Friday, February 5, 2021

What I Learned This Time Around: 2nd Knee Surgery Edition

Well it has been 2 weeks now since I had surgery on my right knee. And since this was my second surgery of this kind, this time around, I was going in with a bit more knowledge. Here are the couple of things that I am doing this time around to make my recovery go much more smoothly and get back to doing all the things that I want to more quickly this time. 

Starting PT Sooner

Last surgery, I was SHOCKED at just how quickly I lost muscle, especially in my quad on the leg where I had the procedure. 8 months later the quad is still smaller on the left than the right (for now). So the day before my surgery, I made a consultation appointment with IVY Rehab, the place where I did PT last time, to talk to them about what could I do to both not lose as much strength in the leg that is having the surgery and to also not lose any of the progress I had made back on the other leg. They staff there is AMAZING and they hooked me up with a 31 minute, 7 exercise session that I could do at home, starting as soon as the bandages came off. 4 were for my right leg (the new surgery) and 3 for the left (the older surgery). So starting that Monday, just 4 days after surgery, I have done my 31 minutes of PT faithfully every single day. Not gonna lie, the first few times it hurt, a lot. The straight leg raises were not fun at all! But after a week or so, it is getting loads easier and my legs are both feeling quite strong. I plan to keep it up until I can start back to going to PT on February 19th. 

Doing Upper Body Workouts

Another thing that I was woefully bad at last time around was being quite lazy in general. Just because I couldn't move around very well, I kinda didn't move much at all. When I finally did make it back to Burn, I noticed I had to drop the weights in my upper body workouts by quite a bit, even struggling with the 15 and 10 pound weights. Well, I realized this time, that it made no sense that not being able to use my right leg should mean that I don't use my upper body. So I turned to YouTube to see what kind of upper body workouts I could do seated. Turns out, quite a few!! So, with the vast resources of YouTube at my disposal, I made myself a schedule, 6 days of upper body workouts with 3 different focuses repeated and then a rest day. My schedule is:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Yoga
  • Wednesday: Strength
  • Thursday: Cardio
  • Friday: Yoga
  • Saturday: Strength
  • Sunday: Cardio

I've found some pretty great workout to do and am actually having fun. Typically will choose a workout that is right around 20 minutes or so to do as I will then do my 31 minutes of PT after. Because yes, I do want to remain active and not lose the strength and endurance as much this time around, but I also acknowledge that I am still healing and don't want to overdo it. But I am still getting in a pretty good amount of work if the soreness in my arms is anything to go by!

Modifying my Crutches

Last time that I was on my crutches I was very stubborn about mastering them. I was determined that the crutches would not win over me and I would become an expert at making them do my bidding. And these were a temporary irritant in my life so I would make no concessions to them, even ignoring well meaning advice from friends on how to make them more manageable. And to no surprise, they tore me up! My hands ached all the time, I would get huge blisters on the palms of my hands and I chaffed like mad on my sides. I am still not sure why I was so stubborn about not trying to make my stint on the crutches easier for myself, but this time around, Day 1 I logged on to Amazon and order some gel pads. They have made the WORLD of difference. 2 weeks in and my hands feel just fine. They are not even red or sore at all. Friends, if you find yourself on crutches, trust me, this will be the best $13 you will ever spend: Vive Crutch Pads. Love them and they come in fun colors too (I went with teal). 

Trying Harder to Keep Positive

I will be the first to admit it, my first knee surgery I was MISERABLE! I remember one particular Sunday, I think about a week or so after my surgery, I went upstairs, laid down in bed and cried, as in sobbed out loud, for like 2 hours. I spent a lot of time in bed just kind of lamenting all the things I could no longer do. After I was adamant that I would NEVER do that again, knowing full well that my right knee, while not immediately "injured" as the left was, it needed the same procedure if I would ever hope to run (or really even walk) without pain. But finally, after 6 months with the last few of no pain in the left leg and still massive amounts of pain on the right, I decided to go ahead and go through with the surgery. 

Maybe because I already knew from experience that things would eventually be better has me a bit more positive this time. I've been trying to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives. Yes, I can't walk, but I can still do something active every day (see above). I am not having to go out in the below freezing temps. My cats cuddle with me more since I am mostly camped on the couch with a cozy blanket. I am working from home this time (I was laid off due to the Covid pandemic during last surgery recovery). I also have 2 super fun events coming up later in February to look forward to, both of which I will totally be able to do, my Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte Virtual event (which I already ran, but will be organizing the event on race day) and the Wine 5K race (which I will be walking).

I also have been reading the book The Comeback Quotient: A Get-Real Guide to Building Mental Fitness in Sport and Life. This book was the Book Club book for the BibRave Pros and it was a perfect read for my current situation. I haven't quite finished it yet, our book club discussion is Feb. 9th, but I am more than half way through it and should be done in time no problem. The book talks about how those who have had the most successful comebacks, those who overcome injury and hard times, do so with not just a positive attitude, but a realistic attitude. The book emphasizes accepting, embracing and addressing reality as a way of coming back from injury. I have been trying to take the lessons to heart, even though one memorable passage talked about how utterly miserable one runner's situation was and it pretty much described what I was going through almost verbatim right now. Laugh so you don't cry and all that. It's a good book though, and I recommend it to anyone going through an injury, or even if those not, to get some valuable insight on how being an "ultrarealist" can help your overall outlook. 

With all that said, I still have some bad days, days where I cannot shake being sad and lonely. I still get frustrated at how long things take to do and how simple things like taking a shower and getting dressed take so much longer than they should. I hate not being able to do things that should be easy, like walk and carry something at the same time. And I HATE asking for help (like a lot a lot). But... I am doing a much better job this time at staying focused on the future and not dwelling so much on the present.

This is tough. But I am tougher. And I may be broken right now, but I will rebuild stronger. 

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