Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

We had lots of fun this weekend with friends at the lake on Saturday, then at the parade in town today. My incisions are still not totally healed since I keep spitting stitches. It looks so gross will all of the little holes along the incision, but I guess that's just the way it is. I sat on the shore and watched little I play in the water with her goggles and snorkel which was lots of fun. The joy, and ability to live in the moment that children have is wonderful to watch on weekends like this. Very important in my recovery too. They can find joy in the smallest things and I'm trying to take that cue.

The parade today was fun. I sat in the trailer with the Tiny Tigers since I was not able to walk the route. It is so hard for me to sit by and watch everyone else do the things I used to do. I walked the short distance from the end of the parade to the cemetery for the presentations and did my best to stand throughout. I couldn't make it through the whole thing. I slowly and stiffly walked back to the trailer and sat listening and thinking that things could be a lot worse. I saw lots of people drop from the heat, and so many families who have lost so much there to celebrate their loved ones on this day. I'm really stiff and tired, and I'm sure swollen, but I guess things really aren't that bad.

This is such a long process. I have missed 2 testing cycles already from this injury and will miss several more before I am able to return and then learn all the new material. I have watched people test and get their new belts while I sit and watch. We used to joke about Big K being the eternal while belt, but here I am now on the eternal camo belt track. Sigh... I tell myself that this is just a hurdle in the long race of martial arts. I will get through this. I will come back to class. I will work toward my black belt. And on this day, I will be thankful for what I have.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today was the day! I drove again. I felt like a teenager. It has been so long since I have driven, but I have been following the PT's guidelines so strictly. The last thing I want, is to get in an accident, so I have waited like she said until I felt safe enough to have my daughter in the car with me driving. I felt good today and it was time to give it a try. No problem. I can move fast enough and with enough power to hit the brakes in case of an emergency. Woohoo!

I am starting to feel alot better. I'm walking pretty well at this point without crutches, although I'm still working on planting with the injured leg as straight as the "good" one. Flexion was 146 degrees without a lot of stress. We've added shuffles, one leg ball bouncing on the trampoline, mini squats with weight, step ups with a kick, and hamstrings. Leg press single leg was at 60 lbs., negatives were at 80 lbs., and both legs were 130 lbs. I still hate lying on my belly to work my knee toward my rear. It is torture, but I have to say that am seeing it's benefits.

The other new thing this week is that I'm spitting stitches. It is really gross, but I'm told that it is a normal part of the healing process for some people. After I got the stitches out, I thought that was it. I thought the couple spots that were bleeding would heal up and I would be able to start working the scar, but no. As we worked on the scar, I started to see what almost looked like a blood blister show up. Then one day as I got out of the shower and toweled off, I noticed a little piece of something sticking out. I pulled the little piece and saw that it was a stitch. The first of three so far that have decided that my knee was not the place for them. I would really like for the stitch spitting to finish and to get on with the healing process. I must say that they are a pain, but I'm happy to be making progress. I feel like I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Monday, May 17, 2010

bike ride!

I had my first bike ride yesterday!! Yes, it was on the trainer in the living room, but hey I'm not picky these days! It felt so good to move and do something that I used to do before the injury. The more I rode, the better it felt and the easier the motion became. Big I was worried about how quickly I was turning the pedals over after a few minutes but I felt really good. It was the first time I was really moving and without pain since this started. It is a day to celebrate!

I flexed to 130 degrees at PT today and got the ok to use one crutch! One step closer to getting off the crutches and then driving. Things seem to be getting a little easier. Pain is still always there, but not consuming me like it was in the beginning. The PT rubbed the IT band and scar area today and it really was no fun! The IT band area was ok, but the scar felt like someone was stabbing me with a flaming dagger. Pain now, gain later? I sure hope so!! I am gaining strength slowly but surely, but still showing the atrophy pretty bad. The goal is to develop strength while keeping swelling down. No small task, but I'm doing my best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

baby steps

What a strange turn of events this is for me. I am getting ready to move the bike and trainer up stairs to the living room. For years I have ridden and even raced on the road and off road. I always hated the trainer. It was boring. Now, I can't wait to get it set up. It has become strangely exciting and welcome. Something that is a link to my "normal" life before this injury. The fact that I may not be able to complete a full pedal stroke until the end of my 15 minute "ride" is ok. A challenge that I will overcome, like that first ride of the season. The one where I always wonder why I let myself get that "out of shape" over the winter. I hope for the same transformation as the spring progresses this year. A noticeable gain in fitness and ability. A series of baby steps back to my "normal".

