Fans of the TV show Top Chef know that contestants are often admonished for not tasting their food before it goes to the diners. Sampling your wears is the tenet of any service industry. That said I would wager that most healthcare professionals have not volunteered to go under the knife just to see what its like (and who would fault them?). There are times however when some of us get a chance to experience our service from the patient perspective - yesterday was one of those times for me.
As a result of my ACL injury, yesterday I underwent a surgical procedure to start the road to recovery. I wrote about my decision to to return to Richmond verses having the surgery at a world-renown clinic. What I did not not mention, something that was a major factor for me, is that I work for a top notch health system with four hospitals in Richmond. As part of my role I am focused on our 'service excellence' initiative. Indeed it is something we empower all of our team members to lead; a path towards world class patient experiences. The goal is simple, in every move we make, every interaction, we seek to exceed every patient's expectation, every time. In practice it is not so easy a thing.
So what did I observe from my day as a patient? For starters I confirmed what I had hoped for, that we do have team members committed to first class treatment. We have some things to fine tune but overall there is no doubt that my decision to come home for care was the right one.
The procedure went well, or so I am told. Once inside, they found a considerable amount of damage beyond the ACL rupture. From the MRI, we had suspected a tear in the meniscus (a cushion of tissue that forms a cup between the thigh and leg bones. The surgical team found multiple rips in the meniscus and were fortunately able to repair them. That repair will hopefully save me from a knee replacement in the future but it comes with a price tag. To let the meniscus heal, I have to keep my weight off the knee for three weeks - crutches, blurg! The ACL repair is a very interesting procedure in itself. When they tear, anterior cruciate ligaments literally explode, leaving nothing behind. I had a choice, they could remove a portion of a ligament from elsewhere in my leg or use a donor ligament. For various reasons, I chose the donor tissue. In either case, the procedure is really a bone graft. Since ligaments cannot be directly attached to bones, the replacement ligament still as a portion of bone attached to either end, and that bone segment is grafted into the knee joint.
And the patient? I'm in a fair amount of pain and rather immobilized. But I have a wonderful care taker and will start physical therapy today which should help. I also want to say a very heartfelt thank you to friends and family who have checked in.
Throughout my convelesence, I will continue to update this site with notes and observations. In particular, I am looking forward into detailing the clinical procedure and the physician who performed the work. For those interested, check back soon!