19-year-old fire cadet Kaya sustained an injury to her knee when she had a fall during a fire drill in front of the Lord Mayor. Following the fall, she was taken by ambulance to hospital, where she had an X-ray to check if there were any fractures. She was then sent home and was booked in for an appointment at St Thomas’ hospital.
Following the incident, she was experiencing many uncomfortable and painful symptoms in her left leg, which were hard for her to cope with. She had sharp pains up the back of her knee and thigh every time she bent it more than 40 degrees. She also had permanent swelling, restricted movement plus instability and a dull aching around the kneecap (patella).
These symptoms affected Kaya’s life considerably as she was required to have fluid movement for her participation in the fire cadet programme, which her injury restricted. She took a gap year from education to enjoy the things she liked such as pennyboarding, dancing and cycling, however she was no longer able to enjoy these. Even basic activities such as going to the bathroom or going upstairs was impossible without experiencing unbearable pain. The pain could only be avoided if she kept her leg straight, which felt unnatural.
After an initial appointment, Kaya was referred to the fracture clinic where she had an MRI scan. Once this scan had been reviewed, she was recommended to see Mr Rakhbir Khakha, a trusted colleague of the referring doctor, to discuss how her condition could be managed.
Kaya’s expectations regarding her knee were not hopeful before she met Mr Khakha: “I thought I would be given a temporary solution, where I would have to keep coming back for multiple appointments, making my injury a new life priority. However, after meeting Mr Khakha, he redeemed my faith and I felt confident enough in his knowledge and his skills for me to trust him with my treatment.”
Mr Khakha diagnosed a dislocated patella (kneecap). During surgery he was able to save the cartilage fragment and fix it back onto her trochlea.
Kaya explains: “After surgery, my knee felt really secure and tight. It was hard to walk on for the first few weeks or so. But with the exercises the nurses and physiotherapists gave me, I built it up my knee again. It got to the point where I showed quick and consistent progression. It feels brand new and stronger than before. Now I can do many things I couldn’t do before surgery. I have started activities such as boxing, driving, dancing and frequent long walks, which I didn’t think I would be able to work back up to.”
She continues: “My knee feels brand new, really stable and really strong. I feel as though it’s even better than my other knee, meaning it is my new ‘good knee’. It feels very fluid and easy to move.“
Kaya’s advice for other patients with knee injuries is: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help! It is your body after all, and it helps you understand the situation you’re in. It can also slightly help to ease your nerves. Nervousness is normal, especially since you are likely experiencing things you haven’t felt before. It can be scary as not a lot of people will understand what you are feeling. It’s important to have patience with yourself and your doctor to help the process become more positive for both of you. At times you will also feel emotional and have mental blocks, which you will definitely be able to push through. Slowly but surely. Try to stay positive (even though it is hard believe me). Finally, I would advise that it is good to follow the doctor’s and nurse’s advice. I was given activities to help with the mobility of my knee and I thought it was impossible and useless, but I am glad I did them. It helped to speed up the process and it was very beneficial. It’s rewarding to see your progress and recall what you couldn’t do to what you can do later on.”
She summarises her experience with Mr Khakha: “Mr Khakha just made my whole experience. I’m used to smiling through the pain, but Mr Khakha put a genuine smile on my face. He was very positive, patient and understanding. He helped to explain the injury and the steps towards surgery to help ease my nerves. He provided such detail and treated me as someone more than a patient number. I can tell he genuinely cares for his patients and genuinely wants what’s best for them. I know this since he visited me after surgery. It was great to see he still had time for my needs even though he had many other things to prioritise over me. He’s an easy person to trust and talk to. It was very pleasurable and I’m very sad that my journey is over, even though I am in good health. It was tough to get through, but if it happened again, I would know for a fact I would be in great hands.”
Mr Khakha concludes: “Kaya has done amazingly well as time has gone on. She has got full range of movement, full strength and as she describes her injured knee is now as her better knee. She has had further MRI imaging which has confirmed her knee has completely healed and I’m really pleased for her.”