Archives for category: ACL Recovery

No, I haven’t become addicted to the Oxycodone that was provided post-surgery. Quite the opposite. I got off it as soon as I could but, man, the side effects. After talking with a nurse confirming the cause of some troubling abdominal discomfort Thursday morning, my mother spent the next five hours researching, making lists, shopping and looking up recipes on high fiber foods.

And y’all wonder why it took me 2.5 months to research my orthopedic doctor and ligament choice.

She fully takes the blame for that personality quirk. I never knew how bad it was until I witnessed it Thursday. Now, she can’t keep stop shoveling quinoa, hummus, vegetables and fruit down my throat. But I’m not complaining. It’s a tasty road to recovery (her chocolate chip cookies help too, now that I finally feel like eating them).

She’s been a saint the past week, dealing with my up-and-down moods and running to the store daily for stuff we need. I could not do this recovery without her. Thanks Mom!

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the fantastic support from friends, the tenant and Brian, all of whom have come over to visit, prep food, chat to take my mind off my discomfort and help with cleaning a flooded basement the day after surgery (Major shoutout to the tenant Casey, and Kevin and Maria for that one. And the plumber who showed up at 11:30 p.m.).

So it’s a week post-op. With the nerve block, opiods, Ibuprofen and Tylenol, pain management has not been a problem, even as I transitioned from narcotics to over-the-counter drugs. Leg’s been kept elevated, iced nearly around the clock and while I can put full weight on it (with my brace on), I’m keeping things pretty light and easy and stick close to the couch.

The five-day post-op visit with the surgeon, Dr. Green, was a success. He was excited to see I had full extension of the leg, minimal swelling and could make a muscle with my thigh and do leg lifts.

“You met all my initial goals, this is excellent,” he said. “My job is done. It’s up to you now. Get into physical therapy and start getting to work.”

I started that process today with Ryan, my physical therapist, who was amazed I had full extension of my knee one-week post op (“that’s fantastic,” he said, with a slight shake of his head, in disbelief) and then got to work with gentle exercises, most of which I’d been doing for two months before my operation to build the muscle and muscle memory (leg lifts, ankle circles, tightening of the quad, hamstring and glutes, among others). These are nothing new to me, just… now they’re a bit harder. Especially when trying to bend the knee.

I can get a 30-degree bend in the knee right now.

I remember how this went last time 17 years ago.

I have about 100 degrees to go.

* deep breath *

Here we go.

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It’s 3 a.m. the day after my ACL surgery on my left knee. So, you know, a perfect time to write a blog post. I didn’t wake up to pain, just a little stiffness (the leg propped up on pillows and forced straight by a brace and thick layers of gauze will do that to a person who likes to sleep on her side). I expect pain to kick in around 9 a.m. as the femoral nerve block wears off but we’ll stay ahead of it with 12-hour oxycodone pills at 7 a.m. I also am losing my voice, but apparently that’s a side effect of when they put something down my throat to keep me breathing during surgery.

Since I tore it in October, I spent 2.5 months exploring my options to replace the ligament and the right doctor to do it. Four Seattle doctor interviews later, plus a chat with my step-uncle, an ortho surgeon in Minnesota, I finally settled on Dr. John Green at University of Washington Sports Medicine Center. Everyone else gave me different options for the ligament replacement, none of which I was crazy about, even after discovering the publication “The American Journal of Sports Medicine” and reading study after study of the various options (hamstring = possible weakness the rest of my life; patella tendon = knee sensitivity the rest of my life and I have experience with that in my right knee from the last time I did this; cadaver = easier recovery but not as strong as using my own tissue, although the debate is still out on that one. If I’d gone that route, I’d gotten a tattoo on my knee that said, “This is Bob’s old knee.” Or, “RIP Bob” or, “Bob now lives here.”)

Dr. Green said using the quadricep would be the way to go for me. It’s a longer recovery time with the harvest site in the quad, but it will grow back to be just as strong.

I love my quads more than anything in the world of my body, honestly. They power me up the hills, crank during cycling and propel me forward while running. And I’ve got PLENTY of them, so USE them!

The reality of this whole deal started to hit last Friday, my last day of work for three weeks. Then Mom came into town on Tuesday. Then UW called on Thursday to give me my check-in time for Friday morning. I was pretty anxious and apprehensive about it all by then and of course questioned, why why why??? do i have to do this?

But I knew. And I woke up on Friday morning with a different attitude – it was GO TIME.

