Dave’s ACL Diary: Doing it Solo [Part 11]

Saturday, February 26, 2000 – 60 degrees of separation…

Well, I didn’t mean to lay off the diary for 10 days, but that reflects the increased mobility I’m experiencing. Still on crutches, though, non-weight-bearing.

Last time I mentioned that I didn’t know how long it’d be before I could shower, due to my inability to reach the bottom cuff on my brace. Well, after being given permission to shower, I suddenly became QUITE motivated to remove the brace and get my sorry carcass into the shower to wash up proper. I didn’t care if I had to do a kitchen-knife foot amputation, that brace was coming off and I was gonna get my first something-like-normal shower in two weeks PRONTO!

PT is going OK, but still not challenging at all. On Monday of this week, the therapist loosed my brace to 60 degrees of flexion, which has certainly made life a little easier, but as noted before, I was supposed to be at 90 degrees at this point (the therapist remembered this as well, and remarked on it…). I’m scheduled to loose to 90 degrees on Monday, no weight bearing ’till a month after surgery. That’d be March 3, for those who are looking forward to it (and no one is as much as I).

At therapy I’m doing a little gentle half-cycle pedaling back and forth on the exercise bike. I can get to 90 degrees of flexion, but any more would be a major struggle. The therapist informs me that getting all my flexion back will be painful and time-consuming, but will not elaborate. He agrees that I ought to be thinking about a bike trainer for the home gym.

I’ve been doing electro-stimulation with straight-leg raises, but the machine I’ve been using was apparently a demo, and has been returned. They try two other electro-stim machines on me, but neither will reliably pass current through my body (have been shocked enough times to know what it feels like when it’s working). Will bring my pocket-sized digital voltmeter to PT next time, in case I need to diagnose their equipment. Wonder if I get a free session if I do?

The therapist has cut me back to 2 days a week until I can bear some weight and (I guess) we can do some real work.

Still have back pain, but it’s under better control. Have learned to use my crutches and upper body to pull myself up from most positions, rather than twisting my back all over the place and bearing the weight strangely.

Have some swelling in my calf, and am working on it, trying to keep my foot elevated, and doing “ankle pumps” to keep the blood moving. My therapist got me all worried about blood clots and pulmonary edema. (I think he must’ve been thinking about the tragic death of Lucy Knight on E.R. the night before!)

Buyers’ Remorse?

I may have mentioned my misgivings about the pace of my rehab already, but I’ll be quite specific here. I’m concerned that I’m still on crutches 3-plus weeks after surgery, with no weight-bearing till at least week 4, no sign yet of being told I can ditch the crutches, and no challenging PT at all to date. I’m scared to death that in failing to get my joint moving early, that the doc and the therapist have impacted my final flexion, and/or made my rehab much more difficult than it needs to be. Hopefully I won’t ever have to do this again, but if I do, I’ll ensure that I do whatever it takes to get a detailed (and acceptable) rehab plan out of the doc before I decide to go for surgery.

At a decade’s remove (writing this annotation in late 2011) I have most of my flexion and plenty of hyperextension. So I was right to worry, but I got just about everything back eventually.

I ran into a guy last night to whom I’d spoken around a month ago. He was scheduled to have surgery the same day as I. I’m still crutching around, can barely flex to 90 degrees on the bike at PT. He’s off crutches, out of a brace, has nearly all his flexion back. He started PT the day after surgery, and I believe that’s why he’s so far along.

More reason to suspect that I went to the wrong doc. It’s really important to do your diligence up front, rather than only starting to ask questions when things start to go wrong. It does you little good to find out your doc’s not so hot after surgery.

So what else is new?

I’ve found that my upper body is getting stronger, as expected (probably the only good thing about spending a month on crutches…). My forearms feel nice, and I’m guessing that my triceps have improved. Nothing new on biceps, but I’m gonna get one of my dumbells into the bedroom so I can do a few curls and (hopefully) coast the biceps along with the rest of the muscle groups. Have lowered the crutches a notch so I can get a little better squish on the arms with every step.

Struggled into a pair of jeans for the first time since before surgery today. Not really practical from any standpoint with the brace on, but they feel so good! Amazingly enough, all this laying around has cost me…another notch on the belt! My waistline has shrunk!

I’ve done a number of productive things this week, mainly stuff around the house, a few repairs (toilet flapper, laptop power supply), even dragged a big branch out of the yard (yes, on crutches!).

Mindspring canceled the second of two appointments to install DSL (with less notice than they require of ME to cancel!!!), so I cancelled it. The first-level customer service humanoid actually tried to charge me a $200 early cancellation fee for service they’d never delivered! After some more fuss and about a half hour and an escalation to a manager, I finally got things straight, and regained the status quo (56kbps dialup, and web site). Before finally giving up, the manager offered me free service for however many MONTHS it took to get DSL in – glad I cancelled now! One day it’ll be as easy to get DSL turned on as it is to get a phone – and maybe I’ll get it happening then.

I’ve managed to tackle two evenings out – one to Atlanta’s new Gordon Biersch restaurant and brewery (great!!!), and one to trivia night at a local watering hole.

Laying the groundwork for driving a 5-speed again…

I got into the GTI this afternoon, and measured the force it takes to depress and hold the clutch pedal (~25 lbs to get it to the floor, ~20 lbs to hold it at any point). For those interested, I used my Stren 50 lb. fish scale (also handy for weighing backpacks) and hooked it into a hole on a crutch, and used this assembly to push the clutch to the floor.

Since I’m supposed to be able to start weight-bearing at 20 lbs, and the dent-a-car has to go back about 5 days after I start weight-bearing, I’m going to try and get the doc to approve driving the GTI again (will shift hours to keep it out of rush-hour – discomfort after rush-hour driving was the complaint that brought me in in the first place).

Looking forward to flexing 90 degrees by Monday evening…