Brittany's Blog

A Skiers' Life According to Brittany

ACL Update: 5 Days Post-Surgery

I am doing great! Five days after surgery, I’m back doing my tutoring for the local HS kids here. My PT guy is weaning me off my crutches (started at my PT session this morning). My knee feels stable- quad firing just fine. And I haven’t been using a brace at all. My knee is still quite a bit swollen, but I have ice on it a lot- every hour or two. It helps that I have about 7 ice packs- some borrowed, some old, some purchased a couple of weeks ago. I’m also taking ibuprofen, but no other pain killers. My ROM is at 0 and 110. The pain is minimal and has been the whole time. In a couple of days I should be on the bike.

So, let me give a quick synopsis of the happenings over the last few days.

Wednesday- Day before surgery.

I tried to call the docs office like 5 times to pay over the phone with the credit card the amount I’m supposed to pay before surgery. I had been fighting this whole thing with the people at the doc’s office and they agreed to allow me to pay the day before surgery to see if more claims had been met against my deductible. I couldn’t reach the person I needed over and over. Finally, at like 4:30 I pretty much freaked out- because I was told I needed to pay the amount before the surgery, or I won’t be having the surgery. So, a nurse calls me back, finally. She says that they’ve had an emergency there- a pipe burst in the surgery room. So, they were relocating my surgery from the surgery center to the hospital- same time, same doc, different nurses and anesthesiologist. When I asked about payments, she says not to worry about it . I didn’t actually need to pay it. I was now told that since I will have a different anesthesiologist I could no longer drink water or eat past midnight, whereas the anesthesiologist I’d spoken to said I could eat before 6:30 am.

Thursday- Day of surgery.
I woke up, cleaned the house, and get things ready to be in a gimp state for a while. My surgery wasn’t scheduled until 2:30 and they told me to arrive at the hospital in Gunnison at 1 pm. Frank and I were going to do some grocery shopping in Gunnison before my surgery so we headed down early. On the way, the hospital called and asked if I could come in right away. So, I got there at 11:30 am instead of 1 pm. The nurse sucked at putting the IV in and my veins apparently suck for IV’s, not making a good combo. That was the most painful part of the whole experience- more painful than anything post surgery. I kept wondering when I was going to see the anesthesiologist so I could make sure that the plan I made with my other anesthesiologist was still on track- a spinal with a femoral block. He came in thinking I was going to do general anesthesia with a femoral block. I said, “No, I want a spinal.” But, apparently he didn’t do spinals with femoral blocks. So, spinal it was, only- well, on top of the sedative which made me really goofy. They wheeled me into the surgery room and Dr. Griggs (Beim’s assistant) showed my the allograft that was going into my knee. It was stringy and kind of looked like a really long piece of string cheese. I remember talking to the doctor and nurses off and on throughout the course of the surgery. I distinctly remember Dr Beim saying, “She has a bit of cartilage damage here.” And I freaked out and said, “Cartilage damage??” She had warned me prior to surgery that some cartilage damage could require microfracture treatment which meant 6 weeks non-weight-bearing post-op and I wasn’t really up for that. She replied back to me, “Oh, it’s nothing really. We’ll just scrape it out. It might be old. I’m not even sure you damaged it when you did your ACL. ” Next thing I know, I’m sitting in recovery, hair-net off, glasses on, talking to a nurse that’s friends with GB. I don’t really remember a whole lot in between, but I do know I was awake. I just don’t remember it! Dr. Griggs comes by and gives me these pictures from the scope.

Dr. Beim has a habit of bragging about how little time surgeries take her. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. But, she boasted a surgery time of 35 minutes. Recovery took much longer than anybody expected. The spinal didn’t want to wear off. So, I waited for about 3 hours. Finally, I was able to stand and crutch around enough to go sit in a car for 45 minutes and then make my way up 2 big flights of stairs to my apartment on the third floor. Never in my life have I have wished that there was an elevator more than right then.

I was hungry. I ate. I took some percoset. I felt fine. Then around 10 pm things went downhill. I started getting nauseous. I took and anti-nausea pill and that helped some, but not completely. On top of that I was having the worst muscle spasms I’d ever had in my life- in the calf and hamstring of my newly-built knee. The pain of the surgery wasn’t bothering me, but the muscles hurt like hell. So we called the doc. Dr. Griggs was on-call and said to take more percoset. So, I did. Which ended up in a major vomiting session around midnight. Two hours later I got up to go to the bathroom and nearly passed out because I was so dizzy from dehydration and lack of food. That night sucked. But, by morning I was feeling better.

Friday- Day after surgery.

I stopped taking pain killers, including ibuprofen. Decided I’d rather be in pain than puking, but the pain wasn’t terrible anyway. Went to my first PT in the early afternoon. He had me stretching my calf and hamstring, which ended my spasming muscles. He had me working on firing my inner quad muscle, which fired right away with no problems. After that, I pretty much slept most of the rest of the day, and night. I didn’t wake up until 10 am on Saturday.

Saturday and Sunday.
Began taking ibuprofen again. Things kept getting better and better. My knee was getting stronger, more stable, but still swollen. Took gauze off and took a bath. Baths are always so much appreciated after you can’t have one for a while! I still have sutures , covered with white tape. The white tape should fall off on it’s own, or they’ll take it off in a couple of weeks. I began tutoring students again and began getting around on my own. Driving was not a problem since I have an automatic and it is my left knee that is injured.

Monday
I had my second day of PT. He had me working on my normal strengthening of the quad, but he also began weaning me off of the crutches. I was balancing on one leg (injured leg) to get myself to trust it. Since I went so little time without putting much weight on that leg, I didn’t lose much muscle memory. Going off of the crutches will take me a little while though, especially on the stairs. My muscles in my knee really hurt when trying to pick up my leg more than a couple of inches.

All in all, I’m doing pretty well. I’m so happy the surgery is over. Now the real healing is beginning!

I am happy so far that I went with an allograft instead of a hamstring autograft. So far, this surgery is a lot easier and less painful than my patellar tendon graft ACL repair on my opposite knee done 12 years ago!

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Brittany,
    I hope the healing is still going good and that you are looking forward to getting on your bike soon! You will be back stronger than ever before you know it!
    -Susan

  2. Those pictures always look gross- but I have some too from my ACL surgery. I tore mine in 2008 and had a hamstring graft- so far so good.

    I’m also conducting a quick acl survey today if you or anyone else can offer their feedback. It takes 1 minute, but the results will be valuable when I post them later. Thanks for your help and speedy recovery!

    http://www.aclsurgery.us/acl-survey/

  3. This was very helpful and encouraging as I am scheduled to have my first ACL surgery on Tues March 20th 2012. I tore my ACL and MCL about 3 wks ago snow skiing in Virginia, it was suppose to be a romantic couples weekend that ended too soon. My Dr. suggested using a allograft vs. my hamstring. After reading some literature I am bit freaked about the possibility of my body rejecting the foreign ligament. So here I sit reading your blog and seem to have recovered just fine..did your dr. persuade you to use the allograft? And have you returned to an active lifestyle with any limitations?

    Sincerely,
    Kerriann
    Raleigh NC

  4. Thanks. I’m 5 days post and wasn’t sure if I could take ibuprophrin. I’m done with the pain meds and ready to get moving. Hope all has worked out well for you.

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