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10 Weeks After Second ACL Replacement Surgery

Unfortunately, although this time the new ACL has held, I’ve developed bursitis in the knee. The orthopedic surgeon sort of shrugged and said it could happen because the area gets irritated during the surgery. I’m sure this is the case because the area that still hurts now was so acutely painful after the surgery that if I touched it or rolled onto it just right it literally took my breath away.

Now it is not quite so painful to the touch, but it literally feels like there are rice krispies in my knee the way it crunches when I bend. The area feels totally wrong – hard where it shouldn’t be hard – and at times when I am walking it hits me like someone just put a steak knife into the area.

Up until now I’ve been pretty blase about it – I had surgery, and surgery hurts. Now that it’s been 10 weeks though I’m feeling frustrated. I can’t do the physical therapy exercises to build strength in the leg because it aggravates the bursitis and I end up more swollen and start limping. When I limp, I apparently throw everything off – because I’m starting to have some pretty bad (and new) mid-back pain. Last night I slept maybe 3 hours because I kept waking up with back spasms.

I think you get to a point where daily pain becomes exhausting – you sort of accept it, but there are days when you just feel like you aren’t sure you can take it anymore. The doctor says there isn’t anything he can do. I looked into prolotherapy and sent my informaiton to a doctor who has a website about it – describing the background etc – but they haven’t bothered to respond. I should call, but I feel like if you put a web form up asking these questions, yet don’t respond to inquiries – you probably are a pretty lousy bet for care. I doubt it would be any better than Dr. Golden’s “gee, that’s too bad, but not much we can do about it” attitude.

The Amazing ACL Brace Challenge

As many of you know by now, after ACL surgery you have to wear a brace that locks your knee straight when walking for about 6 weeks. The post-operative brace given to me after surgery was not made for my short legs. The brace kept interfering with my ankle and foot movement. On Dec 11 I had my first post-op visit with the doctor and told him about the problem. He didn’t have anything in the office so I was told that they would arrange with Team Post-op to get me a new one. A few days later they showed up with a new brace. It seemed better as it was much shorter, but within a few hours I realized it wasn’t working. The Team Post-op guy trimmed the velcro straps so I could not get enough tension to keep the brace tight – I tried putting it on REALLY tight, but that hurt like hell. If I wore it so it didn’t cause excruciating pain, within an hour the brace would slide down my leg – no longer keeping my knee immobile.

I called Team Post-Op the next day to tell them the brace was defective. Now here it is Dec 21 and I still don’t have a suitable brace. I kept getting only voice mail when I tried to contact the rep I was working with. I got so frustrated I called the doctor and said that I needed the doctor to let me know if I could stop wearing the brace because I couldn’t deal with it anymore – finally Team Post-Op called me after this conversation. Then they told me I couldn’t get one until next Tuesday – problem is, I’m traveling to Florida on Sunday so I need it now.

I even went out to a medical supply store and ended up spending $150 on a brace to hold me over – it’s not great, but it’s better than what I have. Fortunately, later today Team Post-Op said they would have one for me on Saturday. Fingers crossed that this one will be okay! You have to wear this thing ALL DAY – so if it is painful or slides off it’s impossible to do anything – it’s difficult to fix the brace in public because it comes so high up the thigh – not exactly fun to be pulling your pants up to your crotch to try to tighten and fix the darn thing.

Ugh. And my knee is killing me today and swelled a lot, so I don’t think the new brace I bought is the right one.

First Day of Physical Therapy

Ouch. The PT was tough today – almost jumped out of my skin twice when they hit that bad spot on my knee that sometimes feel like someone just stabbed me with a knife. On a positive note, my flexion is up to 115 degrees and I was able to do 15 minutes on the stationary bike. Woo hoo.

I am having problems posting here from my PDA – so I might not be able to upload anything during my trip to Florida next week. For some reason nothing is going through via email. Hmmm. It looks like Verizon may have changed how MMS works.

It’s freezing here in So. Cal. – it was actually warmer in Boston today! Bizarro world.

