Last week, I went to see my doctor again. It had been four weeks since I injured my knee and things were not improving. I take that back. I could walk without limping so that was an improvement, but my knee still wasn’t normal. It was still wonky and unstable if I changed direction too quickly. You know those vitamin bottles that have a child-proof top and clicks when you turn it? Yeah, that’s how my knee feels.
When I walked into my doctor’s office, he turned to me and said, “You know that this means that we’re talking surgery, right?” I let out a big sigh and nodded in agreement. At first, I thought that he meant he was just going to scope my knee to clean up my meniscus and scar tissue. Wishful thinking. He was going to do a revision of the ACL reconstruction that I had about 15 years ago. Apparently, while my ACL was still in tact (hence zero swelling after I injured it), it had become too loose and wasn’t doing its job anymore. So, he was going to snip my ACL and replace it with a new one.
Over the past week, I have been in denial about the whole thing. While I knew that there was a good possibility that I would need to have surgery again, I didn’t think that it would be another reconstruction, complete with its attendant recovery period. After my first knee surgery, I was not allowed to put any weight on my knee for 3 weeks. It was scary and frustrating to watch all the muscles in my right leg shrink and atrophy. Thankfully, physical therapy wasn’t too bad and I regained my range of motion fairly quickly but the journey back to full strength and activity levels took some time.
But I’m kind of scared this time. I’m not 21 this time. I’m in my mid-30s and I know that recovery is going to be different. I know that I’m still young and active, but things just move slower these days. Muscle soreness lingers a day or so longer than it used to and a few days off from working out feels like a month. I’m worried about gaining weight and backsliding in my fitness. I’m frustrated because this wasn’t supposed to happen again, especially because I had just returned to running and my legs felt stronger than ever. I also have two young active boys who may not completely understand why Mommy can’t move around much. But if I want to keep doing these things, surgery makes the most sense for me.
After we decided on the surgery, I asked my doctor to tell me exactly what to expect in terms of rehab and recovery. I will be in a brace for two weeks. While I can put weight on my leg (hooray for the small things!), I will likely be hanging out at home and not doing much of anything. Then, it will be a 4-6 month recovery period and 9-12 months before I can train for anything seriously. 9 to 12 months. Those words echoed in my head and all I could managed to say was, “DUDE! That’s a long time!”
I’m scheduled for surgery on March 26. I have roughly a week and a half to be as active as I can, strengthen my legs and have fun.