This is my first post for quite a while. This is a good thing as the main reason for blogging was to fill the time when I was immobile so it shows I’ve made some progress. I’m now also logging the time post op in months rather than days or weeks. It is a bit like referring to the age of your kids, I’m not quite sure when you decide to change the metric but I look forward to referring to referring to post op in years. FYI – my daughter is 14 months, my son is 4.
So what has happened in the 2 months since surgery. Here is a potted history:
5 weeks –
This was the first week I’d left Warrington in five weeks but unfortunately only to attended a conference in the equally ‘desirable’ Birmingham. I made a bit of a miscalculation as I thought I’d be weight bearing at the conference but I wasn’t so had to make do with hoping around everywhere – more work for the triceps. Not sure about the brace, shoe, trouser combo!
This was the day I’d been looking forward to the most post surgery. Six weeks and one day since the operation and I was back in the same place seeing the physio and was allowed to put weight on my leg the first time – happy days.
I’d slipped a few times during the first six weeks and put weight on my ‘blown knee’ and it felt weird to say the least as I got a really strange tingly and pins and needle like sensation right up my leg. Therefore I was a little apprehensive about putting weight on properly for the first time. Despite this it wasn’t that bad and I was able to put weight on my knee relatively quickly and progressed over the next two weeks to fully weight bear.
I was finally cleared to ditch the brace for sleeping. Initially I was told I’d only need to sleep it in for 6 but my physio was twitchy about doing it too early to avoid damaging my MCL when I turned in the night. The brace didn’t bother me too much for sleeping but it was still a relief to get rid of it as it was another thing crossed off the list. I was also pretty much 100% weight bearing by this point too.
At this point you really realise how important the physio is as you start to put more and more strain on your knee. How it feels is directly proportional to the frequency at which you do your exercises. As you become more active and transition back to ‘normal’ you find you have less time and don’t prioritise it as much but you do this at a detriment to the recovery. At 8 weeks this was a ‘standard’ night in….
I also started cycling on a turbo trainer at this point. This was hard work due to losing so much aerobic fitness and also my knee bend was not that good so I had to have the seat really high to minimise the pain. This has really helped though and I was able to lower the seat over a 2 to 3 week period to a normal level.
I was cleared to only wear the brace for when moving around. It then turned into more of a toy round the house and something for my son to mess around with…
I was also cleared to drive which was a big step forward in terms of independence but possibly a step backwards in terms of road safety in the Warrington area…. (4min 30secs into my best men’s speech at the link below will testify to this).
Driving also meant it was now a lot easier to get to work. I’d returned to working in the office 7 weeks post operation and was getting a lift in previously not driving now meant I didn’t have to rely on taxis to ferry me to physio etc.
10 weeks – no more crutches.
I was still hobbling a bit but could now get around without the crutches which made life a whole lot easier.
By this time I was not wearing the brace except when outside the house. The physio didn’t give me the all clear to do this and it is one of the only ‘rules’ I’ve broken but I thought it was better to try and wean myself off in a familiar environment rather than just go cold turkey at 12 weeks.
The physio ok’d me to get rid of the brace all together and it was time to ramp up the exercises. Thankfully a new gym has just opened round the corner from where I live and it is really quiet so I pretty much have free reign to use whatever equipment I need. Here is a pic of my first day.
It was a big struggle the first time on the machines as 3 months of doing nothing had taken its toll. It was really good to start getting a sweat on again though and actually burning some energy.
This was my first set back. I’ve generally been ok with respect to leg extension and getting my bad leg to have similar hyperextension (about 5 degrees) to my good leg but have struggled with my bend. I got to 90 degrees quite quickly but then got stuck around 120 degrees. My normal physio was then off one week sick and the physio manager stepped in for my appointment at late notice. She then proceeded to berate me for my lack of progress and told me that I should be pushing harder (the complete opposite of what the surgeon and physio said the previous week). The testosterone then kicked in and I subsequently started to push my bend a lot harder. This was definitely not a good move as whilst doing this at the gym I felt a twinge as I was pulling my heel to my bum. This lasted for a couple of days and I had to back off the exercises and was back to limping quite badly as I was getting shooting pains at the back of my knee. I then revisited my physio (the normal one this time) to get it checked out and he couldn’t see anything particularly untoward and advised to continue to take it easy as he suspected it might have been some issues with scar tissue or something just getting caught. Thankfully after another couple of days of scaling back the pain started to subside and I was able to start to progress again but it has taught me to not push too hard otherwise I could go backwards as quickly as I could go forwards.
I was cleared to start to lift weights at this point and started to talk with the physio about what I need to do if I want to start to think about playing basketball again (hopefully Abi hasn’t read down this far). In terms of weight he is looking for me to lift 1.5 times my body weight on a leg with two legs and then try the same on one. For all you engineering geeks out there the premise is that when you land there is a dynamic amplification factor (gooogle it) which means this is effectively the load you are putting through your knee. Therefore to be able to safely land on one knee you need to be able to leg press this load. Given that I’ve done pretty much nothing on my bad knee since I injured it 10 months ago this wasn’t going to happen over night and at first I started at about half my body weight and have been building it up gradually.
So where am I now? The good,
– 86kg on a leg press with two legs
– one legged squats
– no swelling
– no ‘hotness’
– still numb around my knee and the front of my lower leg
– it gets very stiff when sitting down for long periods (writing his on a plane won’t be doing it any favours)
– can’t kneel down
– feels very mechanical when walking
– still bruised around my calf, and the front and back of the knee
but so far so good and I’m on the mend and still see improvement everyday and probably about half way towards being back to full fitness.