ACL recovery: Weeks 2 and 3.5


ACL emails: Week 2

This is going to be the first in a whole series of email updates that I’ve sent out, detailing my diagnosis and hopefully my recovery from this latest injury. I’m still in the thick of things right now, without a real path forward or light at the end of the tunnel, so writing these out has helped me keep focused on what’s happening, and where I need to go.

The Story So Far: I went skiing. I fell, skiing. Went to the urgent care, and got the diagnosis that every athlete dreads: Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament. I went to a surgeon in Hood River, who doubled down on the diagnosis, telling me that I’d also torn my Lateral Cruciate Ligament, and tore my meniscus as well. Things were pretty bad, but the tunnel did get a bit lighter right at the beginning…

MRI is the news of the week; Sarah and I were out the door at 6:00 Tuesday morning for a 6:30 appointment… That we didn’t get called in for until 7:10.

But the MRI went fine, and we got the results on Friday during my two appointments; one for Dr. Burgoyne (a surgeon) and one with Ed Andree (a physical therapist).

The results are good! …Maybe.

First – the LCL. The good news. My LCL isn’t torn, and seems to be completely intact and undamaged.

Second – the Meniscus. Also good news. Undamaged, looking happy and healthy.

Last – the uncertain news. My ACL might not be torn. It appears to be an avulsion fracture; basically, the ACL was stretched, but didn’t tear. Instead, the bone at the Tibia cracked, but didn’t fully pull away from the tibia. They think. It’s not majorly displaced, but it is displaced. There’s also some damage to the tibial plateau, similar to the damage that drywall receives when you bump into it. Minor, in comparison to everything else.

But, the last news is uncertain. Since it’s not a full tear, treatment is less certain. And since it’s not completely displaced, or completely non-displaced, it’s even less certain. So the path forward is… wait and see. It’s also more scary, since the damage isn’t complete. Which means I have to be exceptionally careful with it, to avoid making it worse.

I started Physical Therapy, and have a whole list of exercises to do now. I’ll have at least one appt. per week, and for the next month will focus on regaining strength, mobility, and range of motion. Then, they’ll probably take another MRI, and see how well the tibia has healed.

And to confirm all of that, I’ve got two second-opinion consultations coming up this week. So maybe that other orthopedist will have a different opinion?

Slowly but surely. Depending on whether it heals (no surgery) or it doesn’t (probably surgery) recovery time could vary anywhere from 5 months, to over a year.

– Ben



ACL emails: Week 3.5

It’s been a tough one… Lots has been happening this past week, but unfortunately not much of it is good / actionable information. But recovery is going, which is all I can really ask for.

I’ve been focusing on Physical Therapy the best that I can – It’s a little tough not over-doing it though, since home-exercises always make me think that I should be doing more of them. But the quad contractions are getting a lot better, and standing is getting less and less painful, so the drills are definitely paying off. Now it’s just keeping it up, getting full extension back, and trying to reduce the swelling to normal levels.

From appointments, I got the frustrating news. We saw Dr. O’Shea on Friday – he was really impressive and pleasant to speak with, and explained everything really well to both Sarah and myself. He even did an objective test to measure knee displacement (my right knee is 8mm, my left is 12mm)… which definitely points back toward surgery. Which was his strong recommendation.

The real name of the game now is a split. Getting a third opinion to decide between the “wait and see” option, and the “wait and see… but schedule surgery anyways” option comes first. Second, comes convincing my insurance that getting care in Oregon is medically necessary.

So the battle rages on.

– Ben

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