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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Nov 30, 2011
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Return to ice
by: David

I am 15 and schedule to have this soon. I have been playing unknowing without my acl. There was pain but they thought it was the meniscus. I want to return to competative hockey and am hoping I will be ready for tryouts again in 8 months. I am not looking forward to the rehab but will be glad to work hard at it to return

Jun 15, 2011
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Doctor info
by: Mark


I went to Ohio Orthopedic Center for Excellence on Sawmill Road for my surgery, using Dr. Robie. He was recommended to me specifically for sports related injuries and I would recommend him to anyone with a similar injury! Their website is below.

http://www.ohio-ortho.com/

Jun 15, 2011
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CAHL
by: Anthony

Mark...this is Anthony. Torn ACL in the left leg took place during a game on May 29, 2011. Which doctor/ practice did you use for your ACL reconstruction. I will probably not be able to return to hockey for a full 12-14 months after surgery (like you said, it is more of a comfort and confidence issue). I'm 35 yrs old and have 3 little kids to chase around as well.
Thanks for your story.

Jan 15, 2011
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Hockey update
by: Mark

I got an email from this site that my page had been updated- that's pretty cool!

I started rollerblading in the fall, about 8 months after my surgery. I skated in my first game in January, 1 year after the injury and 11 months after the surgery. I had two goals and felt great, but to this day (now two years later) I'm careful putting full weight on the outside edge on my right leg, which was the injured one. If you know hockey, then you understand when I say I'm fine on 3 edges but not so much on the fourth. I often turn to the left to get back into the play instead of putting the stress on that outside edge. It's certainly more of a confidence issue. The biggest thing is to get the strength back to the leg and you'll do fine!

Jan 13, 2011
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Hockey
by: Aaron T

Hi Mark,

I just had ACL surgery in October 2010. Things are going great. I was wondering when or if you went back to hockey? When did you start skating?

May 19, 2009
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Similar Situation
by: Patty

I tore my right ACL and meniscus on 3/14/2009 while skiing. My doctor recommended a donor graft reconstruction which I had on 5/5. Because I had done so much damage, I'm on crutches for 4 weeks and in the brace for 6 weeks. I can actually walk fine without the crutches and I'm guessing that they want me to keep using them as a precaution. PT started this week and the plan is twice a week for two months. It really feels good to get the brace off and work the knee. My doctor wants the brace locked in full extension for sleep which is the hardest thing for me to deal with. I did the same thing to my left knee 20 years ago skiing and had the patellar graft. The donor graft has been so much easier to come back from. I look forward to hearing about your progress Mark so I'll know what to look forward to since your a few weeks ahead of my schedule. Good luck!

Mar 12, 2009
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Thanks for the update
by: Ben

Mark, I appreciate the detailed update. I saw my doctor the other day (5 days post-op) and he told me im healing on schedule and have very minimal swelling. I will go back next week (2 wks post-op) to take out the stitches. I'm still on a leg brace and crutching around the house. I'm using the cpm machine 4 hours a day at 110 degrees (max allowed by doc). The thing that bugs me the most especially at night is the itchiness of the growing hair on my leg (they shaved it before the surgery). I cannot wait to be able to walk again without the crutches. Well, I wish you good luck on your recovery. I'm right behind you!

Mar 11, 2009
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Update
by: Mark

I went back in 6 days after surgery and they took off the leg brace and all the bandages. It was great to finally clean it up and get some air - it was getting itchy under there! In those six days, the only time I had any pain was when I first woke up and got out of bed. Once the leg went from horizontal to vertical, I could 'feel' the screws and incisions throbbing and would literally race downstairs (as best I could) to get plugged into the iceman. The cold felt so great! I would take a pain pill and be set for the day (I usually only took them 2-3 times per day).

After the follow-up appointment, they let me unlock the leg brace (locking it at night to sleep) and said not to put full weight on the leg. It was around this time that I realized I could walk pretty well without crutches. I would carry one just in case and use it on the steps, but otherwise I didn't need them. I also did a 'test' drive in the driveway about 10 days after the surgery and felt fine. I didn't start driving regularly, until the next appointment 2 weeks post surgery.

At that appointment, they took out the stitches and told me I didn't need the crutches (I wasn't using them anyway). They also told me I could leave the brace off when I wanted to and practice walking! It kind of freaked me out to not have it, but I also started physical therapy that day and they were big on not wearing it. I stopped wearing it around the house and was happy to be able to sleep without it.

The following weekend (2.5 weeks post-surgery) I was walking through the house and was able to actually forget about the knee. Bad news, I turned slilghtly to speak to my daughter while walking and felt like I'd been shot! I went down in a heap and could not straighten my leg out for severla minutes. X-Rays showed the screws were still in place, hopefully did not do much damage other than stretch out the new piece (while tugging the screws deeper into the bone!) It actually did improve my range of motion and I could get the leg straight, when I had been around 5 degrees before. I now think about every step when not wearing the brace - that was 10x more painful than when I tore it in the first place!

Mar 11, 2009
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Mark's acl
by: Ben

I had an achillies allograft acl recon last Thurs Mar 5 and I'm recovering fine. Few questions though, when did you start walking without crutches? when did you able to drive again?

Mar 10, 2009
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Whopper and Diet Coke
by: Bart - SII

While not healthy (I am a sucker for a big mac!) you deserved something that tastes good after your surgery.

Hope you are doing well - thanks so much for sharing such details regarding your surgery. It will be helpful to all of those visitors reading the night before!

Keep us posted on your progress!

Bart

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