Jumping for Joy (Literally!) [~10 Wks Post-Op/ 3rd Follow-up]

This afternoon I spent about 1 hour waiting (and, oh yeah, got another set of identical x-rays taken...) for my 'ol pal, Dr. Jeff Shapiro. As I waited, I tried to think of intelligent questions I should be asking at 2+ months out, but since there's no squeaky wheel, nothing really came to mind. So, when he finally made his grand entrance and we exchanged our how-do-you-do's, he surprised me with this:

Dr. S: "Two down, two to go!"
Summer: [Obviously confused] "What?"
Dr. S: "Well, you're at two months, and only two more to go!"
Summer: [Still obviously confused] "Oh, um, for recovery? Or..?"
Dr. S: "Yeah!"
Summer: [Yep, still confused] "I thought it was more like 6 months... No?"
Dr. S: "Nope!"

Playing back this conversation now still makes me chuckle, because even though he clearly stated it was a 4 month recovery (total), I still don't really believe it. I mean, PT has been going well and all, and aside from some muscle I need to get back in my surgical quad, I'm feeling pretty confident so far. However, when I've had it in my head that all my fave activities are off-limits for 6 months, it's hard to change that placeholder in my head from mid-October to mid-August. Plus, a big fear of mine is coming back too early and not being back to 100%. But if I can't trust my doctor's word, who do I listen to??

The rest of the 5 minutes (if that!) with Dr. S was uneventful- Range of motion is "great", swelling is minimal, and I have no complaints of pain... "See you in a month!"

So- I am resisting the urge to be completely ecstatic and drunk with happiness about this 2 month shave off my 'return'. Why? Well... while I feel I'm a positive person, I want to remain realistic and, perhaps, a little on the 'safe' side. We'll see how things work out, but I guess I'll limit myself to just a sip of this delight cocktail for now!

In the event I'd like to celebrate by jumping up and down - well, now I have been advised by my physical therapist to go on ahead and do it! Today in PT, among other things (see my ACL calendar), I started jumping. It's really a strange experience to try a simple motion like that, which I've avoided for the last two months, but is so elementary. Like everything else, I started with a little hesitation, but once I realized my knee wasn't giving out on me and there wasn't even a pang of pain, I became a 3x30 rep jumping bean! PT also brought on more Bosu Ball fun too...!

So, between the good news from the Doc and trying new things in PT, today was a great day! Not to mention, by next week I'll only be at PT once a week (currently at 2/week)! Booyah!


Round and Round We Go... [9 Weeks 4 days Post-Op]

Due to mixing it up in PT on Wednesday (and in the process, doing a handful of exercises until my muscles truly fatigued) I was awfully sore starting Friday morning. As a matter of fact, the limp returned [but before you are sad for me, read on], this time due to my muscles in my non-surgical (R) leg being so sore that I was then favoring THAT leg! Maybe it's nothing to be excited about, since the last thing I need right now is an ever-growing right quad. However, CHEERS to my left (surgical) leg for being strong enough to put up with the flip-flop of the limp! Luckily, the soreness has since faded substantially, and I'm back to a generally normal gait...

Instead of trying to bust out more PT exercises on Friday, I thought trying a yoga DVD would be better, to stretch and work on breathing. It was nice, including some lunging poses, however, about half way into it there were some poses I chose to skip. For example, one req'd kneeling and putting weight on the area where they took my graft, and by the time that one came about, I decided I had stretched enough for the time being!

To feel like I'm still doing what I can on my own, today I did some walking and a mile run on the track [where my new iTouch helped break the monotony of going round and round- Thx BB!]. That was followed by lots of stair work on the local HS bleachers. Since they're half-steps, I would go up taking 2 steps at a time, always leading with my surgical leg, forcing that quad to do most of the work. Going down I would step down with non-surgical leg, forcing the surgical quad to, again, bear the burden of controlling the balance and movement as I stepped down.

Stairs are one of the things I am using to track my progress. When I end up ahead of someone (going up or down) in the stairwell at work, I feel myself getting flustered as I hear them galloping closer, and I can't seem to go as fast. I am noticing some improvement, but for now they'll just have to deal with it - I refuse to take the elevator!

