Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Week 1 - Fever?!

I woke up with a fever of 100.4 yesterday of no known causes. It was 7AM and my mother had just gone to work, so I had my brother cover me in an attempt to sweat it out (I know, bad judgment on my and his part, but it was all I could do without wanting to knock myself out). I threw two percocet down my throat and didn't wake up again until 2PM.

At 2PM, I sat there shivering and sweating at the same time. Took my temperature again and it had dropped to 100.1. My sister brought home some chicken noodle soup and gave me some apple juice and bread to go with my meal. I ate 3/4 of it all and then attempted to pass out again.

I woke up at 7 feeling sweaty and disgusting. The good thing was, it seemed that my fever had broken. The bad thing was that the sore throat was still there. I had called my surgeon earlier to tell him of my bodily developments and he said to just get rest and take the percocet to counter the fever effects (Tylenol is a component of perc). And to drink lots of fluids, as long as the incisions weren't puffy, swollen, or red (which they weren't).

I finally recovered around 8PM, and was able to eat the whole of my dinner. It was an okay feeling, finally being full after a week or so of being unable to really eat. I've been taking Colace with every meal, since it seems that percocet doesn't allow me the luxury of bowel movement (yeah, gross).

I woke up this morning with a horribly dry and sore throat, and an achy body. I really hope that fever doesn't come back. It doesn't help that I accidentally allowed my knee to bend when it wasn't ready for it. I was moving off an ottoman and forgot to grip my shin to support it and the knee came buckling down into a 90 degree angle. At least I know I can bend, but not without certain pain.

I discovered that I could do quad tightening sets today, so I'm adding that to my three times a day regimen.

I wish I felt like eating. Instead I just feel like throwing up, even though I know there's nothing in my stomach to do so. I have a bowl of peach oatmeal and OJ for breakfast, and I haven't even gotten through 1/4 of it.

I know it's only been a week since my surgery. It seems like so much yet so little time has passed by. The knee isn't so sore anymore; I'm just afraid of hurting it with any attempted walking.

I just wish that my bodily soreness would go away.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not for the squeamish.

I finally took a shower today after almost a week of sponge baths. It was the most liberating feeling! Luckily, I had a stool to sit on in the shower and washing with a flexible showerhead made life much easier.

I finally had the guts to take off my dressings and bandages today (even though I could have removed them last week). I took them off and this is what I found:

I had to compare both legs. The swelling is pretty substantial in my left leg, but I thought it would be worse.

I still haven't gained any movement in my leg - I've been icing and elevating like crazy. My doc said that I could bear 50% of my weight on it, but I don't trust the leg just yet. Much of my day is spent doing ankle pumps, ankle circles, and attempting quad sets. (That is, when I'm not out like a light due to the percocet.) Leg lifts are out of the picture for now.

I have an appointment on Thursday morning with my surgeon for a progress checkup. I hope he gives me good news.

Friday, July 25, 2008


My first major challenge since graduating college -

Washing my hair in a cramped bathroom with a leg brace on.

It'd been three days since I last washed my hair. I'd been sponge bathing myself so that hasn't been too much of an issue. Unfortunately, my bathroom is TINY so there was very little room for me to maneuver to get my hair under the shower head without drowning myself. I finally managed to do so - I contorted myself so that my leg was resting on the toilet seat cover while the bathtub supported my back. I used my abs to hold myself up as I scrubbed my head and rinsed.

It's been the hardest thing I've had to do. What's worse is that my long hair prevented me from scrubbing it thoroughly, but despite my half-assed job, at least I feel cleaner. I tried hard not to get frustrated, but between the shampooing and conditioning, I lost it and just cursed my way through the rest of the cleaning session.

I'm never doing this by myself ever again, not within my recovery period anyway. Not until I can bend my knee comfortably and without contortion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SUCCESS! Surgery and the day after.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 9:30AM:

I was supposed to be at the hospital by 9AM, but I didn't expect the traffic going into Boston to be especially ridiculous. We left at 8:15AM and didn't get there till 9:30AM - I was driving since my sister was eating her breakfast in the car. (Ha, I drove myself to my surgery.) We pulled into the valet parking area and ran to the Ambulatory Surgery floor in the South Building.

