Week 1 Post ACL Surgery


Today is a big day. It marks one week from my first major surgery and is my first day of physical therapy. I am really looking forward to PT this afternoon because I have been really frustrated with my limitations since my mom left. Let’s start from the top though. I know one of the first things I did the day of / before surgery was start googling about the first week of post surgery, I wasn’t able to find much so I hope that this comes up for a few people and gives them a good idea of what is coming their way.

Surgery Day (1): My mom arrived two days before surgery and if you live alone / without your family or a significant other I would HIGHLY recommend that your mom / dad / sibling / some one come stay with you for at least a week. My surgery was at 10:45AM, I woke up bright and early, took a really long shower, and cleaned my apartment. Then we were off! I got surgery at a surgery center, not a hospital, I would again highly recommend you do the same if it is an option. After signing in I was brought back to a bed in about 10 minutes. I put all my clothes in a bag, got dressed in a gown, and laid down. If you are a female you can wear a sports bra, I personally was more comfortable with that on than if I had been going au natural. The rule is no metal. My mom and Brennan were then brought over to my bed to hang out while my surgeon got ready for me. I only waited about 20 minutes and was in surgery by 10:30AM, it was so nice to actually be ahead of schedule! The nurses hooked me up to an IV to hydrate me (you can’t drink or eat after midnight the night before surgery so it was safe to say I was probably dehydrated) and also brought me out Oxycontin. The Oxycontin is a 12 hour pill so that was more for pain management when the surgery was over. When the Dr was ready they added some sleepy meds to my IV and I was out. Next thing I knew about 2 hours had passed and I was waking up with a giant brace on my leg. IMG_6062The blue thing is the pad for my ice therapy machine. At this point I felt mentally clear and my leg didn’t hurt at all. On top of the general anesthesia the doctor uses local as well. My entire knee and a good portion of my shin was numb at this point. When I got home I got situated on my couch with the CPM (continuous passive movement) machine and the ice machine.IMG_6063The CPM machine is to make sure the new ACL doesn’t get stiff. It bends your leg and straightens it out in a nice slow motion. I was on this for the remainder of day one. I also slept with the machine because I needed to keep my leg elevated and iced for the first 48 hours. Both of these machines are clunky and having some one on hand to move them from room to room and refill the ice machine is KEY at this point. Preparing food is also impossible. I had no appetite and didn’t eat until about 6pm and it was only because my mom said I needed to. I had precooked some shredded chicken and quinoa with mushrooms and onions so I had that over kale with some other vegetables.IMG_6065When it comes to pain medication I have Oxycontin that I take every 12 hours and also Percocet to take every 3 – 4 hours. The dosage of that is 1 – 2 pills depending on how I feel. For day 1 didn’t take much of the Percocet because I was numb and didn’t need it.

The Day After Surgery (2): Day two was very similar to day one. I laid in the CPM machine with the ice machine running all day. I also read all day. The fun started when I was getting in bed that night. The numbing was starting to let up a bit and my knee started to throb. I hadn’t felt any pain yet so I got taken by surprise and was not happy about it. I was not capable of moving my leg (still can’t) from the floor to the bed with out grabbing my big toe and pulling the straightened leg to where I want it to land. This it wildly frustrating, especially for sleeping. Granted I have slept with the CPM machine in my bed every night I have tried not using it. It is horrible having to sit up just to move your leg! I had my first pity party melt down this night getting ready for bed. There was crying, pleading for drugs, and all around sadness. Once of the drugs kicked in I was okay but this was a little preview of how the rest of the week was going to go.

Day 3: I woke up feeling alright because I had popped some pills in the middle of the night but not even close to great. I figured out what dosage of Percocet kept my pain in check and dealt with it for the day.

Day 4: This was a fun day because I got to finally take off the bandage that was on my leg and see how it was doing. I am impressed with how small the incisions are for sure.IMG_6087My friend, Faith, sent me this fancy leg protector so I could shower with ease. I love you times a million for that! This particular one was too short to cover all my incision so I cut open the bottom and it worked perfectly. I was even able to wash my foot / calf of the bad leg!IMG_6085It felt AMAZING to shower. It took some trickery to get into the shower but it was all worth it. Pain wise this was just as bad as the last two days but I was managing it with pain killers. This was also the last full day that my mom was there. Simple things like refilling your water cup, getting a book you left in another room, taking medication, feeding the cats, making meals, moving the CPM machine, moving / refilling the ice machine, and finding the remote control are just a few things that make having an extra set of hands so crucial.

