Posts around here have been unusually light (even for January!) around here because of the ACL surgery I had back on January 8th. Even though I am an uber researcher and I’d read up as much as I could about this surgery and recovery I still was surprised by many things.
1. I asked for a spinal block instead of opting for general anesthesia. I was hoping to avoid some of the well known side affects of general but I still expected to be asleep during the whole surgery. I’m not sure how that whole sleeping part was miscommunicated but they let me wake up part way through the surgery. I’m fairly certain they regretted that decision very quickly because when I woke up I could not see them working directly on my knee (there was a sheet up) but there was a screen right by my head so I could see what was going on INSIDE my knee. This control freak thought that was really cool and I proceeded to ask questions through the rest of the surgery. (‘Will those screws you are so enthusiastically installing in my knee set of the alarms at the airport?’ or ‘Are you threading the new ACL through the drill holes? Cool!’) They told Mr. Fun I would not remember…I do!
2. My knee was completely numb for more than two days, and even when the feeling started to come back (one month later I still have numb patches) the pain wasn’t that bad…at first. Actually, the pain was never really that bad in my knee but my shin was a whole different story. The way this surgery is performed is they take take the center portion of your patellar tendon along with some of the bone it is attached to at the top and bottom. Then they drill a hole through your tibia and femur, thread the new ACL through and screw the bone blocks to those bones. Kind of barbaric right? Well my shin was not so happy with all of the work that was done to it and had some pretty nasty bruising. The problem was that every time I stood up the blood would rush to my lower legs and I literally would have to stand there for minutes using my labor breathing techniques until the pain subsided enough for me to start moving. Excruciating! That lasted for more than a week. Yeah, didn’t expect that.
3. Surgery wreaks havoc with your body and mind. Besides the obvious trauma of the wound site I was shocked at how terrible my body felt for at least two weeks. Everything hurt, nausea reigned, my mind was a total fuzz, yuck. (Fuzz brain is why there have not been many blog posts.) I still find that I need naps, especially if I’m dragging my leg around doing errands. I am also ridiculously emotional. Ready to cry at the drop of a hat over the dumbest stuff. I have a good friend (Hi Tracie!) who had abdominal surgery a week after me and she is dealing with the same stuff. At least I’m not alone in this but my research has shown this could last for three months. So please don’t share any touching FB posts with me until April. I just can’t handle it!
4. The worst part about PT is not the exercises but the massage. I’ve always disliked massages (I’m too uptight, big surprise there!) but this takes it to a whole other level. The massages are used to make sure scar tissue does not lay down in the wrong places or cause my knee cap to freeze up. (Did you know your knee caps float?) I flat out told my PT that if he touched my shin (at least during my bad week) that I would throw up on his table, but everywhere else was fair game. It’s pretty amazing how well it works. If he massages a sore area (which is no fun at the time) it stops hurting when I bend my knee. I can put up with the pain if I get that kind of reward!
5. It’s surprising how quickly I can resort to sailor like behavior. For the most part I’ve been smart enough and have moved slow enough that I’m keeping myself under control. The stairs are a bit of a wild card for me though. Between the over enthusiastic pets (‘The woman is up, I must run down he stairs as close to her feet as possible!’) and my own forgetfulness, I’ve had a few hiccups. Most recently I was trying to get down the stairs and I somehow bent my knee way too far in the process. This led me to drop a HUGE F-Bomb. It just slipped right out…at a loud volume. You should have seen my middle schooler’s face. Either she was completely shocked to hear her mother yell that or she was terrified that she would have to catch me because I was still three stairs from the bottom. I thought I was going to have to pick her jaw up off the floor for her!
6. I am very bendy. Most people can bend their knee to 140 degrees. (Think of your compass from 5th grade.) For comparison sake my PT measured my good leg the other day. I can bend it to 155 degrees. Seriously? That means I need to try to get my bad leg to go an extra 15 degrees past what normal humans do. The good news is that at 3 weeks I was already bending it to 130 degrees. That is amazingly good because most doctors are hoping for 110 degrees at that point. It doesn’t sound like much but 20 degrees is huge! I like to think I’m an overachiever in this realm.
One thing I am NOT surprised about? How awesome my family is. Thank goodness Mr. Fun works from home! I didn’t even come down stairs for the first five days so he was bringing me a steady stream of food, drugs and ice. My girls were also great about bringing me anything I needed too. I was set up in our playroom so it was a great spot to have family movie nights and to watch the Seahawks. It was nice to know everybody was just a text away!
Wondering why I posted a 16 Candles picture for the top of this post? I’m totally dating myself here but the church lady from this movie had a distinctive squeak with every step she took. My brace is doing that now too but I think my knee feels like it should make that noise even without the brace! Every day is better and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though. Hopefully there are no more surprises left for me!