The Simpson Journey

Four Simpsons on a journey through life and locations

Caleb’s knee surgery

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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….

 

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3 Comments

  1. I cannot imagine going through all this with the language barrier and relying on public transportation! Good job! Glad all went well.

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  2. Yikes! Skiing sounds more and more dangerous each year! Glad you all are on your way to recovery.

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  3. Wow, what a medical adventure. It had to be tough navigating those decisions with the language barrier. I’m so glad that the meniscus is healing on its own! Sending prayers now that you can get to full recovery soon.

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