One of my main problems ahead of the surgery was finding out specific details about certain aspects of the surgery and the recovery. Therefore I’ve put this page together to document the facts about what I had done. In pulling this together it reminded me of one of my favourite football clips..
How long can I not weight bear?
How long will I be on crutches?
How long was the surgery?
How long was I in hospital?
How were the wounds sealed?
How long before the staples are removed?
How is sleeping?
Not too bad – I sleep on my back but it is comfortable
Do you wear the brace all the time?
Yes for the first 6 weeks and then only when moving for the next 6 weeks.
How often does the dressing need to be changed?
I have to change mine myself. I’ve only done it once in two weeks as I was told that if it doesn’t go gooey and come through the dressing then it should be fine.
How is showering?
The dressings are waterproof so showering is fine. It just takes a long time and you have to sit down to do it.
First trip out into Stockton Heath today post surgery. A massive brace, swelling, crutches and bruising definetly draws attention and I was hoping it would be the yummy mummy variety but unfortunately it was more like grab a granny. Lots of old deers coming up to me and asking what I’d done and telling me stories about surgery they’d had on feet and shoulders and details about various infections they’d got – nice….
I then made a trip to the off-license but hadn’t thought about the practicalities of crutches and buying beers. It is definitely an activity that requires two free hands and two good legs – something I don’t have. Thankfully the lady in the shop was very helpful (avec story about her shoulder) and I managed to pick up what I needed. I’ve found that alcohol and drugs don’t really mix so have only managed about two beers max at the moment before I start to feel a bit light headed – motivation to start to ween myself off the drugs!
On a positive note I had my first unaided shower today which was a big plus and is the a big step towards being able to look after myself again. As with everything it seems to be getting easier every day so I’m moving in the right direction.
I had reconstructive surgery to my ACL, MCL and I also tore my meniscus in multiple places and these were also fixed. In order to reconstruct my ACL and MCL they took hamstring grafts from both knees. The figure below shows the main structures in the knee and you can see the ligaments I reference above.
Ahead of the surgery I did a bit of research to try and understand exactly what I was in for. It became apparent quite quickly that the treatment of knee injuries is far from an exact science and there is still a lot of uncertainty on exactly how to treat ligament injuries with the jury out as to if surgery is necessary in all instances.
The research I did indicated that you don’t generally have reconstructive surgery on the MCL unless you have also damaged the ACL. The main reason for having the surgery on the MCL is that research has found that the probability of ACL failure is greatly increased with a ‘slack’ MCL. The same can be said with respect to the meniscus tears and having these fixed makes the chance of success with the ACL much more likely.
Ultimately I have a massive incision just to the right of my left knee (~ 12 inches) where they fixed the MCL (I think this is so large as they have to reattached the MCL at three different place to ensure the greatest chance of success) and then two further 1 inch incisions where they took the hamstring grafts. For the left knee I think they may have also fixed the ACL through this incision.
The surgery took 5 hours in total and for more detail on the what happened on the day I had the surgery you can be found here see this post here.
It is a long road back after having surgery and to keep your spirits up you need help from your friends and colleagues…..
I think a lot of my colleagues didn’t really think there was anything wrong with me as I could walk around the office normally. It is nice to know that I will be missed in the office though and they are having a whip-round to raise money……
Other friends have been a little less supportive posting pictures such as the one below on social media,
The same friend was also kind enough to bring me Paul Lake’s autobiography, a footballer who had to retire after tearing his ACL. Relevant but not sure it is good with respect to installing a positive mental attitude!
I must admit I was very apprehensive about the surgery itself as I’m quite a queasy person and once I found out it was going to involve open surgery and not key hole I was even more worried.
To put people’s minds at ease I would say that ultimately the surgery is not as bad as you may think. I couldn’t eat after midnight the night before and couldn’t drink 3 hours before but that wasn’t too bad.
I had to arrive 30 mins before the op and after routine checks like blood pressure I was taken down to the anaesthetist. My operation was done under general anaesthetic admitted through my hand. The process was really quick and I was asleep only a few minutes after entering the anaesthetic room.
The next thing I knew the op was done and I was coming round after 5 hours. The brace and dressing had all been applied while I was still asleep so everything was in place. The anaesthetist had done a great job in my instance managing my pain through the surgery and when I woke I didn’t feel too bad except being slightly nauseous.
