Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

The opposite of awesome

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In the interest of keeping it real, I feel like I need to tell you that the last 2 weeks have been exactly what awesome is not. I perhaps shouldn’t be writing this as I sit here with my knee on fire after a marathon 107-minute PT session this morning because I might make things seem a little more dramatic than necessary, but it’s been a rough couple of weeks. The dramatization is warranted. This whole recovery has been a roller coaster ride; I knew to expect that going into it, but for the first 9 weeks, I had more ups than downs. That has slowly shifted, and I’ve had more downs lately. Nothing terrible has happened, and I’m not in awful pain or anything, but things THINGS are starting to build up. My level of frustration has gone from yellow (“aww, man, that’s a bummer”) to red devil (“what the #@%$?! This sucks”).

Basically, my knee has been increasingly swollen. It’s not unexpected because I’ve been increasing my activity. It’s not swollen enough that I’m really losing ROM yet (lost 1-2 degrees on extension, but holding my own on flexion). But the swelling is keeping my quads from functioning fully, and I’m not gaining strength. The last two PT sessions, T-Bone has dialed back my exercises, and that doesn’t make me very happy. I don’t understand how to gain strength if I’m not able to push past current limitations. It’s possible that I’m not being a good patient right now because I’m not being patient.

So what are we going to do? Today, I was hooked up to the e-stim again (was last week, too) to try to get my quads firing fully. PT says they’re firing, just not all the way. He can tell because I can’t make my heel pop up off the table like I can with my good leg. After 10 minutes of shock therapy today, I was able to contract my quad pretty well. At least T-Bone seemed happy with it.

Something new today to try to help with the swelling was ultrasound therapy. As it was explained to me, “This isn’t your pregnancy ultrasound.” Um, ok, cool. I’ve never been pregnant, so I’m not sure what that means. (Also, I want to clarify that it wasn’t T-Bone who said that. He was busy with another patient, so another PT was helping me.) This non-pregnancy ultrasound apparently creates a deep heat effect to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. I felt nothing while it was being applied, which is good because you’re not supposed to feel anything. Afterwards, I was told to ice my knee with a big chunk of ice until it was numb. Oh, ice. That brings me to another point of irritation. Literally.

To try to combat some of the swelling, I’ve been icing like a fiend. I’ve already openly admitted my ice addiction, and it’s been spiraling out of control. I still ice through the night with my cryo cuff. I still ice periodically throughout the day with my ice packs. And for the last week, I’ve been coming home from work to ice with my cryo cuff for a few hours before I do my exercises and then go back to bed with the cryo cuff. My leg has started to react violently to all the icing. Last night, there were perfect lines above and below my knee, demarcating exactly where the cryo cuff goes. And between the lines, my skin was bright red and very hot to the touch. But did I learn my lesson? Noooo. I went to bed last night with the cuff still in place. After PT this morning, my leg broke out in a heinous rash with large red blotches. Still very hot to the touch. So hot, in fact, you wouldn’t have had to actually touch it to feel the heat radiating off of it. Thankfully, it’s cooled down a bit now, but it’s still uncomfortably warm.

T-Bone told me to ice at the end of the day but not to sleep with the cuff on anymore. Sad. I don’t know how to break up with my ice machine. I might try icing from the inside out by eating my weight in ice cream.

I have another PT session bright and early on Monday morning (in less than 3 days). So I’ll try to lay off the ice, keep my leg propped up and survive the weekend.

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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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