Saturday, May 15, 2010

why now?

Little I came home from school on Thursday telling me that one of the kids in her class threw up in the lunch room. Oh joy. So when she wakes up Friday morning complaining of her tummy hurting I'm dreading the possibility of some sort of stomach bug finding it's way into our house. Do I send her to school? Keep her home? Big K has a business meeting that he can't get out of and I still can't drive, so we decide to keep her home. After a few hours, she is feeling great, and I'm wondering why I'm not. I love spending time with Little I, but 2 weeks post op with an angry tummy doesn't make for a very happy day. What a trooper she is though. Getting me water and really anything else I need. She asks me "are you going to cry?" and I seriously ponder the question, but tell her a cheery "I don't think so". After a long night, I think I'm breaking through. I hope I'm breaking through! So far no throwing up, and I'm hoping it stays that way!

I feel like my progress on my knee was going well until this. I flexed to 122 degrees and was starting to do some leg press and unsupported mini squats. I was making lots of progress on the bike, actually making full pedal strokes, and I feel like being stuck in the bed is erasing all of that hard work. I'm trying to do as much as I can in the bed without encouraging other issues. I am so ready to feel normal again!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2 weeks post op

It is hard to believe that I am 2 weeks post op today! Stitches came out yesterday which was so nice and a very welcome step for me in this process. Getting them out means that I can start bearing more weight. Now we can start getting off of the crutches and drive. Darn right leg!

The stitches didn't want to come out. I had felt them pinching for a couple days and came to find out that they were starting to scar on to my knee. With a few yanks, they finally came out feeling like an extended bee sting. Not exactly comfortable, but what is with this process?! The surgeon was happy with my quad, extension, and flexion. He said I could start working my way off the crutches over the next 1-3 weeks with the guidance of PT. Working on the quad and continuing with the PT, I should be walking into my next appointment in 3 weeks on my own. I am hoping to be on the shorter end of the off crutches/driving spectrum because it really stinks being stuck at home. I hate having to ask for help and rides. Again, I find myself so thankful for such good people in our lives.

PT today was feeling pretty good until S decided to torture me at the end! Heal slides are never my favorite, but they are getting less miserable. I flexed to 120 with a little help and was at about 115 on my own. Mini squats went well and I was able to do most of them without holding on to the table. It feels strange to stand on both legs again. It is going to take a little getting used to, but I will gladly try it!! Leg press single leg at 30 lbs., and both legs 80 lbs., bouncing the ball on the trampoline with both legs planted. Moving along! Time for the aerodyne. It felt like that thing had cranks that were about a mile long. As a competitive cyclist, I had totally taken for granted the "simple" movement of peddling a bike. No resistance to worry about, no hills, roots, or rocks. Just the pedal stroke itself ground me to a halt in the first few minutes. After about 10 minutes of the back and forth, I finally made a complete revolution! Woohoo! then came the "one more last little bit of torture before we stim". Torture it was. Being on my belly with my foot reaching toward my behind was torture! The left leg easily reached its goal, but the right leg was a whole different story. By 90 degrees I was not happy. Somewhere shortly after that I was really hurting, and just a smidgen more and it was torture. Lucky me, I get to go back tomorrow for more. : /

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wonder Twin Powers Activate

It is kind of strange having a friend going through the same surgery a week after me. Ms. C had her surgery on Thursday, which was 8 days after mine. As I was going into PT on Friday morning, there she was going through her first post op PT torture session and it was almost surreal for me. It felt so close to home yet so far away at the same time. In a way it was hard to reconcile that it was just one short week ago that it was my torture session. What a change a week can make!

We have been dubbed the Wonder Twins and I have to say that it is both funny and encouraging to have a "twin". While I would never wish this ordeal on anyone, I am excited for the fact that I will have someone to work with on this long road ahead. Hopefully our Wonder Twin Powers can activate us back into two pain free, happy wives, mothers, and active martial artists soon!

