ACL Post-Surgery: Day 1


The Complete ACL Surgery Recovery GuideFor more information with a detailed timeline, exercises for pre- and post-op, and yoga videos, check out The Complete ACL Surgery Recovery Guide here!


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:

  • 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 bag with id, insurance card, cash/check/credit card/flex spending account card
  • wear loose fitting shorts + loose pants (my boyfriend bought me tear-away pants – these are essential)

Arrival at Surgery Center

  • Did one last handstand in the parking lot at 6am

Handstand

  • Registered at front desk, filled out paperwork & paid surgery fee

PreSurgery with mom

Going into Surgery:

  • 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 wait to pee until you get to the room.
  • 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.
  • my mom and boyfriend then came in – they couldn’t stop laughing and just HAD to take a picture:

Pre Surgery ACL

  • 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.
  • I was then wheeled into the surgery room.
  • 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.

Post-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 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
  • After surgery, the doctor came out and explained to my mom everything that happened. He showed her pictures and told her a few things:
  1. my kneecap looked great (usually people my age/runners have a more worn-down knee cap)
  2. My meniscus was a clean tear – the doctor called it a “pinch and tear”
  3. part of my hamstring and cadaver was used to create my new ACL
  4. my tibia bone was soft (Not good!!!) – this is a sign of pre-arthritis

Meniscus Pictures   ACL Pictures

  • I had my mom take a picture of me – I was really out of it.

postSurgery ACL


Arriving home

  • 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:

PostSurgery_ComingUpStairs

  • 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.

couch prep

  • Once the ice machine was set up (30 minutes on, 30 minutes off), my mom began applying oils:
  1. Sprayed a mix of frankincense, lavender and helichrysum on my right knee at: 11 am;2:30 pm;5:30 pm; 7:30 pm
  2. Diffused frankincense & flu oil blend st 12:30 pm, balance at 7:30 pm (to help kill off any germs/infections)
  3. on both feet: applied birch, white fir  at: 1:15 pm; 3 pm; 4 pm; 7:30 pm
  4. on right knee – 1 drop each – marjoram, wintergreen, lavender and peppermint at 4:05 pm; 7:45 pm
  5. Applied stomach oil blend on stomach at 2 pm; 4:30 pm (to combat constipation from pain meds)
  6. Applied cypress and basil to knee (over bandage) at 1:30 pm; 4:30 pm
  7. Applied sports oil blend to both feet (on pain/knee pressure points) at 5:20 pm
  8. All oils were applied on top of bandage of left knee at 9:30 pm
  9. 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:

KneeSurgery_Oils   PostSurgery_Oils

  • 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!
  • 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!!!
  • 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.

Eckhart Tolle

Lots of edible arrangements, gift baskets and special gifts from friends, family and coworkers made me feel so special!

EdibleArrangement_1    EdibleArrangement_2

Gifts_1   AntiInflammatory_Basket

PLEASE NOTE:

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.

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29 Replies to “ACL Post-Surgery: Day 1”

  1. This whole thing is gold! I love it.
    I just had my ACL surgery yesterday using only the cadaver.
    Second story homes are the worst but I used the same technique you did hahah (sit and scoot).
    Thank You for this, I will definitely be trying the oils!

  2. Hi Nina, Thank you so much for sharing your ACL journey. I’m about to have mine this Friday and am very nervous about which grafting to choose from (my surgeon is very neural and has no preference) and would like to ask for your opinion.

    I see that you did hamstring and (cadaver?). Why that choice?
    I have consistently came across reports saying hamstrings (esp in women) tend to weaken especially if there’s a muscle imbalance between quads, and for knee bone tendon there is report of knee pain. However many active or athletic patients go with the knee-bone. What do you think?

    Thanks, I hope you have a chance to read this!

