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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crutches+blizzard=bad time

We had a blizzard recently, and anyone following what's going on in NY would know that the response has been pitiful. On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I was stuck at home with nowhere to go. Yesterday, I had to go to an interview in NJ, so my dad drove me since he works in NJ anyway. Well, the thing is, when we left Wed. morning, our street still hadn't been plowed, and my dad had to park his car on the main street about half a block away that was plowed. In the morning, my dad was unable to come down our street, so I had to somehow make it down the half a block of snow covered sidewalks. People had just dug out trenches, probably about 8 inches wide, barely wide enough for a person to walk through, let alone someone with crutches. Walking in the street was impossible because of the drifts of snow on the sidewalk that prevented me from getting into the street. It took me about 15 minutes to make it to the main street, my crutches kept sinking into snow, the sidewalks were icy and slippery, definitely not easy. I do not recommend anyone on crutches to go out on unplowed streets, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

On the plus side, the interview was great. The hospital regularly uses massage therapists and holistic medicine when treating the patients, and when the massage therapists are on the floor, they treat the residents at the nursing station as well. So that's definitely an advantage :) The program director and everyone else involved were really supportive. My first interviewer had his ACL reconstructed recently, so we shared painful PT stories the entire time. On my way back from the interview, my dad ended up just dropping me off at my sister's place because I had PT today, and it was much easier to get a car service from her. Her street was cleaned and I could go right outside and get in the car by the parking lot entrance, whereas if the car service tried to get to my block, they would get stuck, and i didn't want to walk all the way through 2 feet of snow to the main street. So an impromptu girls night, and a very expensive PT visit this morning. Taking our cars would have been impossible, even if we dug out, reparking the cars would be impossible.

When I got to PT, my regular guy was on vacation, so I went to the other girl. She's really sweet, very funny. I was in a silly mood today, and she was apparently hungry, which means she laughs at everything. I told her that I was in quite a bit of pain from going through the snow yesterday, I was sore and felt beat up, so she went easy on me. I definitely appreciated that, because I was hurting.  So I didn't do as much at PT as I normally do, but it's ok. My regular PT will be back on Monday, and I'm sure he'll be back to beating me up then.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Home PT

This is my sister's car, we woke to similar scene on my street.
Living in NY, we got slammed by a blizzard on Sunday that left 2 feet of snow in my neck of the woods. Unfortunately, due to an idiotic mayor who cut back on the sanitation department workers, saying that we don't need that many workers because we have the trucks, many streets are left unplowed. And because the plows and salt trucks were not deployed until after the snow had stopped falling, the plows got stuck. I don't know about this NYC technology, but every truck I have seen needs a driver, what good is having the plow if you have no one to operate it? This is easily the worst response to a snowstorm that I have ever seen. It's almost noon on Tuesday, and my neighborhood has still not heard the rumbling of snow plows or salt trucks. Buses still aren't running, and the trains that are in my neighborhood are still not operational. And I am not the only one complaining. Unless you live in midtown Manhattan, you are trapped, because our mayor has decided that your street is not important enough to get plowed. Ambulances are getting trapped, fire trucks can't make it to their calls. And yet where are the plows? Stuck in the snow because they didn't leave until we had 2 feet of snow instead of 2 inches of snow.

So all this means that I am essentially under house arrest because of the crutches. But that's ok because my physical therapy office is also closed. They're on a main road, which theoretically should have gotten plowed early on, but I guess if everyone else is snowed in, what good is that? I also haven't been able to get to my rotation yesterday or today, but rumor has it that the roads going to the hospital aren't plowed either. None of the other students on my rotation made it in either. And with no trains, it's almost impossible to get there. With no PT, and no way to get there even if they were open, I've been doing much more PT at home. I suppose that I should always do home PT, but I cranked it up a notch the last few days.

