Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Patience is a virtue

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That I don’t have.

I knew this rehabilitation/recovery from the DeNovo NT graft and the tibial tubercle osteotomy was going to take a long time and a lot of hard work. But it’s so different knowing that before the surgery and living it after the surgery. I don’t mean to complain; I’m just being real. It’s not all fun and games, and not every day is a good one.

I get the most frustrated with my exercises because it depends on the day how much I’m able to do. There is overall progress, but it’s not apparent every time I do my exercises. That’s what gets me. I get upset that I’m able to do something in therapy Friday morning, and then I can’t even come close Saturday.

The most frustrating thing right now is my VMO (vastus medialis oblique). I know it’s commonly shut down after open knee surgery. I knew before surgery to expect that I might have trouble with this one, and the therapist had me working to strengthen it before I went under the knife. And it happened. It was shut down and has been for more than 2 weeks. We could tell in therapy because when I contracted my quads, my heel didn’t pop up off the table. If my quads were firing correctly, my heel would come up. I mentioned in my last post the e-stim that the PT tried during my last appointment, but I’m also doing exercises at home to hopefully help wake it up.

I start with the prone hang to work on my passive extension, and then I do towel stretches. When I do these stretches, I wrap a towel around the ball of my foot and pull toward my hip. This helps with the extension, too. At first, I just pulled my heel up off the ground, but now I’m supposed to contract my quads as I pull on the towel. I hold for a count of 10 and do 10 reps. That equals 60 per day, if I count right.

More often than not, my heel doesn’t pop up after I’ve done my exercises. If I think really, really hard, it will sometimes come up just enough to see that it’s off the ground. My other leg comes up several inches just by contracting the quads. I worked so hard to strengthen that muscle before surgery that I’m having trouble being patient with it now.

It’s shocking to me that no matter how many times I yell, “Damnit, move!” my leg doesn’t respond. Yes, I’m cursing at my leg. But it’s ok because science has proven that cursing actually helps humans better tolerate pain. Seriously. Here’s an article from Time about why swearing can help kill pain. So, I’ve added some choice words to my therapy routine. I can’t really tell that it helps the pain, and definitely doesn’t make my leg move, but it’s still somehow satisfying.


Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

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