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ACL Journey

Monday, August 05, 2019

In January, I tore my ACL when I fell while downhill skiing. I had an MRI and knew that it was completely torn, and would not heal fully without surgery. Which made hiking hard, and future skiing would be out of the question.

I already had a special trip to Bryce and Zion National Parks planned for May. The problem was, if I had surgery before that trip, I would not have been recovered enough to hike during that trip. I was fitted with a functional brace which would help for that time and allow me to enjoy that adventure. Over time, the swelling of the injury reduced, I had a lovely trip to Utah. I was able to do most of the hiking I wanted to do -- but I didn't go up to Angel's Landing (or even to Scout's lookout).

After the trip, it was time to have the surgery. My surgery was on May 29. My doctor and I opted for an allograft using a Hamstring tendon. (Allograft means it came from a cadaver).

Recovery from surgery is tough. But our bodies are amazing. Every single day, I could do something more, and still that continues.

Initially, I needed crutches, and needed help to move at all. I had a full immobilizer brace on. I had to put my braced leg in a bag and sit down to take a shower. I needed help because I couldn't carry anything (like a cup of tea).
Gradually, I could put a bit more weight on that leg while still using crutches and the brace.
Then it was just one crutch for support. This was wonderful, as now I had another hand that I could carry something with.
I got the bandaging off, and I could have some time without the brace on.
I started some light physical therapy.
I was able to open the brace to some amount of motion, and eventually to switch to the functional brace which is a little less bulky.
I continued with my PT and exercises and joined a gym so that I could use the machines.
I no longer need to wear any brace unless I am on uneven terrain or on my feet for an extended time.

Now, I actually look forward to riding the bike at the gym. It stretches the knee and really feels good. I use the elliptical machine, which really gets the cardio going. I use several other machines and other exercises that increase the strength in my legs. Some exercises are challenging, but they get easier every day. It amazes me when I do something more easily that was so hard before, or I add more weight or more resistance to an exercise.

I'm still traveling along this road, but I know that I am making progress every step. And all the milestones serve as a reward and reaffirm my commitment.

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