So what have I been doing? A lot of leg raises, quad sets, leg extensions. I've also been doing passive knee bends by putting a belt around my foot and pulling it. I wish I had a stationary bike so I could do that, but oh well. I've also been walking at home without the crutches (don't tell my PT, I think he would kill me!) and the knee feels great. I don't know if it's because of the surgery or the brace, but before the surgery, I would feel pain with every step. Now, it's like nothing to walk from one end of the apartment to the other. According to my rehab protocol, it's still early to be weight bearing, but on other rehab protocols I found, you can start weight bearing from 2 weeks, so hopefully I won't be doing any terrible damage. It's also not very long distances, and when I go outside, I take both crutches. Hope everyone had a great Christmas and is staying nice and warm.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kindness of strangers

Since being on crutches, I have become amazed at how kind people are when they see someone on crutches. People hold doors open for me, and they wait until I get there, even though I'm a ways away. They see me coming and wait for me to get there holding the door. If I'm trying to open a door to an office or what have you, people have gotten out of their seats to open the doors for me. On interviews, other applicants have offered to carry my coat and bag for me, which has been great. Living in the city, you kind of assume that people are generally out for themselves and don't take time to help others, but being on crutches, you really see the other side of people. Maybe it's because they just feel sorry for me, and if I had 2 good legs, they would let the door slam in my face, but it's been really good.

The annoying part though is that everyone wants to know what happened. They think that just because I can't move as fast, they have every right to question my entire medical history. At first, I said "I tore my PCL and had surgery to reconstruct it". Then, people ask "What's a PCL?" And then I have to explain the whole thing, and I quite frankly got tired of that. So now, I just tell people that "I had to have knee surgery". Usually, that's all they want to hear, if they ask further, I tell them I had an accident and tore one of the ligaments in my knee. What gets tiresome is when they tell me that they/their friend/mom/dad/grandpa/sister/brother/2nd cousin twice removed had a knee operation and were walking 2 days later, so why am I still on crutches? Gee, could it be that using crutches are just so much fun that I figured I would hold onto them for 6 weeks?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas, filled with joy and good cheer. And for those like me that aren't celebrating Christmas, this video is for us

Monday, December 20, 2010

Much better mood

Tomorrow will be 4 weeks post op, and I'm feeling pretty good. PT got more interesting because I got to do more exercises, I added leg extensions and leg raises while on my stomach so that my leg is going back. Swelling is also not too bad, there is only a 2 cm difference between my 2 knee caps. My scars are also not looking too bad.
Medial view of my leg
The front of my knee

He measured my flexion today and it went to 110. I did 105 myself and he pushed it to 110. He said he could have gone further, but he measured me after he did all the bending and I was already in pain from that, so he was nice for the ruler. But he said I was already ahead of the game, he would have been very happy if I even got to 90, so it was really nice to go further. I also rode the bike for a full 10 minutes, which was great. He did tell me to stop when I needed to, but I just pushed through it and did it. I told my PT that I don't believe in doing things half way, if I'm going to rehab, I'm going to do it all out.

The other really annoying thing is the scars itch like crazy. I know it's a good sign because it means the nerves are regenerating, but oy vey, it's so itchy, I can hardly stand it. I'm constantly putting creams onto the scars to try to quell the itching. Something else big happened today, I started back at the hospital to finish off the last half of my 4th year. I am on radiology now, which is great for a post op patient. It's basically sitting in a room staring at a computer screen for a few hours and then leaving for the day. Very easy rotation schedule wise. It does feel nice to get back into the swing of things, getting back to a sense of normalcy, even though it is a very easy rotation. The problem is that I don't have enough work pants that fit over the brace. I think I have about 3 pairs of pants that are wide legged enough to fit over the brace, I may have to borrow some pants from my mom, but she's about 3 sizes bigger than I am, so I don't know how well that will work. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Physical therapy progress

So just a quick update on how PT is going. I had a session yesterday, and when I got there, my knee was all sorts of swollen from the beginning. I think it's because I had 2 interview days in a row and was on my feet all day for those 2 days. Normally, he starts me off with heat just to loosen the muscles, but this time, he did some high frequency stim and ice for about 20 minutes first. After that, I did quad sets with 2 different angles, one set over a folded towel, and one over a ball. I do leg raises with I think a 1 pound weight, and of course, my favorite, the Jane Fonda.
Oh yea, that's the look I go for in PT
After all that table work, I usually get ultrasound to break up some scar tissue. The ultrasound is interesting. I don't doubt that it works, but you don't feel anything, so it's hard to believe that it helps. All the other exercises, they hurt, but it's almost reassuring because it feels like something is going on. With the ultrasound, you don't feel anything. Still, I like it, and since I'm a social person, I use that time to blab with the therapists and try to provide some relief from the rather geriatric population at the center.

