Week 6 to 10 after cruciate ligament surgery
"The weeks fly by."
The first six weeks have already passed. As long as these first weeks lasted, the weeks that followed flew by so quickly, but not without a struggle. As I had told you before, I had started walking again without crutches. It was just that it wasn't going so smoothly yet because I was having trouble with my kneecap. I think the best way to describe it is that my knee would sometimes lock up while walking, preventing me from bending my knee past a certain angle. With my other knee, I've also had this problem, but it went away pretty quickly. Not this time. It continued to bother me with almost every step and I also noticed it with some exercises. It's supposed to be something that goes away on its own as the swelling goes down and your leg muscles get stronger. Only question is how long this will last.
"My knee locks up with walking"
One or two weeks went by with really hardly any improvement in my kneecap. Walking was still anything but symmetrical, I noticed little progress with exercises and I wanted to put as little strain on my knee as possible. Then it starts gnawing at you when (and if) it will be all right. You know you have to be patient, but every day you hope to wake up and be able to walk normally again. Unfortunately, so far without success. So I started cycling on the exercise bike three times a day (for the swelling) and training with the BFR (blood flow restrictor) to try to get stronger - with less strain.
It was a frustrating few weeks and took a lot of patience, but then at eight weeks post-op was the day I woke up and was able to take some steps again for the first time without my knee locking up. It was only a few steps before my kneecap played up again, but finally improvement. My physio had noticed this too, because (coincidence or not) exactly the day before he found that the exercises went a lot better and the swelling seemed to be less.
Fellow rehabbers slowly began to notice this difference as well. Every Tuesday evening we train with a small fixed group and then a week later I was told that they thought I could walk better again. That is very nice to hear and a nice confirmation for yourself that things are going in the right direction.
The fact that I was getting stronger was evident not only in my kneecap, but also in my stability and in the exercises I was doing. I had started with some (preparatory) running exercises, split squats, crosstrainer, but also the weight I could legpress with one leg slowly went up just to name a few things. So there was more and more of what was succeeding that way. And then at 8.5 weeks I suddenly got to do squat jumps for the first time! If you had told me two weeks ago that I would be doing this by now, I would have laughed at you. Bizarre how fast it can suddenly go then.
Around week nine to ten, I was working toward a one-legged squat. Each time I thought I could do it, but kept failing. Eventually, of course, I did succeed. In retrospect, I think there may have been a subconscious fear of pain that prevented me from succeeding. That first single leg squat went suspiciously 'easy'. It must be all right in the head as well.
Where it was very difficult in the beginning, it is going a lot better now. I already have much less trouble with my kneecap, but unfortunately it is still not completely gone. So hopefully next time I'll be able to say that it doesn't bother me anymore. I am also starting to notice that I am getting stronger and can do more and heavier exercises, which makes training more fun. So it is carefully going in the right direction. Now on to even more steps forward!