Here is where I spend most of my days… Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool… A nod to the Fresh Prince. Anything can turn into a song lyric reference in my world.
Everyone kept telling me that I needed to make an appointment for PT, but I was adamant that I wasn’t going to go to formal physical therapy this time because I know how to rehab after surgery. I can do it! I’d asked my surgeon about it in the office, and he’d said I could give it a go on my own. We’d assess whether I needed to go to PT after the first post-op appointment. It was important enough that I brought it up again when I saw him after surgery. But then I kept getting papers that said to schedule PT, and the papers that I got when I left the hospital said I needed to schedule an appointment in three days’ time. I was still convinced that I didn’t need to go. Then I changed my mind.
I was standing in my kitchen, less than two full days after surgery, waiting on my toast to pop, when I got the brilliant idea to see if I could squat. Prior to surgery, I was doing partial one-leg squats, but I knew I couldn’t do that. So I just went for a standard, two-leg squat. In that moment, I realized that I don’t need someone to help motivate me to progress with the post-op recovery. I need someone to keep me from progressing too quickly. Someone to keep me in check. (When I told this to a friend, her response was, “Haha! Keep you in check? Did you forget you’re a honey badger at heart?”) So anyway… I started PT for the first time in 2014 last Friday.
I’m working with the same awesome PT who helped so much leading up to this surgery. I’m thankful for that. She gave me a list of super simple exercises to start for week one and week two. Since I started PT not even three full days into week one, it seems like it’s been forever already. But I’m doing my damnedest to stick to the schedule. It’s tough because I feel like I can already do more.
I walked into PT, sans crutches, and the PT said, “I at least expected crutches.” Nope, not for me! (Ain’t nobody got time for crutches.) I haven’t really used crutches at all this time; I just don’t walk around much. By the time I got to therapy, I was walking pretty well. We did a short session. She checked my passive ROM, and I was excited to have her measure me at full passive flexion and only two degrees off on passive extension. She said the goal for now is simply to not lose what I’ve already gained. Easier said than done when your brain is constantly trying to test your limits.
I randomly ran into my surgeon on the way out the door, and he asked how I was doing. (My PT, who was following me out, told him that she’d just simply drawn me a picture of a horse and then drew a line through it. “Don’t do that!”) I told him honestly that I’m doing well and I’m now really, really hopeful. I’d been very nervous (read terrified) in the weeks leading up to surgery and not sure what to expect this time, but I’m already very hopeful with just the progress I’ve seen so far. He was quite impressed with how well I was walking less than 72 hours after surgery (his word was “wow”). The key is, I think, to stay off the leg and keep it elevated as much as possible. Having it hooked to the cryo cuff for 20 hours a day doesn’t hurt either.
Week one exercises are below.
Goals: Perfect extension (only two degrees away!) and easy bend (110-120 degrees; but I already blew that out of the water at my first PT appointment when she measured me well over 120 degrees)
- Towel stretch (towel around the ball of my foot and pull up to bring my heel off the table while holding my thigh down with my other hand)
- Heel prop (prop my heel up on a two-liter bottle and leave the knee and thigh unsupported while doing quad contractions)
- Straight leg raises (SLRs)–what knee surgery recovery is complete without these?
- Balanced quad sets (I put my knee over a two-liter bottle and straighten my leg by tightening my quads)
- Two-leg mini squats
- E-stim with my NMES for 20 mins one or two times a day (gotta keep the VMO in line)
I realized, belatedly, that there are few instructions as to the number of reps for the exercises (only the first two have the reps written on the instructions). Of course, I had to wonder if that means I should be doing 10 each time… Or thirty? Fifty?