One month post surgery...I'm stronger than I'll ever believe!
Monday, February 06, 2012
So a big, huge update from surgery and beyond.
MRI showed a "significant" tear in the posterior horn of my medial meniscus. In English: a tear of the meniscus on the inner part of my left knee which unfortunately is not the type that can heal on its own through rest and therapy.
So on January 4th, I was rolled into outpatient surgery. I was nervous but ready to fix the problem. A quick procedure with three small scars (one on the upper part of my knee and 2 under my kneecap). The first few days were definitely rough. I don't tolerate narcotics very well and after a day and a half they made me sick. I also didn't tolerate the anti-inflammatory medication they gave me so on day 2 I was only taking tylenol at regular intervals. I followed instructions post surgery and made sure to keep my knee and ankle moving several times every hour. While it definitely, for lack of a better word, SUCKED, it got me going.
By day 4, I was up and moving around partially weight bearing with crutches and before a full week was over, I was putting full weight on my leg. Seriously, modern medicine is AMAZING! And by day 4, I was going CRAZY cooped up in the house. I was bored out of my mind. One can only search so many things on the internet and watch so much netflix in one day!
Day 9 was my post op appointment with the surgeon. She was really impressed with the very little swelling and the range of motion I had in my knee. Then it was off to my first physical therapy appointment. He asked me to straighten my leg as much as I could and it went all the way down - 0 degrees (he measured!) then he told me to bed. 144 beautiful degrees. He stood there in total amazement and responded with "that doesn't hurt?" Nope! it felt great actually! (As a frame of reference - 140 is the normal degree of flexion for a knee). With full range of motion, he massaged on my scar tissue and holy CRAP it hurt! I almost jumped off the table! It was then I found out that I was on the PT fast track. 6 weeks of therapy once a week (the typical post arthroscopic surgery patient has 8 weeks 2x per week).
The next day, just 10 days after surgery, I was back at work. No crutches! Walking around as best as I could. But MAN, I was happy to be out of the house and seeing other people besides my husband (I love him, but I needed other human beings!)
That next Wednesday was my first test of my mental and physical strength: STAIRS. There's an elevator in our building which I had been using for the first few work days after my surgery, but the front door of the clinic was locked and I was forced up the back stairway. It was a slow, somewhat painful process, but I made it and I haven't looked back since that time!
Week 2 of therapy wasn't too taxing. More stretching, some more advanced exercises to help my range of motion and some simple strength moves to help my muscles get back to the impact of every day life. I even got to hop on an exercise bike for the first time! Only 14 days after surgery!
Week 3 of therapy was a doozy! I was doing squats, lunges, and adding thera bands (the strethcy colored therapy tools) to my previous exercises to make them more challenging. I worked up a SERIOUS sweat. I was doing things I didn't do much BEFORE surgery. My hamstrings were sore for 4 whole days afterwards and I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel in this 2+ month journey of injury, surgery, and rehab. I was able to leg press 90 pounds with ease (both legs).
Week 4 of therapy was this week. We backed off the squats and lunges a little bit since I was so sore from the week before. This week I biked with resistance, got clearance to go back to the gym to do some biking (20 minutes per session, up to 3 times per week, WITH resistance if I so choose). I leg pressed 110 pounds with ease AND I leg pressed 70 pounds solo with my leg that had surgery just one month before. I did some serious balance with squats on a wobble board without falling down.
And then, on Saturday, I took my first step in a gym in over two months. I didn't realize how big of a moment it was until right now, reliving my whole experience from being injured. I didn't realize how much I appreciated the gym or how strong I really am.
In this whole journey, I have gained some amazing mental and physical strength. I've been mentally strong to not cry a single time during this whole experience. From having my initial exam in my sports med clinic with one of our athletic trainers, to getting my MRI, to hearing the negative results. Learning about my surgery from the doctors, going in the day of, and all the rehab and some of the pain. Wow. For me, that some serious strength. And this time it wasn't to put on a happy face. Everyone told me it was ok to be scared and it was ok to cry but I didn't need to.
And the physical determination is more than I ever knew I had. I worked hard when it was wedding time, but I feel like in the month since surgery I've pushed myself to lengths I never knew I could. I made sure that I did my home exercises every day (sometimes twice a day!) I made sure that I knew when to put the brakes on. I made sure I knew my limits and hit the edge of them without going over. I can do this.
Tomorrow, a follow up with the surgeon in the morning and we'll reassess where I am and what I'm capable of doing. I feel like I'm breaking the mold for recovery and even she will be surprised where I am. Just a little bit of swelling at different times of the day, very little discomfort during every day activities. I can now go to the grocery store, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, and make dinner. All things I obviously took for granted, but it's hard when you have to rely on other people for it.
I can't wait to get back out there. Getting out walking the dogs, getting back on a treadmill, enjoying exercise. I'm going to be stronger than I ever was. I am mentally stronger and the physical strength isn't far behind. I am just kind of sad that it took a surgery to make me realize my true inner strength!