So, How About That ACL Reconstruction Surgery? January 13 2018, 0 Comments

I recently had my ACL reconstructed using a tendon from my hamstring. 

Day 1 - Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, Day Surgery unit. No account of surgery would be complete without expressing great love, appreciation, and admiration for everyone who was a part of my care that day. The pace there is unhurried, and each nurse made me feel like the only patient, which I most assuredly was not. I was admitted at 6am, properly fasted. There is no eating or drinking after midnight prior to surgery, but I was all done by 8pm. The nurse got me through all the questions, the flattering wardrobe change, set me up on the iv, and gave me the 'round one' disinfectant sponge for the impossibly thorough cleaning of my entire leg, including feet, and between the toes. She gave me a surgery specific, single use marker to mark the correct knee.

Then I waited. My orthopedic surgeon came in to talk with me, see if I had any questions, and let me know she had just one surgery before me.  Then the anesthetist came in to tell me about my options for not feeling a thing. Originally, I was partial to a general, having loved the time machine effect of it before. It did seem like the spinal was the way to go, and she still gave me my time machine in the form of a sedative. When it was my time, they came to get me, and I walked to the OR carrying my IV bag. There were many interesting tools on the table, including a drill. I forgot about the drill. After I'd had the spinal injection, things moved along pretty quickly. They got me comfy, lying down, and the table starts to lower out from under my legs. And then, I remember nothing. I woke up, still in the OR, still completely numb from the waist down and someone administered the ever merciful nerve block.

 Dopy in the hospital bed

I had brought a skirt and hut booties to wear to leave the hospital, because I knew I'd be well bandaged, and would not want to struggle into normal footwear or pants. My partner, who is a rock, helped me into the back seat of his truck and drove us to Calgary. Once we arrived at his place, he helped me get set up on the couch with all my pillows, my blankie, water, and got the cold unit ready for me. The pain was not unbearable, but I was not overly comfortable. No biggy. I expected worse. For sleeping, I kept a small mountain of pillows to keep my leg elevated, and set my alarm for every four hours to take my two percocet. That was possibly the best advice I got from the nurse who took care of me first thing in the morning. 

Day 2: Bum skooching. I slept forever, thanks to percocet. I used a graceful skooch to get down the stairs to resume my station on the couch. My magical partner ferried ALL of my stuff down to the couch for me. I should take a moment to say that, while I'm sure the hamstring graft was the right choice for me, it made visits to the loo really awkward. Think about the muscles you sit on. Yeesh! This second day was possibly the most uncomfortable. It just felt like a huge effort to do anything, like arrange my pillows for better elevation, get my cold unit cuff on, or move much. This is the night I threw up, and cried. Not necessarily in that order. I was desperately uncomfortable, and out of sorts. 

Day 3: Thank you, Percocet and Cold Therapy Unit.

My knee with a new ACL and cold therapy unit  The ACC sent me flowers as a get well soon. So beautiful!

Day four: Oh my god, I get to shower tomorrow. I'm dragging my crutches with me to go downstairs now. Sometimes I throw or drag other things. This is me, asserting my mighty independence. 

Day five: SHOWER DAY! So awkward, even though my fellow has a beautifully updated master bathroom shower that only has a small ledge to step over. I got take off my tensor and see all the steri-tape and blood spots beneath. Not bad, actually. That can come off at two weeks. This is also the day I feel brave enough to drop my percocet to just one at a time, and later I skip a dose. What a boss. 

Days 6-9: I am noticing small improvements every day. I can bear a tiny bit more weight on my leg each day, and I have a little more stamina. I have reduced my percocet, and day 8 is my last dose. No more pain meds! 

Day 10: First Physio, and the ACC Christmas Party! This is my first day with just one crutch.

 My fellow and me in my 50s dress, and my crutch on party night

Day 14: Two weeks after surgery, and I've set the crutches aside. I'm walking just a little limp. It's ok for me to take off the tape, and I make sure to watch our for the pieces of  thread that run along my main incision. I just snip those, and the rest disolves into me, I think. Everything is healing so well!

Days 15-28: Improvement isn't as quick, but it's still progressing. My walking and range of motion are better thanks to then wall laid out exercise plan supplied by the surgeons office. At four weeks, I was back to my part time job, and back to driving. Both my physiotherapist and my surgeon tell me I'm doing very well, and I feel like my progress is solid. 

Four - six weeks post surgery: Right around the 5 week mark, I pulled my hamstring putting boots on. It's noted in the post surgery information that this can and does happen. It's a good thing too, because the POP, pain, and screaming are all pretty significant. Anyone might think of a trip to the hospital. Luckily, I didn't suffer long. Everything else is going well, and I'm back on track for all the exercises. My range of motion, daily function, and muscle control are excellent. At 6 weeks, it's ok to begin hamstring work. I use resistance bands (shown below) for that, and for the side leg raises. They work great! These are also what I use for simple workouts on light days, and to avoid complete couch / comfort inertia. 




 More to come, edits likely. Tense agreement could use some work, and of course, there is more rehabilitation work to do!

11 Weeks post surgery: Lets go to Chester Lake on snow shoes! It was awesome. I was tired.