So how did I land up with an ACL tear? I play this futsal league once a week. Even though it’s just a futsal league, but it’s actually very competitive. On March 19, 2014, due to what I would consider a freak accident, I tore my ACL.
As I was chasing the ball, the goalkeeper reached the ball first and kicked it away. I attempted to turn in the same direction to chase the ball, but I slipped on the turf and my knee over extended vertically (NOTE: DO NOT WEAR football boots with studs on a futsal turf as it can be very slippery, instead use futsal shoes instead). Immediately, I went to the ground in agony. I heard the pop and knew that I was in trouble. I had to limp my way out of the pitch for a substitution, and my knee was soon swollen, and I couldn’t walk without a severe pain in my right knee.
So my ACL tear was basically an over extension of my knee and not by twisting via pivoting, which I think would be a worse tear. No one touched me as I fell to the ground, and I like to think I was very unlucky for slipping, and of course it’s my fault for not getting the right footwear.
Getting an MRI done (in 2 weeks once the swelling went down)
The next morning, I went to see an orthopedic doctor who referred me to do an MRI. As my knee was still swollen, I had to wait for the swelling to come down before the results of the MRI would be accurate.
Thus come the big problem, I had to work on Friday night and Saturday morning, when I say work I will need to appear like I’m walking normally and with a fresh ACL tear, this was going to be very difficult.
I host events, and no one wants to see an event host with a bad limp on stage. The only good thing was that the events were not casual events where I had to jump and bounce around on stage.
In came the saviour – Bauerfiend knee guard support brace.
This knee guard helped me get through the pain on my feet. It cost $200 though, and I found out from a friend that you can get something similar with the metal strip at the sides for less.
The following week, I went on my pre arranged trip to Maldives, and my leg was good enough for me to snorkel. While there was slight pain, it did not affect me too much in my day to day. So 1 week after the supposed ACL tear, I was swimming with the sharks and stingrays. I just could not extend my leg fully and bend my leg fully. The middle range of my leg movement was still good.
Results of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
After I returned, I went for the MRI. MRI was an interesting experience, in which I could not move my leg for 20 mins while the machine takes the reading. The urge to fidget is very strong, and they plug in huge ear phones for you to keep yourself calm in order to drown out the loud sounds from the MRI machine.
The results came back, and the report said it was an almost complete tear of the ACL on my right knee, while the MCL and PCL is intact. This means bad news, either I’ll have to have surgery, or I’ll have to tone down on sports for the rest of my life.
Changing over to Government Hospital (subsidized) Singapore General Hospital
Because my insurance only covers Government hospital, I had to make the choice to switch over to SGH for my ACL surgery if I wanted to do it. At this point in time, I was only 50/50 for the ACL surgery because my leg was actually doing pretty well, not buckling or having any classic signs of ACL tear.
I went to SGH A&E in order to get a referral to see the specialist. If I had gone to a polyclinic, it would have taken me 3 months. So even though I already knew my diagnosis, I chose to go to A&E because they would give me a faster appointment time. The system is not too good in my opinion, but if that’s how the system is, I chose to go to A&E.
I was referred over to the sports section of Orthopedics in Camden Medical Centre, under the care of A.Prof Paul Chang.