I have been waiting 5 days to write this post. 5 days! I wanted to write about my ACL experience for anyone else that will have to go through this surgery in the future, so that they know what the expect and to plan for. However, I was not anticipating how out of it I would be from the medication, so it has taken me a little bit to log on. I had my mother take care of me the first few days, and she wrote down every single vitamin/medication I took as well as every oil application she applied. Thank goodness, or else I would have nothing to blog about. Below is a recap of what happened the day of surgery, pre and post. I will write separate posts for days 2-5, including my first check up with the doctor.
Day of Surgery:
- Wake up at 4 am, take shower and prepare to leave by 5:30 to go to surgery center
- Do not eat any food OR drink anything, even water, past midnight. I was PARCHED when i woke up – you will just have to wait until after surgery.
- bring crutches, pillow & blanket in car for when you leave the hospital
- bring a snack to eat after you get out of surgery – i brought rice cakes, as they were pretty neutral & gluten free
- bring bag with id, insurance card, cash/check/credit card/flex spending account card
- include prescription/insurance card for person picking up prescription after surgery
- wear loose fitting shorts + loose pants (my boyfriend bought me tear-away pants – these are essential)
- removed all jewelry before leaving house
- wore glasses to surgery center – bring glasses case, do not wear contacts
Arrival at Surgery Center
- Did one last handstand in the parking lot at 6am
- Registered at front desk, filled out paperwork & paid surgery fee
- Took a few pictures while waiting to be called back: with my mom & pepper, my stuffed sloth my boyfriend surprised me with that morning
Going into Surgery:
- I was taken back and weighed, and my height was taken
- I was taken back into a room and given a gown, cap & socks to put on. I had to take everything off, but could leave my shorts/underwear on. I also had to pee in a cup for a pregnancy test, so try to drink some water or wait to pee until you get to the room.
- After changing, I put all of my clothes in a plastic bag, and the nurse put everything in a locker (she brought everything back to me after surgery)
- The nurse repeatedly asked me what leg the surgeon would be performing on, and what type of surgery he would be performing. I then had to sign papers and write it down, then initial the knee the doctor was going to operate on with a permanent marker.
- The nurse took my blood pressure, put a little thing on my finger to take my oxygen, numbed my arm and put in the needle for later
- my mom and boyfriend then came in – they couldn’t stop laughing and just HAD to take a picture:
- Someone else then came in and had my mom and boyfriend leave shortly after to administer the nerve block. This is when things got a little hazy.
- After the nerve block was administered, my mom and boyfriend came back in, and the doctor came in to say hello. I asked a few questions, and told him to be gentle on my knee. I hope he wasn’t offended.
- I was then wheeled into the surgery room. Apparently on the way in, I shouted pretty loudly, “If I die, I leave everything to Natalie, Nathan and Kyle!” (my boyfriend & siblings) My mom yelled back, “What about me??” and I said “I’ll leave you $100!” My boyfriend said the nurse didn’t look very happy about that. oops.
- In the surgery room, there were a few people moving around, and an oxygen mask was put on my face. I kept asking questions.. then the next thing I know, I was out of surgery.
- I woke up feeling nauseous, and the back of my leg hurt pretty bad. The nurse brought me water and ice, and she gave me some medicine for the nausea and pain.
- My mom was brought back, and she gave me rice cakes to eat, which helped a little bit. The nurse also brought me gluten free cinnamon crackers
- My mom applied a balance oil blend to the bottom of my feet while I was still at the hospital – this is supposed to help restore the body/nervous systems after trauma.
- My nausea was not going away, and I didn’t want the nurse to give me any more medicine, so my mom put a drop of peppermint oil under my tongue – this really helped the nausea go away.
- The nurse gave me 1 pain pill right before I left the hospital
- While I was in surgery, someone came out to give my mom the ice machine (Game ready) and explain to her how it works.
- After surgery, the doctor came out and explained to my mom everything that happened. He showed her pictures and told her a few things:
- my kneecap looked great (usually people my age/runners have a more worn-down knee cap)
- My meniscus was a clean tear – the doctor called it a “pinch and tear”
- part of my hamstring and cadaver was used to create my new ACL
- my tibia bone was soft (Not good!!!) – this is a sign of pre-arthritis
- I had my mom take a picture of me – I was really out of it.
- While my mom was getting the car, the nurse wheeled me out in the chair. I saw another guy going back and getting weighed before surgery – I yelled to him, “Don’t do it!” – but I don’t think he listened to me.
