Things I've Tagged ‘ACL’

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Why Would I Ever Run?

I’m not a runner–at all. No matter what shape I was in when I made a go at long distance, the results were never satisfactory. By the time I made it to the mile marker my body was telling me to quit. It wasn’t even that I was tired, it was more the laborious nature of running that made me quit each time. It was the fact that I had to keep breathing in a controlled fashion, I had to keep running, and mostly that I was bored out of my mind that always put me over the edge. Running–just to run–has always seemed like a giant time waster to me.

Why would I ever want to run?

The only activities that seemed like a good opportunity for running involved games–e.g. soccer, football, basketball–and had some purpose that kept the activity off of my mind. Strategy does that. I get no runner’s high, but I do get a competitive high. Running can be competitive, but christ, you just run and that is unbelievably worthless to me.

What sucks is that prior to my next surgery about the only real running like activity I can safely do is to jog/run in my neighborhood, on a track, or on a field. And so I’m stuck with the boring ass activity that it is. Wearing a brace that is increasingly uncomfortable for these activities makes me want to shoot my face; I’m pretty much ready to head into surgery and commence with the rehab all ready.

So, why would I ever run? Because the only way for me to safely exercise is to participate in an activity that I hate. The only thing is, it’s put me in a little healthier place. I’ve lost a bit of weight from running, exercising, and eating a little better.

I wasn’t able to reach one of my goals last month, though I made a pretty good go of it, but I still had to run.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

I went to my first official PT session this morning. This was at 7:00am, which two days prior would have been 6:00am. I felt tired, and not expecting much in terms of output, this worked out very well. I’m not much for mornings, but will certainly wake up if the situation requires it.

This particular morning, the alarm beeps (no longer blares, because I’m not allowed to use that alarm anymore), and I tap snooze for another ten minutes. And I tap it again. Man, I am way too beat to be up early, I think.

I proceed to eat a bowl of some delicious oatmeal and I’m ready to leave. I hop in my ride, to make a quick run. Ha.

Disclaimer: I kid of course. Seriously, Michelle, you’re always on time in my eyes.

Anyway, I pull into the lot only to see the building is empty and dark, at five till seven. How could I have done this to myself? I always insist on arriving early anywhere I go, though the wife tends to make that a tough proposition. But it puts me in these awkward spots where I look a little too eager when the therapist arrives.

Not that I’m not eager to solve my knee issues, but it’s physical therapy. It can be tedious and boring. And if done wrong, apparently, can lead to more issues.

Somewhere along the way I was unable to get my knee together. Strengthening wasn’t working, I hit a brick wall. My exercises didn’t feel like they were working. Maybe I’ve been screwing up this whole time? I don’t know. I’ve been working on this knee religiously, I just hope that something works. I hope that something will make it feel at least slightly normal again.

This has not been fun.

ACL Fail: Episode 302

It appears that my ACL adventure might not be over. For the past couple of months my knee has begun to loosen up, meaning that it felt as if the tibia was beginning to slip forward in more and more situations than I thought were appropriate for my level of rehabilitation.

This is not all that uncommon for someone that has gone through this surgery.

Now, at first I suspected this was because of a lack of muscle strength due in part to the patellar tendon pain I had been experiencing but as the months went on the movement was beginning to exhibit itself in day to day activities, and the pain has really only increased as a result.

I thought perhaps I was worrying myself over nothing, I do this often relating to issues like this, but in this case perhaps they were relatively well founded.

I went to my orthopedic surgeon a few days ago and he confirmed my self diagnosis: the knee was indeed a bit loose. The anterior drawer and lachman tests turned up positive, however he could not produce a positive pivot shift which gave him, and by extension me, a little hope that this is all salvageable.

He has prescribed a six week course of physical therapy in an effort strengthen the surround muscles in the hopes that this will solve my issue.

Here’s seriously hoping this is the case. I don’t particularly want to experience this again.

Not Far from Soccer

I started cutting exercises last Thursday and was basically told that if I could get through that day and into the next without added, new pain, then I could add it to my workout. I will have one more PT session next Friday, then I’m done with that part of my recovery.

