Day 3: 1st Formal PT




February 7, 2005 at 1:13 pm

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Justin took me to my first physical therapy (PT) appointment this morning. Prior to leaving the house, I took 2 Vicodin as a preventive measure since I had no idea what was in store for me during PT. In retrospect, I’m not sure that was a wise move, given so much of PT is about pushing yourself up to and beyond your pain threshhold. Still, knowing I had that “protection” against incredible pain made facing my first PT session easier. I’d been both anticipating and dreading this first PT session — excitement about moving forward in my recovery meets fear of the unknown.

I had to climb into the back seat of my Corolla in the garage, since it was raining.

Getting into the car was a lot easier today than it had been on

when I was released from the hospital! At the physical therapy office, I crutched from the car to their entrance slowly, avoiding any sudden movements on the slick asphalt. The last thing I want is to splay myself out in a wet parking lot!

The therapists were very pleased with my progress. When I arrived and began the exercises they showed me, I could only self-flex my knee to 75 degrees. I was frustrated, since I anticipated being able to self-flex it to 90 degrees, since that’s what I’ve been doing on the CPM machine everytime I use it (3+ times per day, including while I sleep). However, after a few painful, searing reps using a band on my foot to pull my knee toward me (”Bring your knee toward you until it hurts, and then pull it a little more!”), the therapist was thrilled — “Check her out, it’s her first day and she’s already at 115 degrees!” She grinned, “That’s so good, you’re going to get to ride the stationary bike today!”

I didn’t know if that would be torture or not, but I steeled myself for the possibility.

I rode the stationary bike for 10 minutes, and it felt terrific to use my left leg as a real leg again. About halfway through my pedal, the therapist joked, “Shannon, I hear that bike going awfully fast!” as I’d worked myself up to a comfortable pace (level “4” on the bike). It was painful, but far less painful than I expected; of course, I wasn’t using my left leg to press on the pedal, it was just “going along for the ride” to help my range of motion in that leg.

The therapist said based on my status today, I’ll probably be walking without crutches in one week.

There was another ACL patient there who is a week ahead of me, and he was already walking on his own and doing exercises standing up. If he had a brace on, it was a very small one.

That could be me in one week!

The only things the physical therapists noted were that my knee is very swollen (about as swollen as it was just after my fall on ), and that I should take the cryo cuff pack and dressing off periodically to air it out since condensation had been causing my dressing to get slightly damp.

My incisions and portals look good, and I cleaned all the Betadine and ink off my leg when I got home today from therapy. I also machine washed and dried my pressure stocking, so now everything feels clean and fresh again.

I have to wear the pressure stocking on my right (non-affected) leg until my first checkup on Valentine’s Day (2/14) to prevent blood clots. I’ll be glad when that, and the left leg immobilizer and crutches, are gone!

Here’s my physical therapy (PT) schedule so far. Remember, this is in addition to the exercises and therapy devices (CPM, cryo cuff and leg extender) that I’m doing 3+ times a day at home!

I did my at home exercises and the leg extender with the cryo cuff before my physical therapy appointment this morning; I avoided the CPM machine since I’d used that overnight, ending it around 4:30 AM.

Right now, I’m taking my first real break since I got home from surgery. It seems like all I’ve been doing since Friday morning is exercising, medicating, trying to crutch over to the bathroom again, or trying to sleep (I got between 3 and 4 hours of sleep while in the hospital). Today feels like my first break, since I’m counting my first official PT session as one of my 3 minimum required exercise sessions today.

When I got home, I used the cryo cuff and spent 10 minutes on the leg extender to stretch it out so it wouldn’t freeze up after the PT session.

The leg’s still sore when I’m standing or crutching around, but otherwise it’s fine.

I haven’t taken any pain meds (Vicodin) since 7:30 AM! My surgeon only gave me 20 Vicodin and no refills. While I know I can call in a request for more, I think he’s on to something — the “character” of the pain is changing daily, and for the better in every case!

Postscript: I went until 5 PM without taking any more Vicodin, and taking one was sufficient to allow me to get through my third and final round of exercises, and the extender box, for the day. We watched a movie here at home with Justin’s parents visiting (”” — my choice,) and then I began my overnight CPM session around 9:30 PM. I’m feeling good, albeit sore. I have a feeling I will emerge from this experience more physically fit than I’ve been in a long time — I can “feel the burn” in every conceivable muscle group, and the crutches are giving my upper body a workout, too!




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