And then I get to do my favorite exercise... the bike! He straps me in, and then I first warm up with just going back and first, and then start going all the way around. The therapist waits until I am able to go all the way around before leaving me on my own, making sure I don't fire the hamstrings when trying to make my leg go around. It hurts in the beginning, but once I get over the hump, then it feels much easier. I do that for a short time, he sets the timer for 3 minutes, but I always try to go for longer. After that, it's time for stretching and more knee bends, then more ice and stim and I'm good to go.

I do feel like I'm making progress, I do feel like I'm able to get my knee to bend more and more each time, and the point where it starts hurting gets higher each time. The first session, it would start to hurt at around 60 degrees, and it became unbearable at around 90. Now, it starts getting uncomfortable at around 80 or 90, and unbearable at about 110 or 120. My PT doesn't use the ruler thing each time, only at certain intervals, so I don't have the exact numbers, but I can feel it. The first time I got on the bike, it took me quite a while before I broke through to the point where I could get all the way around. Last time, I only had to pedal back and forth about 3 times before I was able to go all the way around. 

The most frustrating thing is that I'm still not able to walk or drive. I physically feel great. Sure I have quad atrophy, but my knee doesn't hurt too bad, only when I'm pushing the flexion. So I feel really good, but logically, I know the graft still isn't healed. My PT is supposed to call my doctor this week to find out if I can start weaning off the crutches. Hopefully I will have something interesting to post soon.

Pros and cons of crutches

Since a lot of decisions are made with a pro and con list, I thought I would do the same for using my crutches. Being non weight bearing for nearly 4 weeks has driven me to the point of insanity so I have created a list.

Pros of crutches
  1. the graft needs to heal
  2. knee isn't strong enough to walk yet
  3. my arms will be insanely toned
  4. I can trip my competition at interviews
  5. I can pull the sympathy vote on interviews
Cons of the crutches
  1. They are freakishly uncomfortable
  2. they are causing me ulnar nerve compression
  3. they are impossible to accessorize
  4. they get really cold outside and make my hands freeze
  5. they make me walk a lot slower than I normally do
  6. they make a lot of noise when they fall in the middle of the night
  7. my dog is scared of them
  8. I can't sneak up on people
  9. I get carsick riding in the backseat
  10. My hands are constantly occupied and I can't carry anything
  11. I can't wear any of my cute shoes
  12. Going outside is a huge ordeal
  13. Hopping on one leg is making that hip hurt
So really, as you can see, there are many more cons to using crutches than pros. I wonder if I show my doctor this list, he'll agree with me and clear me to start walking.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

not about my knee

This is a post not about my knee, but the other part of my life, which is medical school. For those that don't know, the way the medical training process works in the US is that first, you do your bachelor's degree in whatever field you choose. Then, you go on to do 4 years of medical school, 2 years devoted to in classroom learning, and 2 years rotating through hospitals. During the fall and winter of your 4th year, you go on interviews for residency, which is an additional training in an area you want. This training can be 3-7 years following med school, depending on the specialty. After that, you can go further and subspecialize, which is called fellowship. Length of fellowship varies depending on what you choose to do. I am applying for pediatrics, which is 3 years of training, and then all pediatric fellowships are an additional 3 years.

Anyway, this program I was initially so so about. It's not as well known a program, and doesn't have the same reputation as some of the other programs I have been to. I was honestly using it as more of a back up program. This was my first interview after the surgery, so I was a bit apprehensive. I did call ahead of time to see if it would be a problem, which they told me it wouldn't be. I fell in love with that program, I thought it was fabulous. The people were so warm and friendly, it was like a blended family. I was quite a bit slower than everyone else, but none of the residents made me feel bad about it, one of the residents offered to give me a piggy back ride down to the restaurant for lunch. We had to walk outside to see the outpatient areas, and being that it was a cold and snowy day here, the streets were quite icy. But the residents formed a sort of huddle around me, saying they will catch me no matter which direction I fall towards. They did try to get a wheelchair, but weren't able to get one, the ER was quite busy and they didn't have any extras.

