surgery at.”
I called Scott’s mom. We got the name and place Scott had surgery at. The surgeon ran off again. I sat in the waiting room with my mind racing:
Damnit. It was that rough boat ride in the Keys. Scott said his knee buckled when we went airborne. Doctors should really prescribe rum as a pain-reducing drug. Works wonders. Scott is going to be pissed when he wakes up and they tell him he busted his ACL again. Oh my gosh…they’re going to use a cadaver! I wonder whose it is. Surely, it’s a man. I wonder how they died. Were they a good athlete? Maybe Scott will be able to jump higher. Some woman made that tendon in her pregnant swollen body at some point and now it’s going to be in Scott’s body. This is freaking me out. This ACL will be living a double life. I hope they get that screw out. They can’t wake up Scott just so he can go back under again. Oh, he will be pissed. Ugh…my stomach hurts. I just want to go back there and talk to Scott.
I mass text Scott’s family. My family. Our friends. I let them all know what was going on with the screw and that this whole thing was making my stomach hurt.
Three hours later, the surgeon ran back out and sat next to me. He showed me pictures of Scott’s busted ACL and the cadaver’s ACL in its place. He explained the screws that were used are meant to put hips back together. These screws are not meant for a knee. He had to make a larger incision on the side of Scott’s knee to get the large screws out. He told me he is sorry, Scott would have to start over walking again.
An hour later, I received a call from the recovery nurse. She said Scott was awake but he was in a tremendous amount of pain. They had to put a nerve block in. They would let me know when I could go back.
Another hour passed.
I jumped up and followed the nurse back to the recovery room. Scott was sitting in a wheelchair with one leg up. His head was down. He nibbled on graham crackers. He made eye contact with me and gave me an acknowledgment smile. His eyes were bloodshot. His hair was in a blonde matted mess. He looked pale. His lips were white and cracked.
The nurse walked up to me.
“Believe it or not, he’s a completely different person with the nerve block in. I will get his discharge paperwork then I will explain recovery instructions. I’ll be right back.”
Scott continued to look down into his lap.
“How do you feel?”
“Like someone took my knee and twisted it backward.”
“Did they give you medicine yet?”
“A nerve block in my groin. They haven’t given me pills yet.”
“Ok, I’ll ask about the prescription. Did you hear what happened? That idiot doctor used hip screws on your knee and they were placed in an awkward position. The doctor ran and got me so he could get information on where you had your first surgery. He said he might have had to wake you up. It was giving me diarrhea not being able to be back here with you.”
Scott half smiled.
“I remember the first doctor saying they took too much of my patella tendon. He must have made up for it with a bigger screw.”
“Hmmm…sounds like both surgeons had a bad day at the office. At least it’s fixed with the right screws this time. Hey, now you’re a dead man walking! Life number 2!”
Scott half smiled. My jokes were not working.
The nurse came back and gave us instructions and a prescription. I took Scott home.
It’s been a sleepless weekend but Scott is getting better. He doesn’t seem to have as much pain as the first surgery. He has worked himself off the narcotics and is on ibuprofen only. He still has a part of his meniscus so hopefully not much arthritis in the future. The beautiful thing is a little piece of someone is back at it:
The surgery center sent home a paper with the ID number of the donated ligament. We are able to write to the donor family anonymously thanking their passed loved one for their gift.
I plan on letting them know that Scott will stay away from basketball courts and baseball fields. Their loved one gave the gift of someone able to walk again. I will make sure Scott will take good care of his birthday gift.