    Sally

    1. Hi Sally! It really depends… My surgeon chose hamstring & cadaver for me, and I trusted him. He has done countless ACL surgeries in the US & outside the US, has participated in many studies on ACL recovery, and is very knowledgeable about his work. I think it was my only option, but I didn’t really ask because with all of the research I did, I agreed with the method. He would have used my hamstring only, but since I’m a bit smaller, he didn’t want to take too much of the muscle. So, he did about half hammy & half cadaver. From what I found, full cadaver isn’t as strong, and your body has a higher chance of rejecting it (which actually doesn’t happen that often). Hamstring is your own tissue, so your body will accept it. My surgeon also said that after about 1.5 years, the new tissue used will literally turn into ACL tissue! Pretty cool how the body works. As for the patellar tendon, I had so many people tell me they have issues kneeling/pain in the front of their knee after the surgery, so I didn’t even want to chance that happening. After my surgery, I would say the only issues I have had are scar tissue around the hamstring, and IT band issues. Scar tissue can be worked on & broken up over time by a masseuse/ PT, and my IT band issue was resolved with dry needling by my acupuncturist. If you are afraid of having an imbalance in strength, I don’t really think that was even an issue for me. Actually, during my PT, my left hamstring/quad ended up becoming stronger than my non-surgery leg because of all the physical therapy I did! My surgeon also mentioned that mainly athletes go with the patellar – like professional/college athletes, who are pretty serious about their sport. I am pretty active, but not an olympic athlete or anything… so I think the hamstring worked out perfectly for me.
      I hope that helps – it I ultimately up to you and what you feel comfortable with! If you have any more questions, please let me know! If not, best of luck!

      1. Hi Nina, I just saw your response. Sorry I didn’t realise you had posted! Thank you so much for your detailed answer. I actually had my surgery about 5 weeks ago now and recovering with a Patellar Graft. My surgeon operated with 80-90% Your documentation of ACL is so helpful and enjoyable to read – Thank you! I am so happy for your successful recovery! I look forward reading your posts 1-2 months!

  3. I greatly appreciate you blogging your experience! I am having ACL & Meniscus surgery in April. A few questions…
    How long were you limited to basically sitting/laying/bed rest?
    How long before you could drive? thanks!

    1. Hi Leigh! Sorry to hear about your surgery… I wasn’t really limited to bed rest, although I would recommend resting as much as possible the first week or 2. The first 2-3 days I really only got up to go to the bathroom, do my PT exercises and change out ice in the ice machine. I could walk around on crutches but tired easily. I started going to PT after 1-1.5 weeks… I think I was driving myself around week 2. That’s the point I was able to bend my knee enough to sit in the drivers seat! The surgery was on my left knee, so I was able to start driving sooner than if it was my right. I worked from home, laying on the couch, 1 week after my surgery. Was physically back at work after 2.5 weeks. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. Hello! I am so glad you created this ACL addition to your blog! I injured my ACL skiing and have a surgery coming up in a few days. I am a nurse, so I won’t be able to go back to work for at least 4-6 weeks (hopefully 4). My biggest concerns are scarring, range of motion, and being able to run/ski/TRX and do yoga again. But, I feel better reading your blog, and seeing the minimal scarring, great attitude and amazing recovery you have had. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience =)

    1. Hi christy!! I am sorry to hear about your accident, ACL tears are the worst!! I think keeping a positive attitude the entire recovery is key… And don’t be afraid to push yourself in PT 🙂 Im glad I could help! If there is anything you have questions on that I didn’t talk about here, let me know and I can try to help as much as I can. Best of luck in your surgery and recovery, you will do great!

  5. Thank you very much for your blog. This was as close to real as I could imagine. From the night before surgery to post-op you helped me prep accordingly. Bonus for me was the ground level living cuz I was feeling nauseaus, drowsy and tons of discomfort. After a few steps in extreme winter cold (-30 windchill) my companion ended up picking me up get us inside the house of warmth (lol). Again thank you for tour notes and tips and for being an inspiration.

  6. Thank you so much for writing this blog! It’s really hard to find real peoples perspectives and opinions on acl surgery. I just had my surgery this morning. I also live on the second story of my apartment building and thought of you the whole time I was scooting my fanny up the stairs, and all the way to my couch!! I will be referencing your blog as I begin my journey to healing!

    1. Hi christina!! I’m so glad my blog is helpful, thats exactly why i documented my journey 🙂 living on the second floor made things a little more difficult, but it was also cool to see the progression of being able to walk down the stairs again as i got stronger. Best of luck on your healing! If you have any questions, please let me know!

