I had knee surgery on November 15th. I am almost 3 months out. I was told it was a 6-month recovery and that if I wanted to run again, it was best to know I wouldn’t even get a green light until at least that timeframe. A lot of people have asked me why it’s going to take so long to recover. I didn’t have a soft tissue repair like an ACL or meniscus; actually I would have preferred one of those over my procedure. But I am glad I had this done because my doc said I “really needed it” when I woke up from surgery.
What I had done was a microfracture procedure to essentially fill in the cartilage potholes in my knee. I had two large holes in my cartilage – one under my knee cap and one on my femur. The surgeon filled those holes up and smoothed them out with this procedure and also cleaned it out – I had a lot of cartilage and bone fragments floating around.
If you’re a little squeamish, you may not want to look at the following pictures. But you will totally understand what I’m talking about when I say I was in a lot of pain. Essentially because I was experiencing what I like to call “arthritis on steroids.”
This is the underside of my kneecap. See the fringe hanging down? That’s NOT normal. Like, AT ALL. It should be smooth and clean.
After cleaning it out and smoothing out the surfaces, he went to work on filling my potholes. Using this steel device, he literally poked holes in my bones, making them bleed. This was so that scar tissue would form inside the holes and help fill them. Isn’t that the most disgusting thing you’ve ever seen? And who knew that bones can bleed?
It’s kinda freaky isn’t it? Those are some big holes. My bones rubbing on top of each other was causing pain for awhile. It wasn’t until one of the cartilage pieces fell off and got caught, that I couldn’t bend my knee all the way and it caused me a shit ton of pain. That’s when I went in for the MRI. As you can tell, I definitely needed the surgery. To clean it all up, he inserted cadaver cartilage in the holes and smoothed them out.
So why am I explaining all this? Well, because I kinda needed to hear it again myself. I have gotten frustrated again (this recovery thing is a rollercoaster). It’s hard to be sidelined. It’s hard to be told that “yes, you can bike, but with no resistance.” Do you know how hard it is to hear that? The purpose is just to go through the motion, there is no physical or cardiac benefit to me biking at all. I can lift upper body and do abs, yes, but it’s nice to have something else to do – to be working towards. For me, anyway.
I am not cleared to swim. I am not cleared to do the elliptical. I cannot do yoga in case I twist or pivot my knee in a weird way. I can’t even get on my knees with cushioning underneath, much less a regular floor. All my lower body exercises are strictly PT exercises with the exception of deadlifts (which are half back work anyway). My wall sits cannot go further than 45 degrees. I definitely feel restricted, even though I know I can still do SOME things.
So at therapy today I wanted to get some info. Find out what else I could be doing to get back. We were talking about my progress and everything looked good. I point blank asked my PT, “I need a goal, give me a goal to work towards.” He kinda laughed and looked me right in the eye and said, “your goal right now is to not mess this surgery up.”
I respect this man and trust him with my life. He knows exactly how to handle me, too. He pushes me, but doesn’t let me push back. He says it like it is without being condescending. He knows his shit. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes, so of course I’ll listen to him 😉
In all seriousness, though, I knew exactly what he meant. He has told me this before in other ways. He hasn’t been pushing me to do too much too fast. He would rather be very conservative because I get this one chance. My surgery is like a long-term bandaid. If I mess it up, there’s no re-attaching it. I’m looking at knee replacement next.
So in this moment today, I was brought back to the reality of taking it easy – which goes against everything I have in me. My husband, Jim, had told me the same thing last night, but with different words. Of course, as a huge Patriots fan, he had to quote Bill Belichick 🙂 And if you don’t know who he is, then I’m sorry you must live under a rock.
“Just do your job, Brooke.”
Thanks, Jim. I was thinking he would say something a little more profound. But it really is that simple. Belichick’s winning formula is nothing more than this. He asks his players and staff to do one thing and one thing only – their jobs. Whatever that job may be. Not “half ass” your job or “kinda” do your job. Basically, “do your fucking job.” Do it 100% and the outcome will be as you want it to be.
So that’s just exactly what I am going to do for 3 more weeks. I see my surgeon again at that point and hopefully he will let me progress further in my PT. But until then, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to take stupid risks and mess this surgery up. I’m going to be smart. I’m going to do my PT with 100% effort every day and push myself as best I can.
Is there something in your life you need to attack? Need to psych yourself up for? Something that won’t be easy or fun necessarily, but that needs to be done? Then hopefully this will help you get fired up to go do it. Just shut up about it, quit complaining, and go do your job.