Sunday, July 21, 2013

Don't Under-Do it...and a recap of my ACL reconstruction

As I started putting weights on my new neck harness and getting ready to start lifting, my mother strolled in.  Shocked by seeing a small pile of iron hanging from my neck, she asked for an explanation of what the hell I was doing.  Of course, I explained that this would help strengthen my neck.  Despite doing the kind of slow and under control reps anyone not a strength geek could spot as being careful, she admonished me, "Don't over-do it."  My mother is one of those people who doesn't exercise much and finds infinite, often annoying, reasons not to.  I returned the favor.  "Thank you.  Don't under-do it, Mom!"  I think that this is going to become my standard response to anyone worried about me over-doing my training. 

I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Yeah, I got my ACL reconstructed last Thursday.  That also happened to be the first surgery that I've ever gotten in my life.  I fell at work on April 22 and it's been a slugging match with my company's workman's compensation insurance  (never fun) and trying to get a time where someone can replace me at work while I recuperate.  Mobile centrifuge treatment plant operators don't exactly grow on trees in the United States.  By the way, if you knew how to do this but didn't submit a resume when I mentioned that I needed ACL surgery, then you suck and you should stop reading my blog out of shame and common decency. 
Dude, where's my ACL?
I opted for an allograph at my doctor's recommendation.  That's a fancy way of saying I bummed a piece of ligament tissue from a dead body that wasn't using it anymore.  Every knee surgeon apparently has their own opinion about what reconstruction option is best (autographs:  harvesting a chunk of your own hamstring or patella tendon) and my surgeon explained that while patella grafts are generally considered to be stronger, they have a longer recovery time and since I wasn't a professional athlete, I'd likely never test the strength of the reconstruction.  Besides, he did something kind of cool that I'll get to in a minute.

So, After two months of crutching, barely walking and impatient waiting, I got surgery.  Fortunately, I was the second surgery of the day so I didn't have to endure thirst and hunger for an entire morning and afternoon.  Pain management was an issue.  They didn't give me enough drugs out of post-op to make me feel painless.  Apparently, I succeeded in life by having a high tolerance to drugs without actually doing drugs. 

They asked me to write, "yes" and "no" on which knee to operate on.  I can do better than that..
At my first doctor visit, he explained that instead of pulling out my disappointment of an old ACL, he put the dead guy's piece in, grafted the two together, and put them back in their place.  So, my ACL is double the thickness.  I thought it was a cool trick.  It certainly ausages the disappointment of not being able to see a piece of my ligament pulled out of my body.  I thought it would have been neat to see.
ACL back in place.  Better!
Now, comes the fun part:  Physical Therapy.  I lamented to my Physical Therapist that I spent the first four months of this year pushing around a GMC 3500 pick-up around at 5:00 am for leg training.  Naturally, I was so pleased to hear that it would be five months and three weeks before I could get back to that.  Now, I have to get focused on getting my knee straight and my heel to my ass.  This is clearly a humbling experience. 
I actually shaved my own leg before surgery, just to make it clear which one they needed to work on.  The nurse said I did a better job than her drag queen son does on his.  I guess that's a compliment. 

Now, if you thought that I'd no nothing else other than PT then you confused me for a chronic overtraining-worry wussy.  Now, since I never had surgery, I never understood the sensation that simple crutch movement could make for a painful, shit-my-incision-are-going-to-explode open feelings in my legs.  I do have an machine that circulates cold water through a pad that I wrap around my knee.  I thank the heavens my surgeon demanded that my insurance company buy it for me before they operated.  Basically, if I have that, pain is manageable.  So, what can I do with this thing on my leg that doesn't send me rushing for pain medicine and my machine? 

Yeah, the neck training thing.  One day I do 30 minutes of neck training.  The next day I work on my crush grip with my CoC's.  These are two things that I can do that in no way make my surgically-repaired knee ache or carry even a remote chance of aggravating it.  Plus, I don't think I stand a chance of slowing down my recovery by training too hard. 

Plus, the neck and the hands recover pretty quick, as long as it's not over-done.


So, I'll keep y'all posted on my progress and any wild revelations that I have while I recover.  Thank you for the get well wishes.  Hopefully, I can get back to normal as fast as possible. 

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