Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Long and Winding Road

I am writing this blog entry at the end of my third day post-surgery. The surgery itself went well. The surgeon rebuilt my ACL with one from a donor. The meniscus was partially stitched, and the parts that could not be stitched were removed. The surgeon told my husband that the surgery went well.

I plan on chronicling my recovery in the hope that it may help others who will have to experience reconstructive knee surgery. It was sometimes frustrating to know that I worked hard for seven weeks to rehabilitate the MCL, only to be pushed back to square one on surgery day. That frustration was well worth it, when the surgeon looked inside my knee. The MCL is healed, albeit still a bit loose, but so much stronger and stable than when the injury first occurred. The hours in the gym and pool brought me to this point, when I begin my recovery in earnest.

Some folks have an easy time with anesthesia. My husband and my father awake feeling refreshed, as if they have had a nice, long nap. I am not that fortunate. I awake slowly from general anesthesia. I have the feeling that I should be waking up, but I cannot, and it leaves me feeling panicked. We arrived at the hospital at 8:30 in the morning, and we didn't leave until 7:00 in the evening. My husband still did not feel that I was ready to travel the half-hour to get home, but I wanted to go between doses of pain medication. It wasn't until 2:00 AM that I felt really awake from the anesthesia.

Everything I'd read about this surgery indicated that the first 48 hours are quite difficult. I'd say that was accurate. The first day, I made the mistake of trying to be tougher than I really am. I went too long between taking my pain medications, and ended up in trouble. My husband called the surgeon's nurse, who is a wonderful person, and she helped us through the trouble. I learned my lesson about taking my medication, even before I think I might need it.

The second day post-surgery was the day of my uncle's funeral. I so wanted to attend, but it was obvious that it was too soon for me to try to go. I did not want people to have to focus worry on me rather than my aunt and her family. My daughter and her boyfriend came and went in my place. My brother and his wife were also here, and my brother did the readings for the service. My mother said several people noticed my absence and asked about me, but they were very understanding when told that I'd had knee reconstruction two days before.

Today, I slept in and generally took things a bit easier still. I went the entire day without an hour of "the shakes" and uncontrolled pain. My daughter and her boyfriend were still here. We had a lazy day, watching baseball, and visiting. I have been able to shower yesterday and today, which helps me feel better. My husband says that I'm not seeing how much I've already improved, but he has noticed. We changed the dressings on the incisions, and the knee looks very good. There is little bruising and the swelling is noticeably diminished.

Tomorrow, I have my first post-op physical therapy session. I know that it will be somewhat uncomfortable, but I am willing to work through whatever discomfort is needed. My husband will be with me throughout the week to take me to my appointments, and I know he will do his best to keep me comfortable in transit. The joint in my brace will be unlocked, and I will continue to do the exercises I've been assigned.

As for the food choices, I knew it would be a giant step backwards, and it has. I have to eat every four hours before taking my narcotics, and frankly cinnamon-sugar toast has been the food of choice. It keeps the nausea at bay, and it is easy to make in the middle of the night when I need to take meds. I am working hard at letting this time go without beating myself up about it. I knew it was going to happen. I am willing to get back into my new lifestyle routine as quickly as I can. It is a challenge to know that I will undoubtedly put on some of my lost pounds, but I am committed to not letting myself slide indefinitely back into old habits.

Blogging throughout the process is one way of holding myself accountable. The progress I've made thusfar should not be totally reversed, and my recovery will be the better because of it.

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