Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 4 - One Month!

One month down...5 more to go..! Well, really more like 11 to go, but I'll start that countdown after 6 months on September 14th 😋

There's seems to be a pattern- A couple days of low, followed by a couple days of high per week. I gave my knee a pretty good workout on Tuesday (day 21), and overall it did really well. It was a combination of the stairmaster, bike, elliptical, modified squats/lunges, ROM (135 degrees) and stretching/foam rolling. It didn't feel sore, but did let me know to take it easy the next few days by being really tight and stiff feeling afterwards. It felt as if someone had taken my tibia and femur and pulled them in opposite directions to make all of the tendons tight in my knee, then left it for a few days. Add it to the list of things-never-felt-before! I continued to work on ROM and easy quad exercises and it loosened back up just fine by Friday (day 24).

To add to the things-never-felt-before list, my swelling went down even more (yay!) throughout the weekend (day 24-26), however I think because of this I was able to feel things and use muscles/tendons that I had previously been protected by the swelling. My PT assured the popping and new feelings were all ok. I will though, be happy to squat again without feeling my kneecap popping..!
Can kind of make out my knee cap..!

For a visual of the popping in my knee, just what you wanted to see right? :P 

Week 4 milestones:

- Able to walk downstairs no handrails (day 26). Quad control/muscle is definitely coming back..!

- Walking normally with no limp

-Reached 140 degrees in flexion (day 27)

-New Exercises: wobble board and bosu ball for balancing.

With 150 degrees being my max flexion, I'm very happy with 140..!

This injury has definitely 'messed' with me mentally (as I would imagine any major surgery like so would do). For example, I tend to have alot of light dreams right before I wake up, and I remember in one, I was in a situation where I needed to run for some reason, and I said aloud to the other people running 'Sorry guys I can't keep up because I can not run!!' 🙈  Another habit that I've formed is picking up my leg for any lateral turn. I would imagine sometimes I look like a solider when I make any sharp turns because I just (out of mentally telling myself no lateral movements) pick up my leg kind of high and pivot on my right foot as if I'm marching 😅  Oh and I'll also occasionally just be walking along when a step with my left foot goes a little higher than normal, but then I continue on walking normal. Always catches me off guard! My brain and left knee evidently still need to work on their communication with each other 😛

Wall squats with an exercise ball

This is my active ROM (how much you are able to bend by yourself without help from a towel or wall to bend it for you.) Bent my right to compare!

Still a bump/swelling next to my lower incision
Overall I've surprised myself with how well I am doing, but as I keep telling myself, this isn't the hard part yet..! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Week Three

This whole thing is going so fast, really. I can't believe it's already been 21 days. Maybe it goes fast at first and then slows down.... I suppose I'll find out. Funny enough, I've been way busier now here after surgery than I was before!

Week 3 post ACL surgery is definitely the 'back to normal' week, or so it proved to be for me. The first two weeks, your knee pretty much consumes your life, and you make arrangements around your knee. Now, not so much. I make my knee work with me and my plans..! I'm finding myself back to normal in alot of ways. Parking where I normally park, sitting at my desk (when I do... I actually stood for 4 hours straight one day!) with knees bent how normal people sit at their desk, getting in and out of my car normally instead of lugging my left leg up after my right, and showering without having to transform my leg into a sauna by wrapping it with plastic wrap before. But most of all... I'm back to my normal routine of planning workouts into my day. 

Milestones for week 3:
- Up and down stairs, multiple times a day. Going up is great- I've actually hopped on the stairmaster a few times at the gym for 10 minutes at a time. I can go down stairs with alternating steps, but still need to hold onto the handrails to help support some of the weight.

- Full pedal stroke on a stationary bike- this one was most exciting. 120 degrees of flexion is needed before being able to cycle which I reached in 2 weeks and 1 day. I absolutely love using the bike to work on bending my knee. 

Working on getting the pedal all the way around- was hard in this pic
After a few days of working on it. Super easy now!

-No more steri strips! I took a shower without wrapping my leg up, and the water I think helped a few peel off. From what I could see and feel underneath, the incisions were sealed. My body has always seemed great with healing up very well and fast. At PT we peeled off the rest since I think we both wanted to see! 😅  and yep sure enough they were closed. Ok. I said it before, but now I reallyyy don't have anything else left holding me together! 

Clean knee! I'm working on accepting where the scars will be since the perfectionist in me wants them to be perfectly symmetrical and straight ha! :P 
-Reached 125 degrees of flexion. Certainly need to work here. Mentally, I had this goal of reaching 120, which I reached, so I felt 'free' so to say to work on other stuff. I definitely have seen more improvements in muscle strength than ROM this week. I keep meaning to measure my flexion of my right leg to see what my max degree of flexion should be. I'll mention that in next week's blog when I remember to ask my PT this week!

My heel had slipped a little here so not showing my full flexion, but this is how we measure flexion, with this nifty tool

- New PT exercises. Modified lunges, single leg press, body weight squats, resistance bands, and rowing machine. 

I've easily had a few days where I spent a good 2 hours at the gym this week, just going through all the exercises, foam rolling, and stretching. I have yet to over do it, haven't had an achy/painful knee afterward any of my 'workouts', and hopefully I can keep it that way. My quad atrophy is quite apparent, but honestly, I'm in no hurry to get back to where I was. I will eventually yes, over the 6 months, however, it's not the muscle you are working to get back, it's waiting on the new ACL to strengthen and ends to fuse to the bone. 

I wanted to show this perspective because it shows how you can barely see my right knee over my right quad, if at all. And, well, you can completely see my left knee. 😛  Crazy.

Staying positive has been easy this week, how can you not be happy by seeing so much improvement each week, let alone each day? However, there have been a few low moments. Not as many as before, but I have a feeling they will creep in every once and a while, like they did once this week. While at the gym, I was working on bending my knee. Simple exercise. Bend knee as much as you can, hold, bend a little more, hold, then release. But all of the sudden, it's like you get hit with all of these thoughts about comparing your workout now to what you 'used' to be able to do. If you haven't felt it, it's kind of hard to explain. Like a rush of negative thoughts over you, and you can't block them out there's so many coming in at once. I had alot of these the first few weeks both pre and post op, but they are certainly dying down now to only a few per week. I see why you come out of this recovery stronger than before since in my case, the biggest change for me I've noticed has been mental...way more than it has been physical. 

I am still not quite walking normal... still have a bit of an off gait. But I'm hoping this next week will help with that!