Saturday, January 16, 2010

Been There, Done That, Got The T-Shirt.

Hello, dear reader. It's been a while.

As I mentioned briefly on New Year's Eve, I re-tore the ACL in my right knee December 28th during sparring class. This is the knee that started all this business almost exactly 2 years ago.

I ducked under an opponents punch way too deep, with my right leg forward, and tried to explode upwards with a back fist while most of my body mass was still moving from right-to-left. I made it about 3/4ths of the way up, then my right knee bent sideways and I went down.

Last Monday, January 11th, I had an ACL revision done on the knee. The procedure is much the same as ACL reconstruction, except with a lot more prep work and bigger hardware. The prior ACL is removed and loose tissue cleaned up, and the old fixative screws are taken out. (I have my old screws as a token now.)

As with the prior 2 reconstructions, I opted for a femoral nerve block with a spinal block so I could observe the procedure. Good news is that the meniscus continues to be well anchored, with no signs of damage save for a tiny floater they caught doing laps in the saline on camera.

Again, like in December 2008, the spinal wore off a bit prematurely and I had major cramps in my lower back due to the position I was in on the table. Also, I began to feel the pins and needles in my right leg as the spinal wore off, and the tourniquet was removed. Yes, I could have opted for some sedation or pain killer, but I weighed the cost of $100 a pop against my short term discomfort--we have new insurance that would have me paying more out-of-pocket now--and I decided to save a buck or two.

Because the bone tunnel necessarily has to be enlarged, the replacement tendon and hardware are also larger. The original upper fixative screw was installed into the end of the femur 'from below,' essentially within the knee joint. This time, the screw was installed into the end of the femur from above, which meant my quads took a beating from being retracted while this somewhat gruesome business was conducted. I saw that bit from the arthroscope and realized that it's gonna sting like the dickens when the blocks wear off...

On a funny side note, Dr. K had some difficulty tightening this upper screw, losing his grip at one point and nearly knocking over some monitors and IV poles in the operating room! I suggested perhaps an impact wrench might not be a bad idea, but he replied that using motorized assistance tightening screws could result in over-torquing.

Once Dr. K was done and the other surgeons could take over closing things up, I reminded him of my request for a t-shirt from the clinic; I figure a guy is due something for his trouble after 3 operations! He not only made good on the promise, netting me a nice long sleeved Under Armor shirt with embroidered logo, he even put it in a gift bag with a birthday card and delivered it personally while I was in stage 1 recovery.

The card reads "Each year the wishes just get bigger and better!" with a note: That's 3 years in a row! Enough already! (Just kidding.)

So the first 36 hours post-op sucked as usual, peaking on Tuesday night when I had a major charlie horse in my thigh that felt like a dagger was stuck there! Fortunately a bit of Tylenol with Codeine took care of that and I could sleep peacefully. Since Wednesday I've taken nothing but Ibuprofen, a good thing and par for the course.

First PT session was Thursday. My prior PT clinic has closed its doors due to the recession, so I opted to do PT at the clinic where the surgery took place. There I met Ben, who will be my main PT this time around. I was encouraged by being able to toddle around the house with just a cane already, a very positive early milestone that the knee can bear weight well already.

Surprisingly my quads were firing quite well, and I could do straight leg lifts without too much difficulty. I even have a bit of hyper extension, already nearly equal to my good knee. Flexion is only at about 60 degrees while on my back, maybe 70-75 hanging over the edge with assistance from the good leg. The biggest stopper right now is the local knot of swelling to the outside of the quad, the result of insult to the tissue from installing the fixative screw.

Last night I was wide awake at 3am with a mild fever coming on. So on top of the typical post-operative pain, I had body aches as well, and lay awake for probably a good 2 hours trying to find a comfortable position. I should also mention, it's the first night back in my regular bed upstairs, and not on the totally comfy couch downstairs, so re-adjusting to sleeping on the mattress probably contributed to lower back cramps. Meh.

Well, tonight I'll be hanging out with Mrs. Shaft while G-Shaft goes to a schoolmate's birthday party for a few hours. We plan on tossing back a few Amaretto-Sour's while watching a movie and enjoying a new recipe for cold Thai peanut noodles.

More tomorrow, possibly pictures, and what the future holds for Paul "Hack Shaft" Pederson.


BobSpar said...

You've got guts, Hack. I'm so sorry you have to go through this again, but your courage and attitude are inspirational. Hang in there.

Hack Shaft said...


Thanks for your kind words.

Encouragement is always such powerful medicine!