So now I'm home, my leg is swollen from not elevating it all day, my arms hurt, my shoulders are sore, and I think I compressed my ulnar nerve because I have a lot of tingling in my pinky and ring finger. But I had a great day and fell in love with a program I wasn't expecting to. The only question is if I'm willing to sacrifice reputation for a place I feel really comfortable in. Something to think about.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pain never felt so good

Back from my PT today. It went really well. I got to go on the bike today, and  at first, it was just to work on range of motion, a little bit backwards, a little bit forwards. And then, after a few times of that, I was determined to go all the way around, so I pushed through the pain, and then it was like a breakthrough. I was going all the way around, and rode the bike for about 3 minutes. I'm not going to lie, it hurt, but it felt really good to go all the way around on the bike. I also "graduated" to doing leg raises on my own. The therapist at first was busy with another patient, so I asked if I could do the leg raises on my own while he was with the other person. He told me no. So I did quad sets and some adduction exercises, and then he came over for the leg raises. My leg went up nice and smoothly, and he commented that I was doing better at them. Well, I have been doing them in my leg brace which adds some extra weight, so he added an extra weight onto my thigh and I did straight leg raises, and the Jane Fonda leg raises.

So I'm feeling pretty good, I'm very sore, and I'm laying in bed with ice on my knee right now, but it feels good. When I was on the bike, I was clutching onto the handles because of the pain, but I got all the way around, so that's what matters.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2nd PT session

I had my second PT session today. It went pretty well. I did a whole bunch of leg raises, I don't even know how many. He won't let me do them on my own though, he keeps his hand under my heel for support as I shakily lift my leg into the air. I never thought my leg gwould be that heavy. But I managed. My leg is also flatter on the table, which is good. And then he bent it, oh geez. The bending, he had me near tears. I needed reminders to breathe because it hurt so bad. But he did bend it to about 110-120 degrees. I never felt pain that bad before in my life. And he did quite a few passive knee bends, ending each set with a hold of the bend. Other stuff I did was kind of boring, quad sets and ankle pump type things. He did say that next week, he's going to try me on the bike with zero resistance to work on ROM.

After PT, we got dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, which is conveniently located a few blocks away. By the time I got home though, my knee was throbbing. I was warned that I would be sore, but it feels good oddly. Even though I'm having some pain now, it feels good, like I'm making progress. It's not the type of pain where you don't want to move, it's like the pain you have after a good workout. I've also got some pain in my shoulders, likely from using the crutches for the last 2 weeks, maybe I can indulge myself in a massage this weekend.

I have 2 more weeks with the brace locked at 0, and 2 more weeks of completely non weight bearing. But he does think that once the brace is unlocked, I should be able to drive since I would have a good amount of ROM. I'm apparently already ahead of where he was expecting me to be as far as knee bend and extension.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to take a shower and other random thoughts

I didn't realize it, but there are a lot of logistical issues to figure out when you can't bend your knee or bear any weight on it. I'm allowed to now get the incisions wet, but I can't just hang my leg off the seat of a bench in the shower. Now that I'm spending some days alone, I have to cook lunch. I have residency interviews coming up next week! Finding clothes to wear is difficult. One of my concerns with the surgery is how will I dress professionally enough for the interview with this big bulky knee brace on my leg?

Well, the showering problem was solved. My dad sells medical supplies, and one of the things they have is a bathtub transfer bench, which looks like this.  The side with the back support goes inside the tub and the other part outside, and the person is meant to sit outside the tub and slide into the tub and shower. Well, I'm using it for my needs now. We didn't put that back support on it and the entire thing goes the long way in the tub. I also put a shower stool into the tub. Then, I get in and slide down onto the stool, and my leg is on that bench. I put a towel under my tibia to keep it from sagging. This way, my leg is straight and I can shower. Fortunately, I'm also relatively flexible, so I can shave my legs like this also, I just avoid the areas with the steri strips. I also haven't figured out how to shave the back of my legs, so I'm sure that I probably have a stripe of hair running on the back of my legs, but oh well. When I take the brace off, it actually looks really funny because my lower legs and thigh are all nice and smooth, but the area around my knee where all the incisions are I don't shave over, so there's this random path of hair between the streristrips. I know, I know, I'm crazy. Of all things, to be worried about hairy legs. But I hate hairy legs. I got a wax before surgery because I wasn't allowed to shave and didn't want to walk in with hairy legs.

The other problem was the toilet. It's really uncomfortable having my leg hanging there. So I fashioned myself a support with a couple textbooks. Robbins Pathology and Harrison's Medicine together are the perfect height for a foot rest.
Of course, if you go and purchase those books just for a foot rest, it will be a very expensive foot rest, hardly worth the money. However, if you also suffer from insomnia, read the first page of Robbins and you will be asleep within 10 minutes.

