Pity Parties & Impressive Improvement [2 Weeks Post-Op]

As I start to type this, it's 12:30p - exactly two weeks ago I was checking into Beaumont Hospital with what felt like a perfectly good set of legs. Thanks to an MRI after hearing my knee *pop* in flag football, I knew that I really was in for a treat, as I headed for the pre-op to have my ACL reconstructed from my own patellar tendon.

In two weeks I've overcome some major milestones, from ditching the crutches and immobilizer, gaining some great range of motion, and slowly regaining muscle back in the quad of my surgical leg. Not to mention, getting out of the house to spectate some of my favorite sports teams!

This is not to say that it's been increasing improvement each day, or, without pain. As you may know, within 1 week of surgery, the goal was to get to a 90 degree bend. I was delighted to be able to reach that goal (even though in PT I went through the worst pain I've felt in my life...). Between that 90 degree PT visit and Sunday's home PT (6 days later) I figured I'd gain 5-10 degrees on any given day, and be flying towards full range of motion. Instead, I found myself getting to what looked to still be about 90 degrees and really beating myself up to get just a little more bend.

Welcome to my (then) pity party with RSVP of yours truly. Instead of being happy with at least remaining around 90, I was disappointed. I was coming up on the 2 week mark, and hardly had made progress in 6 days. Sure, I was walking a little more confidently, but I still had (and have) trust issues with my knee. What did I have to show for the previous week? I had even religiously done my PT work at home on Saturday and Sunday, and felt that it had hardly made a difference.

Reality check: At the time of my 1-person pity party, I was still under 2 weeks from major knee surgery. Recovery takes time. I had to remind myself (and be reminded) that I can't get down on myself when I still have 11/12ths of the road to recovery to go!!

This takes me to PT on Monday, 4/27. I worked with Michelle again and the first thing she asked me to do was try to flex my surgical quad. I did, and she lit up and said, "There you go! Much better [than Friday]!!" and with that, my mood started to turn more positive. I went on to do a few more exercises....

After a few warm-up tasks, it came time for the most dreaded part- forced bending. I mentioned to her that I tried to do it at home, but wasn't getting the improvement I'd hoped for. "We'll see..." she said. She tried to keep me occupied with other conversation, and I tried to relax. The less I fight her, perhaps there'd be more bend and less pain. A few slow bends, reaching a somewhat painful point, and coming back off, we maybe bent my leg 3 times or so. Finally, she got the tool to measure how much I was bending and we pushed it one last time...

"Last Friday you were freaking out around 90 degrees and look at you now! Just shy of 120 degrees! That's some impressive improvement!"

With that news, I was ecstatic. I allowed myself to enjoy the surprise of the new range of motion, and finished my work-out with determination. And while I'm not sure what I'm doing at home that might be helping increase the bend, this new achievement supported my plan to keep up with PT at home as if I had a trainer looking over me!

So here I am, 2 weeks post-op and pain and setbacks aside, I feel confident I'm on my way to that full recovery I keep hearing about... ;)

Pics & Feeling of Note [2 Weeks Post Op]

In addition to how the knee looks, there is still tightness from swelling within the joint, which is primarily responsible for my limited range of motion. Majority of the swelling seems to have gathered above the knee and to the upper sides of the knee (both on the front of the leg). I try to massage these areas to help move the fluid upward towards my lymph node.
Also, nerves were cut when the incision was made, so directly to the outside of the incision I have a numb spot that I'm told will regain feeling in the next 6-12 months as the nerves grow back.
Finally, every time I go from bent to completely straight in my surgical leg, there is a small pop (think of two tendons rubbing together, not even a 'crack' feeling) in the area of the bruising on the back of my leg. I am told this is again due to swelling, and these two tendons are just being pushed onto each other. I will probably continue to ask about it until the feeling goes away. It isn't painful, but a little uncomfortable.

Pics - 2 weeks post-op

Swelling found mostly to the upper sides and top of the knee;

Quad muscle atrophy in the L leg w/ noticeable difference b/t legs even when relaxed

Bruising on the inside of the calf much less noticeable; Bruising on the back of the knee fading significantly


I'm Only Cheating Myself [9-10 Days Post-Op]

When I chose to have surgery, I knew my 'comeback' would be almost solely dependant on my efforts with physical therapy. I remember telling people that "all I can do once I have surgery is be a perfect little princess in rehab and do everything to a T so that I can return to sports nice and strong." This (along with walking down stairs, bending to 90 degrees and balancing on my surgical leg...) is easier said than done.

