ACL Reconstruction: 15 Weeks Post-Op

Happy (belated) Labor Day!

I am so not ready to see the summer end! On one hand, I’m glad that it went by quickly because I was not in the best of shape for most of it. But, I also feel totally ripped off! Now that I’m a lot more mobile, I want a re-do of summer! At least there’s still fall (which is the best for hiking, cycling, running and a lot of other outdoor activities!).

This Thursday will mark 5 months since I had my skiing accident. Time flies! Today is the 15 week anniversary of my ACL reconstruction surgery, and so much has changed over that period of time. In many ways, I’m pretty close to “normal” and can do just about anything that I could do before tearing my ACL. I’m also constantly reminded that I am still pretty far from normal and have a long way yet to go. I do everything a little bit slower, with less intensity. I’ve back been to teaching my group exercises classes for over a month now, but still can’t lift quite as heavy, crank as much tension on the flywheel or pedal as fast (I know that this will improve with time!).

Here’s the formal update on my progress…

Pain Level:

No pain (and very little swelling)! There is still quite a bit of tightness in my left knee, but it’s improved a great deal. I have just a tiny bit of pain and sensitivity in the area around my large incision, but nowhere near where it was even a few weeks ago. I can kneel down on the ground now, do a standing quad stretch and kind of get into child’s pose. All three of those were a very big deal and I celebrated each accomplishment! I often have numbness around my knee (mostly below the knee cap), which I’ve heard is very normal. It’s still very weird.

I’ve actually been having more pain in my right (non-operative) leg than my left, because I tend to bear more weight on it- especially when I’m running. All in all, the level of pain in pretty much non-existent and a million times better than it was during the first few weeks after surgery.

Here’s a photo of my knees today (directly after a run!):

15weekknees

I wish my scars would start to fade a bit more (some people’s scars fade right away!), but it will take some time. My left quad muscle is definitely growing back and my calves are pretty much the same size now. My left leg is definitely still weaker than my right, but at least it’s starting to look similar in size.

Here’s a flashback to 10 weeks:

kneesweek10

Six weeks:

postop6wk1

And week four:

postop3wkknees

Physical Therapy & Activity: My PT exercises have changed a lot in the last month. At 12 weeks post-op I was able to start running (or, jogging really) and perform plyometric and more advanced balance exercises. I started off running for one minute, walking for three and repeating those intervals for about 20-30 minutes total. Soon that turned into two minutes of running/two minutes walking, then three minutes of running/one minute of walking and eventually I got to the point where I could run a mile without stopping. I still can’t really do more than a mile at a time without stopping to walk, and really need to work on building my cardiovascular endurance back up.

I only go to PT once a month now (and only have three sessions left!)- and still love it! Each session is really challenging and it feels more like I’m working out with a personal trainer. I leave each session sweaty and feel like I got my butt kicked. I’m going to be really sad when it’s over (and might just have to hire a personal trainer to start working with to continue similar types of exercises).

I got measured and fit for an activity brace and received it last week.

donjoy

This thing fits like a glove- but it definitely takes some getting used to! More than anything, it’s my “safety blanket.” Although it’s not 100% guaranteed, you’re far less likely to re-injure yourself when you have this thing on. It really helps with hiking (especially going downhill) and I’ve been wearing it when I run too. Wearing this brace will be the only way that I’ll have the courage to try skiing again this winter!

Mood: My overall mood and state of mind has definitely continued to improve as I’ve gotten stronger and “more capable.” Being able to do things beyond just normal day-to-day activities has been awesome. Having hiking back in my life certainly makes me a lot happier!

eldoradocanyon

But, there are still times when I get a little down about this whole ordeal. I still have limitations, and there are still a number of things I can’t do (that I’d like to). I don’t have the endurance or stamina that I did before, and sometimes that can be a little tough to realize. Also- I lost weight really quickly after surgery due to lack of having an appetite. As soon as my appetite came back, so did the weight (plus a bit more). That’s also a bummer, but I’ll be working to get the weight off and trying to get back to feeling better in my body (story of my life….).

Fun Stuff: 

Greg and I recently took a trip to Boston to visit his family and some of our friends- we had a blast! We spent a day kayaking at his family’s cottage in Plymouth and then a few days walking our way around the city. I love Boston because you can walk everywhere- my FitBit stats were insane while we were there. :)

I got to hang out with some friends that live in the area, including Caitlyn and my sister from another mister, Erin!

harpoon

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking on the weekends and am so glad to be able to do my regular “tougher” trails again. I’m really trying to hang onto every last minute of summer and hoping that the warm weather extends into the fall!

That’s it for now- see you in the next update!

Comments are welcome (and encouraged)!