Tag Archives: broken leg

ACL Recovery: Weeks 6 and 7

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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.

ACL recovery: Weeks 4 and 5

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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.

ACL recovery: Weeks 2 and 3.5

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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