All in all I’d say that if you are apprehensive about the surgery you don’t have too much to fear – ultimately you have to trust the surgeons know what they are doing and will sort you out!
I had my surgery on the 2nd April 2017.
13 days after the op I have improved significantly but it is still quite painful when my leg isn’t elevated. My leg is still significantly swollen.
I injured my knee playing basketball 6 months ago and it was wrongly diagnosed as a soft muscle injury when I had ruptured my Anteriar Cruciate Ligament (ACL). After three months I then returned to playing basketball and tore my Medial Ligament and meniscus. The surgery I had was to fix the above and took 5 hours in total but thankfully went well!
Today is the first day I’m going to leave the house following the surgery so fingers crossed I’ll be ok!
I managed to leave the house, all be it a trip to the inlaws. All in all a success. I managed to get in and out of the car. The main issue was the uneven nature of the roads which put quite a lot of stress on my knee but I generally held the brace and absorbed the movement which made it manageable. I won’t mention the fact we nearly crashed at a roundabout, I’m sure it wasn’t my wife’s fault….
I’ve created this blog after having reconstructive knee surgery as I thought it would be useful for people to know what to expect if they are going to have something similar. I found it really hard to find information before I had the surgery so hope this helps. I also have quite a lot of time on my hands as I’ll be on crutches for the next 10 weeks….
Here is a pic from the day I had it done.
This was the day of my first physio session and consequently the first time I’d left the house following the surgery. The furthest I’d got previously was two trips to the garden for about an hour combined. The journey to the car was infinitely better than when I returned home from the hospital so that was a small mental battle that I’d won with myself as it showed I was making progress.
I then arrived at the hospital and the physio wasted no time racing away to his room which prompted me to race after him (faster than I’d ever gone previously on crutches) as I had no idea where he was going and that competitive switch was flicked! The physio session was really helpful and we went through the exercises I had initially been given in the hospital and he gave me a few tips. He said that the first six weeks while the brace is on is all about rest and recovery and there is not much else to do. He said I could start to do calf and hamstring stretch exercises but no more strenuous exercises . One thing he did say was that it was worthwhile continuing to do exercises on my good leg including getting some ankle weights to do some quad curls. The idea being that doing exercises with the good knee will generate neural fluid that will be delivered to the bad leg and reduce the rate of muscle wastage. It is obviously not going to stop the muscle wastage completely but every little counts. The main thing that the physio told me was that my knee bend has to be 90 degrees at 6 weeks; if I can get there I can then be weened off the brace as quickly as possible and if not then I’ll be playing catch up. I’m 70 degrees at the moment so just have to take it slow and steady over the next 5 weeks.
It was now a week after the surgery and although the pain was fine when I was sitting down it was still pretty unbearable when I was up and down on crutches. Consequently most of my time was spent in bed as this made the trip to the toilet as short as possible. Although my hamstring was not too painful anymore the bottom part of my leg around my calf at both the front and the back was starting to give me a lot of pain. When in the hospital l was told to wear the brace all the time and to keep it as tight as possible. I’d adhered to this but consequently this was trapping a lot of the swelling between the straps of the brace and this was then becoming the source of the pain. I have now started loosening the brace at night and hopefully this will allow the swelling to go down.
Due to the pain from the swelling it is still very painful going up the stairs and consequently I’ve only been tackling the stairs once a day. I had a bit of a stumble today too and managed to protect my good leg but got a shooting pain up my other leg, where I had the hamstring graft taken, as a struggled for balance. This was similar to cramp but even more acute all the way up the hamstring. Thankfully it didn’t last and once sitting down it was back to normal but still gave me a bit of a fright.
Six days after the operation it was time to embark on something I’ve taken for granted the rest of my life – a shower. Thankfully we have a walk in shower so there was no climbing over the bath to overcome but it was still a significant undertaking. My wife purchased a cheap garden chair from Argos so I could sit down in the shower and the dressing is waterproof so it was a case of shuffling into the shower and removing the brace before turning the water on. After 6 days the shower was far overdue and despite taking a ridiculous amount of time it wasn’t too bad. Like being escorted to the toilet, having to be helped when you wash yourself makes you feel very very old…..