At PT today I worked with a different trainer, Michelle, who I had seen before but never met. Turns out I really liked her (mostly because she did the forced bend more slowly and evenly!). In addition to some 'usual' exercises there, I was asked to do handful of the exercises I'd been tasked to do at home. But in PT there was the fact that I was under the watchful eye of a trainer, and in that case I will always be more determined to really push myself.

What I noticed is that yes, I do exercises at home, but I don't do them religiously, and it was showing. One of the biggest comebacks in rehab is getting your quads (thigh muscles) to fire again, and basically return stabilization to the knee by using those muscles. One exercise to do this is to sit with your legs out in front of you and simply flex your quad muscle (which, in turn, forces your leg straight and knee towards the ground). Sounds easy, (and, IS easy in my non-surgical leg) but it's a real struggle on my surgical leg.
Another exercise is laying on your stomach, propping your surgical leg up on the toes (instead of keeping toes pointed) and again, flexing the quad so the leg straightens (instead of at rest, where the leg bends at the knee and rests on the floor). The pictures of the back of my legs, below, shows this.

These exercises are simple in concept, but when Michelle asked me if I was doing them at home, I knew the answer was, "Well, kind of" instead of the "Yes! 3 times a day!" and it reminded me that I really need to keep up my end of the bargain at home so PTherapy doesn't turn into PTorture every other day.

That said, it doesn't mean there hasn't been improvement. My rotations on the stationary bike were a *little* easier today, walking is becoming easier, I can stand longer without my knee feeling like it's going to explode... And exercises such as straight-leg raises while sitting or balancing on my surgical leg are showing definite improvement.

I work with Michelle again on Monday, and I am looking forward to it. Over the weekend I plan to make time for my exercises and push myself as if someone were standing over me, because I want to be able to answer her with a confident "Yes!" if I'm asked again if I'm doing my part at home.
More photos:
8 Days Post-Op
Featured as of my 1-week follow-up: New tape on the incision!
9 Days Post-Op


4 Minutes Well Spent [Informational Animation of the Surgery]

I was playing around on YouTube today and found this great animation of the surgery I had done. CLICK HERE to view the video. It's quite informative, and also shows why I have a small scab ~5 inches above my knee.

The only difference is that I did not use the 'continuous passive motion machine'. I'm on my own for regaining range of motion!



Screws and Glowing Reviews [8 Days Post-Op; First Follow-up Visit]

With a promise from Drew that he'd be kinder to me in PT today than Monday, I breathed a little easier as I limped into the building wearing only the immobilizer. We started out on a stationary bike, again using my right leg to control the rotation of the pedals, and slowly working my way to full revolutions (causing my leg to bend to an uncomfortable but somewhat tolerable angle).

With the exception of a little forced straightening (which, I am pretty much there on my own, so it's not nearly as painful as bending), we stuck to some classic exercises to work on my range of motion. These exercises can be found in the 4/22 entry on my ACL Calendar.

Immediately following PT, I went upstairs in the same building to have my 1 week follow-up visit with Dr. Jeffrey Shapiro.

First, x-rays were taken. I am not sure this was entirely necessary, since there were no bone issues found in the pre-op MRI nor seen in surgery. However, this time I was all for it, because I wanted to see the two titanium screws that were holding my reconstructed ACL (aka, patellar tendon) in place! How do you like 'em?

After x-rays were taken, I had to wait a while so I listened to the hub-bub of the doctor's office that was going on outside of my exam room. I was so glad to be on the other side of the surgery now, and while there is still a lot to experience and learn, at least this wasn't all brand new to me anymore, and I wasn't nearly as scared!

When Dr. Shapiro finally came in, he gave me eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile and the inevitable question, "How are you doing?" I was comforted that I didn't feel like 'just another patient' and I give Dr. S credit for that, which perhaps I didn't give him the first time I met him.

The physical exam was short. First, he had me straighten the leg on the table in front of me (and said, "Good!" when he saw I could straighten it to zero degrees). Once straight, he placed his hands at the top and bottom of my kneecap which caused a jerk reaction: my body went completely stiff and I grabbed his closest arm (thanks a LOT PT!!). We actually both had a laugh at that, as I apologized, relaxed and he said he was just glad I didn't hit him! hehe...

With his hands at the top and bottom of my knee, he carefully manipulated the kneecap, squeezed a little here and there, and finally, tested for looseness. For you dedicated readers, you might remember how painful my initial visit with Dr. S was when he did this same test for 'looseness' and originally diagnosed my torn ACL. I am happy to report that he was not only a little more gentle this time, but thanks to a successful surgery, there was hardly any pain.

Finally, he had me bend it to 90 degrees (which, since I had recently iced after finishing PT was a little more difficult than I'd wanted), but I got there nonetheless. He was satisfied!

