stitches be cray

Day 63

So I got my stitches out yesterday… woo hoo! Unfortunately, though, all was not well. Apparently some water had soaked in under the Tegraderm bandage and caused maceration around the wounds. Now, I had changed the dressing on Sunday and the wounds had been dry so I guess my shower on Sunday evening was to blame. Or probably the fact that I was running late for The Dark Knight Rises┬áso I had to put the wrap on my knee before the are had dried.

Anyhow, my stitches, or, more accurately, sutures, were good to be removed so they were cut and removed. They also poured some hydrogen peroxide on it and asked me to keep doing that for the next couple of days to make sure the wound didn’t infected. They put some 3M steri-stips on the wounds which apparently keeps them closed, or something. I was also put on a 1 week antibiotics course. In good news, I was permitted to shower without a garbage bag (double woo hoo!). I’m hoping the wound stays uninfected.

I also went back for my first full day of work yesterday and it was not bad at all. In fact, the bending and straightening of the knees is promoting blood flow, I think, because the pain when standing up has decreased quite a bit. It’s still present, but it’s probably on the level of a 4-5, now. If I had to rank the pain, I have the most while standing still, the second-most while walking and the least while sitting down with my leg flat.

That’s it for now! I’ll have some more photos later this week when the wounds don’t look disgusting.

still in a significant amount of pain

Day 59 (7/19)

Just a short update about yesterday. The pain seems to be lessening but not at a really quick rate. I’m hoping the sharp pains when standing will go away by this weekend. Luckily, I did not really need the hydrocodone since I spent most of the day with my legs up and iced (30 minutes on, 30 minutes off).

I can comfortably walk with one crutch now, so that’s another positive. I suspect if I keep doing my rehab exercises (which I did 2x yesterday instead of 3x) then by sometime next week I should be cleared to walk with just the brace. Monday is the day of my follow-up where I will hopefully get my stitches removed and get some doubts cleared about what sort of pain I should still be feeling.

On an unrelated note, my Mom cooked a wonderful dinner for the four of my friends who helped me out last week. We hung out and talked after dinner for about an hour and a half. This was one of my primary reasons to get a house–so that people can hang out and talk for no reason. Haha. There’s also looooots of leftovers in the fridge so I have delicious food to look forward to tomorrow.

When I woke up this morning my leg was far less stiff than before but I still couldn’t go back to sleep for more than short naps after the first time I woke up. It may even be a good idea to just get out of bed and take a walk to relieve the stiffness when I first wake up. I’ll try that out tomorrow.

I dropped my Mom off at the airport today. I’m sad to see her leave because she obviously knew how to take care of me, having done it for such a long period of my life. I’m very thankful for the love my family gives me.

some show-and-tell

Today’s rehab report along with some photos of my knee in progress.

Day 58 (7/18)

After being gung-ho about going back to work, I realized that I wasn’t ready, yet. The first night without pain medicine was less than stellar. I had the CPM machine going at 80 degrees till about 2 AM and then felt some stiffness/bruising so I took my knee out of it and applied the pressure bandage and went to sleep without a cold pack system since I couldn’t feasibly hook it up and apply it myself. I awoke at around 4 AM with the knee feeling pretty stiff and, more worryingly, with a need to go the bathroom.

The horizontal to vertical pain now firmly entrenched in my head, I cautiously swung my legs down over the bed. Immediately, I felt the blood rush down my knee and the extreme pain had to be endured again. The pain is almost down in the calf area, not the knee, slightly to the sides where all the bruising is (I have pictures later for the curious few). It lasts for about 3-4 minutes–lesser if I decide to brave it and get on my crutches and try to put weight on the leg. I’m not sure what it is, but it is not comfortable. I used the restroom and collapsed back in bed. The gratification to going back to a horizontal position is instantaneous as well, so at least I have that respite.

Unfortunately, the lack of pain medicine (or perhaps the mental lack of pain medicine) kept me awake for most of the next few hours. Thankfully, at some point, my parents woke up and were able to apply the cold therapy machine on my knee. However, they’re going to be gone in a couple of days so I need this pain to go away soon or figure out how to get that machine going myself, in a comfortable manner. The ice was nice but it again leads to stiffness and discomfort and I had to shift my weight around to feel comfortable for periods of about 8-10 minutes.

Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to research my pain on that veritable resource of information–the Internet–and found several accounts of people claiming that they had lots of pain when standing up during the 5th-6th day after surgery that eventually just went away. I’m hoping my pain will follow a similar course. I also made the decision to take off work/work from home the rest of the week since it seems that going to work for those 2-3 hours (as well as the extra time spent throughout the day in a non-horizontal position) may have intensified the pain.

I did have to drive my dad to the airport but after I got back I had the cold therapy machine to look forward to. Most of the rest of the day was spent with the cold therapy machine and short naps as it allowed. I was able to get a little bit of work done remotely, as well. I gave the doc’s office a call in the afternoon and he said he would put me on weaker pain meds and that I could rely on Ibuprofen and Advil to manage any pain as necessary, as well. I was also able to crank my CPM machine up to 85 degrees and finally spent some time doing my exercises (conveniently before the PT appointment). Doing the physiotherapy exercises actually feels good, possibly because I have something to distract my mind from the pain or possibly because I’m causing my blood to go to a different place. Although it’s all probably because I’m back to being somewhat horizontal.

