Windsurf|Issue 394 - April 2020
A painful joint doesn’t necessarily spell the end …

I woke up to see an earnest young doctor stand-ing over me. We were in the recovery room of Queen Alexander hospital Portsmouth. It was 1992 and I had just had the first of many surgeries on my troublesome right knee. Expecting him to pat me on the back and tell me I was as good as new, I asked him how the operation had gone. With no concern for my fragile mental state, he said:

“You’re the windsurfer aren’t you? Well you must think very hard about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. You basically have the knee of a 60-year-old.” “You don’t suppose he wants it back do you.” I quipped desperate to make light of the situation. But it didn’t take a genius to decode his message – ‘you’re f***ed mate.’


For the two years previous, my knee had become increasingly sore and prone to swelling after a heavy session. I’d also lost a bit of movement. And because the quadriceps only tighten in the last 5° of extension, I’d lost muscle mass around the knee, making matters increasingly worse.

Following my initial consultation, the assumption was that a foreign body, a piece of cellular debris, was blocking and irritating the joint. A minimally invasive arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) would surely remove the obstruction and I’d sprint out of there – but apparently my condition was more sinister. The surgeon had spotted a small area of worn cartilage, which signalled the start of osteoarthritis (an incurable breakdown of the joint surface), for which hammering down speed and slalom courses with a weight jacket was not the suggested treatment. “If you ever want to play football with the children you don’t yet have, give up now.” Was my surgeon’s parting gift.



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Issue 394 - April 2020