ACL Recovery – A Few Glitches

Literally – I feel like something weird is going on above the knee, toward the inner part of the leg. It sometimes hurts like hell – like something is “rubbing” inside – and then it kind of clicks and the pain goes away. I did point this out to the doc on Monday and he was baffled and thought it might be some fluid build up – guess if it still does this next week I will have to call because the moments when it does hurt – it HURTS – like a knife being stabbed into the knee.

I got a new brace today – they came and fitted me with a shorter one that doesn’t bang into my foot. However, even this one seems to slip down the leg after a little walking around. Crying out loud – can’t they make a darn brace that works?!?!

We had the company holiday lunch today – this is a really fun party as it is very relaxed and informal. We always get turkey and all the fixin’s plus they have a scavenger hunt that gets everyone roaring with laughter. They also raffle off prizes, but EVERYone gets something, which makes it even better. I won a poker table for 8 – so now maybe we will actually have that poker night!

One Week After ACL Surgery – Definite Progress

I felt like a human being today – even ventured out on my own for about a half hour to get a cup of coffee at my favorite place, The Conservatory for Coffee Tea and Cocoa on Washington Blvd (visitors to Los Angeles note that they have the best lattes in town!). I didn’t last long and later felt like I’d run a marathon, but it was a nice antidote to my cabin fever.

Today I am whining about the leg brace. You know they make the darn things for the “average height male” – and I am a shorter-than-average female. Hence, the metal slides down into my ankle and foot and no matter how tight I make the darn thing, it ends up hitting it. I may pull out the old one from the previous surgery, but it’s pretty beat up. That one had adjustable sides so I could make them a bit shorter. Otherwise, I’m going to end up with one bruised foot/ankle wearing this thing for the next few weeks!

Days 5 and 6 Not So Great

Had a bit of set back the last two days – not so much pain, as just pure exhaustion. I slept pretty much all day Monday – I think it ended up being about 16 hours – yikes. Last night I woke up sweating with an obvious fever. The same thing happened last time – some sort of bug I must have picked up. Today I had to have the heat on most of the day because I couldn’t get warm.

On the positive side, I got the CPM up to 90 degrees today – so I am getting good flexibility in the leg. No painkillers for 2 days, until tonight – was feeling that same bad spot on the left upper side of the knee and finally decided to give in and take some. I’m hoping it doesn’t mess up my sleep tonight!

It’s a drag to be feeling so poorly because I have so much to do in the next week! Here’s hoping another good night’s sleep and I will be able to get a few things done.

The worst part is I don’t feel like doing ANYthing – I said to my roommate tonight, “I have no will.” She said, “Oh don’t bring that up now; I have too much on my plate.” I stared at her a moment then started to laugh. “Not a will, will. No will – to do anything!” LOL – she is definitely a lawyer if that’s the first thing she thought I was a talking about!

Day 4 – Okay Now Comes the Pain

I tried to stop the pain killers today because they are messing with my sleep and I’m starting to feel like a zombie. Big mistake as it is apparently much too soon – I have some kind of knot under the skin (sheesh – hope it’s not a big blood clot) that made every bit of movement feel like someone stabbed me in the knee HARD. My roommate could tell – she said, “You look really pale.” Pain does that to a person. I decided to take a pain killer around 2 pm and it definitely helped. I’m trying to massage the area to get it to loosen up – at one point it seemed like it “disappeared” and the pain was gone, but it has since come back and is not feeling so great.

However, the pain is still MUCH less than it was during the previous surgery – no day-of-crying this time.
I have only gotten in about 2 hours on the CPM – need to settle in now and get those hours in. It’s such a pain because I have to take the brace off to use the machine, but if you have to get up to go to the bathroom or the like you have to unstrap from the machine and strap yourself back into the brace. It makes it hard to get the 10 hours in I’m supposed to do. I remember whining about this last time, so I just have to bite the bullet and strap myself in. Why, I ask, on such a night do they have to show a bunch of reruns? It’s hard to read trapped on my back!

