post-op day 5 (week 1)

Been doing the exercises religiously everyday, three times a day icing afterwards. Been progressing each time. Can now bend my right knee past 90 degrees. Have also progressively been coming off the crutches to the point where no I no longer need them at all.

Last night I had some pain in the knee whilst sleeping on my side so I took some pain killers for the first time since the day of the op, just to help me sleep. Also Iwas dozing off last night and came to with some bad pain in my right hamstring or what’s left of it. It was quite bad pain and felt like I’d “pulled” it or something similar. I think what happened was that as I was dozing off my right leg jerked whilst I was lying on my right side and this must have pulled the hamstring. This happens often to me, as I’m falling asleep my body jerks or spasms randomly, I’ve read it’s a tension release mechanism of the body. Anyhow, this is how I suspect I hurt my hamstring because I just woke up and it was extremely painful and I had no memory of how I injured it.

Anyhow, other than incident there has been absolutely no problems with my recovery so far. I’ll be sure to tell my surgeon on Mon when I go in to see him.

Also I got a letter from the hospital today letting me know my first Physio appointment if for the 21 Aug. That’s a full two and a half weeks after the  operation and they told me they want to see me as soon as possible!!! That’s the NHS for you.

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post-op day 2 (week 1)

Did my exercises three times during the day. Iced about four times. Still no pain. Feeling increasingly like I will be rid of the crutches soon. Am walking more intentionally with the crutches for balance instead of weight bearing. Can bend the right knee 90 degrees now when sitting on a chair and flexing the leg. I also have full 180 degree extension and getting close to the full hyper-extension my left leg is capable of.

Didn’t take pain killers last night and slept like a baby, no problems. Leg does feel stiff when I sit or lie down for long periods but doesn’t take much to “warm” it up again. Exercises are still challenging. This is where I experience pain but again I am not rushing or pushing anything. I want all my progress to be natural and not forced. I’d rather take longer to reach full recovery than push it and risk further injury or even risk easier injury long term because of a rushed recovery.

post-op day 1 (week 1)

Went up and down the stairs at home numerous times. Feel very confident on the crutches and very able to get around. Can put easily 30% weight on the right knee and feel like I’m using the crutches mainly for balance and less for weight bearing.

I have not taken painkillers today. There has been no pain except for the expected pain associated with the exercises. This was unexpected.

Applied ice four times during the day for 30-40 minutes each time. The ice packs are not as cold as I’d like them to be and have ordered more.

Did my exercises three times. It was sore and I could just get my knee to 90 degrees of flexion on the one exercises.

Overall I’m feeling happy. No pain and the swelling has reduced visibly. The exercises are challenging and they are going to be the biggest mental hurdle. I will take it slowly though and not push myself in the first couple of weeks.

I had a stinging pain in my hamstring twice during the day. I don’t know why, I wasn’t moving around or exerting myself, I was just sitting down.

Operation day – Sat, 3 Aug 2013

Sat, 3 Aug 2013. Operation day. Thankfully I got upgraded from the NHS Kingston Hospital to the private New Victoria hospital. Don’t get me wrong, Kingston hospital is very nice (my wife gave birth to our second son there with no problems or complaints) but it is large and it is NHS. The New Victoria is small and private. It’s akin to checking into your long haul flight across the world and finding out you’ve been bumped up to first class from economy class at no extra cost. Needless to say I was very happy.

I checked into the New Victoria at 10H00. Got dressed in my flattering hospital garb and settled down for the wait till 13H00 when my op was scheduled. The anaesthetist came in and briefly did his thing, explaining the general anesthetic I would be given. My surgeon came in and gave me the final run down of the op. A physio came in and prepared me for what to expect post op and the excersises I would have to do to prove I could be discharged. Various other nurses came in asking me similar questions and all the time do I drink or smoke, are all my teeth mine, do I have any medical issues, blah, blah, blah. You know, the usual stuff.

Anyway, 13H00 rolled around, I got the call and walked to the anaesthetist room. They lay me down on the gurney. They stuck some monitors on my chest. The anaesthetist inserted the IV into my right hand and then started pumping me full of feel good drugs and the next thing…

The next thing I came too at about 14H05. The knee felt sore, I told the nurse and she sent in more painkillers through the IV. So the op itself was only about an hour. I was surprised. After a couple of minutes of the nurse checking me she rolled me back to my room.

I lay there for a couple of hours. Clare, the nurse attending me kept coming in every 30 minutes to check my vitals. I was pretty groggy fom the pain killers so I was quite happy to just lie there. I could feel my knee was sore but the meds were keeping it mangeable. I had no intention of trying to move it, I just lay there.

Eventually the Tom the physio came in asked how I was doing and wanted to know how I felt about getting up and trying to walk around on crutches.I said I was happy to give it a go but considering I was in the middle of my post op meal he said he would come back in 30 minutes.

The post op meal by the way was fabulous. Granted I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since the previous evening at around 19H00 but truly the food was excellent. I would consider it restaurant quality easily. Another benifit of being bumped up from NHS to private.

Tom returned somewhere around 17H00 and he helped me off the bed and onto the crutches. I walked about five meters outside of my room and turned around and went back to the bed. I was surprised at how sore my knee was. How stiff it was. I struggled to put any weight on it and when I got back to the bed I was exhausted. But I felt confident I could do this.