I have been thinking a lot about how this injury throws the tenants of martial arts right in my face. It requires all of the key concepts. Positive attitude, perseverance, determination, confidence... The list goes on and on. All required in recovery, martial arts, and I think if you are doing things right, life. I would like to respectfully ask for a gentler reminder of those ideas next time! : )

My new short term goals:
1. Get stitches out on Tuesday (yeah!!)
2. Get off of crutches
3. Drive

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One week post op!

One week post op! I made it through the first week! Yeah!!! I got out of the house for the first time last night and did my exercises while I watched Little I at taekwondo. It did wonders for my spirit to get out of the house for something other than the doctor or PT if even for just the one little hour. It is so easy to start feeling isolated.

One week, and it's a busy day ahead! PT and a mother's day tea at Little I's school. When I woke up in the morning, I wasn't quite sure how things would go. I was still tired and trying to manage the pain without spending all day sleeping. PT went very well. I felt much better than on Monday. Flexion was 95 degrees. Good progress. I felt hopeful for the first time in a while.

Since PT and recovery are taking up every waking moment at this point, I find myself going straight from PT to the Mother's Day Tea. Those mom's whom I knew greeted me happily and asked how everything was going. It was really nice to see them all. Those that I didn't know looked at me like they were afraid they would catch something. Sorry, but I didn't have time to change from my shorts and t-shirt that I wore to PT, and my daughter means the world to me. It's not like it's easy getting in to much else these days all wrapped up anyway. I already missed the spring singing performance that was the night following surgery. I would not miss this. I was going to be there. Period. Little I saw me sitting there with my leg stretched out on the cafeteria bench and smiled the biggest smile I've seen since before the surgery and my heart melted. They sang several songs before joining us at the tables for our special strawberry shortcake treat. Her place mat had a picture of the two of us. Me with my crutches. Both of us smiling It was really a great day.

PT begins...again

My dad came in to town to help with Little I and me. Big K is happy to have the help I'm sure. He's back to work and I'm sure feels like he just had a baby and I'm not there to help out after a weekend of fetching food, meds, ice etc. at all hours day and night. Dependent on the crutches I feel so helpless. Everything is still so hard and my dad understands that. He had a total knee in November.

Little I is super excited to see Pappap and off to school she goes. Together dad and I head to PT. Extension is good and flexion is now 78 degrees. Progress! The work is hard and in baby steps, but I'm moving forward. Things are getting better very slowly.

The picture is a few days post op. I had a tough time with swelling as you can see from the beautiful markings from the ice machine pad.

First day of post op PT

I was two days out of surgery at this point and time to go to the first post op PT for their assessment. Extension feels different than pre op. Somehow strangely almost less painful. Flexion is at about 60 degrees and average, but worlds away from the 135 I was going into surgery with. My quad is pretty sad, but it's there and "moving" on command. Straight leg raises seem like a cruel joke at this point, but I know they are going to be a big part of my life for a quite awhile. With help I struggle through them. My leg feels like a sausage and I wonder how long I can do this. Today is my hard day.

day after surgery

OK, here it is and I am waiting with my best game face on. The supposed "worst day" in the ACL reconstruction process. Stay ahead of the pain, stay ahead of the pain. At this point staying ahead of the pain meant sleeping, but if this is the worst, we're doing OK. I have a reasonably high pain tolerance, as evidenced by my past adventures, broken bones etc. so while I'm in a great deal of pain, I am trying to take it in stride. In the past I had been prescribed some pretty serious meds for injuries and never really ended up taking them. I am cautiously optimistic.

Time for the post op visit. If the saying "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger" is true, I got a lot stronger at this point. I underestimated everything about this appointment. I was excited about seeing how things were going, but just getting there and back was a battle. Getting in and out of the car was the hardest thing I had done in a long time. I was in pain, sweating and getting really grouchy because of our lovely MI roads. The PA said that things looked good, surgery went well. He handed me of to one of the trainers to assess my starting point and take a baseline x-ray for the screws. I straightened OK, and flexed in the average range. "Can you lift you leg?" My brain says "yes" my leg says "hahaha that's pretty funny, but I will make the quad twitch. Remember, I'm stubborn". Out comes the home stim unit. WOOHOO! At least I get to shower tomorrow!!

Friends start to come visit with food and goodies that I will be eternally grateful for. The break it gave my poor husband with cooking and the emotional good it did for me to see people were very really treasures. Even if they just stayed for a few minutes, I felt like I was still connected to what was going on outside of this event. They didn't care that the house was a mess and I was a dopey mess. They were there anyway. They may never know just how much they did (and continue to do) to help with my recovery, but Big K and I will. I am very lucky to have such people in my life.