- There was a slight issue getting home – I live on the second floor of an apartment complex. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, was really out of it and my 54 year old mother was not about to carry me up the stairs. So I sat on my butt and inched my way up. Not the best way, but pretty much my only option. Here is a picture – I look like one of the 3 blind mice:
- Once I got home, my mom hooked up the ice machine to my leg – the game ready wrap was already on my leg under the brace. [Edit: My PT said to freeze small water bottles and use with a little bit of water instead of ice – this eliminates the need to constantly be changing out the ice all the time/having to store so much ice in your freezer.]
- Also – please note that I set up my living quarters the night before – this is super necessary, because I was a mess coming home. I would have slept on the floor if i didn’t have anywhere to lay down.
- Once the ice machine was set up (30 minutes on, 30 minutes off), my mom began applying oils:
- Sprayed a mix of frankincense, lavender and helichrysum on my right knee at: 11 am;2:30 pm;5:30 pm; 7:30 pm
- Diffused frankincense & flu oil blend st 12:30 pm, balance at 7:30 pm (to help kill off any germs/infections)
- on both feet: applied birch, white fir at: 1:15 pm; 3 pm; 4 pm; 7:30 pm
- on right knee – 1 drop each – marjoram, wintergreen, lavender and peppermint at 4:05 pm; 7:45 pm
- Applied stomach oil blend on stomach at 2 pm; 4:30 pm (to combat constipation from pain meds)
- Applied cypress and basil to knee (over bandage) at 1:30 pm; 4:30 pm
- Applied sports oil blend to both feet (on pain/knee pressure points) at 5:20 pm
- All oils were applied on top of bandage of left knee at 9:30 pm
- Mom did an aromatouch massage on my hands at 8:30 pm
Mom spraying oils on my bandage & boyfriend applying oils to my feet below:
- began taking 1:1 ratio of calcium and magnesium (for bones)
- Began taking multi-vitamin
- I did not want to take the antibiotic given to me, so I made one of my own: 2 drops of melaluca, oregano, thyme and flu oil blend in an empty capsule. I took this 3x day for the first 4 days, then only 1x day for the rest of the week
- I was afraid the pain medicine would make me super constipated, which is what everyone kept telling me, so I drank some natural laxative tea the first night. I am so glad I did – I was regular the entire first week and had no problems (the stomach oil blend also helped with this + I took my normal probiotic in the morning & at night on an empty stomach)
- My nerve block began to wear off the first night – so I upped the pain medicine to 2 every 4 hours. This made me SUPER nauseous, I had trouble sleeping and my mouth was extremely dry. The first night I woke up every 2-4 hours to take the medicine, and haven’t stopped since. The pain was the worst on the second and third day. However, I felt like there was a break in the swelling, which went down on the third day finally. After the 5th day, I am down to 1 pain pill every 2-5 hours.
The biggest/best advice I would give to anyone on their first day from ACL surgery is this:
- Ice and elevate, ice and elevate, ICE AND ELEVATE (above your heart) as directed by the doctor
- Elevate your leg, with pillows under your heel, NOT your knee – gravity will pull down your knee to straighten it. This is KEY to your recovery – if you do not get your leg straightened as much as possible the first few days, you will spend the next few months trying to do this. It will be uncomfortable, it will hurt – but it is only for a few days that you will have to do this. After I was done icing, I would give my leg a break and not elevate it for a little bit. But once the ice machine went back on, up went my leg.
- Keep up on your pain medicine – you will immediately regret missing taking it. And make sure you eat something before taking it!!!
- As soon as you can, start flexing your quad (do quad squeezes) + move your ankle around
- have everything set up the night before surgery
- Do not be afraid to ask for help! Have your mom/significant other stay and take care of you the first few days – I honestly don’t know what I would have done if my mother had not been there to help me
I hope this is helpful – having lots of friends and family to help out was super critical in my recovery. I never complained once, even when the pain was bad. Yes, I cried a few times, but all I ever thought about was how grateful I am to have a new ACL. Positive thoughts help speed up recovery – so be as upbeat as possible, no matter what. I love the quote below by Eckhart Tolle – I truly believe this is happening in my life for a reason, and I can already see so many amazing things coming out of this experience. The pain is temporary and the recover may take a while, but I am truly growing in my relationships, trust, etc and and am so grateful for everything that is happening at this exact moment.
Lots of edible arrangements, gift baskets and special gifts from friends, family and coworkers made me feel so special!
The information I have provided is not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice. This is information that I have gathered on my own through a variety of sources, and if you decide to use/apply any of the ideas from my site, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. This information is not meant to diagnose or to treat any medical condition. Please consult with your primary care physician holistic doctor to diagnose/advise of any medical condition if you have any questions. I am not liable for any damages or negative consequences resulting from any action by any persons reading or following the information on this site.