Monday, May 31, 2010

3 Weeks Post-Op

It's been a little while since I posted. I guess time flies when you're having fun right? Ok, not really...I've just been lazy.

The stitches came out on May 19th (surgery was May 6th). It felt great to get them out. They were really starting to pull and pinch. I was shocked to find the stitches I had for the largest incision were all internal. The outer layer was only covered with sterile strips. So when it came time to take the stitches out all they did was tug on one end and pull the entire string out. It felt like a worm was being pulled out from under my skin for a split second. Very weird, but not too painful. (Picture to the left was taken right before they pulled my stitches out)

The doc put more sterile strips on top and told me to keep those on for one week. Now those are off too and the incision looks great! Pre-surgery I thought I would have a big old nasty scar, but that's not the case. (Picture to the right taken one week after stitches came out)

I wish I could say PT was going well. I'm at a stand still in terms of flexion. I've consistently been able to bend between 85-95 degrees for almost two weeks now. Once I got it to 105 degrees, but that was after being at PT for almost 2 hours. I know the improvement will come eventually, but I was hoping for more...sooner.

I took 2 and 1/2 weeks off work after surgery. So it hasn't helped that I went back to work last week and two days a week I go straight from work to PT. By the time I get there my knee is pretty swollen. The therapists tell me do leg raises and exercises at work. I try to do it as much as I can, but sometimes it's just not possible. It would be great if I had more sick time to burn.

This past week was a tough one emotionally. For the first time I had serious doubt that I would ever run normal again or get back to taekwondo. On Monday evening I was so frustrated watching the black belt class warm-up (waiting for my daughter to get changed after her class). I watched my friends running laps and then just couldn't watch anymore. I wanted to be out there in the worst way running with ease and not worrying about my knee.

I know this hasn't been the most positive post. I'm sure things will start to turn around soon. Here's hoping for more improvement this coming week...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tough Girls Cry?

Ouch!!! I had my second physical therapy appointment today. I'm at 6 days post op. I was in such pain. I've been doing my home exercises 3 times a day, but clearly this was on a different level. We started out mellow with just the basics and I was fine...heel slides, ankle pumps, weight shifts, mini-squats (very mini). Those hurt, but I was pushing through it and doing ok. Then my crazy Canadian trainer got a hold of me and had me sit on the end of the table. She wanted to work manual flexion and extension. That's when the pain caught up to me. Holy cow...the tears started flowing. I trust her and believe her when she says that pain now will give me huge rewards later. And I pushed through this part too, but I felt like my leg was going to fall off. I hate crying in the middle of the PT room, but there was no stopping it. Tough girls cry sometimes right?

At the end of the torture session she said that I am already way ahead of the average person with only being 6 days post op. I made her swear that she wasn't just telling me that to make me feel better after the waterworks. She assured me that wasn't the case. So I guess it was a little bit of a silver lining for how much that sucked. Today my extension measured at -1 degrees (yeah!) and flexion got to 70 degrees.

I'm going to try and get away from the heavy pain meds. I don't like what they're doing to me, but I just hope I can tolerate the pain. Here's hoping the rest of today is a good one....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Post Op PT and Appt

(Note to the squeamish- there are pictures of my knee and the incision sites at the end of this entry)

Less than 24 hrs after surgery and I was out to the door to my first physical therapy appointment. The first real pain came as I was filling out my paperwork in the waiting room with my leg down on the ground. The rush of pain came on so fast and I started to feel sick. As soon as my hubby got a chair under my leg and elevated it things started to get better.

Once I was back in the table area they got to work taking off my dressings. I can imagine that I was quite a sight with my leg all wrapped up and the huge brace over it. There were probably 15-20 people in the table area. I became very aware that everyone was staring at me and my hubby verified it wasn't my imagination. Everyone wanted to see the dressings come off. It stung as she pulled them off because they were stuck to the stitches. I probably would have held up better emotionally had it not been for everyone staring at me. I shed a few tears and just wanted everyone to go back to what they were doing. Once the dressings were off people stopped paying attention. My hubby said it was as if I was the car crash and everyone in there was driving by and couldn't take their eyes off the scene.

The rest of PT was uneventful. I was able to do straight leg raises. I was pretty stoked about that. I hadn't expected to be able to do those for at least a few days. They had me doing ankle pumps, knee bends and extension exercises. I bent my knee to 60 degrees! I finished with icing and one of my least favorite things in the whole world....STIM! I was happy to go home after that. Well, we stopped at Dairy Queen first and then went home. It was well deserved!

(On a side note...the surgeon told my hubby post op that my ACL had started to reattach itself to another part of my bone. He said that if I was older and not as much of an active athlete that my ACL would provide enough stability with it's ability to regenerate without going through surgery. I guess it's nice to know that my body has good healing powers.)

I survived the weekend. Just sitting on my butt a lot and sleeping on the couch. It's just too much effort to move everything up to the bedroom, including myself. The stairs scare the crap out of me. I still haven't showered because I haven't been given the clearance by the surgeon. I will see him on Monday. I'm starting to gross myself out. My daughter helped me wash my hair in the kitchen sink. That helped a little, but I still feel gross.

