Unexpected Feelings (1.5 yrs Post-Op)

Generally I try to think positively about my knee. I've long since gotten back to most of my favorite activities (and most recently- indoor volleyball!) and being out and active gives me the impression that I'm 'all better' even if I openly admit that my surgical leg still has a smaller quad and some actions, such as jumping in place on one leg, feel decidedly different from one leg to the other.

In the last few weeks my surgical knee has been feeling... different. It seems to be a combination of feelings, not necessarily at once, that's had me mentioning to family and friends that it feels "funny". For example:
  • In day-to-day motions my knee will suddenly feel tight like it's about to pop or crack to relieve the tight feeling. Sometimes it does pop or crack, other times I stop quickly enough where it feels like it got on the cusp of popping, but I change my motion to avoid it. The times that it does pop or crack is not painful, but slightly annoying.
  • When sitting on a chair, with my legs straight out in front of me, I will apply a little pressure just below my patella (to the area where my graft was taken from). Keeping this pressure, I first flex my legs (straighten) and then start to bend them slightly (both legs at the same time). My surgical patella will sometimes feel like it's 'catching' or even 'grinding' as it slides up during the bend. I realize this is a very specific motion / feeling, but the engineer in me wants to put the knee in certain situations to see how it reacts compared to the non-surgical side!
  • No matter how much I try to stretch, loosen, warm-up or manipulate my surgical knee, it seems to have a feeling like the pieces of the joint are not allowed to move as freely as the non-surgical knee. Imagine a non-surgical knee being surrounded by water whereas the surgical knee feels like it's moving through something thicker- like jello or pudding. Not painful, or even limiting, just... different.
  • It's since gone away, but at one point when I would straighten and flex my surgical leg there seemed to be a popping noise at the BACK of my knee, towards the inside. I seem to recall this happening during rehab, and we attributed it to the swelling in the knee pushing parts of the joint out of place and hitting nearby veins/tendons/what-have-yous. So, either that was just a guess at the time, or perhaps there was some additional swelling in my knee recently to bring me back to that feeling. Either way, that particular popping/uncomfortable feeling has since passed.

I think with the change in weather and also sports seasons, now would be a good time for me to reconsider a continuous 'rehab' plan for my knee. I've got a BOSU ball that's gathering dust, and don't spend nearly enough time stretching before my various sports. I think it would be wise for me to get out for a run and some PT-like exercises more often before Michigan's winter weather sets in and I'm forced to strictly indoor activities.

On a lighter note, whenever I'm in the middle of an activity, the knee doesn't pop (that I notice!) or have any continuous feelings of pain or soreness that limit me. Perhaps it's that I'm distracted with the sports, or that in the faster movements the knee is performing like it's been (re-)designed to!


Back to Bangin'! [1 yr 5 months Post-Op]

When I played club volleyball at MSU we called ourselves The Bangers... and I must say, I miss the old days of organized volleyball where you actually practice and make plays and have players designated for specific positions...! While I may never go back to that level of play, I was more than happy to jump on the court with a new co-ed team last night. Our team, cleverly named 'How to Kill a Blocking Nerd', is new to playing together but once we find our groove, it'll be even more fun than last night's first attempt!

As far as the ACL/Knee... My girlfriend Wendy (who had the same doctor/surgery I did) and I did a quick check post-match... "How's it feel?"

Truth be told, the knee didn't stop me at all. I may not jump as high as I used to or be as quick to react, but I don't think it's the knee that is to blame! Throughout the game there was jumping, lunging (both forward and sideways), side-shuffles and quick sprints and I never felt like the knee put me at a disadvantage.

Post-match my surgical knee did feel a little 'tighter' than the other, but barely. The only difference I really felt as we walked away from the gym was that my non-surgical quad was feeling a little sore/ over used, most likely due to some overcompensation that I'm not aware of when it's occurring during plays.

Day-to-day knee is pretty much consistent with previous posts... Feels good and comparable to the other leg, even if surgical leg quad muscle remain slightly smaller. POPing noise still occurs when going from a stretched (straight) leg to slightly bent, but with no pain (like cracking a knuckle).

I hope anyone else who's had the surgery is able to get back to their favorite activities in a timely fashion... it makes it easy to forget the long hard road it's taken to get to this point! ;)


Where Did the Time Go?! [1 yr post-op]

As 4/14/10 snuck up on me, I found myself plenty occupied with the current going-ons in my life, like my recent purchase of a new home and my 1-month away nuptials. It's funny how no matter what is going on in your life at any given time, it seems to consume you, as if that's the way it's always been!

I remember just 1 year ago when I had been consumed by preparing for surgery by cleaning the house, changing to a removable shower-head, having books and snacks handy right next to the couch where I knew I'd be spending numerous hours... Even so far as to drive by the hospital (which is about 1 mile from where I live) and do a 'dry run' to find out what entrance to go in, where my mom and Eric would park the car... I wanted to be an educated patient in every way!

No matter the googling, blog reading or 'dry runs', nothing quite prepares you for a surgery you've never had. Being that this was also the ONLY surgery / medical issue I've had beyond a sprained ankle, it was definitely a journey for me and I'm glad to have the blog (though my re-reads are sparse) to have tracked my ups and downs along the way.

And, the real reason of the post- A 1-year post-op update! I am happy to say that life is "back to normal" when it comes to activities. Indoor soccer is finishing up in the next few weeks and this was my major hurdle seeing as how there is so much contact, cutting, turning and leg-tangling in indoor soccer compared to outdoor. I used to get VERY nervous before the games and caught myself being 'careful' which to the untrained (and trained!) eye actually equated to 'awkward'! But I have gotten more confident and even in our game last night there was some cutting and a few knee-banging, leg-tangling plays that definitely make me think twice about how it could potentially put me back in Dr. Shapiro's hands. Luckily, beyond some bruising or soreness, indoor soccer hasn't given my knee any trouble.

