The following are a series of blog posts I wrote during my recovery from knee surgery (ACL/Meniscus) during the fall of 2003.
September 14, 2003
Update on my condition: The surgery went well. The doctor said my knee was in much worse shape than he had thought it would be, but that it wasn’t anything they weren’t able to deal with.
Apparently my doctor is very good because all the PTs and RNs were gushing about what a meticulous surgeon he is and what a great job he does. When the lady was wheeling me out of the hospital and asked who my doctor was and I told her she let out an audible and rather loud gasp. Apparently it was a good gasp too. The PT told me that he’s one of the few surgeons at the hospital that takes the time to sew up patients from the inside of the cut, making sure to leave as little a scar as possible. He actually draws lines in the skin and cuts across the lines and then painstakingly sews it back together, making sure all the lines come together perfectly, while sewing it up from inside. I guess a lot of surgeons just sort of staple you back up or something. Anyway, I just found him through a search of Orthopedic surgeons on Web MD but I guess I chose well.
After the surgery I had a high fever so they kept me in the hospital for a few days. They had my leg in this CPM machine that keeps the knee joint in constant motion so that the ligaments and muscles don’t tighten up too much. I have one at home too which I use for about 6 hours during the day and then again while I’m sleeping at night.
As for pain, aside from feeling some pretty bad discomfort the first night I haven’t really felt much at all. Just some pangs around where the incisions were, but not much other than that. I kinda thought it would hurt way more. I guess I can look forward to the Physical Therapy for the pain to really start up. 😉
I meet with the Doctor on Monday and then we’ll discuss my Physical Therapy regimen. A few answers to frequently asked questions:
1) So, can you walk now? No, I will be on crutches for a while and then walking with a cane for a while after that. Ultimately I won’t be fully healed for about 6 months when the blood vessels have grown into the newly transplanted ligaments.
2) Did you do both knees? No, just the left one. It’s not advisable to do both knees at once because then you have no supporting knee to use when you’re going around on your crutches or working on physical therapy.
3) How are you getting to work? Well, I’m taking 2 weeks off, so right now I’m not getting to work at all. Once I go back to work I will just drive there. I can still drive, even if I can’t walk. And even if I couldn’t drive I could just take the bus.
4) When are you going to be doing wushu again? Beats me. Probably not until I’m able to walk again, and even then I’m not sure I will even do wushu in the future. It’s not something I’m rushing to decide right now.
5) Do you have anyone there to take care of you? My dad was here for a few days while I was in the hospital. He went back home today and I don’t actually need anyone here to take care of me. I did a lot of preparation work before the surgery so I have enough food, supplies and things to keep me occupied for a while.
Anyway, that’s about it. Let me know if you have any other questions. (But please refrain from giving me medical advice. I have enough un-asked-for medical advice to last me a lifetime — most of it directly contradicting the rest of it.)
September 16, 2003
Let’s see .. yesterday was good. I’m on a cane now and off crutches. I’m just 1 day behind Joe Scarcella’s record of 3 days on crutches. Dang it … I always get one place lower than that guy. LOL
Today was a good day. I went to see the doctor and so I’ll fill you in on the progress.
First of all, since I’m caning it it’s much easier to get around. I can stand with equal pressure on both legs. I can walk without the cane, yes, but I prefer to have it there for stability. I’m not THAT brave (if, in fact, i’m brave at all). And of course I still wear the huge, mega, stabalizing knee/leg brace so it’s not like I’m sprinting down the straight-away.
Anyway, I went to see the doctor. He took off all the bandaging around the knee area and said that things looked good. He took the tape off the stiching area and I was actually pretty impressed. He did, in fact, line up my skin pretty well. I sure can’t sew that well. He has a future in cosplay. There were three incisions. Two teenie ones and one longer one. he said the stiches will come out next week.
He said he was happy with my range of motion so far (around 90 degrees right now, give or take). He said it was okay to take showers without a big plastic bag around my leg now, so that’s nice. All that prep work to clean myself was starting to get annoying.
At my mom’s request I asked him if I was a candidate for Deep Vein Thombosis (DVT), which is where a blod clot gets stuck in the veins and works it’s way to the heart, suddenly killing healthy, young men like myself (well … healthy men like myself … (well … men like myself (and we’ll stop right there))) She’s my mom so she worries.
I asked him and he said no. That for my procedure it wasn’t really an issue and since I had good mobility already it wouldn’t be a problem, but that if I was really worried about it I could just take and asprin a day for a week and that should help with any blood clots. Since I’ve been taking at least 2 asprin a day for my fever, I figured I was in the clear. Seems the Thrombosis is more for people who have invasive surgery and then go in a cast, since the immobility helps blood clots to form and then they can become an issue. No cast = more mobility = less blood clots = almost no issue = happy mom.
After that he showed me the arthroscopic photographs from the procedure. Dang my meniscus was just dangling out there. No wonder it hurt so much. The ACL wasn’t even close to being connected either. And apparently the thing he wasn’t expecting was a lot of wear on the cartiledge of the bone. It seems that the past 2 years of not having an ACL on the left knee caused excess friction and wear on the meniscus and bone and some of the cartiledge wore away. He put some small holes in the bone to stimulate some blood flow in the bone and hopefully get some blood vessels to help build new cartiledge. (As you have probably guessed by now, I have no idea how to spell that word).
He left me with all the bandages off so I just have the stiches sitting there in the open air basking in their unholy glory. When I got home I put some bandages on over them to keep the extra string (or whatever they use) a bit more secure. Otherwise it would just be flapping around a bit.
He signed me up for PT so I start that on Wednesday. Twice this week, then three time each week for a little while. Prognosis is good so far. I’ll update as more things develop.
September 29, 2003
Thought I would post an update on the condition of my knee.
It would seem that I’m a fast healer. I’m walking around with no brace or cane or anything. I have been for about a week now. The Physical Therapist is really happy with my progress. I guess doing all those exercises everyday really pays off. My word of advice to anyone planning on tearing their ACL: be sure to do ALL your physical therapy. It really makes a difference.
So, on Monday I had my stitches taken out. If you looked at my knee now you’d think I just had a bad scrape or something. It hardly looks like I had reconstructive surgery on my knee 2 1/2 weeks ago.
My mobility is good too. I almost have full range of motion. Well, not quite almost. But my leg bends almost to the point where my foot touches my butt, and it straightens only one degree or so differently than my right leg. So, my extention is almost all the way there, and my flex is getting closer each day. My goal is to get foot to butt by the end of the week.
I’m also hoping to be able to walk with no limp at all pretty soon. I’m almost there right now, actually. I limp just a little bit, but it’s getting better so I figure another week or two and I’ll be limp-free. Then I can start going on walks and trying to get in slightly better shape. Not working out for 3 months really sucks.