The issue of what to wear on my interview was solved recently as well. While away on another interview, I arrived a couple days earlier and happened to go to the outlets near the hospital, where they had a Kaspar outlet. I ended up finding a suit for $60, the jacket which would look fabulous with my very wide leg black pants. And as fate would have it, one of the other shoppers that day used to be a job recruiter, and overheard me explaining my predicament to the sales girl while I was deciding between 2 suits. She steered me towards the one that is more professional, and assured me that black pants with a suit jacket is very professional, and is what she will be wearing on upcoming job interviews since she is planning for a career change. If by some small chance she's reading this, thanks!

The other thing is my puppy. OK, she really isn't a puppy anymore, but she's still my baby. She will be turning 11 in April, and we've had her since she was 2 months old. Poor dog can't figure out what's going on with me. She stares at the crutches like they're evil. And she is terrified of them, every time she hears them, she bolts out of the way. Now, this is a dog that would never move if she was sleeping comfortably, we used to have to step over her. One of her favorite places for a nap is the entry into the bathroom, and if you called her name and asked her to move, she would snore in response, so we all just got used to stepping over the sleeping dog. But she runs when she hears the squeak squeak of the crutches. I'm sure some of you are saying I'm nuts for not making her move, but could you really make this dog move?
Cute puppy

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 13-first day of PT

I just came back from my first PT session today, and so far so good. Although I think I'm the youngest person there by far, everyone else seems to be of the geriatric age group. The therapist told me that it's better to schedule my appointments in the later afternoon because most of the patients prefer to go in the morning since they have nothing else to do.

Anyway, he explained to me that the beginning will be quite dull and there isn't much that I will be able to do. He looked at my knee flexion, bending it passively only, and I already got about 85 degrees, and a little bit further and better extension after he put some heat on my knee. The 85 degrees hurt a lot though, but he said that for being not even 2 weeks out, it's actually really good. I also did some leg raises, and I felt like such a wimp doing them, I could barely manage it, but I got it. I'm not yet allowed to do them at home though, unless I want to try it with the extra weight the brace adds. I am also apparently very flexible, or he just got used to working with older people. He lifted my leg to stretch the hamstrings, and as he was stretching it, I was getting uncomfortable because of pain in the knee, but not in the hamstrings.He kept going and said none of his patients can get that muhc stretch, and I still didn't even feel it in the hamstrings. Of course, he didn't know that I used to be able to lie on my back and bring my legs into an almost full split, and I used to stretch every night, but haven't since the surgery.

After that, he did some stimulation and I was done. Not really a whole heck of a lot that I can do for a couple weeks, and then things should start to get more interesting. But I'm encouraged, looking forward to going back. I'll be going twice a week for now, and so I'm going on Wed because that's when he has his evening hours.

PT today

This afternoon, I'll be heading to my first PT session. I am very excited to finally be doing something, to feel like I'm recovering and not just laying around on my butt.

I learned something this weekend too... I learned that it is vitally important to make a conscious effort to go outside and feel like a part of the world. It's been hard for me because my parents work all day, my boyfriend works all day, and living on the second floor, it's hard to do the stairs myself.  But this weekend, I got to go out, and it's like a rejuvenation. You feel so good afterwards, like a normal human being. I think a lot of times, physicians focus on the medical aspect and forget that there is a person behind the problem, and there is a need to address the social issues as well. Hopefully when I graduate medical school, I'll remember this and not ignore how important it is to feel like a part of society. Hard to explain, but if you've been through it, you'll know what I mean.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Just need to vent a bit. I am so frustrated with people not understanding, with basically being a prisoner in my home. Every day, people ask me if I'm walking yet. I tell them over and over again that I won't be walking for a while, that this is not the type of surgery that you are better the next day. It doesn't help that the only other people in my life that had knee surgery had meniscus surgeries which are relatively easy, they're walking 2 days later. Nobody seems to get that I will have to wear this stupid brace for a long time, that I won't just wake up one day and miraculously be better, that it's a process I have to go through with PT. I viewed getting my stitches out as a big step, and then people ask me why it's better. It's better because now I don't have that insane itching/burning that the stitches were causing!

