This morning, third day post left ACL (anterior cruciate ligament of knee) reconstruction I limped towards my Mm, clutching a bag of frozen peas in one hand, triumphantly waving a crutch in my other hand. “See Mum, no hands”.
This experience is the flip side of adventure. Many of you know that I love to travel. When I’m travelling, I love to explore new territory on foot. I’ve walked up to 30000 steps a day on holidays. And loved it. Along city streets and alley ways, up mountains, along the coast and in National Parks.
On my most recent adventure I was 2000m above sea level in the Remarkables Ski resort, just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand. