Back on the saddle

Earlier in the week I was cleared to ride my bike and this morning I finally seized the opportunity and went out for my first post surgery ride. Just four and a half weeks ago I had arthroscopic surgery, notchplasty, and a hardware removal procedure preformed on my right knee and this morning I was riding my bike on the streets. It was amazing.

Being a new cyclist, I am still a bit weary of the road and the drivers that zoom by me. I am still learning cycling etiquette, and the feel of my bike. Despite being a novice cyclist, I am finding that each and every ride I go on I have a new sense of confidence on the bike.

This morning, I did a fun and easy 9.05 miles on my bike.  There were some small rolling hills and one gigantic overpass that seemed like it would never end. However, I steadfastly kept pedaling and eventually make it to the top. I got stopped by, what seemed to be, the longest train ever, coincidentally while I was on Railroad Road. On my way back home, I rode down the above mentioned overpass hill and hit 27.1 miles per hour before slowing it down a bit. It was such an exhilarating rush going that fast, but I had to slow down. Maybe in a few months I will be much more comfortable at speeds like that.

Overall, it was a great ride. I rode 9.05 miles and averaged 13.6 miles per hour with my fastest speed topping out at 27.1 mph for a brief moment.

Uppin’ the ante in PT

Rehabilitation in physical therapy is going better than
expected so far. I am amazed at all that I can do, and I even feel like my
right quad is getting stronger by the day. My therapist even gave me more
exercises to do. Now, I also do the leg press, leg extension, hamstring curl,
and butt kick machines at therapy each visit. When those are combined with my dead
lifts, calf raises, squats, bird dips, and leg lifts, and 20 minute bike ride
warm up (that I really push myself on), physical therapy is more of an actual
gym session. I love it! I’ve even upped some of the weight resistance on those
machines since I started doing them last week.

While I said that I am feeling stronger, my right leg is
still noticeably smaller than my left leg and does not have as much muscle
definition, but that is more than a year of atrophy, so it will take some time
to get back to normal.

In the meantime, I have been looking at some bike tours in
the area. I am cleared to ride my road bike and I really miss the race
atmosphere that accompanied marathon running. I found one bike tour in San Diego in August that
looks especially promising. It is a 26 mile bike ride and it looks fabulous. I
really want to do it, and I hope it is my future. Eventually, I would love to
do a century ride, but just like with running, I’ve got to start small.

Finally some good news

Yesterday, I had two follow-up appointments. I had one with my surgeon and one with my primary care doctor and my appointment with my surgeon couldn’t have gone better. He evaluated my knee and said that it was looking good. He cleared me to ride my bike and to do more stuff at the gym. I am so excited. I feel like I’ve been waiting for a good appointment forever, well, at least since February of 2010. The only negative thing about my appointment is something that I am already coping with….no running. Even though I’ve already accepted my no running fate, my doctor thought he needed to emphasize that for me. He said that pretty soon my knee will feel like running and that I cannot do it. He warned me that if I run, I will most likely need a knee replacement surgery in 15 years. While I loved running and it was such a big part of my life, I have to say no to it. My overall health is so much more important to me than running. Just the thought of a knee replacement at the age of 42 is enough to keep me away. Yes, I miss it terribly, but life moves on and there are more exciting things I can do. For one, I plan on pumping up my bike tires and riding my bike a lot more now. I am also looking into outfitting my bike with a clipless pedal system.

I feel like it is about time that I finally get good news at a doctors appointment.

Physical therapy

Today was my first day of physical therapy. It took quite a
while for it to be approved through insurance and of course there were a couple
snags throughout the approval process, but I am glad to be in PT and
rehabilitating my knee.

As usual, my first therapy session began with an assessment
by the therapist. He was impressed with my range of motion and knowledge of the
medical terminology regarding my knee’s history. However, I do not believe he
was impressed with the strength of my right leg. To be honest, atrophy took a
pretty big toll on my right quad, hamstring, and calf. My right leg must be at
least an inch and a half or two inches smaller than my left leg.

