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The surgery

Weeks 1-6 after anterior cruciate ligament surgery

November – December 2022

Hi welcome to part two where I share how I experienced the surgery and first weeks. In summary it came down to resting, recovering, but also building up training. The first squats have been made and I will try to keep track of the counter throughout rehab.

DAY OF SURGERY

 

Beforehand, I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. However, it was going to be the first time I was going to experience surgery myself, which is why I just let it wash over me. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long. I had to report at seven o'clock in the morning and around eight-thirty I was on the operating table. 

With an epidural (this was pain-free), only my lower body was numbed. This allows you to partially watch via a screen and I found it really interesting and cool to be involved in this way. I was surprised that despite the anesthesia, you notice that something is happening to the leg and feel a vibration/touch. The anesthesiologist assured me not to worry. Apparently, the orthopedist had long since started cutting. About an hour later, the surgery was done and I breathed a sigh of relief. It's not exactly warm in an operating room and by now I couldn't stop chattering my teeth. Thanks to a heater and extra blankets in the recovery room, this was quickly resolved.

The surgery went according to plan and was successful. A replacement cruciate ligament was made with my quadriceps tendon, a small piece (10%) of my meniscus was trimmed and a ligament was made on the outside of my knee (ALL) for extra stability. Finally, I would like to mention that all the people that day were extremely friendly. The atmosphere was very relaxed. Everyone really did their best to put you at ease in order to make the best of it. In the end it was a day with a lot of impressions and some tension, but there was also laughter and I think back of it with a nice feeling.

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FIRST DAYS POST OK

 

After the surgery I went to my parents because you can hardly do anything yourself and you really have to (learn to) surrender to the help of others. I spent the first few days on the couch with my leg up, alternating with small exercises. This time also gives space in the head to recover from the operation day. Actually, it is quite intense and at the same time impressive what is possible.

Other than that, everything was getting used to, uncomfortable, I had some pain and sleeping was difficult. All the kind messages, sick visits and fruit baskets gave a lot of support, thank you! Around day three things went much better and I visited the physio for the first time. By the end of the week I could bend and stretch the knee pretty well, was no longer taking painkillers and was only bothered by the bruising.

WEEK 2 – 6

 

After two weeks of much rest and faithful exercise, everything improved. The swelling went down and daily things became easier. Moreover, I was allowed to stop the thrombosis syringes that you have to stick in your own abdomen and then you feel less of a patient. It was also time to thank my parents for the good care and to go to my own home in Amsterdam. All positive things and it is motivating that there is improvement by the day. 

From week three the load and frequency at the physio was built up. Many miles on the exercise bike, core exercises and the start of strength training. It was nice to move more and the knee happily agreed. 

Weeks 3-6 I found especially mentally frustrating because physically you can do more and more, but social things are often not feasible while the walls are coming down on you. A bright spot was the moment I was allowed to walk with one crutch in week 4 and not much later without. The first steps still required some focus, but soon this went like clockwork.

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Squats counter:0
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The question I've gotten the most is, "What to do for the knee now?" To my mind, the first few weeks I didn't have to do much for it, but rather had to leave a lot for it by constantly making the sensible choice. Nevertheless, the squat counter did not stand still and in six weeks, 1710 squats have already been made. The first phase was over. Physically it all went extremely well and I look forward to taking more steps forward. Let's go!

Read more: weeks 10 to 12

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