Recovery Day 1

I spent the night in hospital and didn’t get much sleep (I was in a shared room, there were lots of hospital noises, and the nurse had to check my blood pressure every two hours during the night).

I was still in a bit of pain in the morning, but not as much as after the surgery. Pain control on demand definitely helped with that.

The surgeon came and checked in on me and wanted my leg straight by the end of the week.

I then had to get the physiotherapist in before I was allowed to try moving, and as I needed to pee I rang for them early to help me to the bathroom. They set up my crutches for me and showed me how to best use them.

It was tough. As I stood up I nearly passed out. The physio said this was because of the anaesthesia. Needless to say it wasn’t fun, but it passed quickly.

The pharmacist gave me a bunch of medication:

  • Paracetemol (pain relief)
  • Targin (slow release strong pain relief)
  • Endone (strong pain relief)
  • Meloxicam (anti-inflammatory)
  • Fragmin (blood thinner)

They were all tablets except the Fragmin which comes in needle form – one injection in the stomach every night for two weeks.

My partner drove me home and I got into bed. It was so good being home but I was in a lot of pain. We iced the knee immediately and I took 1 endone. It was not enough.

We iced it again and I took 2 endone at night. Definitely more pain relief.

I pulled the pressure bandage off my leg to have a look the next day. It wasn’t pretty but it also wasn’t too bad.

The pink stuff was left over from surgery (antiseptic I think). Only four small incisions were made for the operation which is pretty amazing.

knee.jpg

I manage to do my first set of exercises and I iced it before and after.

I was feeling pretty tired and rubbish but I was happy to be home. Ice cream helped too. 

Surgery Day

Today was the day. By 3pm in the afternoon I’d wake up and have a brand new ACL.

 Not an accurate depiction of ACL reconstruction surgery.

Not an accurate depiction of ACL reconstruction surgery.

Here’s how the first half of the day went down:

  • I wasn’t allowed to eat from 7:00am (I was allowed a light breakfast before 7am – toast and coffee)
  • I had to be at the hospital by 11am for a 1pm surgery start
  • At the hospital I signed in and then saw the nurse. She checked my height and weight (66kg! I’d likely lost muscle weight from not exercising the last few weeks). She also checked my allergies and I received red socks and a red cap indicating I was allergic to something.
  • I was then moved into a waiting room where I was prepped for surgery.

Preparation involved:

  • Getting changed into a gown and cap (I could keep my underwear on).
  • Getting onto a bed
  • Getting my knee shaved by the nurse
  • Getting my knee cleaned with a cold alcohol solution
  • Getting wheeled into a room outside the operating theatre

Just before the surgery:

  • The surgeon checked in with me and signed my leg (to make sure he operated on the correct one)
  • The anaesthetist then introduced himself and I had a talk to him. He was great, I had concerns about waking up during the surgery (which is a pretty common concern thanks to media hype) and he told me it can happen, but it’s rare and no one had woken up under him before.
  • I was then wheeled into the surgery room and moved onto the bed.
  • The anaesthetist injected something in me to make me drowsy and then put me to sleep

Post-surgery:

  • I woke up in bed in a recovery room
  • I was in a bit of pain (6/10), so they hooked up a pain relief on demand system – I could press it for pain relief every 5 minutes

After a while I was wheeled to a room where my girlfriend was waiting with donuts. Awesome.

 2 hours post surgery

2 hours post surgery

 Donuts!

Donuts!

The rest of the night was a blur. I got to eat pretty soon after I woke up. I didn’t get much sleep. Hospitals are noisy places, lots of bells going off and the nurse came to check my blood pressure every 2 hours.

The pain was pretty bad through the night (4/10) but manageable.

Before the surgery

Surgery was set for 4 weeks after my injury. By this time I was able to walk pretty well, without a cane and was working to work every now and again. There was a bit of swelling in the knee still though and I couldn’t bend it all the way back.

 This was how far I could bend my knee back the night before surgery.

This was how far I could bend my knee back the night before surgery.

