Category: The Bees Knees and the new ACL


Two and a half weeks ago, my surgeon cleared me to do pivoting things with my knee, and to go back to tae kwon do. He also said, very seriously, that as soon as my knee started feeling tired (the quivering exhausted muscle sensation), I was to sit my ass down and be done for the day.

A week ago, I went back to the do jang for the first time since June 1st. There have been some really nice improvements- new mats, the women’s locker room has been painted. Otherwise it had the same feel and the same smell (this is not bad, it just is).

I chatted with one of the head instructors about where to start. I knew, even if I hadn’t been told (very firmly) that a class was out of the question. But I wasn’t certain on where to start. (I tend to get paralyzed by too many options, and even if my instincts say one thing, my brain goes over all the other possibilities and is like, “but is that the BEST thing to do?”)

Really, what was important that day was going, and getting up the stairs and just starting SOMEWHERE. Where didn’t matter all that much. It was the step in the door that did.

However, I have retained some flexibility (when you start with nothing, being able to get your leg up on the barre is something to be proud of), and muscle memory. I ran through the blocks and strikes from the first couples of belt levels and tried a very few (very very very gentle) kicks. I realize that the weakness in my hamstrings is going to make just holding my leg up for kicks hard.

THen I ran away to Vancouver for several days, and went back a week later. This time I went through the blocks, tried some more kicks, and went through the first three forms. All in all about 20 minutes after stretching, and then the muscle fatigue set in.

At which point I had the better angels in my head argument- where I didn’t want to stop just then, but the ACL is BRAND NEW and I cannot afford to get a new one again so soon, and baby steps lead to bigger steps, while over doing leads to being crippled.

It was hard. The worst part is the effort it takes to get there for only 20 minutes of working out.

But that’s where we are. In a few weeks, I hope to be able to join at least the first part of a class and who knows? I have this hope of being able to take my black belt test this fall, we’ll see how long the practical part of rehab takes.

At any rate, it is really good to be back.

It’s my birthday, and I am 32 (that hurt to type a little. Ooof). What have I done today?

We talked about the Confrontation Clause in Evidence

I went to physical therapy.

I went to Wills, Estates, and Trusts.

And I am, as I type, avoiding my Administrative Law homework. I’m avoiding it because Admin Law is MY MOST HATED CLASS EVER and doing the reading ON YOUR BIRTHDAY surely violates the Eighth Amendment, right?

Right?

Shit.

Anyway, in better news, my left thigh is looking a lot less withered these days.

(And no, I did not drop trou to get these pictures – I am wearing gauchos with the legs pulled up.)

This is about a week and a half post surgery:

Withered thigh muscles. Sigh.

And this is this after PT this afternoon, 9 weeks, 2 days post surgery. (The red blotch is because we had just finished icing everything down and I have delicate, sensitive skin.) (I AM SO TOO A DELICATE FLOWER)

IMAG0073

See the difference? Less indented. Progress!

Anyway, I really need to get this Admin Law crap done, and I don’t want to. Or I could talk about the mock trial try outs.

Lets do that.

So the thing with the mock trial try out is that most of us are 2Ls, and we are in the middle of evidence. So we really don’t know evidence yet, or how to apply it that there was stuff getting admitted left and right that shouldn’t have (or objections that were totally missed- I had two question on my cross I was ready to withdraw, and no one called me on them).

Anyway, as best as we could, we did our job, and still didn’t get called back. Which is incredibly disappointing. (yeah, yeah, the work is its own reward, blah blah fucking blah, whatever. It’s disappointing!) So that’s that until the client counseling competition next semester.

(And I just resisted the urge to throw my Admin law book across the lawbrary. For all my bitching on Twitter about hating on idiots who talk in the lawbrary, I think that throwing a book across the room would be pretty bad too. But not worse.)

When last we checked in, my surgeon had cleared me to “go back to the gym” and I eyed him narrowly and said “…back?

I hate the gym. It’s so BORING. And expensive. And boring. And gyms are judge-y.

He asked what I wanted to do, and the answer is I want to get into training for my black belt test again, but that’s a no go since that requires the ability to pivot, which I cannot do until February.

So I am/was tearing my hair out with stircrazy frustration. However, the internet hive mind succeeded in finding a solution.

It’s a gym, and it’s boring, however, it’s dirt cheap ($10 a month, no commitment), and it’s on my way home from school, and it’s anonymous enough that I can hide in the corner, do my thing on the bike, and leave. Eventually I will work my way up to an elliptical (which I’ve never used and am a little intimidated by), but there is something nice about sitting on a bike for 25 minutes and listening to podcasts that have fuck-all to do with school (unless Legal Geekery has a new one, and even then that’s less about law school and more about crazy legal culture).

So now that THAT is all settled, I’m looking for a job to replace my stupid bookstore job (still really angry about that) and prepping for mock trial (did a practice run through of everything with my partner- my cross-ex is gonna be awesome) and getting through the rest of the semester (I hate Admin Law SO SO SO MUCH).

