Re-start after surgery:
Frankly, the first weeks after surgery were a hard battle for me. ACL rehabilitation definitely consists of ups & downs. I somehow didn’t have a good re-start. I learned a lot. Welcome to part 2 of my journey.
Day of surgery
I was incredibly nervous on the day of my surgery. Incredibly nice anaesthesiologists made everything a little bit easier. Thanks to general anaesthesia, I didn’t notice a thing from surgery. “Did everything go well?” were the first words I said after waking up. Lucky me, surgery really went well. Afterwards I had to stay in the recovery room for one hour, eat something light and drink some tea. Then I was taken to my room. I felt so relieved, and I wasn’t in much pain. I thought: “This is great. This is a new start.” Until the next morning I wasn’t allowed to get up.
Day 1 after surgery brought me back to reality. The part of the body where the tendon was removed just a little bit above the kneecap hurt as hell. It made moving, standing up and straining my leg extremely hard. It should be one of the feelings that wouldn’t leave me for almost 3 weeks.
Three days after surgery I had my first physiotherapy appointment. Let me shorten this chapter a bit: I left after 3 weeks. From then on and with a new physiotherapist everything finally slowly progressed. I was able to extend my leg (though little percentage was still missing). I could raise my outstretched leg. We worked on strength. Little steps. But these steps pointed me into the right direction. Nevertheless, I doubted a lot during those weeks and was sometimes insecure of how much I could really do with the knee. In week 5 and 6 I made the first squats and said goodbye to the crutches. From then on, I learned to trust my knee more again.
What did I learn? ACL recovery isn’t time based but exercise/criteria based. That means that there is no possibility to say: In week so and so you will be able to run again. It means that you will be able to run again if you’re knee is ready – depending on how far you’ve come, how much extension, flexion, strength etc. you have.
Consistency is one of the keys. Turns out there’s not one day you’re not going to work for your comeback – mentally and physically. Surround yourself with people who really care. Find a physiotherapist who is an expert with ACL rehabilitation and works evidence-based – that is probably the most important but also hardest part. Don’t let anyone unsettle you and don’t compare your own rehabilitation story with anyone else’s. Everybody is different. I really had to learn that. Take a look on other stories to see how they managed it, but don’t compare yourself with that. Rehabilitation takes time – some need more, some need less. You have to create a state of mind in which nothing can stop you. Do your exercises every day, consistently follow your goals. Believe that everything is going to turn out really well.
For me personally, looking back on week 1-6 I think I left behind the hardest part now. I’m curious how the next weeks are going to be. I know there’s always the possibility to step forward two steps and go three backwards. Regardless, I’m positive. I’m in a good place and surrounded by amazing friends, family, teammates and experts. See you soon.
Will be continued.