There was a quick Q&A, but basically he said that there were no other issues found within my knee during the surgery, and that if I keep on track with PT he expects nothing less than a full recovery. I didn't think he'd tell me any differently, but it was great to hear! From here I won't need to see Dr. Shapiro for another month.

And, I hope this isn't too long-winded (feel free to stop reading) but when the Dr's assistant [Krista!] came to re-tape the incision area, I learned something new. After surgery my incision had been stitched up from the inside using bioabsorbable stitches. Up until today there had been just one piece of vertical tape, which had a white string coming off of it. I thought this was just a piece of the tape, but this was the end of the stitching! So once untaped, Krista gave this string a gentle pull and cut it as close to the skin as possible. It was an odd sensation, but maybe moreso because I then knew that it ran inside of my knee and was holding the incision together!! In this pic you can kind of see the loose 'string' coming off the bottom of the one piece of tape that doesn't align w/ the rest:

I was then re-taped, and sent on my way. Before going, I asked if I could get a copy of the arthroscopic images taken during the surgery. They're in black and white, plus I have no clue what I'm looking at, but it's so great to have more fun images to share!

8 Days down... The better part of 6 months to go!


A Monumental Week [7 Days Post-Op]

Tomorrow is my 4th Physical Therapy and my first post-op appointment with Dr. Jeff Shapiro- I promise to get an entry up about that tomorrow... But, first things first: Here we are, 7 days post-op!!

If you would have told me this week would go by so quickly, I wouldn't have believed you. But trials and tribulations aside, there have been some definite improvements that have me keeping a positive mind in my eventual recovery!
  • I can bend beyond 90 degrees and straighten to zero degrees
  • I can bear all of my body weight on my surgical leg (veeery carefully)
  • I can walk (albeit slowly and quite hobble-ish) without aid of crutches or a brace
  • I can get up and down stairs without assistance
  • I can drive
  • I can bathe (woo hoo!)

Of course, there are many milestones including:

  • Going up and down stairs w/o having to take them one at a time
  • Walking w/o a limp
  • Regain balance (on both and) in my surgical leg
  • Regaining entire range of motion
  • Running
  • Returning to sports (this is KEY for my sanity!!)
  • Getting back to 'normal' !

I understand this will take 6-12 months, and I'm not planning on being a hero and getting out there too early. However, I hope I can continue with physical torture... I mean therapy (!) with vigor until I'm where I am capable of being, both physically and mentally! Of course I wouldn't be able to do it without a strong network of support, so again, thank you to everyone for all your help and kindness.

And because everyone likes photos (or, is it starting to gross you out?!)... some Day 7 post-op pics, for reference:
Increased yellowing and bruising, primarily on the inside of the knee and a little down the shin.
Bruising has also come about on the back of the knee:
I don't seem to have any trouble straightening to Zero degrees, and there has been no change in the incision area, as I have not removed the tape nor gotten it wet. Bending the knee continues to be a challenge, and I can get it to about 100 degrees but not without pain.

Until tomorrow...


Bruising, Driving, Pain and Ditching the Crutches [6 Days Post Surgery]

I have heard of people getting bruising all the way down their shin and around their knee (seems normal since there was a saw, a drill and 2 screws in the mix of the procedure) but I hadn't seen too much of that on myself until recently.

Since pictures are worth 1000 words, here are some shots which show a little of the bruising, as well as my improvement in getting my knee to bend at home. [Remember, the Day 6 goal was 90 degrees per my Physical Therapist, Drew...] The swelling and tightness within the knee was what was keeping me from bending any further:

4 Days Post-Op:

5 Days Post Op:

6 Days Post-Op:

Now, granted, the pic above of 90 degrees was taken after PT, but to my credit, I did try at home that morning, and got to ~85 degrees and was delighted! As you can see here, on my way to PT I was able to get myself into the car and also crack a smile. Clearly I did not know what was waiting for me behind PT #3...

I arrived in my immobilizer and on crutches, and made my way so I could unwrap everything as I sat on one of the padded PT tables.

First, sitting upright with legs extended in front of me, I did 45 reps of using a belt around my surgical foot to pull the heel towards my butt, causing my leg to bend, then using my leg to push back out to straight. This is an easy way to 'warm up' the joint, as shown here during my at-home PT:Next, it was extend and bend time. I was lying on my back with legs extended as Drew massaged the lower thigh and knee-cap area. It was a cross between being painful and a relief. This manipulation lasted about 30 seconds, before he stood up (I was laying around his waist level) and he then leaned into my knee, forcing my leg to straighten as much as possible. In my opinion, I thought he was trying to bend my knee backwards, and this surprise pain caused me to flop around a bit. But it was nothing compared to PT#2's forced bend. I was then asked to flip over on my stomach, and got further massage on the back of my knee. In my few visits I knew this to be the prelude to a very painful forced bend, so already I was getting anxious. He did distract me though, by massaging the bruised area on the back of my knee (pictured below) which hurt a bit, but not terribly. Then, the moment I'd been dreading.

