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.

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.