I got there and immediately recognized the area. It was where my father had eye surgery about 2-3 years earlier.

I got all the paperwork done and the PT lady saw me first. She was going to speak to me after the surgery but she knew the anesthesia and medication I'd be full of would make me forget everything she told me post-op, so she was there beforehand. She told me about having to keep the leg brace on for 72 hours (and not being able to shower until afterward), and to refer to my post-op sheet for reminders. She also told me the simpler exercises I should be doing (ankle pumps, quad sets, quad lifts) for the first two weeks to regain strength in my leg. I asked her some questions about icing (frozen peas will do the trick!), how my sister can help me from the car (support from the waist and NOT the arms while going up and down stairs), and dietary restrictions (of which I have none - WHOO!). Then I was off to be changed into my johnnie and slippers and to sign a bunch of consent forms and answer more of the same questions.

After changing, I headed to the surgery room to get set up - the nursing student I talked to guided me to that room and I learned that one of her friends is in the nursing program at Simmons. Pretty small world . . .

I was put on a stretcher and given an IV. I met with one orthopedic doctor who works with my surgeon (who drew on my knee), and I met with the anesthesiologists who IV'd me and drugged me up. I had to sign another consent form to get a femoral block going (which turned out to be an amazing addition) with my anesthesia. My surgeon also met with me quickly. I was given something that made me loopy but kept me conscious as I was wheeled to the operating area. Then I laid there and was given an oxygen mask to breathe in. I think I was out within 15 seconds (and luckily, I didn't wake up at all during the surgery).


As I was being wheeled back to the post-op resting room, I came into consciousness shivering. I remember hearing a nurse telling someone to put an extra blanket on me and I stopped shaking, but I couldn't open my eyes yet. I think I was having some sort of dream before I really came to . . . I awoke to the thoughts of, "Where am I?" "What am I doing here?" "Why can't I move my knee?" Everything was groggy as I came out of the anesthesia. The nurse (Janet, I think her name was) came by to check up on me and gave me a dosage of painkiller that knocked me right back out. Before she did that, she told me that the surgery went well, and that my surgeon only had to repair my ACL (everything else in my knee was well intact, thankfully).


My sister and second oldest aunt came by to visit. I finally awoke, but my lightheadedness from the anesthesia and medication made it hard for me to articulate the words that were in my head. I think we just talked about what my sister did while I was in surgery and at one point, my mom was on the phone speaking to me. I do recall that a patient under arrest was put in the waiting area across from me - there were two cops watching him and the sheets were closed. Very strange recovery time indeed . . .


I was given more percocet and graduated from the bed to the recliner chair. After I could finally be conscious for more than 10 minutes, my sister was told to get the car while I was wheeled downstairs in a wheelchair.

[Side note: my aunt gave my siblings and me money for the whole surgery - money for them to care for me and money for me to cover some of my medical bill costs (in case insurance doesn't cover the other two expenses I had incurred). How nice . . . a strange gesture since we don't get that kind of treatment during new year's and other major holidays.]

Once downstairs, my aunt and sister helped me climb into the car, and my aunt said goodbye to us. We then proceeded to get food for dinner and grab some necessities from my apartment before going back home.


We got home and I was too exhausted to eat, so I went to sleep instead. My bed was already set up with pillows and a blanket to prop my leg up, and once I laid down, I was out. I remember having some strange dreams before waking up again, starving.


My brother woke me up to get me some dinner, and I ended up attempting to drink some soup and eat rice. Instead, I was so dizzy from the percocet and anesthesia that the food just came back up. My mouth and throat also hurt quite a bit so I drank some juice, ate some bread, took some more percocet and passed out again.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 3:30AM:

OH THE PAIN. I woke up just as my brother was getting in from some work at the haunted house. My stomach was empty, I was no longer dizzy, and I need more painkillers. I had him make me some ramen so I could coat my stomach before taking more percocet. I couldn't sleep after that, so I've been up reading and hanging out on my bed.