I am not sure where he places his hands, as I get into a foggy mentality at that point. But needless to say, he pushes my knee to bend beyond comfortable (or even uncomfortable) limits, into the screaming, gasping, never-felt-pain-like-this-before range. This is not meant to scare anyone, but I would not have wanted to watch this being done to myself or anyone else. Even though I was in an open PT area with other recovering people around me, I had no ability to limit the noises and cries coming out of my mouth. I actually cried/yelled, "STOP-STOP-STOP-STOP-STOP!!!" as he continued to bend my knee. Eventually, he did stop (this forced motion probably took all of 15-20 seconds, but felt like an eternity). My only saving grace was that instead of doing this 3 times, as he had done on Friday, he only did it once.

Drew told me he bent it to 95-100 degrees. I'm all for working towards a successful recovery, but be HONEST with me, man! If you're expecting more than 90, don't tell me 90! 5-10 degrees may not SEEM like a big difference, but trust me, I could feel every little degree (and the people around me could HEAR it!). There was an older man on the next table over who tried to make me feel better saying he's been through the same thing, but unless I heard his cries of pain, words didn't offer much consolation at that point. What I needed were Kleenex and more Vicodin....

PT carried on in challenging fashion, as I was forced to walk the ~80ft to a bike in the corner w/out brace or crutches, and it was all about being able to put full weight on the surgical leg, which I didn't think I could do w/out it giving out from under me. I had to trust Drew. I had to trust the guy who just put me in the most pain of this whole experience. Talk about a wild inner monologue.

I made it to the bike, where I used the force of my right leg to work on range of motion (ROM) for my surgical leg. Slowly I worked my leg forward and backward around the 'U' made by the lower portion of the pedal revolution, until I could finally make a full revolution with just a little pain.

After that it was more walking, some balancing, some marching in place and finally, icing my knee at the end. I was exhausted and in pain, but at least it was all over.

I went to leave, immobilizer on my leg and crutches under my armpits. As I said goodbye to Drew he looked at me with wild eyes and said, "What are you doing?!" and he motioned to an assistant, "Take those crutches away from her! No more crutches!" I became protective of my supportive crutches and responded, "OK, OK! I won't use them! But I'll carry them myself!" and hobbled my way to my car, where my crutches still sit.... So it's official, I've ditched the crutches!

There are no 'goals' for Wednesday PT, and Drew did say he promised not to beat up on me too badly every time, but perhaps every other time. I don't know what that means, but I did admit to him that if it is necessary for recovery, he can do whatever he wants (what was I THINKING?!). Maybe next time I'll bring a flask.... !

For further comparison to previous days, here are some shots from Day 6 Post-Op:


Getting Out and Many Thanks!! [4-5 days Post Surgery]

Saturday Afternoon (4th day post-op):

Previously I'd only left the house for PT, and those trips were a challenge in their own right, getting into and out of my helpful driver's back seats and bracing myself for each little bump in the road. However, Saturday we were able to leave the house to get some ice cream from Clark's in Berkley....

We then went to dinner (yes, AFTER ice cream!) at one of our FAVE local establishments, The Living Room/Amici's Pizza. I wasn't able to enjoy my usual Samoa Martini, thanks to the pain meds, but I was just happy getting out! Also, the owners, Jen and Maureen both made a point to talk to me and wish me a speedy recovery, which meant a lot to me!
[THANK YOU to Eric and his mom, Sandy, who've helped immensely in my post-surgical days!]

While I'm thanking, a shout out to my Mom, Dad, and Janice for also making a trip (or two!) to town to stay with me and help me through the days surrounding the surgery. Now that I find myself home alone more often than not, I realize just how very helpful everyone was, as well how much I've enjoyed everyone's company!! :)
[Daddio and Mom as they switched care taking shifts on Wednesday morning... Muchas Gracias!!]

Sunday (5th Day Post-Op):

True to the usual Sunday tradition, it was a lazy day, with the exception of a little PT at home to work towards Monday's goal of a 90 degree bend in my knee. Sandy was headed back home after spending 3+ days with us, and before she went we made sure to do a 'trial run' of me getting in and out of my own car, so I'd be able to drive myself to 10am PT on Monday. It was entertaining since I'm 5'10" and drive one of the smallest cars (a little Saturn sedan), but after nearly sitting in my passenger seat to get my straight/immobilized left leg into the footwell of the drivers side, I did prove that I was capable, however awkward!!

