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!!


  1. I am doing a research paper on ACL tears and I am wondering if you tore your ACL through contact or through a quick maneuver. Also I was wondering if your previous knee injury was on the same leg, and if so do you think it could've made your knee weaker and more vulnerable to tearing your ACL?

    1. Hi Stefanie, The first (left knee) ACL tear was through a quick side-to-side shuffling maneuver on turf playing zone defense in flag football. That was a very simple / non-aggressive movement compared to my second one. My second (right knee) ACL tear was playing outdoor soccer on an uneven and hard grass field, where I was doing much more aggressive side-to-side and more quick movements as I tried to play defense against a player from the other team who was dribbling the ball quite skillfully. When I tore my second (R) ACL I saw the whole motion of my knee shifting sideways in only a way a leg with a torn ACL could! Whereas with the first I kind of fell down, thought "that felt funny" and had no idea it was a torn ACL until I had it checked out over a week later.

      My injuries were on opposite legs, so I can't speak to if the surgeries made them "weaker". However, in speaking with my doctor and physical therapist, the ACL itself is not weaker post-op, but if you do not do your rehab/physical therapy and build up the muscles surrounding the knee (quad, calf, others..) then yes, your knee will be weaker.

      If you have additional questions feel free to leave your email address (and I will not publish it) and I will contact you directly.

      I hope that helps! Thanks!