Weyburn woman Meagan Charnock has been traveling an unpleasant medical roller coaster. After three unsuccessful knee surgeries, the 26-year-old requires an ankle-to-hip brace for support and is now being turned down by multiple Canadian medical institutions for a fourth surgery, either due to the complexity of her case or because of geography.
Originally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Charnock had her first surgery in August 2018 for a patella realignment (kneecap). The purpose of the surgery was to secure her kneecap from dislocating.
“They moved my patella over and tried to screw it into my tibia (shin bone) to get a little bit more stability, and I just never healed from that surgery,” said Charnock. “I started physio and as soon as I was out of the brace I started dislocating again.”
After her first surgery, Charnock was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Charnock explained that this is a condition where her joints are hypermobile, which means her joints dislocate easily.
In May 2020 the surgeon made a second attempt to secure Charnock’s knee, this time by using a donor's tendon.
“They did an MPFL graft, and this is where it kind of started to go downhill. They took out that ligament in my leg (inside of the knee) and they replaced it with a donor to see if it would be a little less lax,” explained Charnock.
Coming out of her second surgery, Charnock said that things were going quite well but then after a couple of months, things took another swift turn for the worse.
“I felt a god-awful snap. My surgeon didn’t believe me that it snapped, he told me that I’d have to break my femur before that MPFL would have let go on me. I pushed and I pushed, and I pushed to get an MRI, I got a couple of second opinions. It took me about seven months and finally, I got my MRI in July and yeah, the MRI showed that the MPFL wasn’t existent anymore, it snapped completely.”
Charnock had to wait approximately another year to get her third surgery in June 2022, which meant she was required to live with no tendon on the inside of her knee for almost two years.
After her third surgery, Charnock received another unpleasant report.
“He opened me up and said, hey, we found a tunnel in your knee that tunnels through to your femur so there's not much we can anchor the new graft to,” explained Charnock. “I need another surgery. No other surgeon in Saskatchewan is willing to accept my referral at the moment, just because of the three surgeries ahead of time. And they're trying to outsource me out of province. But with the COVID pandemic, Toronto currently isn't taking any out of province.”
Charnock’s case was referred to the University of Calgary, however, they declined to take her case without citing a reason. Her case was then forwarded to the Banff Sports Medicine Centre, her case was rejected there as well, citing a long waitlist.
Charnock shared that her Post Op Care Surgeon is not sure where to go now.
To manage pain Charnock’s options are anti-depressants and opioids.
Almost 5 years and three surgeries later, Charnock has no answers. Her condition is worse than when she began, and now she waits in medical limbo.