Even though this little 'trial run' seemed silly at first, it felt good to know I had the freedom of my car back!

And, finally, Sunday marked another great event- the start of the Outdoor Soccer Season of LOS HOOLIGANS F.C.- I can't wait to get back out and join you guys!!


No Pain, No Gain [3-4 Days Post Surgery]

Time to bust my butt. I already talked of my first Physical Therapy visit, which was no cake-walk, but also was understanding my mental limitations when it came to rehab. Between that Wednesday afternoon and now (Saturday afternoon) I have learned even more about my abilities (physical and mental) as well as had some mini-accomplishments, including getting outside (today is GORGEOUS!) and taking my first shower! (I am not sure who is more excited about that last one - me or my caretakers, Eric and Sandy! hehe)

Let me give you a quick insight into how things are going here at home. My go-to spot is the living room couch. I have not ventured upstairs to the master bedroom, so I've made this my spot 24/7. I have slept surprisingly well! Within reach I have my crutches, some snacks, puzzles, the laptop, my camera (of course!), water and meds. The coffee table has been moved so the room is open in the middle, and I use this open space to do my PT at home; as shown here:
[Laying on my belly, I am using my non-surgical leg to try to bend my surgical leg to regain range of motion]

Also nearby is the ThermoCompression Unit, which is a machine which cycles 43 degree distilled water/alcohol mixture through a cuff which velcros around my surgical leg. In addition to the cold mixture, it also pumps air into the cuff (alternating, slowly making the cuff more and more tight around my knee). This is similar to the Game Ready unit the same company provides, but I do not have to continuously add ice to it to keep it cool. Here is a pic of me while icing/compressing using the ThermoCompression Unit:
[I try to do this 20-30 minutes each hour when possible. Control unit seen on the TV tray table]
So, that's really my daily grind. Yesterday (4/17, 3 days post-surgery) was my second PT visit, and while I understand, "No Pain, No Gain" , I also would never wish this upon anyone else. (I have also admitted that I am happy girls can get away with more tears in situations like this, because the 2nd PT was quite more difficult and as tough as I thought I was, I donated my share of tears...) Here was the routine:
(A) In seated position with legs in front of me: 15 Electric Shocks via 2 electrode pads (roughly 2"x3") placed on surgical thigh to force muscles to contract for 10 seconds (then rest for 50 seconds).
(B) Lying on back, keeping surgical leg straight, lift heel off ground and lift ~2' from ground. 3 sets of 10 (I had some assistance from Drew on first set because my brain was having a hard time telling the muscles to work.
(C) Lying on stomach, Drew forced my surgical leg to bend to ~75 degrees. This was by far the most painful thing, done 3 times. I was crying and moaning the whole time, and I felt bad for anyone else who had to witness it!
(D) Without crutches, I had to walk ~80'. This was truly learning to walk again. Drew had to walk backwards in front of me, with his hands out so I could use them for balance. This was not as awful as the forced leg bend, but since walking forced me to put weight on my surgical leg and try to get muscles to fire and work, this was the second most difficult task.
(E) My walking destination was an exercise machine which puts you in a sitting position with your legs in front of you, slightly lowered. Each foot is on an independent pedal/step, and as I extended my right leg, it would force my left (surgical) leg to bend, and for 10 minute
s I did this back and forth pushing to work on range of motion in my surgical leg.
(F) Walk (with 10% help from crutches) to where I iced my leg for 10 minutes using the aforementioned 'game ready' machine.
This may be one of the few times I have to pat myself on the back for pushing through the pain and working towards the greater goal of getting my leg back to normal! *pat, pat* But I can't discredit the encouragement of Sandy (who watched the torture occur), as well as all the kind words that you all continue to give me. Thank You!
And, after that windy entry, I'll breeze through the last few points...
I TOOK A SHOWER!! hehe Thanks to a little pre-planning, including a removable shower head, this was the basic set-up that allowed me to clean up!
[To avoid falling, I had the aid of a little stool. I am allowed to get the incision area wet, but am avoiding it as best I can to keep the tape on which will help the scar heal better!]
Some pics of the wound- Here is 3 days post surgery:
And here is 4 days post surgery (today) which has shown the very first signs of any bruising, on the inside of the knee (tho it is yellow, and not black-and-blue):
And finally, I can not discount how GORGEOUS the weather is today (low 70's I've heard!), and what great encouragement that is to want to get outside! So, to continue to work on my walking, I took to the streets (ok, just our sidewalk...) and practiced!

