PCL recovery

Hopefully when this shapes up into something, it will help other people going through a similar surgery... not much out there on PCL's, and I think there should be.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


So again, not about my knee, but my knee has been doing so good, it's basically a non issue at this point. Tomorrow I have the first day of my graduation, and on Monday, is just the medical school graduation. I am so close to being a doctor, it's crazy. I signed the lease to my apartment today, which has the most amazing closets ever. And with tomorrow being graduation day it's even crazier. I can't believe that I started this journey nearly 4 years ago and there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel. In a couple months, I will be taking care of my own patients, having actual responsibility. Pretty insane.

As far as my knee goes, like I said, it's basically a non issue. My knee isn't stopping me from doing anything. There is an almost like conduction delay, where I tell my knee to jump, and it takes a little bit longer for the signal to reach the muscles, and I am still working on the proprioception, but it's all workable. We just came back from a trip to Aruba and we hiked to the natural pool, which is very rocky and very slippery. I managed and my knee wasn't a problem, I just had to go slower to be sure I had my footing. But I made it and had an amazing snorkeling experience.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sorta running?

So today was a milestone in my rehab.... today was the day I went out for a run, sorta. I am on a family medicine rotation right now, and I always hear teh doc tell his patients how important 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise is, and how he runs 5 miles a day on the treadmill and has managed to lose 50 pounds so far. Well, I wanted to do something about it too. So I woke up this morning with every intention to go for a run. I set my alarm for earlier, and I woke up early. Looked out my window, and it's gray and gloomy and looks like it's about to pour. guess I'm not running this morning. So then, I go to work, and we get out, I get home, and it's still light out. Woohoo!

I quickly changed, didn't even put my clothes away, threw on my running shoes and went outside. Talk about deconditioning. At first, I just kind of stood there, unsure of what I'm supposed to do. I think my muscles just forgot after oh...  5 months of not running. So I started walking quickly. Hey, not too bad! And then I tried to start running. Not too bad, it certainly felt more stable than it did from before the surgery. Pain wise... there seems to be more pain now than before, but it's still too early to tell, and my knee still hasn't recovered 100%. The problem though is that my gait is completely off. I would take a short stride on the bad, right leg, but then a more natural long stride with the left leg. So then, my left leg was taking a pretty strong beating because I would pound my left leg with more force, since I wouldn't transfer so much weight onto my right, if that makes any sense. I realized this, and I tried to correct it, but it was really difficult.

I remember when I was learning to walk again after surgery, I had to try to really exaggerate the stepping motion with my right leg to actually get it into a normal stride. My PT explained the reasoning behind it, but I don't remember it now. So even though it felt like I was really exaggerating the motion, it wasn't a particularly huge motion in reality. So I tried doing that, trying to exaggerate my stride so that it started to feel more natural. But then I started getting the pain behind my kneecap, a similar pain to when I first started walking.

What ended up happening is partly from the issues with the stride and my good, left leg taking a beating, and partly fitness issues, but I would run for about 30 seconds and walk for about a minute. I think my "run" was actually slower than my walk, just because I was trying to figure out my gait again. But it did feel good to be back out there.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Just call me Sabeehah

Back from belly dancing, and my knee is actually starting to look normal most of the time. The lumpiness over the lower lateral incision is going away. It seems like I've kind of stalled at the discomfort level, when I get to the last few degrees of flexion, it't still uncomfortable, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. It's not a prohibitive pain, but it's definitely noticeable. And if I try to keep my knee at full flexion for more than a minute, it starts to get stiff. I'm doing as much strengthening as I can, flexibility was never an issue for me. I don't have access to a gym, so I'm doing what I can with ankle weights and resistance bands. I got adjustable ankle weights so that as I get along further in the rehab, and I can go with heavier weights, I won't need to constantly buy new weights. Definitely something that is recommended. The ones I have are adjustable from 2 pounds to 10 pounds. I was warned not to do straight leg raises with weight that is more than 10% of my total body weight, and I'm not going to post my weight online, but I have enough in ankle weights to eventually get to that point.

I do have some medial joint pain in the knee, and it's irksome, but not enough to make me want to see a doctor for it. Maybe I should, but I figure I've just been working out more, putting more stress on the knee, and it's hopefully just an adjustment period and once I get back to the high level of activity, my knee will get used to it and then it won't bother me.