And I want to get out of the house, but it's hard. I live on the second floor and I'm not comfortable taking the stairs by myself, especially going up. A lot of the time, by the time I go back inside to go up the stairs, I can't even take them with the crutches, I end up scooting up on my backside, and then using a chair to pull myself up. But I need someone to bring the chair to the landing and hold it so I can scoot up. The problem is, people work during  the day, so I'm basically stuck at home, I feel like I'm trapped. I did go outside yesterday with my dad, I made it to the end of the block and back, but with lots of stops in between and it took me a long time. I almost wanted to break down and cry because I'm just not used to it. I'm usually very active, always on the go. And now I can barely hobble to the end of the block. I just want to fast forward to 4 months from now when hopefully everything would be better.

Sorry for venting, just having a bad day. I thought things were going better until today when I woke up to a leg that was more swollen than it was after the surgery, and a very painful knee. It's calmed down now, but still very annoying. And then the scarf  I was trying to knit to keep myself occupied got all tangled, and in the mornings when I first get up, I always almost forget that I'm not allowed to put weight on my leg. It's when I bring my legs over the side of the bed and step on my crutches that I remember I'm not supposed to bear weight, but in the morning before I eat breakfast and have my coffee, it's very difficult to use crutches properly. I end up slipping all over the place because I'm still half asleep and I just don't function well before my coffee! But actually getting to the kitchen so I can make my coffee is like fighting a battle in it of itself. Grrrr

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day 9... stitches are gone!

I got my stitches removed today, and I got to see the pictures from my surgery. I was so glad to get the stitches out, but the larger incision over the tibia, the nurse was peeling off the steri strips, and I apparently had a lot of steri strips, and the thread got stuck on the steri strips, which led to many ouchies taking it off. But at least I don't have regular sutures there, they closed it with a running stitch, so they pulled out one long piece of suture, and there were none externally to remove, so the scar should look prettier. Call me vain, but I'm a girl. It's at least 2-3 inches long, and I like to wear skirts, so I want the prettiest scar possible. Anyway, those are out, steris are put back on over all the stitches.

Here are what my legs looked like once I came home, with the steri strips on them. I have 2 more incisions on the side of my knee that you can't see. And of course, my surgeon's signature basically tattooed with permanent marker until such time that I can scrub my leg. Swelling looks really good, and there is a small yellow bruise over my shin, but it's not horrible. My calves shriveled down to nothingness though. It's kind of upsetting actually, because I used to like my legs, and now one of them is turning into a matchstick.

When I mentioned how little pain I was having, he said that usually, the PCL is not a painful surgery, it's just a long and annoying process. When I asked about walking, I was of course told not yet. He said if this was ACL, I could essentially be walking around as soon as I felt ready, with the PCL, it's a totally different beast, and even though you feel fine, you need to give that graft time to heal. I have a cruise coming up in about 7 weeks, and when I asked about the possibility of that, he said there is no reason not to go, I'll still be in the brace, but I should be full weight bearing by then. I don't mind going in the brace, I just want to go! 

The office gave me a list of PT offices near to where I live, since the hospital is too far and inconvenient to go to twice a week, and the first place I called said they're on the second floor and there is no elevator. Definitely not going there, it's hard enough managing the stairs to my apartment, definitely do not want to do it for PT. I just don't understand how a PT office cannot be equipped to deal with people with crutches, in wheelchairs, etc. But I'm going to another location of the same chain of offices which is close to where my boyfriend lives, so it should be fine. I start on Monday. I am so excited, I can hardly wait. 

After my visit, my dad took me to my favorite restaurant. The food isn't exceptionally good, but I basically grew up there. My dad used to work across the street from that restaurant for 20 years, and we used to go there at least once a week, so it's like seeing family when we go there. And they make the best chicken souvlaki I ever had. We always get treated like royalty when we go there, which isn't too often anymore because the restaurant is in a part of Manhattan that we usually don't go to. But, the hospital is in the same neighborhood, so it works. 

I scanned in the pictures the surgeon gave me cause I'm a nerd and I think it's pretty cool, so without further ado.... the BEFORE
Those strandy things are the torn PCL I think
And now the AFTER
Thanks to the donor for giving me a new PCL.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hannukah!!

I forgot in my last post to wish my fellow Jews a Happy Hannukah, Chanukah, Hanuka, however you spell it. One of my non Jewish friends asked me the point of this holiday, and when it comes down to it, it's like all the other Jewish holidays, they tried to kill us, we survived, lets eat.

