This time last week I was still very loopy from surgery and it’s time to put some of these thoughts together. I woke up with some weird ice pack inside my leg wrapping and a machine that seemed to be straight from heaven with its instant relief. This week really hasn’t been very kind to me. Not just because of the pain, but I think also because of my expectations and how those were definitely not my reality. I didn’t expect to spend a week with an ice machine being my favorite thing and literally chilling this much.
So, let’s get down to the gritty of what happened. The incredible teaching doctors of U of M did an ACL reconstruction. I had what they called epic, but also a complete rupture of the ACL and it appeared to be like two wet soggy mops. So they used some of my patella, after removing the shredded parts, and reworked it to make me a new ACL or anterior cruciate ligament. They also did a meniscus debridement after realizing how bad that was and for me and the healing process, it was better to just cut out the torn pieces rather than sew them all up. The other thing they did was to inject platelet-rich plasma into some spots after some drilling, in order to grow scar tissue where I was lacking tissue and cartilage. This is a newer, innovative thing they are still all learning on. They have discovered that this has some serious benefits for the surrounding tissues and the healing as well as for future use. (I’ve read that Tiger Woods had this done recently. Tiger, Tiger Woods, y’all!)
Even with that kind of description, the procedure went super fast and the recovery was very quick as well. I can’t believe how fast I was home. I mean, I was pretty out of it so the drive seemed to be nonexistent but I think Bryan would tell you otherwise! While in recovery, I expected to see him right away and when I didn’t, I was very emotional. I was in more pain than I was prepared for and was able to see a learning anesthesiologist put a block for pain into my upper thigh. Seeing my veins and tissues on the ultra sound was pretty cool, and I am very impressed at how well her instructing anesthesiologist was with her as she figured it out. I am not sure I was as patient! I kept asking for Bryan but they wanted me to compose myself before getting him back to me, and I, in my emotional, medicated state, just wanted to see him, so the crying continued. After a while, the pain subsided and I was disappointed with every move of the curtain until the one where he arrived. Boy, was I relieved! My medicated self thought he just dropped he off and left me there. While in surgery, he was able to fill my prescriptions and that was super amazing to have that done and he also bought me a Michigan sign with my name on it. Just like my grandma, getting me personalized stuff, and I love it!
Here we are a week later, and if you thought my mental state was depleted with being unable to run, you’d be in for a REAL treat now. I was not made for all of this sitting. Being unable to do simple things for others in my home and for myself is very frustrating. It’s hard to imagine running when I can’t even sit on the toilet without immense amounts of pain and the struggle to sit down with a terminator style brace keeping my entire right leg straight. And no, I am not exaggerating. I’m not graceful and in the bathroom, I am at my worst. I can’t shower in the shower, and just transitioning is so awkward and difficult and filled with pain. The list of things I physically can’t do is so long and annoying and if I could stomp my feet and throw a fit, I probably would have done that once a day by now. The brace is bulky and uncomfortable and currently every part of my leg is itching and I cannot itch it; oh my goodness, that alone will drive a person crazy. Itching means healing, I hope, but that knowledge doesn’t make it go away and not only can I not reach the itching, but I can’t get through the brace to itch it when it IS in a spot I can reach. Don’t let me fool ya, I have a grabber thing and it rocks! BUT even with all the complaining, both the brace and crutches are like a safety net for me, giving me peace about pain and my fear of pain and falling. I don’t want to unhook them and seeing my leg unwrapped and scrawny is kind of odd. There is an insane amount of bruising and it’s so misshapen. During those few brace-less moments of rapid itching heaven, I still am quick to want the brace on for fear of my knee moving and the dreaded pain!
The ice machine, which could actually be a cooler, was something I didn’t expect and what I pictured was not what we discovered under my wrap. When I woke up, there was a weird dual hose come through my brace and under the wrap. One of the wraps I wasn’t able to remove until this past Sunday, and so I didn’t really know what things looked like. Still to this day, I haven’t seen the incisions or my actual knee, but don’t worry, Tuesday after post op, I’ll share a photo! Basically the ice machine is just a cool pad that lays over my knee under the wrap and circulates cold water and whoooooweeeee let me tell ya, I love it. Everyone has helped me so much at keeping the machine stocked with frozen water bottles or ice and it’s such an instant relief, and I had it on basically 24/7 until at physical therapy they said probably 3-4 times a day was enough. WHOOPS! Physical therapy was yesterday, day 7, and so I didn’t use my beloved
margarita maker, ice machine last night and just a few times today.
