The Surgery

I was admitted for my ACL surgery on the 19th December 2016 at 7:30 am. At my pre op two weeks earlier, the nurse had said that I would need a ‘good book’ because they still operate at 4pm. One thing I didn’t want was to get there for 7:30 to then not go down until 4pm! That was just too long for me to be waiting, getting anxious. Thankfully, I was the first patient down. I was gowned, asked what knee was to be operated on (not great at decreasing that anxiety), asked a load of questions about my health and then wheeled down on a trolley to get dosed up on the good stuff.

I was wheeled into a room where two canulas were so thoughtfully shoved into my arm (they had to do two, cos my veins are teeny tiny and the first one didn’t find the vein). The anaesthetists pumped the general anaesthetic into my arm at 8:45 am. That was the last thing I remember.

I woke up at 12:10 pm in another room with a nurse in a chair beside me, feeling groggy and dehydrated. Thankfully I couldn’t feel my knee at all, I was still so numb. Once awake, feeling awful they wheeled me down to the main ward where I crept in and out of sleep all afternoon. My parents came to visit at around 3pm, and was I was starting to feel a little better. I felt amazing when the consultant said I could go home that day if I was able to get up and about. Unfortunately, my body didn’t agree with the anaesthetic, and after an evening spent throwing up and with super low blood pressure, they kept m in for one night.

Day 1

I work up on the ward in the worst pain I’ve ever felt. One thing they won’t tell you is that the pain after the surgery is much much worse than the injury itself. I was on all the codeine I was allowed. The physio came around about midday and got me up on my feet with my splint and crutches of course. I went for a VERY short walk and that was it he said I was ready to go home. Mum came to pick me up and after a very uncomfortable drive home I was place on the sofa and left with the painkillers. I couldn’t face the stars in my house that day, so I slept on the sofa. All in all, a very uncomfortable day.

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Where it all started.

Where it all started.

I am writing this first blog post 11 days post op for my ACL reconstruction and lateral meniscectomy. I have only started to document this now as I have realised there were many things I didn’t know before surgery about my recovery that I wish I did know and i’m sure others would like to know also (plus, recovery is mind-numbingly boring).

If you are currently being lined up for the big op or are considering it, please for the sake of yourself do not take the decision lightly. Whilst this is a very common procedure and success rates are high, about 95%, this surgery will most definitely take it out of you. Well, it did for me anyway.

I more or less had to have this surgery done. I originally injured my ACL in September 2014 at the age of 19, a week before starting University (typical). There was no real concern over my knee stability at the time and the pain wore off after a few weeks. I went back to normal activity pretty easily. Looking back, we reckon I had partially tore my ACL at that time, but this was not conclusive.

In November 2015, 11 moths later, whilst playing football for my University team, I completely ruptured my ACL. A bad tackle came in from the left and everything moved except for my right knee which wasn’t going anywhere- that was was tore my ACL. After a trip to AnE, they confirmed that I had dislocated my right knee, and the impact had fractured my fibula.  I recovered pretty well from that injury, and was up and about after a few weeks. 11222180_10208279223281935_7430466873747888695_n

My housemate and I outside AnE, with a relocated knee, fractured fibula, ruptured ACL and torn meniscus (you’d never have guessed).

However, in late December 2015 I quickly, and painfully learnt about my meniscus tear. After sitting for a while with my knees bent, I tried to get up. A ridiculous, shooting pain ran straight up my shin and to the anterior part of my right knee. To my horror, I was completely unable to bend my knee or put any weight on it- it had locked shut at a right angle. To AnE it was.

Starting 2016 on crutches, I kept recovering well from my multiple injuries, but spent the whole year in fear of my knee locking and being bed bound for another few weeks. And that did happen. Multiple times- around 4 I think. My knee was locking at the most stupidest of things, one time I crossed my legs to sit in front of a mirror to put my make up on, and then, just like that, I couldn’t uncross them. It was beginning to become a joke.

I went through the normal NHS progression of appointments, MRIs, consultant appointments until I finally got a date for my surgery. 19th December 2016- 13 months after referral. Honestly, I wasn’t given that much information about what was going to happen or how long I would be in recovery for. I just know they were going to take a hamstring tendon, drill some holes through my bones and use the graft as a makeshift ACL, and then take my damaged meniscus out.

Thats where I am now, 11 days post op, 21 years old, with a tendon substituting my ACL, 2 screws holding it in place, and another pair of crutches to add to my growing collection.