Pretty quickly, however, I realize that the level of pain that comes with this surgery can change quickly and significantly. Wow, Oxy is a very powerful pain med. One that I have never been prescribed or needed before. This is not good. I start to realize that when people said this was the worst pain that they had ever been in, they were serious. I have a new sense of respect for everyone who has endured this process. By this point we are almost done with what was supposed to be the "hardest day" and I'm not liking where it is going. Getting up to use the bathroom is seeming to get harder and harder. Maybe because I am so thirsty from the anesthesia, meds, who knows. The blood rush is feeling worse and worse. A bed pan is starting to sound like a nice idea. This is going bad, and it's going fast!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

surgery part II

As I wake up from the haze of anesthesia, I keep asking "what did the doctor say?" to my husband. He apparently tells me many times what the doctor said, but I keep asking anyway. Funny how everyone seems to have a certain thing they get "stuck" on after coming to. Keith's was trying to continue selling the doctor a bike and asking if I had called his mom. Anyway, we laugh now, but there was not much laughing going on that morning for me.

The surgeon told my husband that everything went really well in surgery. They ended up finding a 95% ACL tear and no meniscus damage. Yeah! I was worried about the meniscus because of the MRI combined with the symptoms. Looks like that stubborn 5% of the ACL was the root of the pain pre op. I know I'm stubborn, but really, did all my parts have to be stubborn too? I guess so.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the first time you try to "walk" after having ACL surgery for several reasons. Number one, the blood rush is something that you can't understand until you feel it. Kind of like when the doctor says "when you feel like you need to push" during labor. No words can quite give it justice. Number two, after all that work pre op to get that quad to fire there you are with a giant, heavy wet noodle hanging from your rear end (that is bare and hanging out of a hospital gown at this point). Number three, dizzy from the meds and already in some pain you realize that this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Oh man. I guess it's too late to turn back now...

Somehow, by the grace of God, we were discharged and made it home with some Potbelly sandwiches in hand. Half of the sandwich filled me up and helped calm my uneasy tummy. Most of the rest of the day was a blur with intermittent pain, drug induced sleep and feelings of "what in the world did I just do to myself?". It was clear that I had made my nest on the couch and that is where I was going to stay for at least the night and next day. Everything I had read about this surgery from real people said how it was one of the most painful things that they had ever been through and the second day seemed to be the worst. My mantra became "stay ahead of the pain" and I did a pretty good job. Surgery day down.

Monday, May 3, 2010

surgery part I

Wow, surgery. Where do I start?

Friends of ours from down the street were so wonderful to offer to take Little I in and get her on the bus with their kids the morning of surgery. I will never be able to express to them how much this meant for us. To know that she was in good hands and going to have a fun morning before school, complete with chocolate chip pancakes too, made it alot easier for Big K and I to head to the hospital with less to worry about. Little I was such a trooper! She woke up, put her clothes on and got in the car. We dropped her off and I could tell that she was a little nervous. She was quiet and kept her head down as we tucked her in on the couch. I tried to be strong and positive for her. It was hard. I gave her a big hug and kiss and told her that I would see her later. I didn't want to leave her, but we had to go. Off we went.

It was still dark when we got to the hospital and I took my last Tylenol before surgery. I checked in and they called us back within a few minutes. It is kind of nice being in the first round of surgeries for the day. Doctors and nurses started to come in for their shifts as they were prepping me. I got the anti-nausea pill and the nurse took the water from my hand with a "just enough to swallow the pill smile". They placed the Velcro sticky strip on my head to prep me for anesthesia. It is supposed to measure your brain waves to make sure they regulate all of the meds properly, but all I know is that it hurts since they just mashed sticky Velcro onto my head. And of course Big K takes a picture for me to have as a keepsake. He was good at taking pictures to help me document the big day-even when I didn't want him too!

Everyone was very nice at the hospital. Even sneezy who ended up being my fellow. I saw him sneeze when he came in and then couldn't stop thinking about how he sneezed into his hands and then I never saw him wash his hands. This was not helping my anxiety level, but luckily they started the IV, rolled me down the hall and into the operating room. I got onto the new "bed" and goodnight...