But I will be in DC on October 30th for The Rally to Restore Sanity, so that is something to look forward to.

This could be an epically long post, but I’m going to keep to a few bullet points:

People who get called on in class, and say “Well, I was gonna say that…” or “I was going to ask…” or “I have a question….” DROP THAT SHIT FROM YOUR VOCABULARY RIGHT NOW.

That was mean.

I know that’s it’s very similar to vocalized hesitation- letting your brain catch up with your mouth. But seriously, when three out of four people who get called on say something to that effect, it is really annoying. Just stop saying that you’re going to say something, and say it. What I do is take a half second to really gather my thoughts before I let the randomized crap fall out, which means sometimes I get people looking at me like I’m stupid. But if I didn’t, can you imagine the trainwrecks that I would end up saying? I can. It would be awful.

I am also extremely aggravated by people who get on the bus, and even though there’s a bunch of seats, or at least room in aisle to stand, they stand up next to the driver and block the space, so anyone getting on or off has to push past them. It’s even worse when there’s two people and they both don’t move with their thumbs up their butts or something. It’s rude, and it pisses everyone off. I don’t know why the drivers don’t all make them move, but they don’t.

Don’t be That Guy, people. The MBTA is bad enough, don’t make it even more miserable.

I’m also really annoyed that I have a very limited number of fall-worthy pants I can wearing with my knee brace at the moment. Skirts are out of the question, because the Chub Rub from the brace would be bloody painful. I mean that in the most literal sense. Also a month of PT has not made my leg look that much more human- it’s still all withered.

(However, to end this post on a good note, PT is going really well, if not fast enough for me. I’m completely off my crutches and only using ibuprofin as pain management. This does not make Admin law any easier to take.)

So….yeah. There hasn’t been much going on here, and I see a few people checking in every day. PT continues. I no longer am using crutches, so that’s good, but walking too much, or standing too much, or sitting too much (putting pressure on my abused hamstrings) without putting my leg up is still all painful. And laying down all the time is BORING and not conducive to actually…. getting shit done.

I do have new PT torture-exercises, so there’s that.

School is crazy- the work you to death thing is true. Administrative law is like waiting for Godot, only you KNOW there’s no Godot, and no one even PRETENDING to be Godot is ever going to come…. but you’re stuck there, waiting, acting like there is a Godot, and you have to be ready for him to show up, because the ABA says you have to.

Sigh.

Mock Trial try outs start up this weekend with an advocacy workshop. I don’t really have TIME for an advocacy workshop this weekend, but I really want to do mock trial, which will keep me off the streets and busy until I go back to tae kwon do. So we do what we must.

No, really, it does. Like a lot.

If you go over to my flickr (link over on the right) there’s a picture of my thighs, and the difference in muscle definition is kind of incredibly- the left one is indented. I don’t know how much of that is a direct result of the surgery and how much is a result of gimping around for two and a half months.

Anyway, it’s pathetic. And rehab from ACL repair is time consuming. At this point PT consists of leg lifts, heel slides, heel slides and then pulling the knee to my chest, stretching….it’s exhausting, dude.

And just to prove the data point that physical therapists as sadists (and they are), he showed me the heel slide hen life the leg thing, and had me do ten, and then said “Good. Now do 30 more.”

….

Muscle fatigue for the this-had-better-damn-well-work. (I know it will, I’m just grumping)

So the first couple weeks are really dull, but things are going apace. I’m down to one crutch and using it only when leaving the house for several hours, and not using the brace when I’m home at all. So there’s that. Most of the scars are going to be hardly noticable, except the two inch one across the top of my shin.

(also, my physical therapist is really really hot, I’m just saying)

So I am also going to be covering my knee rehab, and (eventually) my training for my black belt test. Which means I should tell the whole story.

My knee and I haven’t been on good terms for a long time. When I started tae kwon do as an adult in the fall of 2008, I sprained the knee not long before my yellow stripe test on a hopping roundhouse kick (which I then gritted my teeth through, took the test, and then took a month off). MRI showed that I had a cranky IT band, and a miniscule (1-2 mm) tear in the ACL. Barry, my wonderful muscular therapist (at Muscular Solutions who is AWESOME) was of the opinion that the ACL would go at some point if I insisted on sticking with the taekwondo.

I did, and sure enough, it did. I was working on Choong Moo, the red belt form. In that form is a 360 jump spin, which I’ve been having trouble with. I don’t really get enough height on jumps, so I decided to try jumping and then pulling my knees up to my chest. And completely fucked up the landing. My knee crunched and POPPED really loud and it hurt like a bitch.

So they hauled me off to the side with some ice and continued on with the rest of the class, where I made some suggestions to people working on their forms (….what else was I going to do?) I managed to hobble home (the neat thing about ACL injuries is they don’t hurt much until the next day), made some contingency plans because I was leaving for London the next day, and that was that.

So I got back, had Barry check me out, he said “You tore your ACL!” went to the ortho, who said “Yup, sure looks like a torn ACL to me!” and sent me off for an MRI, and then I scheduled the surgery. My surgeon is DR. Lars Richardson, at Meeks and Zilberfaub, and I liked him very much. He speaks my language.

