Mark's ACL Surgery

by Mark
(Columbus, Ohio)

I read these stories before mine, and it helped! So here's my story.....


On Jan. 19th, 2009 I was playing adult league hockey and executed a sharp right hand turn - same move I've done thousands of times. This time, my right skate (freshly sharpened) must have caught because the next thing I know I'm going down with the very distinctive "Pop" on the outside of my right knee. My leg and foot immediately went numb, and I knew it was bad but was able to skate off to the bench (the week earlier, I had made fun of a friend who sprained an ankle and had to be carried off the ice, so I was NOT going to do the same; but I do believe it was Karma getting me back!). I had a pretty bad limp for the next week or so, and stairs (down especially) were a killer!

MRI next week confirmed tear, and I immediately chose a donor graft reconstruction. I'd already done my research and being an active 35 year old with three children (1, 4, and 7) I wanted to get back to 'normal' ASAP because I plan on playing sports and being active with my kids.

It's Feb. 11th, 2009 as I type this and I had the surgery this morning. In the month between, my pain wasn't horrible but my knee would often be stiff and occasionally went 'out' when I wasn't careful.

Surgery day was pretty straight-forward. There is no food/drinking the evening before, and I went in with my wife at 9AM. My prep was an IV in the hand, a shaved knee (I signed the right one to be sure!) then some drug to 'relax' me (which was fantastic), then a shot in my upper thigh to block the nerves. My wife was able to be with me this whole time, except when the shots were given but they weren't bad.

They wheeled me into surgery at 9:58 (I checked the clock) and had me breathe pure oxygen through a mask for a minute, then tasted a change in the oxygen as they added the General Anesthetic. About the time I realized that, I was OUT!

Surgery only took a little over an hour, and I woke up in recovery with the huge locked brace (upper thigh to ankle) mostly immobilizing my leg. I say mostly, because I was expecting it to be ramrod straight but it is actually slightly bent, for which I am thankful. Under the brace is a ace bandage, and an Iceman bladder under that (and probably some more stuff, I can't really tell). The ice bladder is cool, it has tubes that come out near the ankle which plug into a small cooler that, when filled with ice and water circulate cold water around the knee (all provided by insurance - thank god for the current US Heath Care system!).

I was told to eat carefully, so immediately upon leaving I had my wife get me a Whopper and Diet Coke (not healthy, but it was right next door and I was starving!). I've actually been hungry all day and have had no stomach problems. I'm able to get around pretty well with crutches.

They told me the nerve block lasts 12-24 hours, and I have noticed it wearing off so I took my first pain pill at 4PM and another at 9PM. The knee is still too numb to feel the ice, but the pain hasn't been too bad. I'm guessing tomorrow will be much worse, so I'm going to take two pills in a little while before bed.

It hasn't been as bad as I feared, but I know I've got some rough days ahead (and lots of rehab in the months to follow!). I'll add updates if possible, but I hope this information was helpful - especially to those reading this the night before their operation (like I did!)

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