The Food Network has become a good source of all-day entertainment. If you haven’t caught Road Tasting, do check it out – they travel all over the country to small family-run restaurants and food stores and try out various specialties of the house. I’m thinking that I will buy an authentic mince meat from Mom’s Apple Pies in Virginia – they actually use suet! They made some stunning pies on the show – all from fresh fruit grown on their own farm.

Day Three – Totally Different Experience with ACL Surgery This Time!

In the post-op period after the first ACL replacement surgery in March, this was shoot-me-and-put-me-out-of-my-misery day. Not this time around. Anyone considering ACL surgery should definitely consider these things:

1. A doctor who focuses on minimizing pain – my doctor, Dr. Golden of Cedar Sinai, had ACL surgery about 10 years ago and said the pain was so bad he could barely stand it. Therefore, he made it his goal to NOT put people through such a painful method. He prefers allograft over autograft because of the reduction in pain. It makes sense – because you aren’t harvesting the graft from your own leg, so you don’t have all that healing to do as well.

2. A doctor who does minimal cutting. The last doc at UCLA did a huge slide down the knee. Dr. Golden does it all arthroscopically – five small incisions around the knee.

3. A doctor who works for a hospital that lets him decide what’s best. UCLA forces doctors to do things their way to “save money” – for example, they won’t let their surgeons use screws that eventually dissolve. They insist upon using metal so it stays in you forever. I’m not sure why they don’t offer the option of the dissolving screws if the patient wants to pay for it.

I had to use UCLA with the previous doctor because the other surgery center she used was not in my “network” for insurance. That would have been $5000 out of my pocket instead of $3000. Ugh. I would imagine the dissolving screws are not $2000 a piece, so I would have been happy to pay the $100 or whatever to have those used at UCLA.

I started the CPM machine today – I’ve done 3 hours – and I already have about 60 degrees of flexion. Last time I could not do the machine for about 5 days because of the pain, and when I started I had about 20 degrees of flexion. What a difference!

Day Two – ACL Surgery – Dreading Day Three

I forgot to mention that the first day was also the day of violent-getting-rid-of-the-liquid-vicodan. They gave it to me after surgery because I was really feeling the knee – and I didn’t think to ask for crackers first. Ugh. I thought was going to mess up my friend’s car on the way home (she would have something to remember me by for months or maybe even years) but deep breathing kept me ok. She made some soup when I got home, and a few spoonfuls later I had to hobble on crutches as fast as my little arms could propel me to give it up – that may have been the burst of “activity” that caused my leg to start bleeding badly.
Anyway, no blood today still, but my roommate reminded me that it was Day Three that was The-Day-of-Please-Shoot-Me-and-Put-Me-Out-of-My-Misery pain. I’m cautious with the pain killers because of the nausea, but it seems to have subsided.

Rule of Thumb: If you get this surgery, have lots of absorbent snacks like cracker, toast etc around or you can’t take your pain medication. And don’t let the nurses give you liquid pain killers without getting some crackers and a bit of ginger ale first.

Let’s hope tomorrow is not a repeat performance of March 31.

Initial Panic, but Now All Is Well

I had some issues last night after the surgery with bleeding – it wouldn’t stop and was making a big mess. My poor roommate had to help me get it stopped and rewrap the knee. However, 10 minutes of pressure on it and the re-wrap seemed to work – as of today all is well.

This surgery is A THOUSAND TIMES EASIER than the last one – I was told the allograft would be easier to deal with than the previous autograft (using my own tendon to fix the ACL), and they were certainly right. After the March 29 surgery, I was in agony on day 2. Here I am on Day 2 after the new surgery, and I have pretty much no pain. Oh Joy!

The procedure was much less invasive because the tunnel was already dug too – so Dr. Golden did it arthroscopically and I wont have a new big scar down the middle of the knee. I’m very happy so far – so keep your fingers crossed that this one holds!
Warning – below is a picture of the bloody fiasco so anyone who is queasy should stop scrolling to avoid seeing it
stop scrolling if blood makes you faint…

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