Dear fellow ACL knee surgery patient, exactly one week ago after a successful (amen!) ACL reconstruction (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus repair I opened my eyes to a new now. Despite all my research and consultations with the fabulous Cedars-Sinai orthopedic team I wasn’t prepared for the pain that hit the minute my eyes opened in recovery. I’m sharing my story to give you ways to cope should you end up in the deep sea versus calm waters.
During the 48 hours I had from the MRI report indicating I needed the surgery to actually sitting in the pre-operation prep room, I stumbled upon a few blogs and forum posts from those in my same boat and now I realize we’re in different oceans all together. Maybe I’m just unique, the oddball who screamed in pain after ACL surgery despite the pain medicine and nerve blockers used to ease me into this new reality. We all handle pain differently but it became very clear I wasn’t able to relate to the experience of the fellow bloggers. I’m not writing this to scare anyone faced with an ACL surgery but rather share my experience and help you prep and accept the new now you may wake up to.
I’m proof that even in the early recovery days you can calm the waters by changing your attitude and focus. I’ll never be the voice of surgery is peachy person and rainbows are in every situation but I was able to accept the new now by making it my own. The ‘new now’ is a phrase that resonates so much with me and best describes the wake up to reality process I am going through since the surgery.
Acceptance, full 100% non-questioning acceptance is key to my inner calm. I cannot play the victim or wonder why this is happening now with a toddler and so much on my plate. Once I accepted this is my now then I let go and dreamed of my future. This downtime gives me more time to plan my daughter’s birthday, to think about what we can do around the house to make it a better learning space for her and just to be me. I am all about giving yourself time to just be. My brother said it best, enjoy the quiet.
My calm cove turned into a choppy sea during a recent trip to Kauai, my go-to paradise. That trip changed me in ways I’m just now seeing, I became less selfish and realized my role is to share my paradise and watch the aloha spirit grow in my daughter. Read more about the aloha spirit.
After you adopt your calm mantra focus on planning your post-surgery. I used the limited prep time I had wisely! I cannot stress that enough. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! This may mean food and ice packs, schedules, layout of your home, etc. just make sure you think about what you may need the week after surgery and make sure it’s accessible before your surgery.
My household consists of my two luvies – my prince and our sassy daughter. We knew each minute of pre-surgery time had to focus on the anticipated six week recovery period.
Our fabulous family friend, my sis from another mother, jumped in and took on babysitting duty while we hobbled through grocery stores. You know it’s serious planning when two sales clerks ask if we’re stocking up for winter or natural disasters. We may have gone a bit overboard but I still have the memories of the early days after my c-section where food was pretty scarce thanks to our non-prep for baby. Our house was a food factory, meal preps, frozen meals, grilling, etc. We were ready!
Our planning prep ended here and oh boy we were wrong. Learn from my mistake and take time to really access your home. Where are you going to spend most of your recovery time the first week — in bed. You will need to make sure you can easily get on and off the bed. Now this may seem silly to think about but I wish we had because it was 9:00 pm on the first night home from the hospital and my lovely man and his sis were taking apart our king size bed to remove the frame. We have one of those fit for a king and queen beds, way too high but has amazing storage space. After about 10 seconds of me trying to get on the bed in my groggy state it became clear we needed to lower the bed.
Think about everything fellow surgery patients. Even if you have someone home with you the first week, you need to be able to get to the bathroom, have ample clean free floor space for your crutches to glide you and finally, you will need to prep your shower (bath seat, shower seat, somewhere to rest).
Here I am just one week from the surgery and I’ve found little systems to help me move freely around the house. Make sure your needs are met. I know as parents, it’s hard to put ourselves first but I believe now is the time to just do that. My speedy and healthy recovery is necessary for my family and to do that, I need their help and others. You have to make yourself a priority because it really will benefit everyone. Cheers to a speedy recovery process for all and wishes that you find your calm waters again.