Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 15: It's about time.

Sorry if I kept anyone hanging in suspense, it's just been a durned busy week.

Sunday: Ditched the crutches over the weekend, down to just a cane. Wasn't thinking, and stepped up with my operative knee. Hmm. Didn't hurt, but seems too early to even consider doing that by all accounts!

Monday: Back to work. Got caught up, so no stresses there now! Spent lots of time at my desk working that flexion range, and icing down the knee with a large gel pack.

Oh, and stepped down leading with my good knee. Again, it didn't hurt to bend the operative knee, but doesn't seem right I should be able to do that. Another hmm.

Monday night brought another episode of American Gladiators, and another contestant gets awarded a torn ACL. This time it's Adam "The Hebrew Hammer" Levin, taking a sideways tackle during Power Ball in a classic ACL-ripping moment. As typical, he shakes it off for a moment and collapses a few seconds later. They're going to have to seriously train these gladiators to watch what they're doing, it's getting a bit too aggressive out there!

Tuesday: Work decided to catch up with me this day! It's also the last day I used a cane walking. I'm taking things carefully, looking for the non-icy walking paths wherever I go, and will keep the cane at-hand in icy situations, but I'm bearing weight on the operative leg just fine now and walking well.

Wednesday: Took much of the afternoon off to go to PT and do a few things at home.

PT can only be described as amazing. To begin, we measured 120 degrees of flexion.

Oh. My. God.

Am I really progressing this well only two weeks post-op? I thought it a good sign to lose the immobilizer last Friday, but this--this feels HUGE!

We added ankle weights to the 4 directions of leg exercises (straight lifts, adduction, abduction, and hamstring curls), and did an easy 5 minutes backwards pedaling on the exercise bike without resistance.

I talked to my PT about leading with the operative leg going up steps, and leading with the good leg going down. I've read a few times that even months post-op, many people with ACL reconstruction unconsciously guard their knee by leading with the operative leg when stepping down. She put it kindly--bad news, but in a good way. Protocol says not to do those particular movements prior to at least week 4 post-op. Wow.

I'm not sure quite how to take that, except now I have to force myself to guard the operative knee until I'm "officially" allowed to use it in that manner.

Protocol also says 2 visits per week through next week, but my PT exclaimed that she had no further exercises to work with me until we hit week 4. She'd simply be watching me work while drinking tea. Things seem to be going well enough that we canceled tomorrow's session, and the first session next week. Barring anything unusual, I'll only check in with her late next week.

Oh. My. God.

The day later continued watching G-Shaft sparring with a dozen intermediate belt boys. Yes, she's the only girl in her class, and 2nd tallest. This serves her an advantage in 2 ways - she's got reach with punches (once she gets a bit more hip rotation to properly deliver the blow), and being a girl, many of the boys seem intimidated to attack! Just needs a little more work on throwing a punch with conviction, and she'll be a potent point-sparring student.

After all that excitement, I capped off the evening with a vocal recording session. My band has been working on a 6-song "EP" since Spring, and we finally have a lead vocalist to record. Overall, an amazing day--I'll link to the band's web site when we post some music for y'all to listen to.

Thursday: Finally we come to today. I caught up with the staggering blow work delivered me on Tuesday, and maybe I'll have a bit of time to slack off tomorrow afternoon at the office.

Tonight I volunteered at the Karate school's Winter Carnival, the biggest event for recruiting new students each year. I managed the balloon hop race, and that was a blast seeing all the kids enjoying themselves. The last half-hour of the evening was demonstrations by the students, and the ones who brought guests got the opportunity to break boards. G-Shaft was bummed none of her invites came through, but she still has 2 weeks to get a friend in for a trial class--and another chance to bust up wood.

So I sit here in shock and awe. I read about Black Belt Mama's struggles and feel bad she's still in an immobilizer brace, even though she's 4 weeks post-op at this point. I feel somewhat guilty for my progress, but need to remind myself constantly that people are all unique in how they respond to surgery.

So, Hack Shaft old boy, knock off the guilt trip.

Oh, and get on with the push-ups and crunches already!


Blackbeltmama said...

I was thinking about this too. Why am I still in this brace? But without it, it feels weird. My leg muscles are just gone. There is a huge difference between my good and bad leg right now. Looking at your pictures post-op, I think the difference is obvious. You're a guy and went in with a lot of muscle mass. I've always pretty much had string-bean legs. It's just going to take me longer since I don't have the supporting muscles there yet.

I have PT tomorrow. I'm dreading it. It's the first time I've dreaded going. I just know it's going to hurt like hell again. I also think my PT is ultra conservative and won't let me out of this brace until after 6 weeks. Apparently 4-6 weeks is when the graft is at its weakest. Anyway, considering my bout with snow today, I'm sort of glad I had it on. Now if that's not looking at things through rose-colored glasses, I don't know what is. ;-)

No need to feel guilty. Keep up the great progress! 120 at two weeks is just awesome! I was at 105 then I think.

Hack Shaft said...


Your words are a balm, thanks for sharing.

And I agree about the muscle mass.

I realize now that I went into surgery with a ton of advantages over many people I've read about:

- Flexibility in my legs from studying an Art
- Being physically active
- Confirmed diagnosis less than 48 hours after injury
- Pre-op Physical Therapy
- Surgery within a month of injury
- Nursing the injured knee, using a cane consistently to minimize collateral damage pre-op

So, I think it really all comes down to plain stupid luck. The crushing Yang of the injury is being offset by the Yin of good timing and an excellent medical support system.

Hack Shaft said...

Oh, one more thing is my surgeon's rather aggressive approach to rehab - and its one I agree with.

No functional braces, and the immobilizer came off as soon as I could demonstrate weight bearing on the operative leg.

If I feel comfortable with an over-the-counter knee brace, that's a choice he leaves up to me.

Michele said...

It sounds like you had a fantastic week. Congratulations on your continued progress!

It is always interesting to read about bracing preferences from one surgeon to another. I am on my fourth brace since injury - immobilizer, soft ACL brace, post-operative brace and now functional brace.