Of Dogs, Knee Surgery and Large Horses, Part 10

July 5, 2013

Time Passes When You’re Having Fun!

It has been several weeks since I was told by the doctor to start physiotherapy and I have to say that I have been through many emotions since it started. I’ve been like an oddly aligned pendulum, swinging back and forth, up and down between excitement that I can walk again, frustration that I can’t walk yet, annoyance that I can’t go riding, fear that I’m going to re-damage the knee, and occasional pain both just walking around and at the hands of the physiotherapists.

OK…let me start at the end of Part 9 when I received the script to start physiotherapy. It was the happiest and most exciting day since finding out I needed surgery. As Doug, my boyfriend, was driving me back to my apartment I called and booked an appointment with the physiotherapist. It was Wednesday and I was told that I couldn’t start for 10 days…TEN DAYS!!  OH, the Frustration!!

Emotional Turmoil

Emotional Turmoil

For the next ten days I practiced walking without my crutches. I went to the flea market and walked for probably a mile, I went to antique malls and walked up and down stairs, I drove my car around and went grocery shopping. I couldn’t straighten my leg all the way up, and I couldn’t bend it more than 90 degrees, and my buttocks–especially the left one–were so sore I couldn’t sleep for the first two days, BUT I was getting out of the apartment. I no longer had to wait for someone else to bring ice, I could just hop in the car and go get it myself. I had my freedom back!

Who Needs Physio?

Then I went to my first physio appointment and went through four pages of questions about my condition and what could I do and what surgery did I have and did I have other physical issues or illnesses. ARGH! It took longer to complete the form that to have the therapy!

Once the forms were complete (and my credit card information was on file) I met the physiotherapist. What a nice guy! He was super professional, knowledgeable, just a really nice guy. I’ve had friends who went through physio sessions and barely lived to tell the tale, but I had every confidence after meeting him that my physiotherapist would never hurt me. Oh how naive I was!

The first session was very gentle. He tested my flexibility over my entire body to see how much the knee was affecting me and where. He watched me walk, bend, stretch and balance and made notes about everything. Then he massaged my injured leg and loosened all the muscles that I didn’t even realize were sore until that time. OUCH! but it was a good hurt. In short order I was back in my car and wondering what I needed physio for. Except for massaging the back of my thigh and calf, I could do all those exercises myself. But I decided to keep the next appointment and see if more would be done when I wasn’t spending the first half of the appointment filling out paperwork.

The day after my first physio appointment my knee swelled so much I thought my toes were going to explode. It took two days of ice and propping my leg up to get the swelling back down. Of course, spending an entire day sitting in a restaurant with old friends, walking through department and grocery stores, and driving for two hours probably caused most of the swelling, but I really didn’t want to believe that just plain normal activities could make my leg look like I had connected an air hose to it. In fact, if you saw the Harry Potter episode when he blew up his horrible Aunt and she floated off, then you know just how my leg looked.

Decorative Knee Tape

Decorative Knee Tape

My second session started off with gentle stretching exercises, then the massage and taping my knee to help work the skin over the fascia and control the swelling. This was important because my knee wouldn’t bend if the joint was filled with fluid. At the first and second appointment my left knee was about 1.5″ bigger than my right knee. Also, this time when the measurements were taken to determine how much flexion I had my knee was forced to flex as far as it would go without pulling the ACL. OMG!!!!!! To give you an idea of how that felt, Mr. Nice Guy Physiotherapist told me to breathe like I was in Lamaze while he tried his best to pop my new ACL loose! I’ve never had a baby or been through Lamaze, but I’ve seen the movies. This was NOT a fun moment in my life. Especially when I was told that even with ‘help’ bending my knee I only had 63% flexibility.

Well, so far I’ve had about 5 weeks of physio and I’ve learned to ‘bridge’, ‘crab walk’, ‘reverse stride’, and both flex and straighten my left leg. I’m now within 1 degree of straightness and within a few degrees of matching the flexibility of my right leg. It still hurts to walk or to push the wheelbarrow, but Mr. Physio has told me that the pain will fade as my leg gains strength. When pressed for some kind of timeline, he protects his reputation by just saying that each person advances at the speed they are capable of handling and he won’t say if I’m coming along well or not. Although his assistants did tell me that few people have to be watched because they overflex the bridges or overstep the crab walk, so I guess I started out in better condition than most who have ACL replacements.

