Four inches that changed everything
The day started out great. It was the first day in our brand new kitchen with our brand new staff. Everyone together working for the purpose of putting this kitchen, menu, and restaurant together just in the nick of time. A bunch of guys working in the new prep kitchen, heads down content on accomplishing their tasks. I was feeling great. I was breaking down whole chickens with one of our lead line cooks. We chatted it up a bit till my next task required me to go across the street and get a recipe. It was pleasantly cool day, but I was thirsty so I walked behind the bar and grabbed an ice tea and sugar-free red bull. I took a healthy swig off the bottled ice tea and dumped in the red bull, grabbed a pen and walked with a purpose off to find that recipe. Three seconds later everything changed.
There is a small four inch step that I didn't notice and took a bad fall on my knee, "ouch, I'll lay here for a second then get up," is what I thought would happen. Unfortunately my knee just didn't feel right. It didn't hurt, but I knew something was not right. Within seconds I was assisted by a few co-workers and in their eyes I could see that something was wrong. They wouldn't let me even try to get up; which in retrospect I am very thankful to them for, and 911 was called immediately. Within seconds of the fall my knee was described as looking like a 'pumpkin'.
The EMS ride, the ER, the x-rays, the discomfort was all quite foreign to me, but most of all I could see in the eyes of everyone who walked by and looked at my leg that something was seriously wrong. "No fracture," were sweet words to hear, but little did I know that the words, "torn quadriceps muscle," would come to haunt me.
I was admitted to the hospital that late afternoon with the hopes of an early morning MRI the next day. In the moment I was still holding out hope that it was just a bad bruise and a little ice and a wrap would fix me up. You know, "take two of these, rest, and see you at work tomorrow." That defiantly was not in the cards. In fact by the time I woke up to go for the MRI a surgery time had been scheduled. I think that is when it hit me: no back to work tomorrow, no prepping a new menu, no friends and family night, no opening night, no opening month, no feeling of accomplishment after a 14 hour day, everything that I was excited for, even the hard, the really hard parts of the restaurant opening were gone for me. Talk about emotional devastation.
I now have two pins screwed into my knee cap that anchor the four muscles that make up my quadriceps. There is a good six inch incision that will physically scar me forever. I will keep my left leg completely immobile for two months before beginning rehab to bend the knee and re-gain strength in the leg which should take around another 2 months. Somewhere around October I should be able to function properly. I'm sure there will be a lot of pain between now and then, as well as the lasting discomfort that inevitably haunts anyone with this type of injury.
There is one story about my surgery I just have to share. It was about half way through the surgery itself when I gained enough consciousness to hear the metal on metal pounding that was the doctor going to town on my knee. I couldn't feel a thing as I'd been numbed from the waist down and would stay that way for about an hour until they were done. I really wanted to see what they were doing, but all I could mutter though the oxygen mask I had on was, "are you guys building a table of fixing my knee." I'd imagine someone immediately jumped on feeding me some more sleeping medication. I tried as hard as I could to ask for a peek at my knee, the insides you know, but I was back to cloud nine before I could even get it out. The day after surgery I was fairly confident that this episode did in fact take place and was not only of my imagination so I came straight and asked the doctor. He smiled and laughed concurring, "Yes, we all chuckled at that."