Thursday, March 28, 2013

One week update (ACL repair surgery healing/rehab)

So one week ago today, I got ACL reconstruction surgery. I was so worried and scared that morning when I woke up, but I knew I would be better off doing this now rather than putting it off any further.

The day of surgery, I went home and rested all day. People told me I might be nauseous or totally out of it all due after anesthesia but I was very fortunate; I felt fine those first two days.

 (Photos from my first couple days post op with my two best friends: pink crutches and my iPad)

In my surgery, they gave me a nerve block in the leg I was getting surgery on via an enormous needle into my femoral artery. Fortunately, they gave me my first dose of general anesthesia prior to that shot so I have no recollection of it. Those first two days post-op, your leg might still be numb if you get a nerve block. It's nothing to be concerned about. It's a weird feeling but it was blocking the lion's share of the pain, so combined with my pain killers, I felt fine... A little loopy, but fine.

Once that nerve block started to wear off, that's when I really started to get serious about taking the medicine on time. If I forgot to take my pain meds every 3-4 hours, I would get intense pain from my hamstring to my calf.

I am a very active person normally so sitting still for two days was absolutely horrible. My boyfriend got me out of the house as often as he could for happy hour (no booze though since I'm on painkillers), to the beach, over to his house to play with his dog, etc. which helped keep me sane... There's only so much daytime TV and Netflix one person can watch before they start losing their mind.

(I chose to not just sit around at home during my recovery... I took trips to the beach when it was nice out, had a game night with my friends (that's Cards Against Humanity, my favorite game) and to a local bar for pool!)

By the Saturday after surgery (I had surgery on Thursday so like 2 days later), I was able to hobble around a little bit on the leg. I also started some exercises, which at that time was only to try to straight my leg flat and moving my foot in circle a few times every hour to prevent blog clots. Walking was (and is) a struggle but it was easier than relying on crutches. The decision to walk or use crutches should be made with your doctor. I am young and very active so it was easy for me to get back to being physical but this might not be the case for everyone.

I had a doctors appointment on Monday to get my bandaids off and to get stitches taken out. The doctor said my knee was looking good and told me to get back to see my physical therapist. I was amazed when I saw my knee. I had anthroscopic surgery so they didn't need to split my knee open to perform surgery; instead they used small instruments, inserted through small holes in my knee. I will have absolutely minimal scarring, which is great.

(Left: photo four days post op (yup, THAT's it!) , right: standing four days post-op)

I had an appointment with my physical therapist on Wednesday that week. She mostly wanted to check in with me about how surgery went and where we would go from there for my post surgery rehab. I felt like I was basically starting from square one since I had made such huge strides in PT before my surgery. We started with my new exercises: 

1. 3 versions of leg lifts:

-10 lifts while lying on my back (she recommended I have someone there with me, "spotting" me while I do them).
-10 lifts while on my elbows
-10 lifts while on hands

2. Heel slides (starting to get my knee to bend again!) I only bend until I get uncomfortable pressure, not pain.

3. Hamstring and calf stretches (these will help to get my leg straighten again).

I'm hoping in the next two weeks to be back in the gym doing the stationary bike. That was the BEST thing I did in my pre-surgery rehab for getting my full range of motion back. I will be monitoring my process myself and with the help of my physical therapists and writing about it here!

If you have any questions about my experience or want any advice about what I've gone through thus far, feel free to comment!


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