My brain wasn’t prepared to still be in pain a week later. I really thought I was tougher than this and not that I am not, but I just thought I would be limping and working through it. I am down to just using one crutch and have survived one physical therapy
torture session. I wasn’t prepared for that pain, or to still be struggling. Being a mom, it’s difficult to not be able to help myself let alone those I care for. C’mon people, I have kids and bonus kids here, I gotta be able to put on my own socks let alone, get their outfits around. We all know what happens when my daughter, Cadence, can’t find her underwear. (If you don’t, that’s a story for another day.)
Still, with all that I’ve read and followed about others through similar surgeries online, I thought I would be doing better than I am. And that’s where those unmet expectations really destroy a person mentally. I think we can do this to ourselves in all areas of our life. We picture things going a certain way or having a certain outcome and allow disappointment when that’s not the case. I can’t actually think I’ll have a flat stomach after one day of lemon water and planks but rest assured, I check for the abs. I am going to try and focus less on where I could be and more on what I am working towards. I mean I had been in constant pain every day for over a year and the pain worsened after a long day at work. My severed ACL impacted my life by eliminating my ability to run even a mile which affected my happiness but also put me in pain. I gained weight from being inactive which affected me in more than one way. I had to stop running for my buddy Will, who is a huge motivator for me and a conqueror in his own life. So this surgery, which hurt more then I expected and came with a recovery that hasn’t gone like I envisioned, is still the necessary gateway to my future goals. It’s still the thing I needed and I am thankful for being able to have it and be so well taken care of by my love and our family.
The positive side of things is that I came through it well! Seriously! It went faster than expected and I am here! A week later and I’m only on Tylenol and vitamins doing my stretches and blogging. That means this isn’t THAT bad of a recovery. I’m also in the market for a new garmin to document my running and goals from day 1. When I started running before, I didn’t have a garmin, until about two years in. So this will be cool to have to start fresh with and really compare my stats (to myself). And let’s face it, I have time to online shop, even if I don’t have the budget for the garmin of my dreams. This time around, I’m starting off as a certified RRCA running coach and I’m looking forward to using that knowledge through this injury. While every injury is unique, this is one I can relate to! I also get to restart my running journey with my guy. He has pledged to do a half marathon with me as soon as I am able and that means we’re both starting from square one and we can put my knowledge and coaching training to use and do this together. Another positive is that I have the best family and support system. My love has been so good to me and taken such good care of me and how I’m feeling and our kids are amazing and helpful in getting mom things for a change! Bryans family has been visiting as well as some of my friends and family and I even had biggby delivered, twice! And don’t forget that Jimmy Johns delivers; can I get an AMEN?
Another thing I can’t forget is that I am strong. I can do this. I became a runner at a lot heavier than I am now simply because I wanted to. I have been victorious in both weight loss and finish lines and personal victories as well. 2016 was an interesting year for me and 2017 was a year that tested my inner strength. Having this surgery really sort of put some of the awfulness of 2016 to rest. I have some new opportunities on the horizon and have gained a lot of new loved ones. My family and heart has grown so much and I really am so thankful. Running became my therapy and my journey evolved so much because of that and I am eager to get back to a run while the sun comes up to melt all the stresses away. For now, I will work on learning to find the sunshine in the fact that I have a repaired right leg that is now fully connected and walking to the bathroom with only one crutch instead of two. 😀
This picture is something I reminded myself today, while one-crutching it around the house. It gives me chills when I think of it and it really fires me up. I am still here, persevering, and I am not going to let unmet expectations or pain or fear or anything else hold me back from pursuing happiness, and finish lines.
Remind me of this after physical therapy tomorrow, ok?