I might be slow, but this is just the beginning of my comeback! Yippee!! ;)


Back to Basics, PT [1-2 day post-surgery]

Knee Surgery. Patellar Tendon Graft. ACL Reconstruction. Arthroscopic Surgery. Bone Saws. Drilling into my bones. Two titanium screws holding the graft in place. All of this is BEHIND me!! The fact that I have avoided some pretty normal side effects (nausea, extreme pain included) I continue to consider myself blessed to be feeling how I am right now! But let me take you back to 4pm yesterday, as I gingerly crutched myself into the Physical Therapy room where I'd done pre-hab before.

I skipped sign-in, in hopes of finding a seat where I could elevate my leg again. The worst pain has been when all that blood goes rushing to the knee area at first stand!! But it tends to subside, slightly, enough to be tolerable. But I didn't see Drew, my physical therapist, right away, so I laid out on a table until someone told me to move. Our first steps were to remove the immobilizer (which I'd only worn when in the car from the hospital, and now, on the way to PT) and then to undress the wound. There was an ace bandage from my mid-calf to mid-thigh, and under that, a layer of gauze. Around the knee was additional gauze and tape covering the incision sight. Once all of this was peeled away, it looked a lot like this:

As you can tell, I haven't taken the time to shower, as the doc's and my initials are still on my surgical leg!! But the wound was a lot 'prettier' than I expected, as I assumed there'd be more bruising, and perhaps oozing, in the area of the cut. I hear the bruising is on it's way, but otherwise I had minimal additional bleeding, and while this is good for clean-up, it may mean there's extra work for my body to do to relieve the swelling. No worries!

So, at this point I was fully exposed and thought Drew would give me a few pointers on how to be a little more mobile, give me a few things to do at home (simple, like wriggling my toes on the surgical leg), perhaps clean up my wound a little, and be on my way. In these assumptions, I was WRONG. Time to make me work!

First a baseline. I could get my leg completely straight, which is great. As far as bending, I could only get to about 35 degrees. Goal: 90 degrees by Monday (5 days after this visit). As a matter of fact, Drew said if I can't get it to 90 degrees by Monday.... HE will. Yikes.

From here it was a series of seemingly simple exercises for my leg, but it was my mind that took the real toll. I consider myself somewhat tough, but I was so scared that certain motions or movements would hurt, that limited me more than anything else. So whether it was trying to bend or straighten, or trying to use my quad muscles to move my leg, I had a VERY difficult time. And, being scared had me pretty emotional as well- I had to trust that Drew wasn't (a) asking me to do something I couldn't do and (b) if I required his support in moving or lifting my leg, I had to know he wouldn't move or twist too fast, or worse yet, drop my foot or leg unexpectedly. Of COURSE, he was 100% trustworthy, and knows what he's doing, but I felt so vulnerable, it was, again, just mentally tough for me.

This doesn't mean all the exercises were a piece of cake. We did about 5 or so, all just working on firing my quad muscles, or gaining range of motion, sometimes using gravity as an aid, when I couldn't get muscles to fire. (Some more detail available in the 4/15 PT entry of ACL calendar, found in the links to the righthand side...).

All of this reminded me... don't forget to BREATHE. I found myself not relaxing when I needed to, or holding my breath as I did something strenuous. I am lucky to have had an upbringing where I was often told to 'take a few deep breaths' and I will definitely be calling on those skills as I challenge myself in PT in the coming weeks.

Drew tells me I'll be running in 4 weeks. My orthopedic surgeon uncle said this is a very aggressive recovery, so I will follow directions, but don't plan to be a hero and try to get out there before I am good and ready. I am still assuming 6 months before I can get back to what I really love - those organized team sports!

But at home, while there are times of discomfort, I am getting so much support from Eric and my family (and his!) and it's been pretty seamless. I hope to continue in this fashion, and while there are sure to be times of difficulty, I will still manage to try and keep a light heart about it all. Thanks to my great friends and family, I have lots to keep me busy (and, fatten me up as I sit on the couch! hehe) and I am so grateful for that!

Next PT visit is tomorrow (Friday, 4/17) at 4pm. Until then, I'll work on exercises at home, and keep a positive outlook. How could I not, in this atmosphere? ....
But I can't say it enough... THANK YOU to EVERYONE for your amazing support!! xoxo


The Moment We've All Been Waiting For... [Surgery Re-cap]

Well, it's done! I am the proud owner of a reconstructed ACL, not to mention having conquered my first (and hopefully ONLY) surgery! Here is how the day of events unfolded to bring me to blogging for you on my couch w/ a fully wrapped leg!

