Bryan's ACL Surgery

by Bryan Wilson
(Monument, CO)

I hurt my knee about a month and a half ago playing basketball. I chased down my own rebound heading out of bounds and jumped to save it threw it back and landed on my right leg. It hyperextended and popped and I crippled to the ground. I actually knew it was hurt, but thought it was okay and put on a knee brace from my car and tried shooting a free throw to see if I was okay and when I missed and took my first step I just knew instantly that I needed to give up on the night. I went to the doctor and got an x-ray and mri and found out a week later that I had a full thickness tear of my ACL.


I was pretty bummed out by the news, but I was getting around with a limp and figured I was still okay at least. I made sure to keep my leg strong by riding a stationary bike for about 30 minutes everyday as hard as I could. You'd be surprised that your knee seems normal, but just has a click to it or a feeling of instability on occasion. I was hiking around with some mild pain, but my doctor told me that as long as your safe with what you do you won't do much more damage to the knee that he won't notice during surgery.

I waited a month for surgery and just lived it up hanging out with people and just not pushing my knee to far and not playing any sports of course. I do recommend possibly buying a brace from a sporting good store and having crutches because it is very difficult to get around before surgery for maybe the first few weeks. By the second week after the initial injury I was pain free really and just walking around knowing I had a torn ACL and just waited for my surgery.

Finally the surgery day came and I had a nice early time to be at the doctor of 8:30am. This is a good time frame because I found myself last minute cramming on things I've been looking up online about ACL surgery and rehab. I knew that I want to attack this thing quick, but I also knew that the first few days were gonna be mainly resting up and icing. They took me back for surgery prep and began with the easy stuff like weighing and changing into your gown. I recommend wearing something very easy to put back on like shorts because you will be needing help to get back into them. The Anesthesiologist came back after they put the IV in my hand and began telling me about his way of administering the medicine. The pumped a few things into my hand IV and then shaved my knee for the surgery and finished with putting the nerve bloc in. They put a shot right above the quad near your waistline and towards your groin and they put one right in your butt. This basically just put my leg right to sleep and they carted me into the surgery room. I got in and was placed on the table and was asked to breathe in and count down from 10 and I don't even know if I hit 8 before I fell asleep.

Two Hours later and I was waking up and obviously just wanted to keep sleeping because I don't know anyone who does not love to sleep. I finally woke up and had a little bit of water and a couple graham crackers, but you'll find that you really just don't feel hungry. I was a little sick to my stomach from the anesthesia, but I expected that and had hoped they were gonna put the anti-nausea medicine in my drip, but I have no complaints. I sat around for about an hour getting educated on everything I needed to do and be aware of with my knee. They put a Painbuster ball which drips pain meds into the knee for 2 days in and I can only imagine what the pain would have been like without it. I rode in the backseat of my truck home just laying out. The real test came when I got home because I have 2 little step ups and your will realize that having a numb leg makes you very unsure about your footing. I made it inside got my leg propped up and began icing. I had someone pick up my painkillers. Percocet (generic type) was given to me and some Ibuprofen along with being told to take a 325mg advil for 6 weeks 1 a day to prevent blood clots. I slept on and off the rest of the day and did get slightly sick going from the couch to the bathroom, but it passed quickly.

1 Day post op and one warning before bed take the max painkillers and wake yourself up at the next painkiller interval and do it again otherwise you will be in agonizing pain. I took only 1 pill before bed and 1 in the middle of the night and that was not enough I was lucky to be in a empty house besides my dog because I was screaming out in pain, but I think that helped relieve the frustration that was building up. It is definitely very difficult to get around and I made sure that everything I needed was where it needed to be before I sat down. If someone is home use them to your full benefit because it is very taxing to be moving around a lot. Then again I'm a 275lb man trying to move around on crutches. I made sure to do my ankle pumps and ankle circles as often as I remembered and I even added in doing my ABC's with my ankle forward and backward. I felt like a challenge I guess.

2 Days post op and I finally took off the dressings like I was told to and the brace that they have me in. I also was instructed to take out the Painbuster ball. It was a slow and easy process. I'd say to have some scissors and a trashcan and bandaids and a wet paper towel. Their is some cleanup to do and for the most part the wounds are all dry, but when I took out the Painbuster ball I needed to cover the little whole with a bandaid. I found a way to move around on 1 crutch most of the time although I don't recommend it. I found it easier to maneuver because I am large and take up a lot of space and having a free arm helps with moving things around, but you can definitely fall over if your not careful. Other than that I took my pain meds fairly regularly and tried not to take max dosages because it rocked my world to do so.

3 Days Post Op and I finally decided to take my first shower! Make sure to have a chair or some sort of stool to sit on because it is just far safer to shower in comfort than to try and balance on your off leg. Especially because your not wearing the brace in the shower and it is definitely a little scary at first when that leg is out of the brace. Be prepared to use your arms alot to move this leg around. I actually had a friend take me to a local video game store to pre-order a new console. I had to ride in the back seat with the passenger seat all the way up and down and that was still a bit uncomfortable, but if you have a larger vehicle the front seat might work still. It's just tough because your leg is still at full extension till the doctor says otherwise. I got around fairly well and have already realized that I'm getting along and will only get better. I still am taking painkillers, but mainly because I didn't want to be stuck somewhere and realize I'm in killer pain, but it is minimal usage.

4 Days Post Op and I woke up and got ready for my first Physical Therapy session. This was quite a morning. I took a painkiller beforehand to make sure I could at least get through the session and I was surprised by the pain I was in by the end of it, but my leg already was feeling better. I was able to get 75 degrees flexion and my leg can already almost fully straighten. My knee is still swollen about 2 times more than it should be, but that is still expected. I was able to do all the excersises and some and was told that by the end of the week that I should have 90 degree flexion. They did the towel excercise of pulling your leg inward till you can't and already my leg bends to 95 degrees so the therapist was very happy with my progress so far. I actually met a lady in the waiting room that had surgery for a Torn ACL same day as me, but was far behind me in results. She hadn't even taken off any of her dressings and seemed to be babying her leg a lot still. I can't stress enough that as much as you don't want to use the leg and would like to play it safe that is not the right way of going about it because the leg will heal that way then and it will only make rehab that much more difficult.

I hope to continue updating my status, but to tell you the truth from this point on it is just a matter of getting back to normal now. I know their is still pain on occassion, but they give you plenty of medicine to deal with that and if you take it maxed out for the first few days you'll feel much better and then ween yourself off it slowly is the best. You don't want to try and tough it out because it will break your spirit, but also understand that you can't live on the percocet forever.

Expect to miss about 6 weeks of work if you work in a high demand job. I work for a grocery store and am expected to stock and bend and do a lot of standing and the doctor told me that without restrictions will be a 5-7 week return date.

Just a note about sleeping. I found that sleeping on your back with your knee elevated comfortably is your best bet, but after the first night of tossing and turning my best way of sleeping is actually resting my brace on the other leg in a comfortable position and sleeping on my side or even my stomach a bit if I could. Taking pain meds is a must for sleeping if you don't want to just have a terrible night.

Well Good Luck with your recovery and thanks for reading. I'll try to keep up on this, but I have a long road to recovery to focus on too!

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