My knee doesn’t work!

Every year should begin with plans for new adventures.  Ours had a nod towards another big sailing trip, this time east, to the Baltic Sea.  Peter had lived in Stockholm for a while, and I had lived in Warsaw (OK, I know not by the sea, but I was a frequent visitor to Gdansk), and I think this had given us both an added curiosity for this body of water.  However, that was before I injured my knee, and knocked all sailing plans on the head.

Back in February, actually on the eve of my birthday, we were celebrating with friends from our yacht club.  It was such a fun evening, mostly spent around the dining table.  We had a log fire burning in the living room, which I’d go and stoke every now and then.  Sometime late in the evening, I’d gone to do just that, only I slipped and my left leg shot sideways, twisting at the same time.  I heard, or felt, I’m not sure which, a ‘pop’, and experienced the most agonising shooting pain.  I sat there, on the granite hearth, wondering whether I could get up.  I didn’t want to make a fuss, so I told no one.  I dragged myself to my feet, and carried on with the evening.  Sleeping was very painful, and every time I went to turn over, I woke up.  This would be the pattern for weeks, incidentally.

The next morning I mentioned it, and thinking that it was nothing, we set off for a walk.  My knee was painful, and felt a bit lose, but I figured that the fresh air would be good for my head, and the walk would be OK.  By the end of the day, my actual birthday, my knee had swelled up and was very, very painful.  I didn’t want to go to A&E, it’s miles away from us in rural Sussex, so I promised Pete that I’d call my physio.  To cut more of a long and dull story short, I’d torn the medial collateral ligament of my left knee.  A severe tear, but not ripped through or detached.  The Knee Surgeon was lovely, and despite his initial waving of the surgery knife at me, I wasn’t actually a candidate for surgery…. just lots of rest in the early days, and lots of physio.  Thankfully the medical cover we had didn’t need me to go through a GP, hospital, but the combo of Surgeon/Physio has been enough to get the right treatment.

I’d never had reason to study the anatomy of the knee, and never heard of the ligaments.  I terrified myself with Dr Google, and every account saw me in a three-month recovery.  What?!  I could not believe it.  The surgeon and the physio confirmed the same.  I was initially a very reluctant, angry patient…. but after about three days of being cross, I thought to myself, ‘I can’t be angry for three months, so you’d better find something else to be’.  So, I lay on the sofa, plenty of books and did very little for the first four weeks.

Wear this until I tell you not to!
Wear this until I tell you not to!

The worst, for the crew of Whinchat, was that sailing was a big, fat NO.   We’d been due to go to Iceland for a mini-break to celebrate my birthday, but that got canned.  In so doing, the Surgeon invalidated my travel insurance for three months – including any sailing activity.

So, resigned to it, I also realised that as we’d consulted and taken professional advice, there was no point in then ignoring it.  Of course, everyone you meet then seems to have a knee injury horror story to share with you – all with the tag line of “do the physio”.  I am pretty compliant, at times, so over the last three-four months, I’ve turned out to be a very good patient.

When the knee brace comes off, the sports tape goes on!
When the knee brace comes off, the sports tape goes on!

Back to The Baltic.  By the end of February, our sailing dreams had disappeared over the horizon and we were both feeling pretty gloomy… and trying not to be!  We had no idea what Plan B might be, because we weren’t really certain when I’d recover.  Whinchat had a marina berth at Universal until the end of April, so there was no immediate need to panic or make alternative plans.  The sad thing was that she was alone for too much of the time, only coming out for test sails with Rustler Yachts.  That’s not how Whinchat should be treated, or how we plan to use her.  The Baltic will be there another year, and the knee needs time to recover, that has to be the focus.