After several years of dealing with by bum knee I decided to have it fixed. When I was in high school I played basketball and during a game I was tripped and I landed straight on my knee tearing my right anterior cruciated ligament. Basically the ACL runs in a left to right direction and provides support for pivoting motions. In most cases people can live with an ACL tear they just have to be careful and potentially limit certain activities...something I'm not so good at. Every couple times a year I experience a buckling/giving out of my knee sometimes I bounce right back and continue the activity that I am doing and other times I lose range of motion and experience a large amount of swelling in the knee area. In January of 2001 I was up snowboarding in Tahoe with a couple of friends and I got off of the ski lift and my knee gave out, bad, it was a sign of things to come for the season. I was really frustrated and figured that limiting activities like snowboarding was not something I could do...the hunt was on for a surgeon.
In late April, under just-by-chance circumstances, I found a doctor at Kaiser close to my parent's house. I had good vibes when I met him, he was a fellow snowboarder, and I said sign me up...let's get this thing reconstructed. It would still be another 3 months before I had the operation but as we all know time flies and soon it was July 31. I tried to be as prepared as possible...I had tons of books, my computer, the first season of the Sopranos on DVD and a shower bench...what more could one need?
On a Tuesday morning I showed up at Kaiser bright and early, 7:00 am, my surgery was considered a long one. After having more blood extracted from me I was ready for the procedures. I got to dawn on the oh so lovely hospital gown...accessorized by a headnet and booties. One of the nurses came over to ensure that the right knee was operated on and wrote a big NO on the left knee, good thinking. Finally the anaesthesiologist came over and to explain things to me...not like I cared I figured I would be out within a couple of seconds of drug administration. My doctor passed by me and a minute later came walking back, he evidently did recognize me in my glam outfit. Then I walked into the operating room, there were about seven people in there, my doctor being the youngest. The IV was jammed into my hand and within a couple of minutes I was fast asleep.
Being in the recovery room stunk, I was totally drugged up, I couldn't stay awake and the drugs had made me sick...but the nurse was nice and she fed me mystery popsicles...hey don't laugh. Anyway they had to wait for me to get the initial drugs out of my system so they could try something else out. They switched me over to percocet and I was a happy camper. I finally left the hospital around 3:30, it had been a long day. The good part about this surgery is that they don't put you in a cast, they just wrap the knee in a bunch of ace bandages and stick you in what they call an Immoblizer...mine is just a foam thing with velcro straps...the bad part is that you have to be on crutches.
When I got home I hobbled straight to the couch and mom made sure I had everything right by me. The pain was tolerable, thanks to the percocet but the real life saver was an ice machine that my friend John gave me. Ice and elevation made a world of difference and the only time I would really feel a lot of pain would be getting in and out of bed. I basically stayed on the couch or in bed for 48 hours, after that I started to be up and around a little but I tired easily. A week after the surgery I was up and around and no longer got tired.
My doctor said to expect to be on crutches for three weeks, yuck, and after that I will be on the Immobilzer until my quad muscles strengthen. My flexion is very limited and at the time I wrote this I was about 90 degrees and am close to being able to straighten my knee. I have exercises that I have to do every day and I hope to be riding a bike soon.
Well and that's the long and short of it. The anticipated recovery time is between 6 and 9 months...at 6 months I can start running and hopefully snowboarding will soon follow!!!
The pictures above were taken 48 hours after the surgery.