Now, back to enjoying the weekend! Happy (early) Father's Day to all the daddios out there, and especially the best one I know-- Papa John! ;)


My First 1-Mile Run [2 Months Post-Op]

Since my last PT visit, I hadn't made much time to get in quality exercise for my knee over the weekend. I blame being preoccupied, but a little of it was laziness. Over the weekend there was a lot of walking and standing, and the 'ol knee held up well. Occasionally an ache would find it's way around my knee, but nothing too painful. Either way, I was looking forward to today, since my last PT visit was finally a break from the monotonous routine I'd been doing.

Today's surprise was the 'timed 1-mile run'. As an ex-cross country runner and being an athlete in general, I know I used to be able to easily run 1 mile. Plus, I've done previous sessions of run-walk intervals in PT, covering more than 1 mile, but today's challenge was to do 1 mile running, and at a decent pace. So, once I'd done an 8 minute warm up on the elliptical and stretched a little, I headed for the treadmill. Drew was not over my shoulder during the run, so I didn't burn myself out on it, but I did make sure to turn up the pace from previous PT runs (from 6.0 to 6.5). I finished in ~9:30, and for my first mile back after knee surgery, I am OK with that! (Plus, I know I could have gone faster if I had to, but I still had a full slate of PT ahead of me!).

The run left me whipped, but as usual, I felt really good about it once I was done! I did a handful of other exercises (including shuffling side-to-side between cones; also pushing off side-to-side in a speed skater fashion on a slip board) which had me working on sideways movements and adding in a little squat motion as well. It's good to know I'm getting to a point where it's not all about the range of motion in a straight line!

While I did have to go down in weight on the one-leg press today by ~10#, I was fine with exhausting my leg muscles to the point where they were shaking throughout that exercise, and others. Lunging is still difficult to put the weight evenly through my surgical leg, but practice makes perfect, right?

Next Monday (just shy of 10 weeks post-op) I'll see the Doctor again and make sure I'm on track!

I haven't posted pics in a while, but then again not much is changing. Swelling seems minimal, the incision is healing up nicely, and the definition in my legs is coming back, little by little. The only thing I might ask about is the dark spot that still remains on the back of my knee where I had dark bruising after surgery. I am sure it's normal, but just out of curiosity.


PT Routine Shake-Up [8 Wk 2 Day Post-Op]

I passed my 8 week mark on Tuesday and am cruising to 2 months post-op this weekend, on June 14. On Monday I went to PT and pretty much did my whole routine without any pointers, new exercises or even manipulation/ stretching by Drew, my therapist. Even though I did some treadmill time and feel my strides are becoming more even, I was disappointed at the lack of personal attention and was glad that I’d gone down to 2 visits / week. However in yesterday’s PT, Drew decided to mix it up for me, and it felt good to try new challenges, even if it left me whipped afterwards!

First, we skipped the 10 minute warm-up on the bike, since initially this was used to help get back range of motion and in later weeks, loosen up the knee w/o putting too much weight on it. Instead, I did 8 minutes on the Elliptical (Drew said to be sure I was a little tired and breaking a sweat when done), and after some calf and hamstring stretches, it was over to the treadmill. There I did 15 mins of alternating between speed walking and a run. I am gaining lots of confidence here and am sure I could have run longer, but didn’t know what else was in store for me.

The most entertaining, by far, was using the Bosu Ball, which is basically an inflated exercise ball, sliced in half with a hard plastic board across the flat. I had to stand on the flat part, meaning the half-sphere was towards the ground, and I had to balance on it, or risk falling off! I have never used a Bosu Ball, so I was very cautious. At first I thought the goal was simply to stand and balance, but then we added squats, which would mean having to distribute my weight evenly across both legs. I looked kind of like THIS, but kept my hands out in front of me for more balance. My surgical leg was a little shaky, and this was intensified by the Bosu Ball, making it even more difficult!

30 squats later (and, a careful dismount of this potentially dangerous piece of equipment), my surgical leg was ready for solid ground again!

I thought I’d be sorer today because I felt like we really pushed it (and, mixed it up, finally!) but perhaps the soreness will be another day behind. Or, maybe I’m further along than I thought, and ready for some more challenging tasks!