The only caveat here is that I’m dealing with a bit of tendinitis where the tendon was harvested for the new ligament–I’m one of a small number of people “lucky” enough to experience this sort of pain–and it has hindered my efforts at strengthening that quad. I’ve been told I’ll experience probably up to a year post-op. The good news, however, is that the pain I’ve experienced in various exercises has decreased significantly over the past two months, so I’m confident that I’ll get back to soccer in the next two months, as long as I can get back to full out sprinting and squatting/leg pressing a bit more weight without pain.

I don’t feel completely comfortable with my leg strength for my return, but I imagine my first year of getting back to sport will be a little shaky at best in the beginning. My speed is gone, as I have to relearn how to run, as well as get those muscles firing quickly again. I’ve done some kicking, dribbling, passing, etc. and those things seem OK, except for various types of kicks and the sort of one-legged squat position my affected leg (my plant leg) gets in when I wind up for a big shot.

BUT, these things are minor. The pain is not excessive and neither my doctor, nor my physical therapist feel too concerned about what I’m experiencing right now.

So, this is progress, and it feels pretty good.

One Month Out and Counting

Ah, the fresh feeling of a scoped (to the extreme as I found out) knee, and a “brand new” ACL. Actually it’s all very stiff, uncomfortable, slightly swollen, and weak—but getting better as I say to anyone who asks.

It does feel as if it’s getting better, and we’ve moved beyond simple exercises in physical therapy, but five to eight more months of this will be rough.

I found out yesterday how much meniscus was shaved—and it is an unfortunate amount from what he described. I don’t remember the lateral or medial designations, but one side had 50% removed and the other 35%, “in an important area.” So I’m thinking that this is the end of any real serious athletic activities. I’m not even sure if I’ll get a chance to return to recreational soccer. I mean, that was the point of the surgery for me, since I had no real instability in my day to day activities.

That was a bit of a morale blow, to say the least, but I’m not sure if the activities are done for good, just probably a heck of a lot sooner than with a healthy knee.

Other than that, the doctor said he’s “pleasantly surprised” by my progress, assuming that perhaps I wouldn’t be moving along this quickly because of the cartilage issues? I dont know. The knee really does feel good, just stiff at times.

Anyway, I’m out of the knee immobilizer and walking around fairly well. It can get a little tough when I’ve been sitting around for a while, simply because it gets stiff and the swelling probably increases a bit.

To get myself out of that brace, though, I had to pass a few balance tests. I had to be able to balance on one leg for twenty seconds without touching down or grabbing anything, and I had to do that three times. I passed that pretty easily, thank god. Then I had to do the same thing, but pass a light weight medicine ball around my body twenty times in two directions while balancing. Not too difficult, and probably easier on the affected leg because of increased concentration. Then I had to balance and move my head to look up, down, left, and right five times.

I passed those tests and now I get to move on to more challenging PT exercises. So far so good.

ACL: Week 2

It’s been a little over a week since I had reconstruction surgery. That was a rough and painful first week.

This week I’ve returned to work, and generally my leg feels like it is getting better and stronger. The more I do with it, as far as exercise and movement go, the more it feels like it is improving.

I was allowed to bare as much weight on the repaired knee as I could handle with a knee immobilizer on the day of the surgery and after a week I feel pretty comfortable doing so without crutches. Shh, don’t tell the doctor, but I’ve also tried walking without the immobilizer—in that case, though I use both crutches and put just a little weight on it.

I can’t wait to get the staples out, and that’ll take place this week, meaning I will get to do some more serious exercises in physical therapy. Can’t wait.

Physical Therapy

What’s frustrating me so far is that I really can’t straighten my leg. I think it gets to somewhere like 18 degrees unsupported; this also means that standing up on it is weird because it won’t quite straighten out. Plus it’s still swollen and a little weird looking. It needs a good washing. As far as bending it goes, I’m pretty much visually at 90 degrees, but it’s stiff I can’t go any further even using a belt on my foot.