Day 8.. same old

Nothing particularly special today. Still having burning/pain in the incision under the tibia, swelling has gone way down. I was actually surprised with how little swelling and virtually no bruising that there is. I'll take a picture tomorrow after I get the stitches removed, right now it's too much work to roll up my pant leg, but you can take my word for it, swelling has gone down. My quads have also atrophied pretty quickly I think. I know where the straps were velcroed right after the surgery, and now, it's much smaller. 

My best friend came over yesterday, she got married a few weeks ago, I was the maid of honor, and I got to see her honeymoon pictures. We played Price is Right, ordered sushi, had a very nice time. And then today, my boyfriend came over all day. I sorta taught him how to cook... we had these frozen ribs in the freezer, already cooked and seasoned, so I showed him how to use an oven and he managed to put the ribs in the oven, and then we made Rice a Roni, and he listened to my orders very well. I love him, but cooking is not his strong suit, what he did today was the most cooking he's done in his entire life. Still, it's nice having the help and the company. 

I wonder what would happen if I tried to put some weight on my leg. I haven't yet, but I've had remarkably little pain, so it's very tempting to try. I was having more pain before the surgery than I do now. In some sense, that actually makes me worried, because I feel like from what I've heard from everyone else, I should be in an insane amount of pain, and the fact that I'm not makes me think either I had a great surgeon, or that somehow something went wrong with the graft and that's why it doesn't hurt, or that G-d forbid some nerve was severed and that's why I don't feel pain. I don't really think its the last one, because I can still feel my knee, although parts of it seem more tingly than the rest of my leg, but I suspect that's normal and it's been improving daily. Guess only time will tell, and I may be kicking myself in a few weeks when I'm doubled over in pain. But right now, I could probably sell my Percocet on the street and take home a good amount (not that I would though). 

Just adding this picture as proof that I did once ice skate, and I like to think that I will one day be skating again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yay me!

One of my favorite things to do in the mornings when I have nowhere else to be is lie in bed, watch TV and drink tea or coffee in bed. But, being that I'm now non weight bearing, my hands are occupied by crutches and I couldn't think of how to carry my tea in the mornings. If my parents or boyfriend were here, they would bring it for me, but right now, I'm home alone until my best friend comes over later. So I thought about it, and then I figured it out. I have a small cross body bag, went into the kitchen, made the tea in my spill proof travel mug, put it in the bag, and crutched back to the bedroom. I am proud to say I made it without spilling a drop. The bag is also handy for carrying my nook, my phone, pain pills, and all other doodads around the house. And this took me all of one week to figure out! I'll feel silly if other people figured that out sooner, but oh well. At least now I feel like I have some more independence.

My wonderful sister went to a specialty shop yesterday and bought me needlepoint and a huge hunk of yarn. I used to knit scarves, and that was the only thing I knew how to knit. I never needlepointed before, but hopefully it would keep me occupied. I started it last night and it's coming along. It's actually very easy, I don't think I'm doing it completely right, but it looks nice on the "good" side.

I'm now going to take the time to complain about this parasite attached to my leg, aka the knee brace. Since I had the PCL repaired, they don't want my tibia to sag after the surgery since this could stretch the graft, so they put a bunch of those OR towels behind my tibia to keep it forward. Those towels are starting to annoy me so much. They itch, they rub against my leg, I'm ready to go crazy. I put some soft padding at the edge where it's the worst, but I can't really lift my leg very well. I've also got some burning at the incision under the steri strips. The other incisions are teeny tiny, I have just one or 2 stitches keeping those closed, but under the steri strips, it's a bigger incision. And it is burning like crazy, but the rest of the leg doesn't look inflamed, it doesn't feel hot, so I don't think there's an infection. I feel fine otherwise. I'll just mention it to my OS on Thursday's followup.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So what is this?

My name is Susan, I'm 25, in my final year of medical school, and 5 years ago, I should have listened to my mother when she told me not to go ice skating that faithful day in May. But I didn't, and I fell, and I tore my posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL.  Anyway, not to bore you with the details of the last 5 years, lets just say that as time wore on, my knee got more and more painful, more and more unstable, and I finally decided to do something about it. Finding a PCL surgeon is no easy task though, and so I ended up going to Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Lucky for me, I am only about 30 minutes from there. The doc I saw there told me that if I didn't do the surgery, I would be heading down a path towards arthritis by the time I'm 30. That just doesn't fly with me. So I made the decision to have surgery. And I made the decision to start this blog because I'm bored just laying around on the couch with nothing to do, and hopefully typing will keep me occupied.