I never realised, as someone who has never had to use crutches that there is actually a slight learning curve. There’s a technique to walking with them depending on which leg is injured and there’s a technique to navigating stairs. It’s all very logical and without instruction you would eventually figure it out on your own but it is nice to have the heads up first.

Finally at about 18H45 I got up again to go to the loo and I was surprised again but this time by how substantially easier and less painful it was to walk on the crutches. In the matter of an hour my knee had substantially improved. The pain had reduced and I felt like I had much more range of movement.

Finally once all checked were done I was discharged at 19H30. Walking out of the hospital on the crutches I felt like I almost didn’t need them, almost. I could put a lot more weight on my right leg and I could even stand still without the crutches and about 25% weight on my right leg. I was well pleased with myself.

I got home and had another light meal and some more painkillers. Then I had to face the two flights of stairs that stood between me and my bedroom. It was a piece of cake. I was worried at first, but by this point my knee had improved a lot. I could lift it easily and even put maybe 30% weight on it. Anyway I got up to bed no problems.

Unfortuantely because of the thick bandaging around the knee the first ice pack I applied didn’t really do much, the cold just couldn’t get through to the knee so it was pretty useless. I went to bed.

I didn’t sleep well in the sense that I just didn’t sleep. I was still pretty groggy on meds and I kinda just lay there for most of the night, awake but medicated so it wasn’t an unpleasant feeling.

Anyway. That was Operation day. The big take away for me was how substantially my knee improved in the hours immediately after the op. I am really feeling very confident about my recovery. I’m trusting that I’m hopefully going to be ahead of the average recovery curve, not that I’m rushing but I feel confident.

Pre-op: Jul 2013

This is the pre-op or history post. This is how I ended up on the waiting list for my very own ACL reconstruction surgery.

In Jan 2013 I was at a Krav Maga class stand-up wrestling with a bigger fellow than I when my opponent decided to judo throw me over his hip. Unfortunately for me my right foot remained firmly planted on the ground whilst the rest of me was wrapped over his hip, pivoting on my right knee is a most unnatural fashion. Needless to say as I was “going down” I heard a terrible grinding noise emanating from my right knee followed shortly by a searing pain and then I was lying on the floor with the realisation I had done “something” to my knee.

I’ve heard my ligaments crack, kind of akin to cracking your knuckles maybe and initially I tried hard to believe that this was all it was, just a really back “cracking” but nothing lasting or at least nothing that a little time off and rest and recuperation couldn’t handle. I was wrong, very wrong.

I hobbled home and went to bed. The next day I spent the day at home but didn’t ice it much. Eventually the pain subsided and I regained full movement but there was a persistent pain, like bruising that remained.

After a month I was able to walk and even run without pain. I convinced myself I was back to normal and returned to my Krav Maga class. Five minutes into the class I was doing some aggressive lateral movement (as you do when sparring) and my right knee collapsed under me with excruciating pain. I was back to where I had been a month ago. I hobbled off home, dejected and worried that there was something seriously wrong with my knee.

After a couple more days the majority of the pain subsided and I was back to normal with full mobility and able to walk and run in a straight line. I was however much more concerned that there was lasting damage and also much more conscious of not putting myself in situations where I would require aggressive lateral movement. I stopped going to gym and all other sports.

Three more incidents occurred in the following months before I realised I needed a professional medical opinion on my knee. First I was putting on my trousers before work and lifted my left leg leaving myself standing on and balancing on my right leg which then promptly collapsed underneath me with the same excruciating pain. The next time I opened a big heavy door on a spring, walked through and let the door start to close behind me before realising there were people in front of me about to go through the same door so I immediately turned around, grabbed the slowly closing door and opened it with the intention of holding it open for the people in front of me when my knee collapsed again. Finally in the airport on the way home to London from Italy after a lovely weekend trip to Venice I was negotiating a particularly crowded airport departure gate hall with suitcases in both hands when my knee collapsed again.

Now I realised there was something really wrong. I had been at least three month since I injured my knee and no amount of rest and recuperation was preventing it from collapsing when in stressful situations requiring lateral movement. I went to my doctor and insisted on a scan.

A month later I had my scan. A further month later I had the results from my scan which essentially showed a partial tear of the ACL. My doctor said she was referring me to an Orthopedic surgeon who would “tidy things up a bit” with keyhole surgery. I was grateful to finally know what the problem was and that there was a solution to it.

A month later I had an appointment with my surgeon to meet him and to get his professional opinion. The first thing he said to me was that he had bad news and that he didn’t know why I was told I had a partial tear when it was clear to him that the injury was a full tear or rupture of the ACL. This would require full knee reconstruction surgery. I had a couple of options. First leave everything as is and live the rest of my life with a knee liable to collapse and risk further term injury every time the knee collapses. Second leave everything as is but try to strengthen my leg muscles in order to compensate for the lack of ACL. In relation to this he said he wouldn’t recommend this as I already relatively muscular legs and he doubted I would gain any more stability considering I already was a regular gym fella. The third and final option was the surgery. It was a no brainer in my mind. I’m having the surgery.

This blog is to track the operation itself but more importantly my recovery afterwards. I read a similar blog post of an ACL reconstruction surgery recovery and found it very encouraging and helpful for me in preparation for my operation. I hope putting my story online can help and encourage others in the same boat as I.