Recently I’ve been emailing a friend who had knee replacement surgery a few weeks after my ACL was replaced. Although the surgeries were both done on the knees, there is almost no other comparison between them. Her surgery was far more extensive than mine, and her scarring as well as the length of her hospital stay is proof of that. However, while I was not allowed to touch toe to the ground for almost 3 weeks, she was walking on her crutches in less time and outside working on things. Maybe I’m just a wimp, but I know for sure that I would never have been able to do that in such short time.

I would love to hear from others who have had knee surgery. What was your recovery time? How long is it REALLY before you walk without even thinking about it? Was it ACL replacement or full knee replacement, or some other knee surgery?

Am I a wimp, or am I doing OK? Enquiring minds want to know.


13 Responses to “Of Dogs, Knee Surgery and Large Horses, Part 10”

  1. m33s66vr said

    I’ve not had knee surgery, but I know you ain’t no wimp!… As I read through the first half, I was thinking: “I told you to take your time! And – and – you’re walkin’, shoppin’, drivin’… !!!”, then I read the second half. Excluding the painful bits, it seems you’re progressing as well as you can. Keep it up! But, it ‘might’ hurt less to take your time! Just sayin’…
    You know… the “bridge”, “crab walk” and the “reverse stride” could manifest into new dance steps!(?)… :o)

  2. Cecilia said

    I never had knee surgery but I am recovering from ankle surgery. I broke my tibia almost a year ago and I know that is different from what you are going through, but I can emphathize with the frustrations over losing your freedom!! As well as the fear of wondering when and if you can be normal again. It took me a few months before I could actually walk again unassisted (no crutches, boots, etc.) Within 8 months I survived (well) a Disney trip. My foot doesn’t feel the same as it did and my surgeon said it never will, but I am back to my old activities. I hope everything goes well for you.

    • kayuk said

      Hi Cecilia! Thanks for your comment. I’m finding out a lot about other leg and knee injuries and they are all different, but all have a similar theme in that the leg/knee/foot is never ‘the same’ afterwards. There is an area of my leg below the knee that has no feeling now. Both the doctor and the physiotherapist have commented that the feeling may never come back. Normally this is not an area that receives a lot of attention in any case, but I do find it….somewhat disturbing….when I apply lotion or wash the area. Also, it has phantom itching, although this could mean that the nerves are reconnecting in the area. Oh well, I guess only time will tell.

  3. kayuk said

    Thanks Patty! I’ve been sort of off line for a few weeks. Combination of FINALLY being able to go out and do things, getting a new business started, and having a really old dog who is now deaf, blind and lame. She’s like my child and I’m very worried about her.
    I’ve been trying to keep up with the blogs I follow and have been reading your posts. I don’t know about everyone else, but comments are lifes blood to me. I’ll be back to my old habits this week.

  4. floridaborne said

    I used Lamaze for both births. It works quite well…if you’ve been educated regarding how to use it. When will you be cleared to ride a horse again?

    • kayuk said

      I’m not sure. I see the doctor again in about three weeks so I guess he’ll let me know then.
      And, yes, Lamaze works well for physio too.

      • floridaborne said

        I remember a woman who had gone through a hip joint replacement telling me how painful it was to have to go through it. She had to do it for about a year. You were in top physical shape when you had the surgery. I’ll bet you’re on a horse and riding again before the end of 2013.

        • kayuk said

          According to both the doctor and the physiotherapist, I will be completely back to ‘normal’ (as ‘normal’ as I get) in six months, but I’m aiming for less to be back in the saddle, even if it’s just at the walk.

          • floridaborne said

            It’s people like you, people who dared to push the envelope who made doctors realize that some of their advice was crap.

            Then there are others who wished they’d taken their doctor’s advice.

            The point is (and there really is a point). If you’re going to push the envelope, I’m glad you’re going to do it responsibly. 🙂

  5. Good to hear from you Vickie! I hope you will be walking again in no time!
    Lots of love and hugz to you

    • kayuk said

      Thanks Patty, I have responded to this comment twice already, but for some reason it doesn’t post so I’m trying again. I’m now at the point where I pretty much walk as much as I like. I even push the wheelbarrow of hay out to the horses, but that still causes some twinges. Things get better every day, including my strength, so I’m a pretty happy girl these days. 🙂

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