I'm a 31 yr old female!
I had ACL reconstruction on my left knee on Nov. 9, 2010... after a year of waiting! yay! i guess... :p
I'm copying and pasting just this entry from my normal blog, but I wanted a place where I can dedicate to my knee and recovery.
So, here I am...
Posted on my blog Monday, Nov. 15.
Quick recap about how I completely tore my ACL: We had a gig in Japan last November. During my solo (while playing one of our physically demanding songs), my left leg suddenly gave out... like gumby. My leg felt like it was bending from left to right. I somehow finished my solo, finished the song, and played in one more song. Knee felt strange but never had any pain. Didn't swell much at all either. Got back to the US, had an MRI, ACL tear was confirmed. Found out I was pregnant the day after. Doctor said she can't operate while I'm pregnant. Fast forward to last week. Finally had surgery after over a year of waiting.
Last Tuesday, my hubby took me to the hospital at 7:30am. I brought the crutches, huge knee brace, ice machine, and all the medicine my doctor prescribed. They took me to the changing area pretty quickly. Hubby and baby (4 months old) waited in the waiting room, which was pretty spacious with lots of windows and many doors that lead outside. It didn't feel like what a waiting room should feel like, if that makes any sense. hahah.
They had me change into a gown and gave me socks, too (which were really comfy). They checked my height. They were surprised that I'm exactly 5 feet tall. I was hoping maybe I grew overnight. hahahaha.
They had me lay down on a bed in the prep room and a nurse came to ask me a whole bunch of questions. Then, she started my IV to keep me hydrated. This made me pee 3 times before I actually went into surgery.
Then, I waited... and waited... and waited....
While I waited, more people came into the prep area. There was this older lady across from me and it took two nurses 30+ minutes to get her IV in. She started crying... and it made me anxious. ack.
My doctor finally came to see me around 11am. She told me that her first case (I was the second) took a little bit longer. She marked my left leg "YES". We talked for a little bit and she left saying, "I'll see you in the operating room!"
Then, the operating room nurse came in. He was cool. He asked me a bunch of questions, too.
After that, the main man, the anesthesiologist came in. He was awesome. He asked me a bunch of questions and then told me I'll get a sedative before I'm wheeled in to calm me down and relax me. I went to pee for the third time an when I came back, the operating room nurse gave me the sedative. OOoooooh my gosh, that's some good stuff HAHAHA. I was overcome with this sudden sleepy, but awake feeling. He pushed my bed into the operating room and I saw my doctor. I think I said something to her.... but that's all I remember. I don't remember even getting the anesthesia. I think the sedative was enough to knock me out.
When I woke up, I was in the recovery room, with 2 different nurses by my side. I also noticed the huge knee brace. One looked like an experienced female nurse, and the other one was a male nurse that kind of looked lost. They told me they gave me fentanyl for my pain and asked me what my pain level was. I told them it was like an 8 out of 10. They gave me demerol. I told them my pain level was around 4 now. They asked if it was tolerable... and I said, I guess I could tolerate it, but it hurt! So they gave me morphine. Aaaahhh, that made everything much much much better. Then it was just me and the inexperienced looking male nurse. I asked him how long he's been doing this... he told me it was his first day in the recovery room. :/ He was trying to replace the water in my ice pack that was wrapped around my knee (under my brace). He attached the ice machine to the little tube, but I couldn't feel any water coming in. errr.....
That's when my buddy Greg came in to save the day. Greg works with my doctor. I'm not exactly sure what his title is. He's not a nurse... more like a doctor's assistant. He's the one that fit me for my crutches and told me how to use them, especially going down the stairs. He's also the one that talked to me about the ice machine and knee brace a week prior to the surgery. Anyway, he was like... "uh, the ice cooler spout isn't open...". We opened it... and the ice water flowed into the ice pack. yay!!
Greg told me that the first thing I said when I woke up from anesthesia was.... "Where is Greg??". HAHAHAHAHA. I know why, too. At the pre-op appointment a week before surgery, Greg was explaining the ice machine and knee brace, crutches, etc... and as I was leaving, I asked him if he was gonna be there after my surgery in case I need to ask him a question about anything. He joked and said, "nope", but I thought he was serious. My doctor looked at me and said "He'll be there... you just might not remember him being there". So I think subconsciously I was worried that he wouldn't be there... and then when I woke up, I asked where he was. ahahahahhaa.
Then, they took me to a different recovery room... which was actually the other side of the prep room. 2 nurses helped me there, too. They took my IV out and then I really wanted to pee. One of the nurses gave me a quick lesson on how to use my crutches. Doctor wants me to bear weight on my operated leg as tolerated, so I was practicing it wrong the whole time. Anyway, she was like... strict, but kind of funny. hahaha. Even the other nurse was like, "geez, you're like a drill sergeant!!". They made me use the crutches to get myself to the bathroom so that I can practice using them. The two nurses were on both sides of me. I felt REALLY nauseous and they kept telling me to not look down. Then, they would say, don't put your left leg beyond the crutches. I asked them, "how am I supposed to know if my leg is going beyond the crutches if I can't look down to see?
