Back in the saddle, or should I say Paddle
Regular readers to this blog will know that I have been off the water for the last few months after a wicked Ski injury in mid January. Not that I haven’t had time to put my thoughts into words, in-fact time has been one thing Ive had in abundance but I wanted to wait until it felt like I was at a milestone like doing some east paddling before I did. Since I hit that milestone last week it is now time to walk you through what happened and whats next.
So lets go back a few months, as a reminder. After a long period of waiting to find out what was wrong with my knee it turned out that I had a torn ACL, serious MCL sprain and a Lateral Meniscal tear. So my course of treatment was set to be 2 separate surgeries.
Surgery number one, MCL surgery. The surgeon would open up my knee with a small hole, and basically pull the ligament to the tightness it as meant to be originally and reattach it to the bone using a type of surgical staple that screws directly into the bone. Surgery was successful and after a night hanging out in the hospital watching movies on my laptop I got let out with crutches and a wicked size knee brace.
Photo: A before and after from Surgery one. And a wicked post-op selfie!
The first two weeks after this surgery were by far the worst. I was ‘touch weight bearing’ which meant that I was using crutches to get around and although I could put my operated leg on the ground I was only supposed to put 10% of my weight on it. Add to that the strange rushing blood feeling every time I moved around and a medium amount of pain in the first couple of days and it all equaled one fairly unhappy Seth. But not to be beaten by just one surgery I kept my chin up and pursued the exercises recommended by the Physiotherapist. After a few weeks I was moving around again, still using crutches but in much less pain so all in all, getting much happier. I had the stitches removed, been to check ups with the surgeon and physio appointments in the mean time and was continuing to build myself up to having a good strong leg before surgery number two.
Now imagine an 80’s montage of six weeks of watching Netflix, doing the exercises from the physio, staring out the window, watching kayak movies on the internet and endlessly staring at my knee. and of course, eating bacon.
Above: Sleeping in the brace is definitely the worst part
Above: Before and after the stitches were removed
Below: Still a swollen knee
Six weeks to the day after surgery number one. In that six weeks my leg had gotten noticeably smaller, than my good leg. It is beginning to dawn on me why it takes such a long time to fully recover from knee injuries and I was back in hospital getting prepped for surgery number two which would be an ACL reconstruction. A slightly more complicated procedure, the surgeon would be harvesting a small bit of hamstring from my good leg (Right leg) and using it as a graft which he would then insert into where my ACL had been originally in my left knee. Apparently the hamstring eventually grows back and you don’t need it all anyway. This graft would be screwed into the bone at either end and over time the ligament would grow back around it. Over time it will regain strength but it will never quite the same because it doesn’t connect to the nerves or send messages back to the brain in the same way.
Pre-op the surgeon put a little reminder on my leg
The post-op period after Surgery number two was nowhere near as fun or easy as surgery number one. I suspect I was out for more time which made a difference. Post op number one was a breeze and I felt almost no side affects to the general anesthetic but post op number two was hard. For hours I felt sleepy, groggy, almost drunk. Now that I could handle no problem but later on that evening it all unraveled a bit and I felt sick for hours, puked multiple times got super hot and sweaty and in general was not loving life. This evened out by the morning luckily. And it was a good thing too because right after breakfast I was whisked in for an X-ray, then back for an hour and half on a Continual Passive Movement machine (CPM). Basically this machine bent my leg from straight to 90 degrees and back again repeatedly. It should really be called the extra slow CPM because it is the slowest process ever.
The period right after this surgery actually wasn’t quite as bad, partly because I knew what to expect and was getting super agile on crutches. Partly because it didn’t hurt as much. The one big negative that for a few days both legs were substantially weakened which sucked, but luckily my mum and my sister were super amazing about helping me out the rest of my family were popping round with fruit and helping out which was nice. I managed to work my way off crutches in about a week and having been getting better in leaps and bounds ever since. The physio was a little concerned I might be getting better too fast, but in the last week or two I have been battling with a strained hamstring in my right leg which has been slowing me down enough to keep the physio happy that I am not doing too much.
Hardly any scars from the second Op.
Two weeks ago when I was nearing the one month post op mark I managed to get out in a boat on the river thanks to my friends at Whitewater The Canoe Centre. I ripped a touring boat around the Thames and with enough room for my leg to make getting in and out fairly easy I went out a bunch more times the subsequent week. Then this week I put my big boy pants on and got my slalom boat out for some gentle whitewater paddling. I was nervous about not having good edge control but in actual fact it felt great. Although it is definitely still a little weaker and I wouldn’t be able to spend a whole day in my boat yet I finally feel like I am on the right path to getting my life back.
Above: Finally good to be back on the water, and it feels GREAT
Below: Most recent knee bend. Flexibility improving vastly
Next goals for the next few weeks to come:
Looks like things are about to get BUSY!
Oh and I was famous on Instagram for a day thanks to a sweet photo of me taken by John Rathwell in Mexico was published on the Outside Magazine Instgram. SWEET!
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