It’s important for physicians to know what it’s like on the other side of things so we don’t forget why we’re doing what we do: taking care of patients.
I recently had the opportunity to go through the same scenario I talk to my patients about every day.
It started with feeling a little pain in my knee; I’d injured it back in college and re-injured again early this past summer. Over the next few months the pain kept getting a little worse and a little worse. I tried all the things you’re supposed to do: physical therapy, injections, rest and elevation, but they only relieved the symptoms for a very short time. Eventually I was limping from pain.
Then an MRI revealed a cartilage injury and meniscus tear.
Just like my patients, I was then faced with a decision about whether surgery was the right choice. It’s agonizing to weigh all the risks and benefits of having surgery, especially when you could lose mobility while you’re healing, but I decided to go ahead and get my knee fixed.
We joke that doctors make the worst patients, and I didn’t get any special treatment just because I’m a surgeon. Consent forms, pre-surgery checklists, and doctor’s orders to not eat anything for 12 hours beforehand. The hardest thing was not having any coffee the morning of surgery!
After checking in at Polaris Surgery Center and getting into the gown, I had to go under anesthesia. When I woke up, my wife and a nurse were in the room with me and I immediately felt reassured. The staff was really helpful and made sure I understood all of the post-surgery information.
I got my cold therapy and crutches from FootSourceMD. Cold therapy is something I always recommend to my patients because they help reduce swelling and pain after a surgery, and it was really helpful on my knee. The crutches fit well under my shoulders and were kind of springy but sturdy, which made them pretty comfortable. It’s definitely worth it to get a good pair. Being on crutches for the first week after surgery was a huge inconvenience though; it was frustrating to have to ask others for help when I couldn’t do my normal activities.
Part of my physical therapy was done at the Westerville Medical Campus, and the team at the therapy facility worked with me to build back strength while letting the knee heal. Rehab took hard work both physically and mentally, but I know it’s a huge part of a successful recovery.
From the scary moment of admitting that surgery is needed, to getting an IV, and eventually working through rehab, being a patient instead of a physician reminded me of what my patients are going through, and I plan to use my experience to create even better patient care.
-Dr. Terrence Philbin