Day 5: My mom left for the airport around 8AM on Saturday, I was very sad to see her go and tried to beg her to stay. Unfortunately it did not work. Brennan came over that night for dinner and decided to try to get me out of the house for the first time since surgery. We decided to go see a movie, an AMC theater by us has recliners for all the seats so we thought I would be fine. I could not regret leaving the house more. My wrists, underarms, and rib cages are all bruised from the crutching. Crutching inside of your apartment is one thing (heck I get exhausted from that!) but trying to crutch outside was horrible. I also couldn’t get comfortable at all during the movie.

I got home and immediately crashed in bed. I made the mistake of thinking that the pain was getting better that day and had cut back big time on the drugs, apparently the pain wasn’t done yet and I had a rude awakening at 5am with screaming pain. I had left the CPM and ice machine in the living room because they are so hard to move so I was trying to sleep with my leg just propped up on a pillow. That didn’t work for me at all. I crutched my bruised self into the kitchen to fill up the ice machine and bring that, drugs, and the CPM machine into the bedroom. By the end of this mini adventure I collapsed into my bed and started crying. I was just so frustrated, like “why me” and “where the heck is my mom”. Luckily I was able to get everything I needed and fall back to sleep for a little bit.

Day 6: I decided to leave the CPM machine in my room all day so that it was there for when I went to sleep. I promised myself that I would  make sure to use the machine at night because I was missing it during the day. My pain was feeling better so I dropped my Percocet dosage. While I am happy to do this it makes me nervous because when the meds wear off I’m typically hurting really bad.

Day 7: Day 7 for me landed on Memorial Day, as I watched people scamper to the pool I was again cooped up inside and SOOO bored. My leg at this point was still in a fair amount of pain. I have learned to deal with it but it still isn’t enjoyable. I would say at this point the pain is a continuous ache. Like a bone ache or something, it is hard to describe.

I’m lucky enough to haves some great friends and my besty came over to hang for a little. I also gave her her a grocery store list and she went out and did my grocery shopping for me. What an angel!!! Since I know you are all dying for another gross picture here is what my knee looks like right now. There is sooooooo much bruising!IMG_6095All in all I would say that this is about what I was expecting. I am uncomfortable all the time, the drugs make me lazy and sleepy, and I have cried a few times. I will leave you with a funny conversation I was having with my little brother last night – proof that drugs are whack!andy convoJust a few more things worth mentioning:

  1. Save your meds and don’t bother taking them on the first / second day if you don’t need them. Save them for when the real pain starts to set in.
  2. SHOWER. Even if you don’t want to just do it. I got surgery on a Tuesday and showered on Friday (when the doctor said I could)  and Monday. It is so nice to feel clean!!
  3. Stock up on books, I have already plowed through four books and started my 5th on the 7th day.
  4. Drink tons of water. The pills can mess with your belly so drink drink drink.
  5. Ask for help! You will not want to leave the house. So if you need something just ask.
  6. Your appetite will be gone but try to at least get 2 meals a day in.
  7. I would suggest getting the leg shower thing, it was a life saver!
  8. If you have clothes with pockets (aka hoodies) wear them around the house. It is a pain to carry things and the pocket is a life saver!
  9. Chances are your muscles are going to be tired / stressed because you are walking different that normal, personally my right groin is feeling very tight and will tense up quite a bit.
  10. If you are just resting with your leg up or in the CRM machine try to flex and point your foot to activate the muscles in your calf. Also try to flex your quad. My quad is my biggest challenge right now, I don’t have very much control over it at all.
  11. Take a stool softener / a low dose of laxatives every or every other day to help your bowels get going, narcotics have been known to back you up.
To mix thing up I want to open the comment section up to any / all ACL srgery questions, I will answer to the best of my ability!
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Categories: ACL Injury

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21 replies

  1. Your incisions look just like mine did from my knee surgery last year. Same places too! I’m sorry it’s been so rough. Ice man is a clingy guy. I had to donate him to the training room because I wanted him out of my house once I didn’t need it anymore. Hopefully this week gets a lot easier! I sent some REALLY embarrassing texts the day I got surgery. Like, really embarrassing. Yours is at least entertaining!