We had to take the 4:50 a.m. ferry and got to UW very very early, so I was in pre-op very very early. Everyone came into visit (nurses, IV nurses, anesthesiologists, the P.A. Nicole and then Dr. Green). Of all things, I was anticipating the IV line insert because the idea of it just plain freaks me out. And the needle prick that comes with it.

Brian made a good point though – I brushed off some bee stings back in September, and these needle pricks would be much less severe. It WAS less severe and she did a great job (I entertained the nurses with my Hugh Grant obsession, which is my go-to aimless chatter topic I use when getting pricked – it goes back to last ACL surgery and IV insert in 1996 and I was a fan of the mop-topped Brit at the time. Still am. I like his his dry sense of humor).

When it was done, I made the mistake of looking at it and then asked them to cover it up with tape, then promptly fainted. I thought I was going sleep for the surgery and thought, “Yes! Give in to the sleep and I’ll wake up in recovery!”

No.

Next thing I heard was something about being “green”, Mom calling my name and the P.A. saying, “ah, let her relax, she’s pretty tense right now.” I woke up sweating and asking what happened. Everyone just chuckled and said I passed out, and that it’s pretty common, especially when you haven’t had anything to eat for 12 hours. And I hadn’t been given in any sedatives yet.

But, two hours later, they started them and I gave in and last thing I remember was being wheeled into the OR, where I promptly started calling out all the people’s names and who they were in the OR, since I had met 99% of them in pre-op. Anna, Nancy, Colin Kennedy (what a name and a handsome fellow!) the equipment tech and then the first anesthesiologist – I didn’t know his name and someone said his name is Dr. something, or Ryan. So I called out, “OK I will call you Ryan. I like that name.” Next thing I know, Ryan is putting a gas mask on my face and told me to start counting. BAM. OUT.

What seemed like moment later, I was waking up a bit foggy, my left knee feeling pretty heavy and a nurse asking me to eat ice chips. Then I just sort looked around and felt like I had this goofy smile on my face and gave everyone the “rock on” hand signal when they asked me a question. The Regional Anesthesiology Team came in to give me my nerve block in my leg, which I anticipated to be painful, since I was envisioning a large needle going deep into my leg. So I closed my eyes, tried not to listen to Benjamin and his partner discuss exactly what they were doing step by step and again, a little prick and they were done. Sweet!!!

After that, the recovery nurse said, “OK, you’re done and ready to go home!” Mom went to get my prescriptions filled, only to find out that my insurance didn’t cover 12 hour Oxy. So the nurse said to mom, you know you can just buy it. I proclaimed, “Put it on the credit card!” But we had to wait for Dr. Green to come out and rewrite the scrip since it had been deleted after mom visited the pharm. So, it was an hour and a half of waiting for Green to finish up a surgery, but that was OK with me. I was pretty comfortable.

Around 4 p.m., we loaded me into a wheelchair, got me in the car (Lucille Bertha “The Battlewagon” Royale was awesome and comfy) and Mom got us to the ferry easily during the absolute worst time of the week in Seattle – commuter traffic. But she did a great job. In the meantime, Brian got ice and soup for me and dinner for mom after work and was at the house (with pretty flowers for my living room too!) when we got there at 6:30. He helped me up the stairs (he wanted to carry me in but I honestly just needed him to catch me if I fell), stayed for about 45 min, got the day’s stories and then went home to let me and mom go to bed (we’d been up awake since 2 a.m.).

So, aside from fainting, it was a pretty uneventful day. Now, as Dr. Green told Mom, I have a lot of work to do for the next six months. Bring it on!

Buuuuutttt, let’s just get through these first few days of pain that I’m sure will on-set today. More like uncomfortable pain, but hopefully nothing as unbearable like the last time I did this. Post-op is Tuesday and with the OK from Green, PT starts Friday. That’s when the REAL work will start.

And I am just absolutely blown away by all the kind words and wishes and texts and phone calls from my friends throughout the country. It’s been awesome to receive those, on top of Brian being so sweet and helpful to Mom, who, I think is more worn out from this than I am. But she’s doing great and I’m extremely happy she’s here.

OH and screw Whole30 right now. I want some Dave’s Killer Bread smeared with my favorite peanut butter and my favorite relaxation tea and maybe even some ice cream…

Oh and the experience at University of Washington? Could NOT have been more fantastic. Totally stoked about going with them and HIGHLY recommend there. I’ll probably go back later this year to have them help me fix my sub-scapla (or at least figure out WHY and WHERE exactly and WHAT is going on).