My first physical therapy session of 2011 started off with
the anticipated warm-up on the bike, but this exercise bike was like no other
one I had ever ridden before. This bike had a monitor in front of it that
displayed a bike path in scenic ocean bluff setting. The handle bars on this
bike turned and it was like a simulation game. After the warm-up, I was
pleasantly surprised with some exercises that I did not think I would be ready
for. I did half squats on discs,
these things called bird dips (oh those really did a number on my glutes and
hamstrings), dead lifts with a 20lb bar,
an exercise called the clam, and lateral leg lifts. I was not anticipating the
squats or the dead lifts and it was pretty exciting to jump right into those
exercises this soon after surgery. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get my
right leg’s strength back to where it needs to be.

Surgery is over

THE SURGERY

I had my surgery 10 days ago and so far things have been going great. Compared to my previous knee surgeries, which have all been some sort of ACL reconstruction surgeries, arthroscopic surgery is a walk in the park!

Zac and I arrived at the hospital and they shortly took me back. I got dressed in the ever-so-fashionable hospital gown that was ten sizes too large and was hooked up to an IV. It was all pretty standard, but I remember having the nicest nurses. They were sweet and funny ladies.

My surgeon and anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and ask me questions. While talking with the anesthesiologist, I gave him to okay to give me the femoral nerve block, which is administered through a long needle in my groin region. This, he told me, would numb my entire leg and take away all of the pain. While on the way to the OR, the anesthesiologist gave me some sedative that I forgot the name of and everything from there is a blur. Luckily, I don’t even remember the nerve block.

Upon waking up from anesthesia, I recall being the most coherent and feeling the best that I ever had after surgery. I was upbeat, happy and chipper. I chatted with my nurse and then he wheeled me to recovery where Zac was able to join me.

Several minutes later, the doctor came in and spoke to us. He said that the surgery went well, but that my knee wasn’t in good shape. I asked him if he would have performed the osteotomy had the insurance company approved it, and he replied, “yes.” The doctor went on to say that I only had about two percent of my medial meniscus remaining, which was shredded. He had to clean it up, which left me with only about one percent. Additionally, he said he started to see some wear on my articular cartilage because of the lack of meniscus. (This is what the osteotomy would have helped. It would have prevented further damage to this cartilage and possibly would have saved me from experiencing arthritis in the future). Furthermore, he told me that the bad placement of my ACL from my previous surgery was in such a bad spot, that the impingement actually rubbed so much that it caused microscopic tears in the ACL graft. However, he was able to shave down the area in my knee causing the impingement and he cleaned it up to be the best that it can.

RECOVERY

I was walking a couple days after surgery. I still experience some stiffness and pressure caused by the swelling, but I think I am doing unbelievably well. I have a request in to start physical therapy, and I should be starting that hopefully next week. Surprisingly, the part of surgery that was the most painful so far was the area where I received the femoral block. For a few days after surgery, my groin was in pain and I could painfully feel the line where the long needle travelled. It doesn’t hurt anymore though.

Surgery is today

Today is surgery day. It is just before 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday and Zac and I are gearing up for our drive to the hospital. I think I am more excited than nervous for this surgery because I have hope that this will all FINALLY be over after this procedure, and that I will also be able to get on with my life without pain. I’m looking forward to recovering and working out again. I am looking forward to riding my bike. I’m having the arthroscopy and a notchplasty. The notchplasty is where they will shave down some of my bone where the ACL impingement is catching and the scope is also going to remove the screw that is sticking out of my tibia that I can feel. Eeeww! Bye bye screw!

Still waiting

I’m still waiting for the new insurance company to approve my surgery, which was scheduled for last Wednesday. The procedure was previously approved, however the insurance company changes and now I am the one who suffers because of the terrible process that is worker’s comp. I am beginning to worry that if I need the osteotomy, I will not be able to go back to work when school starts up. School starts the beginning of August. Yikes. Hopefully this process speeds up some time soon.