Bruising, Home PT, Getting Out and 2nd PT [4-6 days Post-Op]

I must be doing something right! When I tried Friday (3 days post-op) to bend my knee, after a little "warming up" I was able to go beyond 90 degrees. This had me pretty excited considering last time around that was my goal at 6 days post-op.

07.22.2012 5 Days post-op and bending well beyond 90 degrees!
Also, I feel I am able to stand for longer periods of time, take less pain medication and just feel more mobile in general.  I can even go up and down stairs (veeeery carefully) by taking one step per stair, instead of the prior oh-so-cautious 2 feet on each stair as I make my way. (Of course, when carrying my daughter I revert to the most careful stepping!)  Perhaps part of my successful recovery is having the cutest little buddy to distract me...
07.20.2012 - Playing in mama's full-leg length ace bandage..!
Ironically the bruising this time around is much worse, but at least it doesn't feel as bad as it looks!
07.22.2012 - 5 Days Post-Op

07.22.2012 - 5 Days Post-Op

07.22.2012 - 5 Days Post-Op
Yesterday (5 days Post-Op) we got out to watch my hubby and friends play softball and get some fresh air. It went well, many asked how the rehab was going and it was another nice reminder that I can't wait to get back to my normal mobility so even things like spectating are enjoyable again!

Tommorrow will be 1 week post-op. Crazy to think, but grateful this time around seems to be going smoothly. The only hiccup I feel so far is today at PT I was asked to scoot forward in a rolling stool by using both feet to "pull" myself along, and at times my kneecap would catch and pop a little. Drew had me change the exercise so I was "pushing" (going backwards) and perhaps we'll try again on Wednesday when (hopefully) swelling reduces even more.


First PT, Walking W/O Crutches, Firing the Quad [2-3 Days Post-Op]

I spent the first day after surgery at home resting, icing/compressing using the thermocomp machine while trying to keep my leg elevated. I was mostly on the couch and attempted to fire my quad muscles a handful of times, or when sitting on the floor I would try to lift my heel off the ground.  The good thing about this being the second time around is I knew what I could expect going into physical therapy, and I wanted to be capable of doing the first "easy" things without much pain.

Between surgery and 2-day post-op PT, I kept a steady diet of pain pills, assuming if I didn't the pain would be close to unbearable. I popped one before PT and my brother drove me in.  I had the immobilizer on and utilized the crutches going in, but once we were in, Drew had me doing a handful of exercises I expected:  straight leg raises, heel slides (knee bends), balancing on my surgical leg, walking across the PT area and back, straightening my surgical leg while laying on my belly...  Luckily I was able to do all these things without too much pain or needing any outside assistance.

That being said, Drew told me I didn't need the crutches anymore, and would only need to wear the immobilizer when in public so people around me would be cautious of my leg! This was huge (and, perhaps a little over-confident) but it made me glad that I was already on the right track.  At home I keep the crutches nearby, but can tell I'm not leaning on them heavily anymore (literally!)!

We even cancelled the 3-day post-op PT, as Drew knew I would take the at-home PT seriously, and he handed me a sheet of suggested exercises.  Today I've been doing them (rather) religiously, and each set of reps builds my confidence a little more.  I even ventured across the street to do my exercises in the park while my bro and hubby played some tennis at the courts there. All in all this is not a bad way to start recovery!

On top of that, after a pep talk from Drew, I was encouraged to scale back the pain meds and only take them when I'm in need of them, instead of as a preventative measure. The 4-6 hour schedule turned to "as needed" and I was surprised to find myself successfully doing at-home exercises well after the meds were no longer in my system.  I still have one now and then, but am grateful that it's more for achey pain than for anything more serious.

I'll be back at PT bright and early Monday morning (day 6 post-op) and my only concern is getting my knee bending back. In the meantime I'll work on it at home and try to go beyond 90 degrees so that the forced bending doesn't reduce me to the puddle of moans and tears I was when it was done to my other knee!


ACL Surgery - Take 2! [Surgery Day Re-Cap]

It's been just over 6 weeks since my right knee ACL tear/MCL sprain playing outdoor soccer. In this time I was able to celebrate my 30th with some great friends and family, as well as attend a beautiful and super-fun wedding up north this past weekend (Congrats Schindlers!!).  Once the fun was over, it was time to get my game face on for surgery.