So given that this was my first surgery, and I would be more or less pathetically helpless, my parents came out from Minnesota. I was told to be at the hospital at 5:30 am, two hours before my surgery, and we got there at 5:35, and no one was there until 6.

I really can’t say enough good things about the team at Beth Israel’s Shapiro Surgery center. I was really scared, and also really not awake, and hadn’t put my contacts in, which is internal code for “I’m not taking this day seriously.” They were professional, and really nice, and made sure I had warmed blankets.

I got changed into the hospital gown and the first nurse came by and asked what we were doing and set up the checklist of things I needed to have done. Anethesiologist (who I swear, looked like she wouldn’t be allowed to buy beer) came by and put in the IV (which Mama Red poitned out I hadn’t had one since I was five) and looked down my throat, and then her supervisor came by and bluntly taked about the tube they were gonna put down my throat (which I knew about, because a) I watch Grey’s Anatomy and b) I read up on general anethesia before I went in) and then I had to sign the consent form.

Dr. Richardson came by, and signed my left knee so they wouldn’t operate on the wrong one (I’d been considering writing “THIS IS THE WRONG KNEE” on my right leg) and assured me and my parents that he could do the surgery paperwork in his sleep and that he does 100 ACL reconstructions a year, so it would be fine. And then I officially picked my graft. I went with the hamstring, instead of the much more D-Movie plot worthy cadaver graft.

I picked the hamstring graft because they have a slightly lower failure rate, and that’s what he recommends for his professional athlete patients, (Did I mention he does knees for the Boston Bruins?) even though the healing is a bit more painful. There were a couple of days I regretted that decision, because you use your hamstrings for EVERYTHING. But that healed up pretty fast.

So they gave me a shot of something in my IV (As I have woken up enough to ask questions) and take away my glasses and wheel me into the OR. I remember going into the OR, and I remember there was some conversation there, but I don’t remember what it was. The next thing I know I’m being wheeled into recovery. My leg HURT and felt VERY swollen. I didn’t have my glasses and I was pretty disoriented.

At some point fairly quickly they asked if it hurt, and I said yes, and they gave me something intense in the IV, and asked how painful it was on the 1-10 pain scale. I said I couldn’t really quantify it (I think the pain scale is not that useful- if 10 is the worst pain I can imagine, well, I have a pretty damn good imagination. Also I was not all THERE). So it hurt, and they brought some percoset, and I said “NO NO NO please not percoset, I don’t like it it makes my heart race and that’s scary.” The nurse said “Okay, well, that’s bad, and that counts as a drug allergy. So you should tell people about that.” Then they got the vicodin (I remember a bunch of stuff about changing the orders for the vicodin) and that was nice.

Then a guy came over to put on my brace, which is in many parts and gets assembled on the leg. And at some point he was fussing and I was like “OH MY GOD AREN’T YOU DONE YET” and they had an oxygen mask on my face and all the wires and everything. They took away the oxygen mask and then the nurse said “And do you have any drug allergies?” and I said “OH I KNOW THIS ONE IT IS PERCOSET” and she said “Good girl!” and let me have a drink of water.

So then they notice that my oxygen stat was down around 90, when it needed to be more like 94 before they’d take me into recovery 2. They put the thingies in my nose (cannula?) and said take deep breaths. Because apparently heavy pain medication makes you forget to breathe. WEIRD. Even though they gave me the vicodin like over an hour before. It did not seem like that much time. Somewhere in there Dr. Richardson came by and said everything went well.

I also hadn’t gotten my glasses back, so I finally asked “I’m really sorry to bother somebody, but I can’t see, can someone please go get my glasses?” And then they brought me into recovery 2 where my parents and my stuff, including my glasses, were waiting. I got some crackers, and then crutches, and then took a very slow, painful trek to the bathroom (with the orderly walking behind me holding my hospital gown closed and also there in case I fell over). I posted to facebook that I was out of surgery (“Out of surgery thkngs went el thank did for vicodin.”) We waited a bit more until I was discharged with instructions, and then we loaded me into the car.

Getting home was lots of fun, because even though we’d done a dry run the day before, it’s Boston. So I was sort of giving directions from the back seat. We got home, got me out of the car, and up to my apartment and to the couch, where I mostly stayed for a week. Mom and dad ran out to fill the vicodin rx, while I waited impatiently and posted to twitter whining about my lack of pain management. And also I took a nap. I took lots of naps.

I used a Continuous passive motion machine for two weeks, which wasn’t bad at all-it moved my leg, so my muscles didn’t lose all definition (just mostly- seriously it’s pathetic) and I got it up to 100 degrees flex. I start real PT tomorrow, with the goal of being able to be back at taekwondon by the end of february, and back into training for my black belt test. I’m shooting for testing in a year- fall 2011. I’ll have been out for over 8 months at that point, so there will be a lot of relearning to do.

So that’s the story of the surgery.