Monthly Archives: May 2017

ACL Recovery: Weeks 6 and 7


Continuing on the theme of compiling and writing out my emailed ACL recovery updates…


ACL emails: Week 6

Another week, another few minutes sitting in an altitude room, writing a letter out to everyone. I kind of like this tradition… maybe if I keep it up, I’ll finally be able to keep up with Sarah at altitude this time next year?

This week I had an appointment with Dr. O’Shea, and another physical therapy appointment with Dr. Andree, both of which were pretty intense… where to start?

Dr O’Shea was the least pleasant, but the most far reaching, so we’ll start there. First, he’s less certain on the need for surgery! My knee is still angry and inflamed, which means we’re not quite ready for me to go under the knife… but it also looks like it’s recovering pretty well, which might just mean the ACL is going to return to its pre-injured state… or at least close enough that I won’t have instability in my knee. We’ve delayed the surgery until the 17th of May now, and will get some X-rays on the 1st of May to see how well the fractures are healing. And we’ll also do a displacement test the same day, to see how much (if any) the ACL has recovered. It was 50% elongated before, so… we’ll see.

O’Shea also drained my knee… he jabbed a needle full of Novocaine into it, then a huge stint, and pulled ~1.5 cups of blood, bone shards, and fat out of my knee. It was exceptionally unpleasant… poor Sarah got to hold my hand as I nearly passed out. But it felt a lot better the next day, and the fluid gave us a really good indication of how damaged the knee still is, so I’m quite happy that we did it. And O’Shea didn’t even charge us (since my insurance doesn’t kick in until May), which was hugely appreciated.

And with the drained knee, I had PT the next day! Thankfully it felt a lot better by then, which contributed to some pretty amazing progress that I made. First: I walked with only one crutch! Then, I walked without any crutches! Which is to say, I took a single shuffling step, and Ed told me not to walk without crutches. But I’m officially allowed to walk with only one crutch, which is a huge step forward. (Heh, punny).

And that wasn’t the biggest update from Physical Therapy. After the walking, we moved into range of motion and strengthening. I now have a new PT routine – I need to do some actual squats again, as well as balancing on my injured knee! It’s not painless to do, but Ed promised that I’m ready for it, and that this is the first step in strengthening my leg and stabilizer muscles up to the point that I can start walking unassisted again. It’s really tough, but it’s moving forward finally.



ACL emails: Week 7

(Note: This one was written by Sarah Рwe were driving home, so she offered to type it up for me!  Yay!)

This week has been challenging and surprising. Monday morning Ben had an appointment with the Surgeon in Hood River which was kind of a big disappointment. Late surgeon, didn’t do a Lockman test, just told Ben to test the leg to failure and that was it.

It looks like the bones are healing well so the question now is what kind of stability does Ben have. It’s tough not having an objective answer. Ben is gaining more strength and ability to walk around- he’s been cleared to walk with one crutch and can walk unassisted in the house which is awesome! Ben can actually go up and down stairs and PT is focusing on stability and pushing the knee. The goal is to see where the instability, if any, starts. But he also doesn’t know if all this progress is in vain and the surgery will still have to happen. He has X-rays and an appointment with Dr O’Shea scheduled for May 1st and will have more answers then.

Adventures without a leg


Adventures without a leg

March & April, 2017



As the other posts may have mentioned, I broke my leg.


I didn’t tear my ACL… but I did break the bone around it, and stretched the ACL enough that it can’t support me anymore. We think, at least. The surgeons and physical therapists, all four of them, still aren’t sure. So I may need surgery, or I may not. We’re not sure.

What I am sure of, is that this is another learning experience.

I broke my arm and tore my tendon back at the very end of 2009. I wasn’t able to climb again until May of 2010, and I wasn’t back at reasonable strength until July or so. This time, it looks to be an even longer recovery; 7 months post-surgery is an optimistic outlook… and I still don’t even have a scheduled date for a surgery.


So I’m taking it slow; slowing myself and my expectations down to match my new reality.

Sarah’s doing the same; she’s slowing down her expectations for our coming year, and tempering her own goals now that her partner can’t support her through those goals (belaying through Smith and Vantage, climbing Hood and Reiner, learning to AT ski).


It’s been really hard, but I’m making progress and slowly bringing myself back up to my natural mental state. Finding the ways to do that has been a challenge, but it’s also reconnecting me with some of my old self.