Other items of note:

  • With the exception of an anti-inflammatory now and again, I haven’t had to pop pills for pain much since about mid-May (1 month post-op)
  • The skin to the outer side of my vertical incision is still a giant numb spot, maybe 2/3 the size of my palm
  • While I’m still able to ‘forget’ about my knee sometimes, I have noticed an aching feeling that comes about sometimes just when sitting
  • More often I am able to get in and out of my car by pivoting on my L leg, instead of getting in or out of the car with both feet on the ground first
  • I take the stairs up and down to my 2nd floor desk whenever I can, and going up remains pretty even while going down still requires some strengthening to even it out
  • I can walk w/o limping, but if I’ve done a lot of activity or walking in any given day, my limp creeps back to a quite obvious favoring by days end
  • I touched my butt with my heel! While standing I was able to grab my ankle and (with my foot slightly pointed/ while wearing tennies) was able to bend my knee so far as to feel my shoe hit my butt! (I even showed an assistant at PT just so someone else could share my glory!)

    What’s wrong with getting excited about the little things? :)


PT Decrease and Goodbye Ice Machine! [7 wks 1 day Post-Op]

For reasons I'm yet to learn, I've been called back into work tomorrow even though I was told I'd have this whole week off. This sudden change in the calendar meant my mid-day PT appointment on Friday needed to be moved, or cancelled. Since I was planning to go down to 2x/week starting next week, we decided it'd be OK to just cancel. So, all of a sudden it's less visits and more at home therapy. [I must admit, I'm ready to reduce number of visits, having just paid a healthy lump sum to catch me up for pre- and post-op therapy visits! Yikes!)

Also, they finally picked up the ThermoCompression Unit I'd been "renting" (as shown in my 4.18.09 Blog Post), which I was under the impression I'd have for 3-4 weeks, not 7! I'll miss the 'ol girl, but I s'pose an ice pack will do me just fine these days, as I have VERY minimal swelling anymore, and I would only ice after a long day on my feet.

Otherwise, today's PT went well with two nice surprises... Firstly, I bumped up to 105# for 1-leg press (using my surgical leg, of course) and it was easier than I expected! (I was doing 165# prior to surgery, so there's still work to be done..). Secondly, we got back on the treadmill for run/walk intervals, and not only was there no pain in my knee, but the limp as I run (aka "Rumping") was not nearly as severe. 15 minutes later I'd covered 1.25 miles, and it felt wonderful!! [Note: You can open up any 'PT' appointment in my ACL Calendar to see what exercises I'm up to. Keep in mind my surgery was 4.14.09...]

Even though I still have a ways to go, I am feeling very good about progress thus far!


Knees and Trees [7 Weeks Post-Op]

I am forced off work this week (it's all good!) and so that means daytime PT appointments and taking care of those little things that are often put off. Since I have been making improvements in PT and feeling stronger on my feet, it was decided that this week is when a big tree in our back yard would come down.

My dad, a seasoned tree-cutter-downer and general outdoors man, offered his services, but this is a big task for just one person. So, in addition to keeping him well fed and hydrated, I decided to monitor how my knee felt as I helped with the take down. I was aware that the backyard is a bit soft and, in some spots, uneven. Also, there is always the chance that a limb can come down more quickly or in a different direction than anticipated, so it meant being smart about where I was in relation to the action. Luckily Eric was able to be a big help when it came to needing extra elbow grease for the big cuts, and some of those times I was happy to stay on the sidelines instead of risk any injury.

2-day story short- and because you were surely holding your breath- there were no injuries, or even pain beyond normal use! There were even times I was able to plant both feet firmly and tug on guide wires, and I felt strong in my foundation. Or if I needed to step on a branch to hold it down as I broke it into smaller pieces, I could use either foot and wasn't nervous to do so.

This definitely isn't how I expected to be 'celebrating' my 7-week post-op anniversary. At the same time, if you would have asked me a few weeks ago if I would be helpful in an activity like this at 7 weeks, I might have thought you were crazy!

Meanwhile, PT is focusing on the same strength building exercises and transitioning me into running. Drew worked a lot on stretching my hamstring and really straightening out my leg at last PT, and I felt a lot better when I jumped on the treadmill immediately after. 10 minutes of speed walking followed by 3 minutes of running left me tired, sweaty, but most of all confident of my eventual return! Yay!

The backyard beast that had to come down:
Draped in chains that helped pull the tree down, limb by limb... it's not my limbs holding me back anymore! (OK, Cheesy, I know!)