4/14/09 - 12:15p
We were a little early for our 12:30 arrival, but prior to this we were just standing around in the kitchen, eager to go anyhow. Once E parked the car and met us in the South Entrance lobby, we headed up to the second floor. There we found the 'waiting room' for the surgical area, which was really a lobby in itself. It was here that I gave them my name, got an ID bracelet, and waited to be 'called back'. Eric and my mom had to wait there when they did come get me a few minutes later.

Once I was taken back, they took my blood pressure, my heart rate, my temperature... Then I was asked to put on 'the gown'. It's true what I'd read in another person's ACL blog - they don't let you wear your unders! (What the?!?) In addition to the gown, I was given a stunning thigh-high stocking to wear on my non-surgical leg, and hospital issued brown socks.

After I was all dressed down, I was then given the IV and told to sign my surgical knee. There were about 50 checks and balances to be sure we didn't accidentally cut into the wrong leg, but that was more comforting than annoying... Also, at this point Eric and my Mom were allowed to come keep me company until I was taken into surgery. Soon, Dr. Shapiro came in and signed my knee as well...

(nice stocking, eh? hehe) It was in between 1p and 230p that I met all kinds of people... Two nurses (Laura and Susan) had hooked up the IV and done some paperwork. Then came Tracy, the nurse that would be helping during surgery. I also met Randy, the anesthesiologist, and the nurse anesthetist, Shelly. And, of course, Dr. Shapiro. Throughout the introductions everyone was so kind and helpful, happy to answer any questions and I felt like they were really giving me their attention. I've had some poor experiences in the medical field before, and the way things went, I was confident my surgery would be fine. The procedure itself should take ~45 minutes, but they have the room blocked for 2 hours to include set-up, surgery, clean-up, and prepping for the next surgery.


After one last trip to the bathroom (dragging along my IV, my Mom teased that I reminded her of a cartoon, but was just missing having my butt exposed by the gown! hehe), I was then given some substance via IV, where Shelly told me it would just feel like I'd 'had a few drinks'. It did hit pretty quickly, but I was still aware enough to answer questions and talk to people. They then rolled me into the surgery room and I saw Randy, who would be giving me general anesthesia, as we had discussed earlier. [I was comforted by his MSU bandana!] I was told to take a few deep breaths.....

5:00p (?I think?)

All of a sudden I'd lost a few hours of my life! I was groggy and looking around; not in the surgical room anymore. I think this was a recovery room of sorts, but I was still on the bed and a few people were milling about, and another post-surgical patient was on the other side of the room The hospital staff asked me a few questions, but I don't remember what. I do recall trying to be funny in my responses, but I wish I could recall what I'd said! I drifted in and out once or twice, and recall them taking the sticky pads off my chest and ribs. Finally I became more permanently aware, and then they rolled me into a personal recovery room. After being sat in a recliner, I was given some graham crackers and apple juice, and finally, some vicodin! By now it was closer to 6:15p and between the local anesthesia that was injected in my knee at the end of the surgery, the fentanyl and vicodin, I was actually pretty comfortable. Once it was clear that I wasn't going to be sick from the drugs with no food in my stomach, I was taken to the car in a wheelchair, and the three of us headed back home to Thomas Ave.

So... There you have it! I was a little groggy, but for the most part felt aware. I was able to answer some text messages and carry on conversations. For some reason I thought I'd be so drugged up that everything I'd say would be nonsensical, but that was not the case. And, once the script for vicodin was filled, I was able to remain pretty comfortable as the other drugs wore off.

I ended up staying on the couch all night (no point in trying to make it up a flight of stairs to bed!) and was able to sleep well enough. I even had some great dreams about my knee healing, recovery, and being back out on the soccer field! All of this has to be a good sign, right?

So, now it is 1:00p, the day after the surgery, and while there is more pain now than there was at all yesterday, it's mostly manageable. Getting up to the bathroom is the hard part, but can be done. I have a PT visit at 4pm today, and believe all we'll do is undress my knee and take a look at where I am to start.

Again, THANK YOU everyone. I feel so loved and have gotten so much support, I truly am blessed!!


Today's the Day! [Surgery Day]

Luckily for the past week or so I've had lots of distractions from my upcoming Surgery. Tigers opening day was a BLAST on Friday, as just being downtown in that atmosphere with friends (including the ones you meet that day!) and a few drinks, and some cupcakes (happy belated bday, Carrie and Eric!) .... Well, what could possibly go wrong? Saturday morning we had breakfast with Dave Birr and Eric's 2 nephews (11 and 9 yrs old) and we had a good laugh over convincing them I was having a monkey tendon put in my knee, and when the surgery was over I'd be scratching myself more and have a new found love of bananas! The rest of Saturday and Sunday were a little more low-key, but I was still busy enough (and not physically hindered!) to not be worrying about my knee. I even rode around the golf course with Eric on Sunday and worked on my chipping and putting one last time! (Masters, here I come!)