  7. I wished I saw this blog prior from my ACL surgery. I am 10 days post op and it was excruciating pain. Thank god I had pain meds, but wow I was super constipated and it was painful. Im not sure if you had that experience. Also, I had an autograft done using my patella tendon, so I think that’s why I am in a lot pain. Did you have an allograft or auto? Hope you had a full recovery

    1. Hi Dora!! I totally understand the pain… But 10 days out, that’s when it starts to go away! I actually drank gentle laxative tea a day after my surgery, and my mother put essential oils on my stomach so I never had those kind of issues!! And I had part cadaver, part hamstring taken for my acl. I hear patellar tendon is the strongest to use! A lot of my pain was around my hamstring. No worries, everything seriously gets better after the 10-14 day mark. Pain is not as bad and you have PT to look forward to! I am 8 months post op now and feel pretty great. I documented how I felt about my recovery week by week if you want to check out how I felt around the 2 week mark (under ACL in the navigation). Best of luck on your recovery!!

      1. Okay so I read the majority of your ACL recovery and you have inspired me and I’m motivated and ready for my PT session. Do you feel like Yoga has helped you with your recovery? I just went to to first post op follow-up appointment to see my surgeon yesterday and basically everything is looking good. He wants me to be off crutches in 7 days and I’m so stoked, but I can’t even imagine putting weight on my leg right now because I still have pain in my knee. I was told that someone who does cadaver or hamstring graft tends to recover faster as oppose to the patellar tendon. Have you heard of that? Thank you for sharing your journey. I want to compare my journey with yours, even though I know everyone has a different experience, but I just need that push.

        1. Hi! Yes, yoga has really really helped! I started going about 1.5 months after my surgery. I did bikram because the heat really loosened up my knee and took away the swelling. I couldn’t most of the poses, but it really strengthened my balance and improved my flexibility. That’s awesome you will be off crutches soon!! It seems like it would take a while to walk again, but if you do your PT exercises religiously, your leg will be strong enough to walk sooner than you think. I haven’t heard about the patellar tendon taking longer.. I feel like whether you take that or your hamstring, you still have a little more recovery time that needs to take place. Maybe it just seems more painful because it’s on the front of your knee? I would ask all the questions in regards to pain when you see your PT or surgeon – they know what’s normal and not!

  8. Thank you posting this. I am getting surgery the 24th of March, and I am having my fiance read this so he can be really to take care of me. I am so nervous, I am scared of the pain, I am afraid to go under, and I can`t stop thinking about it. I am getting surgery because I miss playing soccer. I hope that all goes well and fast !! Once again thank you for posting

    1. Karina! I was just as nervous as you are… After I had the surgery, I realize I didn’t have to be. Your surgeon will take good care of you… And as for the pain, it is not unbearable – you will be given pain medicine + a nerve block, so don’t worry! The first few days are probably the worst for pain… I stopped taking my pain meds after 5-7 days, and I started feeling way better at about week 2. You will be so happy you got the surgery! Just stay positive! I am so glad that that I could help by posting this… If you have any questions, I am more than willing to help answer. Good luck!

  9. This blog post will surely be a top searched one, because of all the useful and personal info in it – thank you! My husband had MCL/ACL surgery and it was no walk in the park (no pun intended :-). I wish you a speedy recovery.

      1. Hey so nice to see this post it gives me some positive thinking about going ahead for the surgery. I had been delaying the surgery past 2 years ! And now when I am married and it’s just been 4 months of our marriage, I am so confused to take up the surgery since I live alone with my husband I don’t have my parents to help me here. I am so worried if this will really affect my relationship with my husband because he should take care of me and he can’t go anywr since I will be dependent on him.. there are lot of things running in my mind . Can some one advice me like how do I handle this and how many days wil it take to stand and walk after the surgery..

        1. Hi ragz!
          I am sorry to hear about your knee.. it’s always a tough decision to do the surgery, and even harder to schedule it for a time that is convenient! If you are doing the surgery, I would recommend doing it on a friday or saturday… that way, your husband will be able to help you the first few days (or schedule it on the days he has off work). My mom took care of me the first few days because my boyfriend was actually out of town – when he got back, he was able to help before and after work. As for being dependent – you will be able to walk on crutches and go to the bathroom by yourself on the first or second day. you will mainly be laying on a couch icing the first few days, so as long as you have water and food nearby, it shouldn’t be too difficult to take care of you! I was walking without crutches around week 1.5/2, so it shouldn’t be too long before you can walk. Sitting down with your husband and communicating your worries and setting up a schedule would help make the process a lot easier. Best of luck!

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