?". They chuckled and said I can't look down cuz I was feeling sick, but I need to try and not go ahead of the crutches. I peed... and then, they had a comfy wheelchair waiting for me when I was done. This chair was like a regular ottoman...did not look like a wheelchair.
I got dressed and they wheeled me outside where hubby was waiting for me. I waved vigorously, smiled, and said "HIIIIII!!!!!!!!!". He told me he was shocked to see me the way I was. He said that everyone else that came out of surgery looked really groggy and out of it, but I was SUPER perky and alert. I guess anesthesia didn't have a bad affect on me.
I got home... and had to go down 3 flights of stairs to go home. AAaaaaaahhh~. :/ This was a sloooooow process, but Hiro stood in front of me, a few steps down, and guided me down as I tried to go down using my crutches. It sucked, but it wasn't TOO bad. I was happy to be home and in bed. My leg was propped up and I had everything I needed.
Hubby filled me in on what happened while he was in the waiting room. He said my baby was perfect and that she didn't even cry. The nurses that were helping me out visited him and baby and said she was such a good baby. I guess the hospital has volunteers that go around the waiting room asking people if they need anything. One of the things they'll do is go inside and find out the status of the person they're waiting for. Cool, no? Hubby didn't ask him about me, but it's nice to know that there's someone that you can ask. The doctor came out to talk to him after my surgery. She told him that everything went well, talked for a bit, and gave him pictures of what she did inside my knees. My meniscus was totally fine!!!! She didn't have to shave off or repair any of it! That is really good news!! There's also a picture of what the inside of my knee looked like without my ACL... and an after picture of my new ACL in place. So cool!!!
I went with a donor ligament (patellar tendon) instead of using my own patellar tendon or hamstring to replace my ACL. There are pros and cons for both and I just decided that the donor ligament was the best option for me. Here's my understanding of what happened during surgery. It was all arthroscopic so all the incisions were very small. She drilled a hole in my bones and threaded the donor ligament through and screwed it in. Yay.
A few hours after I got home, my friend came. He lives in Nor Cal, but took the week off to help me out with my baby. I don't know what I would have done without him. He was SO SO SO good with her. He warmed up the pumped milk that was in the freezer. He held her and walked around with her so that she can fall asleep (she's still fighting sleep), he kept her entertained. Not only that, he helped me, too. He got me water, changed the ice in the ice machine, got me food, etc, etc. I could walk using my crutches, but had no free hand to hold or carry anything. I really don't know what I would have done without him here.
I stored enough milk in the freezer prior to the surgery. There was enough to get us to the middle of Friday. Hubby called our pediatrician to make sure all the medicine I was taking was compatible with breastfeeding, which it was. Still, I didn't feel 100% comfortable taking all of it if I didn't need to. So, I stopped taking the vicodin and only took motrin twice a day to keep the swelling down (and to lessen the pain). I still have to take the antibiotic, but that's the only one I'm taking on a regular basis until Tuesday. Not that I don't trust the pediatrician, but I looked it all up on the internet, too.... and everything I'm taking is safe for breastfeeding. Let me tell you... the boob makes a huge difference. She was MUCH less fussy after drinking out of the boob.
1st day after surgery: I took the painkillers religiously to stay ahead of the pain. Exercises - Moving my feet in circles. Making sure that my leg is extended all the way (I read that getting extension early in the recovery period is very important). I prop my heel up and let the back of my knee droop down. Doesn't hurt. Maybe I'm lucky? Putting as much weight on it as I can while walking with crutches.
2nd day after surgery: I began weening myself off the painkillers. Exercises: Moving feet in circles. Bending my knees as much as I could through heel slides, which wasn't much at all. Very stiff, but pushed through it. Putting as much weight on it as I can while walking with crutches. OH! This is the day I got a special delivery from my friends, the Sato's!! I got my first edible arrangement! It was a really nice surprise.
3rd day after surgery: Pretty much no more painkillers, except motrin once every 12 hours to keep the swelling down. Exercises - Bending my knees as much as I could through heel slides. I bent it more than the day before. yay. I also tried to flex my quads... did not happen. Putting as much weight on it as I can while walking with crutches.
4th day after surgery: same as 3rd day Exercises - Heel slides, bending more and more. Flexing quads... my quads fired, but not consistently. It was like I had no control over them. Putting as much weight on it as I can while walking with crutches. I'm starting to put more and more weight on it.
5th day after surgery: OUCH! woke up with lots of pain! eek! Exercises - Heel slides, bending more. Flexing quads, quads fired and I had more control!
Putting weight on my leg while using crutches... I'm starting to be able to move my leg and crutches at the same time (instead of moving my crutches first, putting my weight on the crutches and them moving my leg).
6th day after surgery (today): haven't taken any painkillers.
Exercises - same as day 5.
The ice machine is my BFF. It's on me pretty much all day and it's a lifesaver. I love it. It's a GREAT painkiller.
I figured out how to get off the bed/couch! I just lift my left leg with my hands by grabbing onto the straps on the brace. Sitting on the toilet is quite interesting... I have to hold my leg up with my hands the entire time cuz my leg is locked straight from my upper thigh to my ankle (bc of the brace). fun... :/
I have my post-op appointment on Thursday, and then I start physical therapy!!! Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!