The Simpson Journey

Four Simpsons on a journey through life and locations

Month: August 2017

Caleb’s knee surgery


The following is an edited version of information Caleb had shared with our family over the last couple months.  We wanted to update you all too.

Some of you may remember that I injured my right knee skiing in February. It was the same trip that Jenny injured her thumb  I continued to work out and it was getting slowly better as a 2 steps forward and one step back but was still painful and range of motion was not great. Last Monday (5/29) I was lifting and felt it hurt sharply again. Later that day and the next it was more painful and causing me to limp so I went to a specialist and got an MRI.

Yesterday (6/7) I had my MRI consult and the orthopedic specialist confirmed a tear in my lateral posterior meniscus (internal knee cartilage).

He gave me 2 options
1- Laparoscopic surgery to suture the tear back together. This would require 6 weeks on crutches and 3 months total until I could run or resume any training.

2- Physical therapy with restrictions. No running, jumping, squatting or leg work for three months after there is no more pain. No weight lifting for 6 months after no pain. Additionally, this might not fix the problem and I could need surgery anyways.

Needless to say this is devastating news for me. Working out is one of the only things keeping me in a semi-healthy mental state and something Jenny and I use to connect daily.


During the following month I  had 3 visits to 3 different hospitals and scheduled knee surgery for July 27 . My main orthopedic specialist called me back into his office to tell me some new ways that my knee was messed up. Turns out my knee has two “free bodies” floating around in it in addition to my meniscus tear. After checking my range of motion and pain the doctor was much less concerned with the minor tear but the free bodies would not heal or reabsorb. They went as far as to say the tear might be a false positive but the free bodies would be in the way and prevent my sports and range of motion. So now surgery is basically required but if they don’t need to repair the meniscus, I would not need any crutches and would walk away from the surgery same day.

This is usually a 2-night stay at the hospital for Japanese but they are making an exception and allowing me to leave the same day. I got a second opinion from another top knee clinic and they wanted me to stay at the hospital for a week and get a hotel nearby for 2 more full weeks. So I am going to my main clinic. Once we scheduled the surgery, they suggested I do the pre-op work since I was already at the clinic so i agreed. The proceeded to to do the following:
* 6 vials of blood for testing
* Urine sample
* 9-lead ECG (heartbeat analysis)
* Lung capacity test
* Chest x-ray
* Knee x-ray (again)

All with almost 0 English and everything needed paid for in cash that day. Miraculously, the total came out to only $500. Whew!

So I’ll be having surgery next week. They will assess the cartilage and suture it if necessary. If they do that, I will be on crutches for 6 weeks. Otherwise I will not need any crutches. The surgery will be under general anesthesia I will start physical therapy the next day.

I’m feeling a little better about the whole deal and just want to get better. Insurance should cover about 100% of everything so now it’s just about getting the best care and recovery plan.

by Jenny

On Thursday July 28th we left the house around 7 am to catch a train and a bus to the hospital. Since I cannot drive in Japan we knew we would need to rely on public transportation.  It took us a little over an hour to get to the hospital.   After a little difficulty we got checked in.  We were a little worried because we couldn’t find this hospital identification card, and everyone spoke only a little  English.  After a little bit they took us upstairs to the surgery room where we met a couple nurses, they spoke a little English and told us that Caleb would go to the surgery area and I would need to follow another person to a waiting area.  So then all I had was to wait, and pray.
After about an hour a nurse came to the waiting room and told me that the surgery was over and went well, she took me upstairs to speak with the doctor.  Luckily he speaks great English and told me that the surgery went well.  He handed me a small jar, and a photo with some images on it.  He then told me the little jar contained a pea sized piece of cartilage that had been floating around in his knee and causing pain.  The images showed 3 things: 1.  his meniscus which was healing on its own and he did not need sutures here. (VERY GOOD NEWS)   2. an area behind the kneecap where cartilage was badly damaged and needed microfracture 3.  Another area of cartilage that they smoothed  down.
I could not visit him see him right away but needed to wait another 2 hours while he was recovering, I got sent back to the waiting room. After about 30 more minutes I got a message from caleb saying that he finally convinced them to let him use his phone!  I was so happy to hear from him.  He was in good spirits and so relieved that hey did not need to stitch the meniscus.  He would be able to walk the same day!  We continued to chat a bit and tell me some funny stories of the whole process and procedure.  It was funny how he had to ask 4 times for his phone, and 3 times for a drink of water.  After a little bit a nurse came to me and told me that he wanted a drink of water, and asked me if i had water for him,  I confusedly looked through my bag and handed her my plastic water bottle.  She then took it and brought it to Caleb.  We still have no idea why they couldn’t just have given him a cup of water. We were happy they were finally letting him drink something though.  After about another hour they brought Caleb to me in a wheel chair.  He was to sit with me and have some lunch to make sure he his stomach wouldn’t be upset after the anesthesia.  Luckily I had brought some crackers. We were never really told I should pack him a lunch. He enjoyed the crackers and was cleared to leave after they took his IV out. I think the tape removal from the IV area hurt more than his knee at this point with all the hair on his arm.