On Sunday (Mother's Day) I decided to scale back my pain meds. Instead of taking 2 every four hours I decided to only take 1 every four hours. The pain meds are awesome for controlling the pain, but they basically knock me out within a 1/2 hr after taking them. I don't want to be asleep all the time.

We spent Mother's Day afternoon on the couch playing Wii. Kinda hard to play some of those games while sitting in a reclined position. But it was fun...we made the best of it.

The appointment was short and painless. I had expected to do some exercises with him, but that didn't happen. First order was getting the ace bandage off and shipping me off to x-rays. They took x-rays as soon as the surgery was completed on Thursday and then again today to make sure the surgical screws were staying in place. All looked good. Then the doctor had me make a quad muscle and I got the thumbs up. He said I was already ahead of the game in terms of quad strength. That was good to hear. Then he had me straighten and push down onto his hand. He said it was ok, but not great. Something to continue working on. Then he asked me to bend my knee. Yeah...not so much. He said " we have homework". Gotta get to work on that!

And that was it (except getting my clearance to shower....I can now stand to be near myself). Continue with PT and come back to see the surgeon again next week. Pretty sure that's when I get my stitches out.

I've been feeling sick and I'm fairly convinced it's from the pain meds. I'm taking some of the strongest stuff there is and I know that has to mess with your system after awhile. I've been nauseous, sleepy and constipated. I haven't been eating the greatest and that's bugging me. It's not for lack of being hungry. I start out fine whenever I try to eat, but then my stomach turns about half way into the meal. Some I've been able to finish and others no where close. We have an amazing group of friends from our Taekwondo school that have been bringing dinners everyday. They all look, smell and taste amazing (at least to start). I just wish I could finish a meal. My family has certainly been eating like royalty and loving everything! So, I've decided to spread my pain meds out even further and see if I can tolerate more time in between. And thus enjoy eating a little more and savor some of our left overs! We'll see how it goes.

Pictures were taken one day after the surgery.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Surgery...three months and 2 weeks in the making! Finally. I was thankful to be scheduled for 8:30am. The morning was a blur with little waiting around time. Once I arrived at the office I was called back within 2 minutes and they immediately got to work...verifying information, changing into my awesome hospital gown, putting on compression socks, getting my IV started etc etc.

The resident initialed my left knee and the surgeon verified it to ensure they were operating on the correct leg. I was relieved to see him do that and for good reason! Earlier in the week there had been a slight mix-up when talking to the scheduler lady. She was giving me the run down on preparing for surgery and reminded me to scrub under my fingernails really well on the hand that was to be operated on. Whoa! Time out! No hand involved. Turns out she had accidentally flipped computer screens and was looking at someone elses info while she was explaining that section to me. She was very apologetic and we got it straightened out before hanging up. It was still a relief to see the resident initial my leg and have some assurance that I wouldn't wake up with a cast on my hand and a still bum ACL.

The anesthesiologist gave me a shot of feel good stuff as he wheeled me away from my hubby. My hubby said I had a dopey smile on my face. I recall being wheeled into the operating room and a group of people saying "hi" to me, but that's it. Next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room with other nurses talking to me. I had a huge knee brace on with an ace bandage wrap under it from my ankle to mid-quad. My hubby was called back to the recovery room at about 1pm and we were home at 2:20pm. They don't waste time kicking you out the door. It didn't really make much different to me. Once I was home my hubby helped me to the couch and I passed out. I remember eating dinner and continually icing with my new cooler pump, but not much else. Maybe that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


So finally I'm here. Day before surgery. I'm scheduled for 8:30am and have to be there at 7:15am. I was really looking forward to today, but I'm kind of in a rut and my nerves are on edge. I know everything will be fine. This surgery has to happen for me to continue doing athletics and my job the way I want to. But now that 3 months have passed since the injury and I've been able to return to a fair amount of activity, tomorrow feels bittersweet. I'm dreading being completely immobile again and having to use my crutches. I'll do jumping jacks and work on my form tonight at TKD class and tomorrow I won't be able to lift my leg. Seems weird and I'm kind of grumpy about it. But in the end I signed up for this and elected to have surgery. I guess I need to go back and read my blog entry on perspective. Off to continue my nesting and doing laundry.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wonder Twin Help

Going over my check list for the hospital I was told to bring my crutches and my knee brace (just in case) on the day of my surgery. I found my crutches in the garage next to my snowboard. Fitting eh? The image of the two sitting there together made me laugh...the snowboard that started it all and my pain in the ass crutches that I will rely so heavily on in the month to come. Had to take a picture and share!
A friend of mine from TKD had ACL surgery last Wednesday and has been a great source of information! Thanks Mrs. I!! Keeping tabs on your pain levels and daily challenges have helped me. You seem to be holding up like a trooper and giving me hope for a similar week following surgery! You've also put reality into the situation which I appreciate. I am much more at ease when I know what to expect. I'm now more aware than ever that I need to absolutely stay on top of my pain meds, the first car ride the following day will suck and I will hate STIM even more than I already do. Even through all that the pain won't last forever and it does start to get a little better as the days pass. PT will be difficult, but hopefully I'll be in a different mindset because I will no longer be working toward surgery....but toward long term recovery and a normal functioning knee. Yeah!
Count down is on and I'm done with Coumadin...5 days to go...bring it on!