  2. I’ve never had surgery but those tips are good to know!! I hope you recover quickly and the pain goes away soon!! 🙂

  3. Can’t believe its already been a week! I remember feeling frustrated too, I think I was crying for the first 4-5 days because I felt so helpless. But I hope that it all gets easier – I am sure it will, only upwards from here!! Too bad you Momma couldn’t stay a bit longer but thank god for AWESOME friends! hahahaha you’re texts are so freaking funny..I remember talking to Max and according to him I was just saying the stupidest crap. I also had to go to the washroom right after my surgery and thought I didn’t need to wait for the nurse and tried to walk on my fresh-outta-surgery leg… whoops? Hope your week goes well and that the pain is gone ASAP!

    • It crazy that is only one week! I am starting to go stir crazy! It is so nice out lately here and I’m just hanging out looking out the window : ( I am happy that now I have exercises I have to do so it gives me something to break up my day at least! And that is great! It’s better than just peeing the bed! haha

  4. holy moly, you are a trooper…. But it sounds like you are being very smart with your recovery and allowing yourself to heal. Those texts are prettttttty funny, you got some good people in your life. Being drugged up and feeling lazy/crying all the time is basically how my first day on my period is like. I can only imagine.

    HANG IN THERE YOU PRETTY LIL BEAST! xoxo

    I spent memorial day in a car with Mr Speedy who was full of farts and kept turning up the AC and I was freezing like a popsicle. So don’t worry- we all didn’t frolic in a pool under the hot sun.

  5. That’s awesome that the marks are so tiny! And you amazing that your mom was able to come and help you! I can only imagine how grateful you must feel! Keep on trucking! I hope PT goes well today..you’re well on your way to full recovery 🙂

    • I know it is nuts! The smallest mark I have looks like a little puncture wound and apparently that is where they went in and took a graft of my hamstring, I was like ahh GROSS. The marks are all so tiny yet it is so much trama to your knee! They really do quite a bit in there!

  6. That texting conversation had me dying hahaha. I love your vivid weird dreams. I had a cast on my arm when I was like 13, and I used grocery bags to shower..it was difficult. That bag thing would have been a life saver for sure. I suppose it’s easier to keep an arm out of the water than a leg though. Glad you were able to clean yourself! Oh man, I would SO need to wear a sports bra. The girls do not like running wild and free around strangers. HAHA.

    I was given pain meds for my wisdom teeth years ago, and I couldn’t take them. They made me so sick. Thankfully my mouth wasn’t too painful and I survived without the drugs. Plus not being able to poop would probably drive me insane. I hope the reading is going well! READ EAT AND RUN!

    • I am going to have some one go to the library for me this weekend to return all my books and pick that one up! I am not sure if it will make me happy or sad reading it though!

  7. Not really like but good tips & good you have a positive attitude. Recommend any good books you e read do far ?

  8. So glad the surgery went well, and glad to hear you’re surviving over there. Keep up the positive attitude, the worst is over right? You’ll be better and running again soon enough!

  9. I hope you’re feeling better! My brother has had to have BOTH of his knees done, and luckily (?) he was in high school when all of it happened so he had full access to parents. So helpful. Glad you’re mom could be there for the first few days, sometimes mom is the only one that can make us feel better.

  10. Good to hear from you! Hope PT is going well and you are back on your feet soon!

  11. Good to hear from you. I hope you are feeling better. It’s great that your mom was there to help.

  12. We brought the cuff to surgery, and while I was still under and they were putting my splint on, the cuff got incorporated into the splint. This way, it was close to my ankle and wouldn’t move, and could easily be connected and disconnected from the main ice cooler part. IT IS AMAZING. I might have mentioned that I don’t handle pain all that well. And this surgery was painful. I had some heavy duty pain meds, and was pretty out of it for a couple days, but I was still in pain. The ice machine was the best way to manage the pain along with the meds. It made a HUGE difference in my pain level. When I couldn’t use it for the weeks I was in my cast, it was noticeably harder to manage my pain (although it was lessening, thank goodness!). Also, when the splint was taken off for my ankle to be cast it wasn’t very swollen. Even my surgeon and the nurse who put my cast on were very impressed with my lack of swelling compared to others they see. I credit this amazingness to the ice machine as well. I’m in love with this machine! I got it back out the other day to use when I was having a lot of swelling and pain again. And it was just as magical as I remembered.

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