Dave’s ACL Diary: Doing it Solo [Part 6]

First Follow-up day – 2/7/2000

Well, before I start, I should say that it really helps to get out of the house, if only for a while. It’s kind of easy to start to feel like a loser laying around the house for 3 days, but all is made better by crutching outdoors on a beautiful morning!

The cab arrived to take me to my first follow-up appointment right on time, and we’re off. We are at the on-ramp to I-85, and (sorry to digress so soon, but) I spy the buffest, most seriously worked-out cop I’ve ever seen in all my days. Most of our Dekalb cops are nice enough guys, but a few of ’em fit the “donut shop” profile, and nobody I’ve EVER seen on the police force looks like this guy!

The guy is BUILT. All muscle. Like he discharged from the SEALs and went right to the police recruiter. Has that square-top head (sporting a real SWAT-Team-look cap. Had the whole SWAT-look going – even the car looked hardened), and arms like Hank! (but without all the tattoos…). And amazingly enough, he’s not hassling the locals – he flips on the blue lights, steps up and hands the lady in the car in front of him something she dropped!

Would love to see this guy in action: “Excuse me, sir…” (he pinches hold-up man’s gun barrel closed with his fingertips) “I need you to listen to me. I need to have you LEAVE THE CONVENIENCE STORE NOW, Put the gun down, go outside, get into the back of my cruiser and lock yourself in. If you fail to comply, I’m going to twist your pointed head off your pencil neck with my own two hands, clean it out and use it for my coffee cup tomorrow morning.”

“Are we clear about that sir?”

OK, so anyway, we make it to the Doc’s office ($35+ later! More about this later…) in plenty of time, and I go on in for my followup.

The nurse takes the outer ACE bandage off, revealing…well, not much. The knee is swollen, but not as much as I’d have thought. She removes most of the inner bandages except the last little bits (wish they’d have softened them up with some peroxide or something – the last little bits hurt a lot coming off…). Only 3 small holes (one of them positively TINY), and a small incision reveal that I’ve got a hot-rodded left knee. As I’ve said several times, it must be a lot worse for the folks who have the patellar autograft (or the hamstring).

I see the doc, who looks things over, tells me I’m not working my foot around enough (and for the first time I understand what he means – I’m to be working the muscles in my calf and so forth in order to increase circulation and improve absorption of the fluid that causes the swelling). He asks if I want to go into the first PT session THIS AFTERNOON! Well, I was actually all hot to get going, but it didn’t start ’till 4 PM (11 AM at the time) and when I mentioned I’d come by cab, he seemed surprised that I didn’t drive!

That I didn’t drive? WTF? I can drive?

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We have a brief discussion of my beloved, lowered, and paid-for (the best part!) ’91 VW GTI, which is a 5-speed, and which I won’t be able to drive for some time.

OK, so I’m going to be in PT as soon as I can arrange transportation, and non-weight-bearing for a month. Not every doc and PT do these things the same way, so don’t be surprised if your situation is different from mine.

(No. This was a definite sign of trouble. No well-trained Orthopedic Surgeon has done a normal ACL this way in years. Find out about the course of weight-bearing, flexion and PT BEFORE you get cut. If your doc tells you crazy stuff like “you’ll be non-weight-bearing for a month”, or worse, can’t or won’t tell you, and has no good reason why not, RUN, far and fast).

The doc puts a new dressing, the old ACE bandage (shoulda got a different/new/clean one – this one itches now), and the brace back on (puts the brace back on in kinda the wrong place – we’re talking off by maybe a centimeter or two) – the brace is not bending where the knee bends at all. I’ll make a minor adjustment later, follow-up by phone during office hours to make sure it’s OK.

Later I’ll discover that once I’ve got the brace situated a little closer to reality, I have the full flexion the brace is set to allow, without pain (I am still on the Lortab here, OK?). Hyperextension, though (extending your leg, as though to “lock your knee”) is painful, and I can’t get close to what I had. This is not unexpected.

The Doc has prescribed a strong NSAID – Naproxyn 500 mg, which will take the place of Lortab during daylight hours (and in general, unless I’m in real pain). This REALLY has me pumped about being able to drive – seems quite close.

I didn’t mention earlier that I’d forgotten to get a script for a Handicapped parking tag – since a vehicle looks proximate now, I remember to get it handled this time. (Though Georgia’s automobile system is completely screwed up – your driver’s licence comes from the state, and your tag comes from the county – you often can’t do the two things in the same building, or even within 10 miles of each other. In Gwinnett county, they DID put the tag office and the driver’s license office under the same roof for a while – until they decided to move the driver’s license office to the firehouse 5 miles away (and keep it closed at lunch!!!!). Why? Anyway, I don’t know where handicapped tags come from yet. Will get it wired tomorrow)

I check with the car rental place where I’d gotten the great rate before, and all they have for me in a monthly rate is a Honda Civic at a MUCH higher rate than I was quoted before. Roger picked me up in his Civic, and getting home was no picnic (a legroom problem). So the Civic won’t do. Neither will the Blazer (c’mon – puh-leez). Finally, they’ve got a Camry for me at $225 a week. Excuse me please? (Couldn’t you BUY a Camry for that price?)

I give up on car rental for the moment (still in the lobby at the Doc’s) and order a return ride in a cab (from a company headquartered closer to the Doc). The trip home (after a long wait for a cab) is only $23 with a fairly generous tip. Go figure.

The cab thing is getting old. Will have to locate and rent a suitable car tomorrow.

Looked at buying a beater vehicle for this purpose (with an auto transmission) for a while, but the increasing price of new cars and lease programs have pushed demand into the used car market, and it’s hard to find (even hard to advertize – who pays to get a color picture of a $200 wreck?) a beater, and even so, I’d have spent hundreds to register and insure it, and God only knows how many precious hours of my last month on 2 fairly normal legs. I gave in to the rental idea when I got a good monthly quote from AutoSave (the guys who offered me the Civic, the Blazer, the Camry).

If I’d had any idea that the Doc would think I could drive on Monday, I’d have left the rental sitting in the driveway before surgery. Hell, I’d have BACKED IN! I’m ready to go NOW!!! Of course, I might’ve also come home with a Civic I couldn’t get into…must try it with an immobilizer first.

My buddy Roger has got to be just about the luckiest guy in the world. Not only is his wife Bev lovely, she’s one of the kindest people I know. Bev was sweet enough to pick up some stuff for me tonight (I’d reached a state of equilibrium with the ice-maker in my fridge on knee-packs, but was unable to resupply the cooler. Had also exceeded my expected soda demand), stop by for a while and help me do a few of the things I couldn’t on my own (get a smaller, more manageable cooler out of the shed, f.e. The monster cooler seems like a great idea ’till you figure out you can’t move it, can’t drain it, can’t lift it up to get at the goodies inside…). She was even nice enough to pick up stuff I dropped as she stood there! So cool! Thanks Bev! Rog, you found a great one!