And my other activities- ultimate frisbee last fall, snowboarding this winter, hitting the driving range, outdoor soccer starting up last weekend, softball pre-season practice... have all proven OK to play! I'm yet to get back onto a volleyball court, but that's more a combination of busy schedule and lack of opportunity than it is any fear/ protectiveness of my knee!

In day-to-day,
  • I still get a popping noise sometimes when going from extended to bent leg.
  • My surgical quad is still smaller than my non-surgical.
  • I've noticed very faint 'grinding' noises in my knee as I go from a fully squatted position to standing--but I also hear something similar in my non-surgical knee, so I wonder if that is just use and age!!
  • I'm no longer doing any re-hab or PT aimed at my knee- only participating in aforementioned sports! Now that weather is getting nicer I hope to get out and run and perhaps start thinking about a half marathon!
  • Incision looks good. Still a white scarred line from the incision, but it blends pretty well into surrounding skin and moves freely on top of my knee
  • I have spotty numbness to the outside of my incision area, but a relatively small area.

So, all is well here! I stopped into my re-hab spot yesterday, as it's close to my work, and just being there reminded me of the fears, tears and milestones that accompanied knee surgery... and as nice as it was to see some of the trainers and boast of how well the knee is holding up -- I hope I never have to return unless it's again by my own choice to visit!


P.S. [1 yr after initial injury]

March 1, 2009.

That's when I heard the *pop*.

Here we are, just shy of my 1 year injury anniversary. Even my fellow ACL rehabber, Wendy, so kindly reminded me of this with a cute e-card! But in all honesty it makes me look back at the whole process and my comeback trail and smirk at the ups and downs it created for me. As I've said before, prior to that, I hadn't had so much as a stitch (ok, I admit... a cavity) and the surgery and rehab was like nothing I'd experienced before. That said... I am grateful for it. Going through a physical (which becomes mental) challenge, no matter how small, lets you learn something about yourself. How do I handle pain? Goals? Setbacks? Rehab? I'm not saying I wouldn't have done a few things differently, but I know myself a little better now, and can pass any knowledge and experience, however trivial, to people who are going through the same thing.

And now... to cross the 1 year post-op anniversary...! (And when in the heck am I gonna play volleyball again?!) ;)

Tearin' it Up (The Good Way!) in Tahoe [10.5 Month Post-Op]

I had the pleasure of being able to go to Tahoe for 4 days of snowboarding last weekend, and just in time for some fresh powder to plow through! I had gotten back on my board in December for a few hours in up north Michigan, but that was no indication of how hitting the slopes for 6-7 hours per day would treat my surgical knee!

Let me take away the suspense and say... it was a GREAT SUCCESS!! Prior to the trip I thought of bringing an ice bag or extra motrin (even some leftover vicodin, in case??) but I threw caution to the wind when packing and figured I'd just play it by ear. In the end, while my body did get exhausted over the trip (as a high elevation, shreddin'-up-the-mountain-all-day-long kind of trip will do!) but I never felt like my knee was the cause of many aches or pains, specifically.

One real worry of mine was being partially strapped into my board when heading for a lift or traversing a flatter trail. My surgical leg is my lead leg, so it was the one that was still strapped to the board. This meant as I "skateboarded" along, my surgical leg was sideways (outside of the foot headed forward, toes pointed right) while the rest of my body wanted to face entirely forward and then push along on the board. This meant extra twisting in my surgical knee and if, god forbid, I lost my balance or caught an edge of the board and took a spill, this knee I've worked so hard on could take the brunt of it. Luckily, nothing of the sort happened, despite the handful of spills I did take over the course of the trip!

There were a few times when I thought my knee was getting tired or twisted too much; even the weight of the board hanging from that leg as we rode lift after lift seemed a little bothersome after a while! But in the end there was no additional soreness or swelling to make me believe that what I *thought* was a little extra pain was probably just the same 'ol feeling.

All this said, here's a little entertainment, and one of the times I was grateful for a few inches of fresh powder to break my fall.... ;)

I guess I can check another fave activity off the list of things I've yet to do post-op. Hooray for a reconstructed ACL!


Less Blogs = All is Well! [9.5 Months Post-Op]

When you're not breaking through milestones every day, (or even every week) it is hard to find the time and make the effort to blog! Sometimes the 14th of any given month will come and go, and I do think "I should blog with a 'x month update'" but in all honesty, I don't have much new news to share!

I can say that I have gotten very comfortable, and between that, being busy with wedding planning and not having access to a gym, my only 'workouts' are a few soccer games here and there. Even my last post suggested I'd be hitting the slopes hard and give my knee a real run for it's money, but out of the 3 day weekend, we probably snowboarded for about 4 hours, and I spent lots of time on the bunny hill trying to teach my girlfriend Jess! [note to self: snowboard instructor may not be a career choice for me!].

However, as per tradition, we still have our one big ski trip of the year coming up. Last year, it was Salt Lake City and 1 day after I got home was when I tore my ACL playing flag football. So, this will be a triumphant return to the slopes as we head to Tahoe for 6 days, 4 of which we'll be snowboarding!! Hopefully I'll have something blog-worthy (in a positive way...) after our trip at the end of February!

Otherwise, the knee is holding up well, and with the exception of a little 'pop' sometimes when going from a flexed (straight) leg to slightly bent, there's no daily reminder of my reconstructed ACL!