The visit to the PT office today continued to establish the positivity as I was able to chat with another ACL surgery patient who was about a week ahead of me. He told me he had many of the same pain symptoms in the first week that have all but gone away now. My physiotherapist also reassured me that the pain when standing up from a laying down position should be on its way out fairly soon and is primarily because the various systems in the body are trying to reestablish the routes for the blood (or at least, that’s how I envision it). Anyhow, she said a lot of patients complain about those symptoms and that I should bring it up with my follow-up meeting with the doc on Monday if it is persisting.

As for the activities during the rehab session, I once again started by stretching (bending and straightening) the knee joint with a band and then did the little session with the electro-stimulating thing. My unknown units number this time was 72–just a 5-unit increase from last time. I blame it on the fact that I had gone into the session having done about 40 minutes of my own electro-therapy about an hour prior. After that I did straight leg raises and then a knee-bending exercise with a foam roller below my knee. The PT was pleased with the straightening on both these exercises.

I then got off the bench and did a set of calf raises. These were pretty painful since they basically hit the bruises down the side of my leg. Apparently this exercise will get rid of the “standing up pain” if I do it regularly so I’ve put it on the docket. Next, it was over to the leg-press machine where I did a couple of sets of leg presses (both legs and single leg) and a set of calf raises. After that was done, I did a knee extension exercise with an elastic band where I basically bent the knee, straightened the knee and then lifted my ankle. After a set of about 30 of those, it was time to walk.

The PT said I was ready to walk with one crutch just on my right-hand. After fumbling around with the balance aspect of it, I was able to do 4 sets of cone walks (walking over 5 6″ cones back and forth equaling one set) with one crutch (no brace)! This was exciting because it now gives me a free hand to hold stuff. I can’t express how awesome it is to finally be able to hold something other than crutches. She recommended me wearing a brace if I was out in public but that I could do it without a brace at home.

Finally, there were a few more exercises with the elastic bands (quad extensions–I’ll touch on them in a later entry) and an exercise where I lay on my expanding belly and tried to bend my leg up backwards. It was hard. I had to use my right leg to do the bend for my left leg. After it was all said and done, I was at the PT for over an hour but I felt refreshed and not pained!

My mom and I went to H-E-B to pick up groceries after that, where all the standing took a toll and hence we cancelled a following stop at Target. I came back home and iced my knee for about an hour before taking a shower. It’s probably psychological, but the pain is slowly decreasing when I’m standing up. Or, rather, I’ve found that if I just go straight into walking instead of standing and waiting for the pain to engulf me, it only takes 2-3 steps for the pain to dissipate. I’m hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight and if I have pain, I filled a prescription for hydrocodone to help me through. I’m hoping I don’t need it, though, especially after talking with the PT about the “standing up pain” being expected.

I’m probably going to work from home again tomorrow just to be safe and so that I can spend my mom’s last day here with me. If the standing up pain decreases, I’ll consider going into work on Friday for a half-day or so.

Now, for the photos (not for the faint of heart)!!

If you felt like this entry was two-toned, you’re not hallucinating–it was. The first half was written before physical therapy and the second half after it. Before PT, I was very negative and kind of tired of the pain. After physical therapy, I felt refreshed and reenergized. I’m glad my recovery is unlike other accounts I’ve read where the physical therapy causes all sorts of pain. I, for one, am glad for the concretely measurable improvements I’m making and, of course, for the only exercise I’m getting.

first day back to work

I continue chronicling my rehab from ACL surgery…

Day 57 (7/17)

Since I had postponed a few meetings from yesterday and we were nearing an iteration deadline, I decided to go into work today. When I woke up in the morning around 6 AM to take the first of my last three does of pain meds, though, there was a lot of pain getting out of bed and to the bathroom. The pain going from a horizontal position to a vertical position is still extreme–maybe a 7 or 8. I’ll have to talk to the doctor tomorrow about more pain meds or something over-the-counter because it’s pretty unbearable for the few minutes that my knee is adjusting to all the blood.

I worked remotely from about 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM before I left for work. I did some research on picking up a handicap placard and found out that I could do so at a county tax office and that one was about 2 miles away and had a drive-through service. It was about a 5 minute drive and 5 minute wait and $5 worth of fees and I had my red placard in hand that allows me to park closer to establishments and limp through their doors.

I reached work around 10 AM and once again was hit with the sending blood-down-the-knee thing. I limped over to my desk with the crutches and was able to prop my leg up on another chair and work at a completely different angle than I’m used to. I went to a couple of meetings and actually got some code written so I felt productive.

I was originally going to work till 2 PM but I didn’t want to deal with the adventure of acquiring food so I decided to leave around 1 PM and eat lunch at home and work remotely. This arrangement worked out pretty well from a comfort (and probably productivity) perspective. I was able to ice with my machine at home and even got my CPM machine cranked up to 80 degrees.

In the evening I felt a bit adventurous so I took my parents out to an Ethiopian restaurant we had gone to with friends–Aster’s. We all ended up getting their trademark Doro Watt dish and I think my parents liked it. Drove home and once again I was relieved to get back to the ice pack. I spent some time researching whether the pain I’m feeling now is normal or not. I will probably be emailing my PT tomorrow to get her opinion. I do have a PT session in the afternoon.

I’m planning to go in for more or less a whole day of work tomorrow, since I have an early morning meeting. I may skip out during lunch, once again, although this would involve more walking to and from the car. At least I can park fairly close.

My pain while my leg is elevated is around a 2 or 3 now. The pain while just standing up is around an 8, like I mentioned earlier. After standing up for a while, walking is about a 5-6. I do need to remember to wear my brace around, though.