I preprepared a bunch of meals with my partner to last us for the week and we bought a huge tub of ice cream to treat ourselves.

Other preparation I did included:

  • Seeing the physio a few times to prepare
  • Hiring crutches from the local pharmacy ($36/month) – Forearm style as apparently they’re more comfortable.
  • Buying some comfy, loose fitting shorts
  • Bought an awesome ice pack that can ice the back and front of the knee
  • Borrowing a shower chair to help with showering (definitely useful)
  • Preparing a bunch of snacks for the upcoming week
  • Borrowing a Nintendo Switch and preordering Mario Odyssey
  • Preparing snacks and lunches
  • Bought an Ikea bed table, which was actually worked really well as a platform to raise my leg in bed

We live in an apartment so we were lucky there were no steps to tackle, but practicing with crutches on stairs beforehand might be useful (with input from a physio).

Next time for the hospital I’d also take:

  • Ear plugs and eye mask, as it’s really noisy in hospital and tough to get sleep there
  • Hand sanitiser for next to the bed as you can’t get up to pee during the night and might want to clean your hands

I tore my ACL bouldering indoors at a climbing gym

Quick summary

  • I heard a pop when I twisted my knee climbing and completely tore my right ACL
  • I got an MRI done (I shopped around and managed to get it bulk billed – no expense for me thanks to the Australian Government)
  • I wanted to be able to climb and ski again so getting my ACL surgically reconstructed would help
  • Surgery didn’t need to be done immediately, actually I needed to heal my knee up as much as possible to help with post-surgery rehab
  • I’d be off climbing and skiing for 9 months 😥

What happened?

I’ve been climbing for over half a decade both indoors and outdoors, top rope and bouldering. I love it, it’s the main way I keep fit. I’ve tried regular gyms in the past but the puzzle of working out a problem while getting fit just keeps me coming back to bouldering.

That is until I tore my right knee’s bouldering indoors. 😱

 Me at Boulderfest 2017, QLD Australia. Look at those sexy knees in action before the injury.

Me at Boulderfest 2017, QLD Australia. Look at those sexy knees in action before the injury.

It happened suddenly. I was attempting the dynamic move below in the image which involved starting in a crouched position and then jumping to reach those two orange holds close together.

 The Orange Dyno that did it. Photo from  Urban Climb Newstead Facebook Page .

The Orange Dyno that did it. Photo from Urban Climb Newstead Facebook Page.

But see that volume where the climber’s right foot currently is? Yeah, my foot hit that in a weird way and my knee gave way.

I heard a pop. 

And I fell to the ground in pain. I held my knee and couldn’t really talk. The gym staff got ice onto it pretty quickly (thanks other Zac!) and I managed to get home with the help of my partner and a friend.

The next day I saw the doctor and then had an MRI. The results came back and I found out I had a complete tear of my right ACL.

I did a lot of googling that day as I had no idea about the ACL and what tearing it meant.

The ACL is the ligament which helps knee stability. You can walk without one pretty easily in a straight line, but if you try and twist or turn suddenly then you’ll probably end up on the floor.

What I really wanted to know was could I ever go climbing and skiing again?

The answer was yes, but I’d need surgery.

If I had surgery and it was successful then I could ski and climb again after 9 months of rehab but I’d also have to be careful not to tear it again.

I got recommendations from friends and family for a number of surgeons and ended up picking one that was recommended by a friend and was also covered by my private health care (otherwise it would have cost $2500).

So I saw a surgeon and booked the ACL reconstruction in for 6 weeks later, as my knee needed to heal up as much as possible.

I ended up getting booked in for a single hamstring tendon graft. Where they take some of your hamstring and use that as an ACL replacement. This type of graft had a good success rate.

In the meantime I went to a physio. It was incredibly helpful and definitely worth it. They showed me the best way to walk, gave me exercises to strengthen particular leg muscles and iced my leg down with an incredibly machine. If you’re in Brisbane, check them out – RMPhysio.