It's now about 10:30AM and I still haven't gone to sleep yet. The percocet no longer makes me ridiculously sick, as long as I eat something small beforehand. My leg is sore and uncomfortable, and for some reason I just want to bend it (perhaps because I was bending it just yesterday). Propping it up is the best way for it to rest so far - when I have to crutch around the house, I can feel the soreness more acutely. I can't take my dressings off for another 2.5 days, so I guess I'm going to be sitting here this way for awhile.

Thanks to all who wished me well for the surgery - it helped me get through the mental struggles. :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Insurance company, surgery, and post-op worries.

I discovered from my insurance company that my referral from my PCP to my surgeon granting permission for me to get surgery hadn't been done yet, despite my call to them weeks earlier. It also turns out that I was denied coverage for two visits to the specialist's office, even though they had submitted a referral already. Both my PCP and insurance company's offices are incompetent (to some extent); I mean, I like that both are convenient, but the service level has not been up to par. The secretaries at my doctor's office seem frustrated at my constant calling, and while my insurance company is informative, a lot of the stuff I do has to be within their protocol.

So, tomorrow I have to call every office to make sure everything is set. I'm not going to pay a ridiculous amount of money for services that are supposed to be covered under my plan. I guess I'll have to break out the harder side of me if people don't cooperate.

It's not like I wanted this injury. I just wanted to do my own thing with no worries, and now I'm at a place where I don't know whether laughing or crying (or both) are sufficient enough to let out the emotional stress I've been under. And it's hard to talk to others who haven't had the surgery about it - they don't understand the mental anguish and most of the time I feel like I'm burdening them about my personal problems and/or I'm becoming egocentric about my knee.

It's the anticipation that's also killing me. I know I'll be getting the reconstruction done on Tuesday. I know that I won't be able to walk. But what's worse is knowing that I can walk and sort of do normal activities now, and that it'll be taken away again in two days.

Then there's the recovery. I know it's a long process, but I also know that I have a limited amount of time to get to the level of "up and walking", especially with school around the corner. Boston isn't exactly the most walking-friendly city, particularly with streets that aren't paved correctly and potholes galore. I could fall in one of those and never get out! And the Marlborough campus location isn't easy to get to on crutches - the MBTA is barely handicapped friendly, and with crowded trains and buses due to high gas prices, I could get knocked over on the subway.

I should try to relax.

I've been telling myself that for a few days now.

Frankly, at this point, I'm quite afraid.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Doctor's Visit + PT Session 2.

I feel like an experiment sometimes, especially with this injury. I'm always being tested, no matter what I do or where I go.

For instance, on Monday when I met with my surgeon to make sure everything was set for the surgery, they brought in a med student just to see how appointments were done. I was sitting on the bench and my doctor did some flex testing in my leg to see my range of motion, and I had his assistant and the student staring at me the entire time. Awkward.

At my PT session last week, my therapist brought in one of her co-op students to show her what a torn ACL injury feels like in the knee. So, I let her pull and push at my leg with no complaints.

Part of me understands that living in a city where 90% of the hospitals are teaching schools will result in my being tested somehow. I just didn't expect it for this particular injury.

Anyway, my doctor's visit went fine. He was happy with the results I had gotten from my PT, and answered some questions I had about the surgery. My new ACL is going to come from my hamstring, and if that isn't long enough, they'll have an allograft on the side just in case. The expected time for me to get off crutches is going to be about four weeks (although I'm aiming for two), and then formal PT will start up again afterwards. I wonder if I'm missing anything in my inquiry . . .