I’ve picked up some old video games that I’ve been meaning to play, and I finally got the time to read that new Neil Gaiman novel that came out a while back. I’ve got a backlog for both too; a few games that I want to play or replay, and two other books that I’ve been meaning to read. It’s good to remember the other things that make me happy, aside from adventures and outdoor exploits.


But it’s still hard. Carrying things wasn’t really an option for a long time. I had to either ask for help, or use a wheelchair if I wanted to bring anything not in a container from one spot to another. It took cooking away from me, and it complicated even having coffee or tea at work, by requiring a special thermos that could seal well. If I forgot it at home… well, time to ask a coworker to carry my coffee the 15ft to my desk.

So. This isn’t supposed to be a doom and gloom post. Instead, it’s positive! Or… at least neutral. So how do we get back to positive? That’s been the challenge.


First; I’ve thrown myself into Physical Therapy. I do as much of it as I can, within bounds of what the PT recommends. I honestly could do more… and half the time I feel like I’m slacking off, but I’ve noticed a huge improvement. Sticking to the simple motions that I’m prescribed helps – I’m slowly building confidence, while making sure I don’t hurt myself more. I’m also focusing on working the muscles that I can work safely; upper body machines, arm bikes, really anything that doesn’t engage the legs.

Second; Sedentary activities. It sucks, and it’s kind of the antithesis to who I’ve been in the last year or two, but I’m enjoying video games and books. I used to love them; in Cambridge, I’d generally carve two days a week out to just relax, eat something fun, and game. Probably why I’m not in the excellent shape that my activity level would normally give… but it’s definitely why I’m sane. So, it’s a good trade.

Lastly; Forcing myself to keep doing things. I can’t do a lot, but what I can do… well, I do that as much as I can. Now that I can hobble with one crutch, I’m cooking a lot more – I’ve even started grilling again. I’m also doing dishes, and taking back some of the chore load that Sarah’s been shouldering. Normally, chores are just that – a chore. But when I haven’t been able to do them in two months… you know, they’re not the worst thing.


And as an extra, I’m focusing more on meditation. I’ve been reading happy poems, tying back to the meditation practices that I had before, and finding quiet places where I can. Having both of us tied to a single car has cut down on my alone time significantly (work does not even remotely count), so being able to unplug every once in a while has been a major source of relaxation for me.


Staying positive and staying active is the name of the game. We’ll see how it goes from here.

ACL recovery: Weeks 4 and 5


Continuing on the theme of compiling and writing out my emailed ACL recovery updates…


ACL emails: Week 4

The stress keeps building… But thankfully we’ve got a lot of stuff to be working on, which is keeping us semi-sane and active.

This week was more Physical Therapy appointments and more fighting with Tufts – both came out with pretty good results. I’m still on crutches, and will be for the forseeable future, but my gait isn’t deteriorating too much, and my mobility is coming back up. I don’t have full active extension anymore, but I do have passive extension – which means that the joint itself is fine, it’s just that the muscles are being inhibited by the swelling. Which just means I need to work on reducing the swelling.

With insurance, I finally got in touch with the appeals department (after filing a greivance against our contact there… after filing it, she called me within a day! Funny how that works…). It’s not looking good, but it’s at least moving again.

On the surgery note; I’ve started getting quotes, and it’s not as bad as we expected. It’s still expensive, but not outside the realm of possibility. And the better doctor is actually much cheaper, so that gives better reason to go into Portland, instead of staying in Hood River.

On Hood River note – we’re hitting the gym pretty regularly! My upper body is getting the best workout, and I’ve started doing cardio on some arm-bike machines. I’m actually writing this email from 16,600 ft elevation (it’s equivalent) in an altitude room in Portland, which is giving me some pretty sweet cardio gains.


ACL emails: Week 5

I’m feeling good! I’m walking a lot better, and while I did have one day of some pretty bad pain (I think it was a big storm front coming in), I’ve been feeling a lot better over all.

Mobility is still a bit weak, but I’m more confident and walking (with crutches, of course) is getting more and more smooth. I’ve still got extension, and my flexion is slowly returning. I can’t really bend it all the way back still, but supposedly that’s a much easier movement to recover, unlike extension.

Things are going slowly… but hey. They’re going.