Day 5: Post-PT

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February 9, 2005 at 7:26 pm

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PT went well today — a repeat performance of , really — except today I reached 120 degrees of flexion!

My physical therapist, Reneé, keeps apologizing since all she can throw at me right now are quad sets, straight leg raises, the stationary bike, and passive range of motion exercises like heel slides. That means my next two PT sessions will be a bit boring since I don’t graduate to the next level until my orthopedic surgeon (OS) clears me for weight-bearing on the left leg; I don’t see him until Monday afternoon. Still, Reneé is keeping it challenging in spite of the limited set of skills I can work on. Today I did my leg raises with a 1lb. weight strapped to my quads and that didn’t feel much different, although my muscles went all shaky after about 20 reps (I did 40, total); it didn’t hurt, it was just annoying and a reminder of how quickly muscles waste away when they’re not put to use. The stationary bike was fun. Reneé is right, she could leave me on that thing all day — it feels good to use the left leg again, even if it isn’t actively pedalling. Today I got it warmed up good, pedalling at twice the rate I did on Monday for about 1/3 of the 10 minute session.

There were at least five other post-op ACL folks at PT today, so it was inspiring to watch them do their exercises knowing I’ll be moving on to those same exercises soon.

A couple of the skills are going to be out of my league for a couple more weeks, I assume: balancing on the post-op leg while throwing a ball at a trampoline and catching it; doing squats while standing on a rubber balancing disc, etc. I’ve been the newbie in both PT sessions I’ve attended thus far; everyone else has healed scars or is just down to an ACE wrap but no pressure stockings. I see others struggling to get 95 or 110 degrees range of motion, and it makes me feel good at how I’m doing (115 degrees on Monday; 120 degrees today) so early in the process. I joked with Justin the other day that I’d made my usual mistake of being an over-achiever: “Who in their right mind starts PT off at 115 degrees flexion? There are only so many degrees a knee will go, and I didn’t leave myself many to progress to… just a long way to regress!”

I was kidding, though. The goal is to return to normal mobility and activities, so I say the sooner I reach full flexion, the better! I’ve been at full extension since I got home from the hospital, and today Reneé slowly manually hyper-extended my knee just a bit — I felt that enough to well up my eyes, but it wasn’t worthy of a whimper or anything.

For perspective, my eyes routinely well up and start watering when I have to bite down on those x-ray plates at the dentist (they pinch my cheeks unmercifully!)

This evening I think I’ll forego my second exercise session. I’m physically tired, in part due to the PT, but also due to walking around the house quite a bit and taking a short walk outside. Today’s probably been my most mobile day yet, so it’s no surprise that I’m feeling it; I don’t feel run-down, just tired as one normally would after an active day.

I’ve been using the CPM machine since I got back from physical therapy, and I’ll use it overnight as well. I wasn’t pleased with the pain and swelling this morning after having slept my first night in the immobilizer. Of course, I forgot to elevate my left foot so that didn’t help! Anyway, the CPM machine and Polar Care cryo cuff are soothing and they’ve helped me reach 120 degrees flexion in just 5 days, so I’m going to keep using them as long as I have them.

Besides, when you’re renting something for $60 and $50 a day, respectively, there’s no sense not using them frequently.

I was prescribed 8 hours of CPM use per day, minimum, and prior to returning from PT I’d only done about 2.5 hours, so I have some ground to make up.

Post-Op Numbness, Explained

About the numbness I mentioned on ? I asked Reneé as we unwrapped my leg at the beginning of PT, and she finished my sentence — “It’s normal. It’ll take up to 6 months for you to regain feeling there.” It’s a relief to know it’s normal, since I kept replaying something a hospital nurse told me and thinking I had caused the numbness. The nurse had warned me not to let the cryo cuff’s hard plastic nozzle and tubing press against the median of my lower leg (above my shin bone) because it would “cause your leg to go numb for 6 months.”

Well, I’d been very careful everytime I put the cuff and immobilizer on, but it had me worried. I believe he said the nerve is called the superficial peroneal nerve. My numbness is limited to the lateral portion of my lower leg, and affects primarily the skin (I can feel tapping or other deep tissue stimuli); so, my nerve will be on extended medical leave for the next 6 months. Gotcha! It’s just another part of the healing and rehabiliation process.

One more thing… I posted a question on Bob’s ACL forum and received a response almost immediately. How cool is that? My question — “

I’d been wondering if my orthopedic surgeon had changed the ACL reconstruction graft type on me during surgery, due to finding the lateral meniscus torn in addition to the medial one (which we both knew about prior to surgery). When you have six holes in your knee, and lots of time to lie around thinking about things, it’s sanity-saving to have forums like

and

to turn to!

PS: I’m still adding details to it, but I’ve added more content to the

entry. I still need to add more, since that entry should end with my release from the hospital.

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