It didn’t take me long to get booked in for knee surgery. After the injury, the thing I was dreading was waiting ages for the operation. But it was only a few days after Evolution that I went under the knife.
The morning of the surgery was an awakening as to just how bad my knee actually was. I was going to have a shower before heading to the hospital, and whacked my ankle on the shower screen getting in. An immense burst of pain shot up my entire leg, and I screamed in utter agony (it was about twenty past four in the morning – sorry neighbours). I had never felt pain like this before, and my entire body felt like it wanted to shut down.
I already knew that it had next to no stability and that I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, but my knee couldn’t withstand a simple knock against a surface two weeks on from the initial incident. My surgeon had met with me beforehand and told me that, in the past, the procedure for my kind of injury was amputation. And while this sounded bad enough at the time, the reality really hit me here with just how useless I was. So saying I’m grateful for modern technology and surgical procedures is a huge understatement.
The operation was a success, although I felt far from a million bucks afterwards. I cannot remember feeling worse post-surgery pain – even when it came to my neck. I was in definite need of pain relief, despite my usual tendency to tough the pain out. Most that know me know I cannot stand medication, and particularly the heavier variety. But the amount of drugs I received after my surgery really took me by surprise. It was also required of me to take blood-thinning injections to prevent clotting, and I can’t stand needles. So you can imagine twenty days’ worth of injections was a ‘wonderful’ experience for me…
I was told by the surgeon that the repair job was very easy despite the extent of the damage. He said it was like a textbook job, which was a relief to hear. Hearing that I still had a ten percent chance of never walking again surprised me (and actually really scared me in my heavily medicated state). But this ten percent was far outweighed by the ninety percent chance of being able to walk. And the surgeon was confident I would be back in the ring. After all, he’s operated on Shane Thorne and Adam Banks who have both returned to the ring.
The torn meniscus was an issue only found when I was opened up and didn’t show on the original MRI. I remember a conversation I had at Evolution, when someone asked me, “Ryan, how could this possibly be worse?”
I replied by saying, “I don’t know, maybe a torn meniscus?”
I felt very weak after surgery, but madly rehabbed every morning, first thing after waking up. I never did more than I was told, but always worked as hard as I could within my limitations. Simple movements were much harder work than I felt they were supposed to be, and the knee felt very peculiar. But consider that my knee is now being held together mostly by artificial constructs; while I’ve not had it completely replaced, you could say it’s barely my knee anymore – most of the ligaments are not the ones I was born with.
I was incredibly relieved for the surgery to be over, even though the battle back to the ring was only at its very beginning.