Yesterday was a day off work for Lear (my employer) so I had the day to myself at home. I thought about trying to really 'make it count' , but ended up cleaning and running a few errands (including a drive-by the hospital where they told me I'll need to go since I was already up in the area...) And it was one of those mental things, where previously I thought I'd be more worked up about it, but really, it was just another day.

I got a call in the early afternoon telling me my surgery time would be 2:30pm, so to arrive at Beaumont-Royal Oak Hospital at 12:30pm. I would have preferred an earlier time (just to get it over with, to be honest!) but that has left me with this nice time this morning to relax, take my time, and enjoy the morning to myself before Eric and my mom (who came into town last night) are still asleep. Funnily enough, the only real hassle of this later surgery time is that I was told not to eat or drink after midnight last night. I'm OK now, but I imagine come 2:30p my stomach will have it's own thoughts on the subject!!

So, last night we figured how to set the laptop up to the TV to take advantage of my new NetFlix account, and also watched all 2 hours of the $5 DVD I picked up at Best Buy - SNL's "The Best of Steve Martin" ... It was a fun distraction (and has me thinking of Halloween '09 already!!) ... and lead me right up to a nice cup of tea to round out the night around 11:30pm. [Did you think I wouldn't try to eat and drink right up until midnight? C'mon now!] :)

And after many sleepless nights in the last month and a half since my injury (some due to the injury, but many more due to the over-active brain of mine, which prior to this was never an issue at night...) I finally got a mostly solid good nights sleep, and feel refreshed going into today's events!

Out of everything though, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone for your overwhelming support. I know when it comes down to it, this is a routine surgery being done by an amazing doctor, and I'll be one of the 150 ACL reconstructions he'll do this year... But, of course it's more than that to me, and knowing I have so many of your well wishes, support, prayers, good vibes... call it what you want!... it just means so much!! After this blog I promise to get back into the real details of the surgery and keep my readers riveted!! ;) [Well, we'll see...]



Cruise Control [8 Days Pre-Surgery]

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve given an ‘update’ but that’s because right now I’m just coasting into surgery time. I’ve kept up with PT, but each visit is now the exact same routine. My “I’m going to do every little exercise to the best of my ability!” attitude has dimmed a little, as I think I’ve reached my pre-hab peak and the monotony of the exercises have dulled the experience a little. Not to mention, having to sit out of indoor soccer games, skipping softball and soccer practices, and only being able to slowly ride a bike next to Eric as he runs; it’s all I can do to try and keep my chin up as I’m missing out on my fave activities! Pity party aside, I do expect my mentality to come back around once I have surgery and can work on progress in rehab, and hopefully I can keep myself occupied by having the physical challenges to rise to!

Nowadays the knee is feeling very… normal! As I mentioned before, it’s hard to think that I feel just fine now, but will be putting myself through this surgery and a challenging rehab, just to feel this good again. Being able to plan to be barely mobile is a weird thing to do: it feels like planning for a car to break down. Most people just don’t get this luxury! I’ve been lucky to have the time to do research (and pre-hab) and rest my engineering mind. That, plus the pre-op prep around the house, will surely lead to me keeping my cool around surgery time, right?!

At the homestead the guest bedroom is all cleaned up for my mom, dad and Eric’s mom, respectively, as they’ll be helping me out during the week of surgery. I borrowed crutches (thanks Ed!) and Eric and I put in a removable shower head that will prove helpful in the beginning ‘difficult to stand’ days! Otherwise it’s the little things – like cleaning the floors and getting all the laundry up to speed - that will just be easier now instead of during recovery!

As I tie up those loose ends, I am still faced with the question- what will I do while I’m spending most of my time on the couch, resting and icing after surgery? There are the obvious- reading, puzzles and crosswords, TV/Movies (a trial membership to Netflix may be in order!)… Heck, I might even work on my Mario Kart for N64 so I can continue to take Dan to Koopa Troopa… But, then what? Blogging, surfing the internet and playing solitaire are sure to lose their luster after a few days. It’s here, my friends, that I would love to know what YOU would do!! Expected date to return to work is April 28, so I’ll have some time to kill!

Until then, the cruise control is on and I’ve got lots of fun things to occupy myself until next week… Seeing a show with Sarah, Detroit Tiger’s opening day on Friday, celebrating Eric’s birthday this weekend (Happy Bday, Babe!)… Oh, and did I mention watching MSU tonight in the NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME?!!


(Photo Compliments of Margie's Phone during Saturday's big Final 4 win!!)