As this is a psoriatic arthritis blog, you would probably expect me to say that following the MRI ordered by my questionable orthopedist the diagnosis was psoriatic arthritis. But, like a good thriller, I'm here to give you a few twists and turns! My diagnosis came back as a torn meniscus. I was happy and sad about this diagnosis -- happy because a torn meniscus is not inherently a debilitating disease and sad because any surgery is worse than none at all, and not all surgeries are perfect cures. Both my parents had torn menisci and had surgery to repair them. My mother still has knee issues in both her knees to this day, and when I see her struggle to walk long distances, I almost literally feel her pain.
So, how do you treat a torn meniscus? The doctor who ordered the MRI sent me to physical therapy, as some torn menisci can apparently heal themselves. I was extremely skeptical, because my own research indicated that did not happen often; also, I know my family history of meniscus surgeries and just wanted to follow in their path to minimize my discomfort. But, there was a highly rated physical therapy place quite close to my work location, so I brought some workout clothes to work and twice a week during lunch went right up the block to give it a shot. (Full disclosure: I almost never work out, so the workout clothes were basically a t-shirt and sweatpants.) To my surprise, the physical therapy center didn't feel like a hospital, and even more pleasing was that the staff couldn't do more to make me feel welcome. I was lucky to get the owner who would be with me twice a week. He was a master at starting me off every time with the most wonderful knee massage, oils and all, that made me feel like I was relaxing on a beach in the tropics with Hawaiian music playing in the background. All that was missing was a Pina Colada!
These twice weekly physical therapy sessions were marvelous. I felt on top of the world after each one -- not exhausted; rather, invigorated! The knee was SO much less painful. There was almost no pain. Could the doctor who was so curt and made me jump on my painful knee repeatedly have actually been right? I started to question everything I knew all over again. I was confused but pleased.
Alas, the physical therapy sessions had to eventually end, as insurance would begin to cover them less frequently until there were no more approvals. The inflammation came back. Pain returned. I was not overweight, so the exertion on the knee couldn't be it. I was speaking to a co-worker who had both his knees operated on, and he recommended the doctor who he had visited. This doctor was in fact the knee specialist for a major New York sports team. His first name was an initial, which in and of itself added to the cachet, at least in my mind. And shockingly, he was covered under my insurance plan!!
I was able to get an appointment rather quickly and was excited to see someone who was an expert in his field. In a moment of hilarity, I checked in and saw the name "Maria Ruiz" (changed for privacy) on the check-in sheet. That was the same name as a dear co-worker who I worked with 15 years prior! I said to myself, "No way could it be her." I was asked to strip down to my underwear and put on an ill-fitting robe that for the life of me could not figure out how to properly tighten. After some time, I was told that they needed to move me from one room to another. As I'm hobbling with the robe literally falling off me, I hear "Yoooooseph!" It was indeed my Maria!! We shared so much laughter in a very needed moment of levity. This made for a story we still tell to this day, and one of the best pictures ever!
The doctor was indeed lovely and extremely knowledgeable. He thankfully did not make me jump up and down on the inflamed knee. However, he did not think I needed surgery. Instead, he sent me for yet ANOTHER MRI! How could it possibly show anything different? The torn meniscus clearly didn't heal, so what would be the purpose? Stay tuned for the PROPER diagnosis!
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