Thursday, July 26, 2012

ACL Reconstruction: 3 Weeks Post-Op (And some realities of post-op daily life)

Probably the toughest initial part of post-op life: stuck in the house and inactive

Some brief recaps:

I stopped taking the painkillers within a couple days of getting home from surgery.
The pain was never truly unbearable, more uncomfortable than anything.
When I woke up from surgery and the nerve block for whatever reason wasn't working was the only time I asked for//needed some serious pain medicine.

The nurses and such all try to rush you out of the hospital.
At one point, about 5 minutes after waking up from surgery, I clearly recall debating how it would sound if I said, "You mind if I f***ing sleep a few more minutes. Someone just cut out part of my leg, drilled 2 holes in my knee and then screwed a strip of my tendon with bone on each end into the ends of two other bones."

I was also woken back up (I think) later on by the nurse when it was time to go. This was my only dispute with the hospital site.

At 3 days post-op, I left the house to get outside b/c I had cabin fever like you wouldn't imagine.
I slept mostly 4-5 hours at a time, and my wife would bring me a bottle/cup to pee in. The painkillers mean you don't have to s*** for several days (which let me tell you, the sooner you stop taking painkillers, the less uncomfortable getting back to s******* will be). 

At 3 or 4 days while my wife was at work, I snuck downstairs and did some curls with barbells, dumbbell overhead presses, and used some machines to do some lat pulldowns and seated bench press type things.

At 7 days post-op, I could not even do a leg lift when I saw my surgeon/doctor again.
At 8 days I began doing the leg lifts (10 at a time) and then doing the resistance hamstring curls (using my own hands to provide resistance and to fire the hamstring/calf muscle).
Doing the leg lift from straight off the ground is still difficult but I can do it with only slight bend in my leg.

At 10 or 11 days post-op I could hobble without crutches. I also began driving (but that's because my left leg was the injured leg, and I drive an automatic. I would not yet feel comfortable driving if I had to use my left leg/foot.

By 14 days I was hobbling just fine and doing much more in the gym at my apartment (curls, lat pull downs, curls using a pull-up grip to work my forearms).

At 3 weeks I'm able to bend my knee right at 90 degrees and can almost straighten it as much as my un-injured leg.

Passing the time: I've been coaching my teammates and helping beginners at open mat and beginner class. I've been picking up a lot more about my teammates, their individual styles than I ever did before.
Coaching Judo has been easier as I have a lot more time on the mat doing that, but I've had to work on my ability to articulate what to do rather than just show and explain as I demonstrate something.
Netflix is good, but I strongly recommend some video games to pass the time as well. Set a timer and do your leg/isometric exercises after each hour of playing.
DVD's of the Pans, or the Mundials are fun as you can watch a whole division play out rather than just the finals. I think I've watched my 2007 and 2010 Mundials videos at least 3-4 times through beginning to end.

My leg now feels strong enough to walk without the brace, but the doctor will tell me when the brace is optional for walking around.

3 weeks down.
21 weeks to go.

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