ACL Reconstruction Surgery Tomorrow

by Demetri on August 16, 2006

Well I’m going in for my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstruction tomorrow morning at 7:30. I’m not sure what time the surgery will be or when it will be over.

My surgeon really didn’t give me much detail and his assistant was pretty light on the details when I asked her. I guess that’s the joys of public medicine (AKA the Canadian Health Care System). After waiting almost two years I’m just happy to finally be getting to the point where I’ll someday be able to wipe my feet on a rug without feeling pain, or even be able to run again or dare I say compete in the CBBF Bodybuilding Nationals again (I placed 5th in my weight class back in 2003). At least I was able to have a nice souvenir, most notably referred to as the CD my knee’s MRI slides (pictured to the right).

Funny to think that almost 18 months ago I had written a letter to Dr. L, The sports medicine doctor I had been seeing at the Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg, about how pissed off I was at having to wait an unreasonable 6 months with no surgery date and how unhelpful the orthopedic surgeon and that surgeon’s assistant had been.

That letter is as follows:

Dr. L
Pan Am Clinic
75 Poseidon Bay
VIA FAX to XXX-XXX-XXXX

March 10, 2005

Dr. L,

I have recently come to the realization that I will not be receiving timely and necessary treatment for my right knee. Specifically the completely torn ACL, torn MCL, and torn cartilage as explained to me during our last appointment of February 28, 2005.

In my limited experience in trying to get treatment for me knee I cannot expect any corrective treatment happening in the foreseeable future and would like to explain why this is so.

I met with Dr. B on November 23, 2004 to discuss the injury to my right knee. At that time we had agreed that we would simply scope the knee instead of waiting for an MRI scan. We had also agreed that a scope of my left knee was in order.

Following Dr. B’s instructions I had placed a call to his assistant at the Manitoba Clinic in order to schedule the procedure. I had then placed various follow-up calls in December and January in order to find out when the procedure would be taking place. The last of which I was instructed to no longer call and was informed that I was on a waiting list to get on the waiting list for the procedure. I tried to get some idea of time frame and was refused.

At that point I had decided to wait on the MRI, as it was only in a few weeks time, and see if there really was any issue with my right knee. I still suspected that the procedure was never going to happen but thought it prudent to at least wait until my February 28th appointment with you.

At that appointment you had inquired about any follow-up that I may have scheduled with Dr. B. When I indicated that no follow-up was scheduled you had instructed me to walk over to orthopedic office and schedule one. I managed to obtain an appointment for March 30th, 2005.

I then tried to call Dr. B’s assistant to see if I could discuss your diagnosis with him or his staff. I was informed that his assistant was away until that following Wednesday. A Wednesday call then turned into a wait for the following Monday.

I did finally contact Dr. B’s assistant on Wednesday March 9th, 2005 and was informed that my procedure was coming soon (still no date). I relayed your diagnosis based upon the MRI and was told that Dr. B rarely does ACL reconstructions and that this would pose a problem. When asked if Dr. B was the right doctor for me she responded “Well probably not, but you should ask the Doctor, Call the Pan Am clinic to make an appointment”.

I now have no confidence that Dr. B can perform this surgery and doubt that it would happen in year. As Dr. B is the president of the Manitoba Provincial Orthopedic Association I also doubt that any doctor here is capable of this procedure.

I realize that I’m probably overreacting on this last count, but if any orthopedic surgeon in the province is capable of what I’m told is a simple surgery then it should be the president of the association. Granted I have no personal experience with Dr. B’s capabilities, just the conversation I had with his assistant.

One more point to consider is that this injury occurred in mid September of 2004 and I was in excruciating pain for months. The pain has subsided but I am no where near the functionality of where I should be. I am frustrated and unwilling to wait any longer.

Fortunately I have found two options.

The first of which is Dr. Brian Day at the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver that can perform the procedure for $8580 +GST. Dr. Day’s resume looks quite impressive but the cost is a little startling.

The second option is to fly to Athens and have the procedure done by Dr. Yanis Zogos. He comes highly recommended by friends in Corinthos and will perform the procedure for $2,500 EU.

Both clinics can do the procedure mid April. For cost considerations I will be flying to Athens, Greece.

In order to make this happen I will need to fax over x-ray and MRI information. Can you please have your assistant prepare this information for me by 1 pm on Friday March 11, 2005? I would also appreciate any other information you feel Dr. Zogos would require.

Sincerely,

Demetri Karavas

What happened next was that I was called by the Surgeon’s assistant who now was in a hurry to get me in. I had a surgery Scheduled for April 15th of 2005 and was told to get a pre-op physical ASAP. Thinking that there was no point in going to Greece now I cancelled plans of travel and surgery and decided that I’d finally be looked after at home. Not only that but the cost of surgery in Greece escalated to $5,000.00 when it became clear I had an ACL tear.

I thought it a good idea to go in and talk to the Surgeon ahead of time and met with him on March 30th, 2005 where I was informed that he doesn’t do ACL reconstructions. He just wanted to clean up the cartilage and see if my knee would be stable. I told him that this was not acceptable. “Why do you want to risk the infection” he had asked me. So I asked him what the risk was, “1%” he told me all the while looking at his shoes.

I think the problem here was that I was in pretty good shape back then. My legs have always been quite strong and the Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. L, and the Surgeon, Dr. B, were pretty confident that my knee injury was not that serious. When Dr. L saw my MRI it then became an urgency in his opinion where I needed to get in to see a surgeon as soon as possible. He prescribed to me a Paradigm GII knee brace (which I’m told is the cat’s ass of knee braces) and told me to be cautious when I’m working out walking, climbing stairs, ladders, etc.

B then referred me to Dr. D giving me the impression that he’d somehow help me jump the queue and get in fast. That was March 2005 and I’m finally getting treatment in August of 2006. God bless Canada.

D at first told me his waiting list was 6 months long. In November 2005 I was told that I was almost there and would in the new year. I guess he meant sometime in 2006. I’m very wary of what Doctor’s in Canada tell me. Had I known it was going to be this long I would have just gone to Greece or BC.

Of course life has happened in the meantime. I met Heather, fell in love, became engaged, started building a new house, and really felt that $8,000 per knee could go to more useful things. I was finally being looked after in Canada so what was a little wait. I even figured a wedding date of November 4th 2006 was far away from my new year surgery that I’d be completely recovered by then.

Oh well, it’s going to be close. 4 to 6 weeks recovery I’m told and I’m going to have my left knee done shortly thereafter. The way they work things here I’m sure they’ll want to do it on November 3rd 2006, though I’m sure they’ll gladly postpone that for another couple of years.

I finally feel like my health is under control and I’ll be back to being strong and healthy, back to normal.

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