I tried to prep for surgery by doing the expected the day before- clean up, prepare the couch where I'll be sleeping the first few nights, do some grocery shopping to have snacks on hand... And luckily I also got to meet the brand-spankin'-new addition to the Schwartz family, Mr. Ashton Reid who was born on Friday the 13th! (I forget how small babies are in those first few days-- he is an absolute CUTIE!). It was a great distraction, and Congrats again to Jordan and Katy!

I had my reservations going into today's surgery.  This injury was a lot worse, with the sprain of the MCL and just general muscle tone already fading pre-op.  I also had pain when bending my right leg or putting weight on that leg while standing with it completely straight. I thought to myself that feeling "injured" pre-op (as opposed to feeling fabulous like I did prior to my other knee surgery) might mean that recovery would be more difficult. I can't say if this is true or not (seeing as how I'm not even a half day post-op as I type this) but Dr. Shapiro assured me that the two things were not necessarily linear, and that the pain I was feeling when standing was likely still from bone bruising.  This was good to learn, that apparently it can take 3-6 months for some bone bruising to completely heal, because I had started to convince myself that it was a mental thing. Going into post-op with a mental hurdle already in place would have made for a rough start, since learning to use your knee and surrounding muscles again is very much a mental challenge!

In the last few weeks I'd popped in to talk to Drew, the physical therapist I'll be seeing again. There were no Doctor's orders to do pre-op rehabilitation ("prehab" as I call it), so Drew gave me some at-home exercises with the goal being to fire my quad muscles. In the same visits he mentioned he's "got a plan" for me this time around, to hopefully avoid the oh-so-frustrating hiccup I had last time around 22 days post-op.

When this morning rolled around, the nerves really started to hit me. Which, in my defense, I think my way of being anxious or nervous is relatively laid-back... But still I felt my heart rate rise at times, or had a mental flicker reminding me that I'd soon have drilling done to my bones! :/  Luckily I was sent a ridiculous amount of texts and facebook messages of support from friends and family who knew I was going under the knife today, wishing me luck and a speedy recovery. Have I mentioned how absolutely lucky I am to be surrounded by such great people?! My nervousness must not have showed much, since the nurse anesthetist asked if my husband and I "were in the medical field" since we seemed so calm about the whole thing just minutes before surgery!

The schedule was very much like last time, just 2 hours earlier.  Today we had a 10:30a arrival, 12:30p scheduled surgery (which started closer to 1pm, I think), 3p-ish awakening from anesthesia, and by about 5p we'd already gotten home, got our daughter from a friend and were chillin' on the couch with the thermocompression unit (similar to THIS, but with a sleeve for the leg) wrapped around my knee!

Post-op at the hospital, Dr. Shapiro informed my hubby that they had to remove about 5% of my meniscus. This isn't much to speak of, but according to MRI they were not expecting meniscus damage.  Otherwise it sounds like surgery went as planned.

At home I focused on getting some water in my system, a little food, and using the thermocompression unit to keep me comfortable. For fun I decided to try to flex my quad of my surgical leg, expecting it wouldn't be possible since it normally "shuts off" due to the trauma of knee surgery. To my delight, it DID flex without having to focus too strongly on it, and it doesn't cause any additional pain to do so.  Granted I am not flexing with all my might, but firing at all is the goal, and I was excited to see I could do this (and, continue to do it) as a nice prep for upcoming physical therapy!

I also remember last time I had this surgery that standing up and taking my leg out of an elevated position was very VERY painful as the blood rushed to the knee. Today I've been up and around just a few times since I've been home from surgery, and either the pain meds are better this time around or I'm just having a more positive experience! I am hoping for the latter, and this is giving me a glimmer of hope that post-op will indeed be easier the second time around.

This does not mean that I expect to "get away" with taking it easier in physical therapy (PT). I still fully expect to have to feel the burn as I get back range of motion (ROM) and fire the muscles. I am grateful that I know what I'm in for (even if I'm not looking forward to it) and am ready to commit to the physical therapy to ensure a full recovery!

Let's just hope this positive attitude and committed demeanor don't get too shaken as the reality of it all comes upon me! Meanwhile I'm looking forward to my visitors/helpers and spending a little extra time with my 11-month old daughter, Ellie... Even if it does mean we'll be learning to walk at the same time!!