So lets start with what I remember from surgery day, shall we?
Day 0: surgery I showed up at HSS bright and early in the morning, got registered, sat around and waited until they called me in. Since they never believe you when you say that you're not pregnant, they made me take a pregnancy test. After that, I was led to my pre-surgical waiting room. It was very nice, very swank. I had my own private glass enclosed cubicle, whereas every other hospital i have been to, patients are just seperated by curtains when waiting to go in to surgery. I had my own flat screen TV to pass the time.  Changed into the gown, and had a physical done by the PA. Met with the anesthesiologist, who told me that they don't hear about ice skating injuries too often, guess I'm a rarity with what my actual injury was, as well as how it happened. He told me I would get something to make me nice and drowsy (propofol, I think it was), and then they would place a spinal afterwards. Very glad I don't remember the spinal. The nurse came to take me back to the OR, and it seems like as soon as I layed down, I was out.

Apparently, 2 hours later, I was taken to recovery. Honestly, the rest of the day is a bit blurry. I do remember waking up in the OR at the end of the surgery, but I don't remember getting to recovery. Next thing I know, I'm in recovery and asking the nurse if I still have both my legs because I couldn't feel anything. The next thing I remember after that is sitting in bed eating a turkey sandwich. I'm sure at some point that I asked for food and to sit up, I just don't remember it. I got transferred to the second phase of recovery, where I was allowed to put on my clothes and I met with the physical therapist. Learning to walk on crutches when you're still drowsy from anesthesia is not a good thing. I almost fell quite a few times, especially on the stairs that I had to learn to take, but lucky for me, I had a very handsome PT who was very strong and caught me each time. My dad says I was flirting with him, I don't think that's true.

After PT, they gave me another Percocet, and told my dad he can leave to get the car, and they would wheel me down when security called them. Well, while he was gone, I started getting so nauseous. I apparently turned very green, very nearly threw up. Which of course meant I couldn't go home just yet. But eventually I did leave, and we stopped for lunch, and when I came home, I was faced with the prospect of getting up the 14 steps to our 2nd floor apartment. Going up the way the PT showed me was not going to happen. I ended up scooting up on my behind, much easier.

At home, this was my leg set up. I think I layed around for a couple days like that. That ice pack was great.

Day 1 post op My very sweet boyfriend came over and spent the entire day with me since both my parents were at work. He bought his wii with him, and is leaving it at my place for as long as I'm immobile. Pretty much, I just slept all day. In the evening though, I felt awful, I got up to use the bathroom, and once I got there, I got so dizzy, I actually fainted. I was very confused, I felt awful, I couldn't sit up at all, couldn't do anything. I had no clue what was going on. My dad managed to get me back to my bed, but then that same sensation happened 2 more times that night. Luckily, it hasn't happened since, but it was very scary. My thought is that it was just the last of anesthesia leaving my system. I was also able to take the pressure wrap that was under the brace as well as all the icky bloody gauze and cover up the stitches with bandaids. For those that care, this was my leg on the first day post op.
It looks swollen, but not terribly so, and there is virtually no bruising. That yellow is the iodine they use to clean the leg before surgery, and when I can finally get my leg wet, it should come off. I am also wearing shorts, you just can't see them, shorts were much easier to put on than trying to get pants over monster brace.

Day 2-now: Nothing special happening. Haven't had much pain, I was actually having more pain before the surgery than I am now. Of course, I'm totally non weight bearing and haven't started PT yet, so that might have something to do with it. I got up to the last boss in world 8 of Super Mario Bros, tried to knit a scarf and instead ended up with something resembling cookie monster, watched more movies than I thought possible. Started going rather stir crazy. Yesterday, which was day 5 I think, I finally went out of the house to my sister's new place. It felt so good to go outside, and I don't think I'll ever again take for granted how nice it is to go out. You don't realize how much you take for granted until it's taken away from you. Walking down the hallway seemed like a Herculean effort.

So that's pretty much my life right now. I go to see my OS on Thursday for my first post op and get the stitches out. That's what I'm most excited for, as they are itchy and driving me crazy. I have a suture removal kit at home, and I was ready to take them out myself, but I somehow don't think my doctor would approve. I also have residency interviews coming up in a couple weeks, which should be interesting, as I'll be hobbling around on crutches. I'll be sure to update how that works out.