But the belly dance classes I started, those are so much fun. I am having a blast doing it. We started last week, and it's such an amazing workout, and so much fun you don't realize what a good workout it is. It's hard too, I've been using muscles I didn't know I had. I'm not saying I'm great at it, in fact, I'm probably pretty darn terrible at it, but a lot of it is in the attitude I think. Fake it til you make it. We were told to channel our inner diva, and so I decided that means I need a stage name. I found a website that lists middle Eastern dance names for belly dancers, and I wanted to get one that had the same first letter as my real name. And so I found Sabeehah, which means "beautiful lady with a fair complexion". Oddly appropriate, I think. So next week when I go to the dance class, I'm not going to be myself, a somewhat nerdy, constantly fumbling, almost pediatrician... I am going to be Sabeehah! Master belly dancer, diva extraordinnaire! Graceful as a swan, beautiful arms, beautiful legs, hips and chest moving in isolation.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My foot did something strange

So my foot did something strange last night while watching a movie. I was lying on the couch, and just trying to bend my knee as much as I could, and then all of a sudden, my foot felt something that was a bit soft but harder than the couch cushions. Yep, my foot touched my butt yesterday! My housemate didn't realize what all my excitement was about, he thought I got way too into the movie we were watching. When I explained that I hadn't been able to bend my knee like that in 4 months, he still didn't get it. Then again, we're only living together for this month while we're rotating at the same hospital. It was too late to call anybody, so I took my excitement to bed. This morning, it just didn't feel nearly as cool, especially because when I woke up and tried it again, I couldn't do it. I need to be warmed up to get it to bend that far. But eventually, it will come back. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that I could only get to 90 degrees with my therapist pushing hard, and then all of a sudden, I got to 90 myself, and then when trying to get to 120, it was the same thing, I could only get it if my therapist pushed hard, and then I got it myself and without needing a warm up. So soon, I'll get there.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bye bye crutches

I gave up using my crutches a while ago, but I held on to them just in case. Just in case what, I don't know, but I figured I should keep them for some time. Well, I haven't used them since my doc gave me the all clear from them, so I finally threw them out today. Put them outside, said tootle-loo. I wanted to take a picture of them, but by the time I thought of it, and went back outside, they were gone... guess someone walking past decided they could use a pair of crutches. Oh well. Still is very exciting. I kept my brace for now, not sure why. I think maybe I think I might need it just in case I tear my PCL again? Dunno, but that will probably go when I move for my residency.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Out on my own

Even though I've only just been released from PT, it feels odd to be on my own. It's almost like going to PT was a safety net. If I was worried about my knee, I could always have him look at it and reassure me that it's nothing wrong. Now, I'm on my own. Now, every little bump and crack makes me nervous. I know it's silly, but it just does. So what exercises do I do at home on my own?

  • straight leg raises on my back, my side, and my stomach
  • ham curls
  • lunges with weights
  • squats with weights
  • leg presses with resistance bands
  • leg extensions with the resistance band tied around a pole
  • straightening my knee with the resistance band wrapped around my knee and a pole
I am really happy I had the surgery done, I think it was the right decision. I'm still not 100%, and wont' be for some time yet. But, it's getting there. When I start my residency, I shouldn't have any problems running around the hospital. The scars are fading, the swelling is gone. My gait is normal, I can go up and down stairs. I still get pretty stiff, especially in the mornings, or when I'm sitting for a while, and the while I can get to full flexion, the last few degrees are still not very comfortable. But at least it's not painful like it used to be. 

And just for a visual, here's a picture of my knee that I took the other day. It's looking relatively normal. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 100...and freedom

Today is day 100 after my PCL reconstruction, and it's significant in several ways. First, I decided I need to thank my donor for giving me a chance at a normal life again, and in Asian cultures, a baby gets a name on the 100th day of life. Being how I am a huge sushi fan, and I love Korean BBQ, I am going to name my new knee on day 100. I have decided on calling it Neela. Say it out loud, Neela. Get it? I hope nobody thinks it disrespectful, but I named my cadaver when I was in my first year of med school, and since I don't know my donor or anything about them, at least this way, they can sort of live on.

I also saw my surgeon today, and he was quite pleased with my knee. I am too. He told me that after I was put under anesthesia, and they examined my knee, my knee collapsed and it was graded 3+. Right now, I'm at about a grade 1/2, and I feel a huge difference in stability and pain. My knee used to give out multiple times a day, now, by the end of the day, I realize that my knee hasn't given out at all, and the pain is much improved compared to how it was before the surgery, so I consider the surgery a success. He also told me that if I am able to do rehab at home, I can stop going to PT. My hamstrings are still weak, but I wasn't able to use them for 12 weeks, so that's to be expected. I can work on that on my own though.

Afterwards, I took the train back home and then went to the therapy office. I bought them a bowl of chocolates to say thank you to everybody, and say goodbye, and let them know that I was released from their clutches. I got a very warm reception. Lots of hugs, lots of I'll miss yous, lots of Be sure to visit us again. I now have the tee shirt to prove that I am a PT graduate.