A Big Week 12

That Mental Thing

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.”
— Michel de Montaigne

First off, I have to state that, recoverywise, the last two weeks have been great.  Nothing but progress, physically.

Mentally, though, I have spent a lot of time worrying about the knee.  Too much, considering the evidence.  Of course, the joint seems stable.  It just still feels weird and weak.  I haven’t had any of those occassional subluxations that I did before surgey, so it’s really just a muscle thing.  Still, I haven’t really challenged the knee (and won’t just yet), so I have doubts.  They’re more niggling than gnawing, but I have found myself engaging in what I know are pointless tests of recovery, like watching the injured knee when going down stairs to see if it wobbles more than the other.  Or standing on one leg to detect whether I can feel the tibia going more forward than it should.   Like I could really get a good read by just eyeballing it. 

I don’t want to make too much of this.  I have noticed I am not alone in experiencing these fears and doubts midway the through process.  You see it time and again in blogs and in message boards.  I even read about one ACL recoveree whose distraction led him to self-administer a Lachman-like test with, I gathered, a rope and a drawer.  (Where’s an arthrometer when you need it?)  The description was vague, so I don’t know exactly how the person did it.  I understand a video of it was posted somewhere, but based on the reactions, I thought it better not look for it.  

The moral of this is, it’s natural to fear the worst, but mostly it’s for naught.  During ACL recovery, you’re constantly asking the knee to go a little further, to do a little more, so it’s no surprise that it constantly feels off.  Come to think of it, it’s a lot like karate.  Because you’re always refining your technique or learning new stuff, it often feels like you’re getting nowhere.  You’re always at the edge of yourself.  

And now for the good news . . .

Full Flexion!

Yep, that’s right.  I got my heel to my bum earlier this week after a good warm up.  They’ve been apart for more than four months now, ever since that fateful Blech Thursday.   The effect is still only temporary; by the time I’m ready to go home or get to work, the flexibility is gone.   Still, it is SOOO cool to be able to actual sit in a kneeling position, if only for a brief minute or so.

Running Man

I can run now, too.  That is, my therapist is making me run.  Sort of.   I can only run straightaways.  Which, on the 1/16 mile track at the gym, means I do this spastic series of 10-second runs in the straights and 20- second walks around the curves, interrupted every so often by a full walking lap until I hit a half mile.  It must look really silly and kind of pathetic.  And what’s worse, it really tires out my injured knee.  After a couple of laps, I feel like the calf and foot are just going to fall right off.   Honestly, I’d rather be swimming, but I know this is important.

Home Balancing Act

While I getting some nice e-stim and ice at the end of my last physical therapy appointment, I overheard one of the therapists explain to a patient new to the balance board that people either hate the thing or want to go home and make one for themselves.  

Which was funny, because I had made one just a few days before.  In truth, I probably wouldn’t have done it just for myself, but my wife needs to use one, too.   She’s been a runner for as long as I’ve known her, but during the past few years she’s been dealing with the aftermath of three meniscectomies and hasn’t been able to run much. (We currently have just one good knee between us.)  She isn’t able to get to our gym everyday.  So, one $7 piece of plywood and a half-hour of labor later, we had one serviceable balance board ready for squats.  My sons love it, and even Nurse Josephine got a little curious about its construction (she’s the black blob on the left).    And now I can help my wife work on her balance and proprioception by tossing her a ball while she wobbles, and she can do the same for me.  It’s a new stage in our relationship :-)

Week 12 Benchmarks

Other than full flexion and running, there’s not much new to report.  Basically I’m doing the same stuff as as Week 10.  It’s just really a matter of doing it a little better, a little longer, or with a little more weight.


5 Responses

  1. I don’t remember my own progress at 12 weeks, and I’m not going to look it up, but it sounds to me like full flexion at 12 weeks is great.

    Your comparison of ACL recovery to karate–you’re not where you want to be, but you’re improving–is really apt. Hang in there!

  2. Fantastic report!

    Making a balance board was a great idea. I found a Jane Fonda Step and a mini trampoline in the attic to help with my exercises.

  3. Thanks for the support! I hope I’m that far at 12 weeks as well. :)

  4. hello
    I have 16 weeks after my acl surgery. My question is: do/did you have hip pains? I feel a kind of pain (not really a pain) at my both hips (especially at the ‘bad’ leg), not only after I run but in walking too. the fact that the pain is not giving away ( I have it for 2-3 weeks) makes me nervous and fearful and a lot of ‘bad’ thoughts are in my mind. thanks.

  5. G,

    Hip pain? No, that’s not something I experienced.

    How much running and walking are you doing? Even after all this time (almost a year now), I’m finding that my body is still relearning its new knee. I wouldn’t be surprised if the changes in your knees are putting stresses on your hip.

    That said, have you seen a doctor or a physical therapist about this? If not, do so soon, at least for the sake of your mental health. No good can come of just ruminating on it by yourself, believe me.

    Also, please take note of the main point of this entry. Months 3 and 4 are tough emotionally and mentally. The quick improvements of the first weeks level off and yet there’s still a couple of months to go before the standard healing period ends. From my experience and readings, this is the time period of greatest doubt.

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