If you've read the post "The Hardest Day" detailing my September 2023 trip from Sherburne Pass, Vermont to Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, you'll know that I limped to the finish line. About a month after returning home the pain in my left knee had not subsided. I contacted my doctor to get a referral to an orthopedic specialist. The orthopedic guy started with a physical exam and X-rays. From that he concluded the issue was not cartilage. (Indeed, the Xray above shows I've got plenty.) He then scheduled me for an MRI. The MRI confirmed soft-tissue damage in the medial meniscus. This area doesn't get good blood flow, so it is unlikely that it would ever repair itself. The specialist recommended an orthoscopic surgery to further investigate the damage. That would result either in a minor clean-up of the tear area, or a more substantial repair (i.e. stitches) depending on what he found. We scheduled that surgery for January 3, 2024.
I got lucky - it was the first option.
It is now February 5, 2024. I was cleared to get off crutches at my 2-week follow-up, and have been slowly working my way up with longer and longer walks since then. Last week I took my first dedicated-walk (i.e. more than just around the house) of 1.5 miles. It was quite sore the next day, but I continue to go every couple days. It is amazing how much the leg can atrophy in just 2 weeks.
In the weeks leading up to the surgery I tweaked my right knee while trying to protect the left knee. It felt like the days immediately after the AT hike again. I suspect that I may want to have the same orthoscopic surgery done on the right knee. We shall see how I feel in a couple months.
Sucks getting older. All of that knee damage occurred while I was doing what I could to prevent it. I've learned some valuable lessons with respect to taking things even easier in the future. I want to be backpacking well into my retirement.
Keep hiking my friends.