Most of my exercises have been really, really monotonous. I’m used to working out, using some pretty heavy weight for leg presses and squats and such, so doing calisthenics is a bit of an adjustment. I definitely won’t be going back to heavy weight anytime soon, so I better get used to this for now.

Gotta get those quads firing. But that’s tough.

ACL Day2

Ouch. My knee and leg are killing me.

I got a look at the surgical wounds and the swollen knee today. Can’t wait to see that go down. My lower leg and foot is numb as a result of the swelling and I really hope that goes away.

That’s all.

ACL Blues

I’m less than a week away from surgery. I chose a patellar tendon autograft, which means they’ll slice and dice at my knee in order to save it. Ouch.

One thing that bothers me about this whole process is that every different facility or doctor involved in the surgery/diagnosis/etc. must ask the same questions concerning my health. I would have thought that some of that information would have been passed along. Questions like, “are you currently taking any medication?” or “do you take drugs or use alcohol?” I’ve filled out form after form and questionnaire after questionnaire with these same questions. Why isn’t this information passed on? Why? Because the system is hampered by some pretty idiotic regulations concerning information. Especially considering that every one of these doctors/facilities is involved in a surgery.

It seems to me that this information should be shared with those who are to be involved; it isn’t like I will deny the surgeon what my family doctor knows. Dumb.

On another note, I’m still experiencing a bit of pain the knee, and it seems to get a little worse over time. One day a certain movement won’t cause pain and the next day it will…and repeat. Anyway, I can’t wait to get a functional knee back, because I’m really itching for some soccer right now.

ACL Journey: Day -16

Yeah. Day -16; I’m a little over two weeks away from my ACL surgery. “What surgery” you say? You didn’t know I was injured. Well I guess I’m going to have to correct that misconception.

Yeah, I’m hurt. In a major way. The diagnosis is a completely torn ACL, and a couple of major tears of the mensicus. I suspect the tears are a result of continuing to play over a long span of time without an ACL. In short, my diagnosis is long and grueling rehab followed later in life by early arthritis of the left knee.

Strangely enough, though, I’m one of the few who can function relatively well without an intact ACL, and I think I’ve been doing it for six years—playing soccer for many of them—which is why I never quite realized it was my ACL that was torn. I’ve had continuing problems with that knee since my initial injury, but I’ve always been able to bounce back relatively easily. I suspect that each time I injured my knee over those six years I was tearing that cartilage just a little bit more.

This last time, August of 2008, I was on a breakaway. The goalie had passed a long ball to a defender at the centerline—a mistake, because the defender had his back to me. As the ball sailed through the air, I figured I could beat this guy to the ball and he would never catch me on my way to the net. Easy goal.

I head to the net and need to cut to my right to outfox the goalie—a good one by the way—but on my way my left knee extends straight out and pop—PAIN—I roll, don’t know what happens to the ball, but action stops.

That’s it I’m done for a few months.

Usually I’d be back to some activity relatively quickly. This time, though, extensive pain lingered in my knee for about four months. I said to hell with this. I need to fix this thing now.

Well, here I am and I’m nervous about the upcoming surgery, but many people go through this and come out all right as elite athletes. I’m no elite athlete, but I’ll be all right in my rec leagues. Perhaps better than I’ve been in a long time. I just need to lose weight again to get my speed and agility back as well as help prevent re-injury.

The only question I have is: which ligament should I harvest? Patellar or hamstring?

I’m leaning patellar, simply because it is the tried and true method as well as the one least likely to develop laxity as I heal because the ends of the tendon are attached to bone and inserted that way and held in place with interference screws; the hamstring tendon is simply inserted and held in place with interference screws and because the attachment isn’t as strong initially, the harvested tendon can slip past the screws a little bit causing laxity in the new ligament.

Obviously bone to bone is ideal for healing, which is why the patellar tendon is so strong initially. This will allow me to get back to regular activity a little faster and hopefully make the joint stronger when I eventually return to soccer.

Anyway, I’ll update here on my progress as I can.