My therapist has upped my PT; she's letting me do my quad sets, lifts, ankle pumps, and heel raises with 5 lb weights around my ankle. It was getting too easy for me to do it without resistance. I warmed up with heating on my knee, then a quick massage on it, 10 minutes on the stationary bike, and my exercises with weights. The session ended with icing and electro-stimulation.

I have another session tomorrow and then I'm off to surgery in six days. I can't believe how soon it is. I have doubts of getting it done, but if I don't get it done, I won't be able to do sports (or anything that requires twisting). I hate anxiety.

At this point I'm just hoping for the best and quickest recovery.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

PT session 1.

My first pre-op PT session was yesterday.

It turns out I'd only lost an estimated 25% of my quad strength after my ACL injury, so that isn't too bad. I also seem to have a good degree of ROM (but I can't remember what the figure was).

My therapist taught me some other exercises to do till the next session on Tuesday. This is now my regiment every day (at least twice a day):

Quad sets: 3 x 20 (hold for 5 seconds)
Ankle pumps: 3 x 15
Quarter depth wall slides: 3 x 15
Hamstring curls with rubber stretch band: 3 x 15
Proximal rectus stretch: 3 x 30 seconds
Straight leg raises: 3 x 15
Proximal hamstring stretch: 3 x 30 seconds

It gives me confidence to be able to do each of these exercises fully, but I still wonder if I'll ever get my full ROM back again, and if I'll be back to 100% eventually, if not soon.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I find it pretty crazy that kids these days are getting torn ACLs from intense competition. The problem with doing ACL reconstruction in their knees, however, is the fact that they're not done growing yet.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I had torn my a few years earlier playing volleyball or tennis.

Today I took a step backwards from the progress I had been making. All of it was accidental, of course.

I had been reaching for something that I had dropped on the floor by my desk, and had to squat to reach it in the process. Forgetting that I had torn my ACL and that I didn't have the ability to bend at the angle that I did, I immediately shot back up in pain. When I got home, my knee had swollen to the size it was when I had first hurt it. Immediately, I R.I.C.E.'d it, but I don't know how long these effects will last. With the increased swelling in my knee, I can't bend it completely; to even bend it partially takes more effort than I'd like.

I hope some sleep will take care of this. Funny thing is, I think this is the first real amount of pain I've felt since I got hurt.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A month and soon to be under the knife.

It is a month today that I first tore my ACL (and didn't realize it, thinking it was only a knee sprain - the pop in my knee should have warned me).

In hindsight, this injury has given me a lot to think about, from facing an opponent in sparring to managing life. Had I gotten this injury while I was still in undergrad, I would have been quite screwed, with my hectic schedule and all. I can't remember a time that I'd slowed down during all four years. During the school year, I'd be involved in ASA, taking between four to five courses, and working two to three jobs. In the summer, I would be working at an internship or at the R.O. and at UPS at night.

I went back to the R.O. this past Tuesday since I felt good enough to get there and back (and be comfortable throughout the day). I haven't been able to go to UPS because of the lifting involved, and my inability to actually put strength behind my core without my knee. It's been nice to work only one job, but I know that after I recover from surgery, I'll be going nuts again with my crazy schedule.

This injury was life telling me to slow down for once, think about everything that's going on in life, and take everything one step at a time. I was so busy thinking about how to get ahead that I didn't give enough regard to the things that were happening to me NOW. My attention was always divided; I couldn't truly give my 100% in whatever I did, whether it was taking class at TKD or organizing an event. Being forced to stay still and ponder has opened my eyes a bit.

After I got hurt, I also made a promise to myself to put my all into my training at TKD for my second dan. I can't go into a test with sloppy form, nor should I be going to class and only performing 60%. If I don't give my all, then what's the point? I need to take care of my body in the process as well (better than I have been doing).

My surgery has been scheduled for the 22nd, and I have to call the hospital to confirm. I can't believe it's coming so soon - in just three weeks I will be on an operating table with my knee open and a new ACL screwed on (from my hamstring). I can't even fathom that at this point.

I just have to take it a day at a time.

Happy Independence Day!