We were cleared to leave and he was able to walk  down the hall to the elevator and go to the reception area where we needed to pay .  Another weird thing is that we needed to pay 100% of his surgery that day,  Japan has national insurance, and since we have private insurance through Cigna we pay for all expenses then are reimbursed  later.  At this point Caleb also realized he had the hospital ID card after all.  The receptionist was happy to have it.

We made our way to the bus and then on to the train.  I was very impressed with how Caleb was able to walk only a little slower than usual.  We made it home safely and he was able to work from home the next day and to rest his leg a bit.  He went to physiotherapy the next day and given some exercised to do to build strength and flexibility.

We are very happy his surgery went so well.  We were worried he would be on crutches or be in pain while we were on our vacation to Malaysia.  More on our  AWESOME vacation soon….



Trying to catch up…. another back post

Wow, what a cool experience for our kids, skiing in the mountains of Japan with your school friends. International schools ROCK!! The kids got to take a 4 day ski trip with their school.  They stayed in a hotel and the school had 3 entire floors full of kids from their school.  Caleb and I took advantage of the kids being gone and took our own ski trip.  It was a great opportunity to get away together, something we have not been able to do much of since moving here.

We stayed in an awesome Japanese style room and had our own private onsen (Hotspring hot tub) on our patio, and had an awesome mountain view!  We also ate a traditional 10 course Japanese dinner.  I have to say I was also nervous  about this.  When we arrived at our hotel we noticed people walking around the hotel in their Yukata (traditional Japanese robes made of cotton)  With the help of google we found information on how and when to wear a yukata.  Caleb convinced me that we should wear our Yukata to dinner.  So we did.  As we sat down the table was carefully set and the server quickly began bringing out our food.  I have to say I have never eaten out of so many dishes in one setting and eaten so many mysterious foods.  Overall the foods were okay and the experience was cool.  Caleb once described Japanese foods as having a “flavor range of 0-3 and a texture range of -10 to +10”  To our western palate it is challenging to have so many textures.  I think the most surprising thing was the Awabi (abalone).   Here is more information from this site

 Awabi (abalone)

2013.11.17 final awabi

Images: WikipediaWikipedia

“Although it looks like a clam, an abalone is actually a sea snail and is considered a delicacy in Japan for its chewy texture and crisp taste. Abalones are eaten raw as sashimi but are also grilled. A popular way to prepare abalones is to grill it live, right out of the water”

Here is a video of our Abalone cooking:


I think we have a long way to go before we can say we love Japanese food, but it was a cool experience.

Pictures of our dinner experience:

Japanese Dinner


We also got to do some more skiing.  We were staying in a great little town with 3 resorts the all joined!  The weather conditions varied drastically from day to day, we did some skiing with sunny beautiful skies, heavy wind and snow whiteout conditions and pouring rain.  We tried to make the best of the cards we were given and continued to practice.  When we weren’t skiing we drank sake (rice wine) from vending machines,  went to  a cork gun “shooting range” and enjoyed our time alone.

Here are some more pictures:  (with less crazy food)


In reality the cards we dealt sucked and we BOTH ended up also getting injured. On day 2 I fell and landed on my thumb.  After a trip to the first aid office they told me they believed it was not broken.  They gave me a bag to put ice in and we took a rest for about an hour.  One of the ski shops had medical tape and we looked up on google how to tape a sprained thumb.  I managed to ski at least a couple more rounds and we headed back to the hotel and out for dinner.  We opted out of the fancy hotel dinner and ate somewhere else.  On day 3 Caleb fell and twisted his knee.   He was able to get up and ski a little more but this injury ended up being the real reason why he needed  knee surgery on July 27th.  More info on this coming soon.


© 2018 The Simpson Journey

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