Note: Last month I became a member of VibrantNation.com’s Blog Circle. After posting the story of my knee injury, one of the fantastic staff members at Vibrant Nation emailed me, asking if I planned to post a follow up about the surgery and rehab. I had planned to, but when I checked my blog archives I discovered I’d never posted about them. Ooops! Time to play catch up.
My ACL and meniscus surgery occurred on a Monday. My first physical therapy appointment was scheduled for Thursday. When I was told to take my prescribed narcotic one hour before the appointment I became terrified. I was still experiencing a lot of post-operative pain, and that was without having a scary physical therapist manipulate my leg.
I needn’t have worried. While the first appointment was painful, I got through it. My physical therapist was all business even though I tried to crack jokes to break the tension. He would have none of that. He asked me about my goals. I explained that prior to my injury I was in a serious fitness improvement mode and I had just completed my first half marathon. I told him I want to get back to being as active as possible. I was taught a set of exercises that I would need to perform two to three times per day. And I was to report to physical therapy three times per week.
The first exercise session of each day was always the worst from a pain perspective. I was told that during that session I was breaking up scar tissue that formed overnight. Addition pain came from rehabbing my hamstring. A portion of it was harvested to create a new ACL. One morning my husband walked in on me while I was exercising. I had tears streaming down my face. The tears were from a combination of extreme pain and frustration. He pointed at me and said, “You are going to get through this. And when you do, you’re going to get back in shape and you’ll be stronger than ever.” His words didn’t make the pain go away, but they helped with the frustration.
After a few weeks of working with my therapist, I noticed he was initiating friendly jokes. He later told me that I was really proving myself with my work ethic. I suppose he felt free to let his guard down a bit. And he told me something that really stroked my ego. “You have a warrior mentality. With most of our clients our concern is that they won’t do the work. With you, our concern is you will over-do it and cause a set back.”
The entire therapy experience lasted four and a half months. In the beginning all I was to perform were the exercises I was taught on the first visit. After a while I advanced to a recumbent bike and weight lifting. And after about two months I was allowed to come in one day a week and do my other two days of PT at the YMCA. I really appreciated the trust my therapist had in me. Each week I dutifully went to PT with my chart of what I’d done at the Y.
The physical therapist was right about my penchant to over do things. My gait changed so drastically and it took months before I could walk without a limp. While I was cleared to start a walking program, I advanced to 2.5 miles way to quickly and ended up with Achilles tendonitis in both feet. That took four months to heal. So I managed to stretch a four and a half month rehab into nine months. Good times.
This entire saga spanned from June 2008 (injury) to July 2008 (surgery), to March 2009 (Achilles tendonitis healed). I started running again in March 2009. I honored the first anniversary of the injury (June 16) by running three miles, the most I had run since surgery. Since then I’ve completed two half marathons and one triathlon. I’m currently registered for two triathlons and two half marathons.
While I have a long way to go before I’ve achieved my fitness goals, my hubs was right. Today I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my entire life.