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Megan the Klutz; 4 summers, 3 surguries!
By:  Megan McTavish   (2004/06/24)

Megan McTavish - Ski XC Ottawa Image

Megan McTavish - Ski XC Ottawa Image

Megan McTavish - Ski XC Ottawa Image

Megan McTavish - Ski XC Ottawa Image

Some people may refer to me as "Megan the Klutz" (I had a book with that title when I was a kid) and sometimes it couldn't be more true! How many other cross country skiers (a non-contact sport I might add) have undergone 3 orthopedic surgeries in 4 summers (two ankles and now a knee)?? Well, I am the lucky one! My dad says I'm no longer allowed to do the following things:

Football, soccer, basketball, rugby, sahlu (Finnish road hockey), wrestling, orienteering, hiking without really good boots, running down stairs, walking on uneven ground barefoot, and cliff jumping………

My mom, however, just said I should stop acting like a boy! But really, if I wasn't aggressive and didn't enjoy running around playing stupid games, I may never have come as far as I have in sport (or I may have been further ahead since I wouldn't be recovering from my 3rd surgery right now). I guess I'll never know.

One week ago today I was up at 5am ready to go to the hospital for my 8am surgery. My mom came along as my moral support and once checking in the mandatory 2 hours ahead of time, we sat and waited. I knew what to expect since I had both my ankles fixed before, but this was a bit new, and as the surgeon said when he came to sign the correct knee (a precaution so that they do the right one!) I looked terrified! The surgery I was having was "patellar autograft anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction" ( this website tells a bit about it… www.arthroscopy.com. So, I tried to relax a bit, met with the anesthesiologist and a nurse who led me into the OR. Being in an operating room is quite an experience. You go in, lie on a small table in the middle of a bright room with at least 6 doctors and nurses preparing to cut you open. Then you get a needle and the next thing you know its 3 hours later and in my case….you're freezing! (some people are mad, others upset…it just depends).

After trying to wake up for about an hour, I was taken to my room for the night and immediately found that I had quite the roommate! She was a 97 year old that was yelling desperately that she needed to go to the washroom (the trouble was…she just had a hip replaced and couldn't get out of bed…she was supposed to use the diapers she had on but I guess she didn't like that too much!) Finally the nurses sedated her and she was quiet for about 15 minutes and then suddenly she was "STARVING!!!!". Luckily I changed rooms soon after and enjoyed a quiet afternoon with my morphine "pain pump". I have never heard someone her age so loud before!

Getting out of bed for the first time is one of the biggest challenges of all. The sudden rush of blood to the knee and leg is extremely painful. So, I tried to stay in bed as long as possible and only use the washroom when it became desperate. The next morning I prepared to go home but first I had to pass the "stair test". I was taken over to the physio room and had to prove that I could walk up the stairs with my crutches….once I passed, I was loaded up in my mom's car and taken home, which is where I've been hanging out for the last week.

While most of you have been out training this week, my biggest challenge has been to see how far I can bend my knee, the goal is 100 degrees by next week this time. I am approaching 90 right now! Other than that I've been reading (I'm on book number 5), watching movies and sleeping. Hopefully I'll get off the crutches soon and I can get back into the upper body training.

The rest of the summer will be a combination of intense physio and imaginative training. It'll start out with kayaking, canoeing, swimming (no legs) and upper body strength, move on to road bike riding and double poling, and by the fall I should be able to walk with poles and classic rollerski. Right now, I have to look beyond the stupidity of hurting myself yet again and focus on recovering fully and racing as well as I can despite this slight detour in the road. Unfortunately I do have a lot of experience with this type of problem but I'm hoping this is the last one for a while!

So, the moral of the story,….be careful when you're fooling around….you never know what could happen, but even if you do get injured, it's not the end of the world. If you like skiing and racing enough, you'll find a way to make it work. Maybe your focus will have to change to a later part of the season, or a technique you don't normally favor, but in the end…you could end up improving some weakness that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Until next time, good luck, have fun and be careful!

Special thanks to Dr. DiPasquale at the Trillium Health Centre Mississauga for his remarkable workmanship!

[Just to explain the strange image to the left with 4 circular pictures. The top 2 circles are pictures of the tibia and femur, checking for cartalidge damage. The bottom left is a probe showing a empty spot where the ACL is supposed to be while the bottom right is my new ACL.]

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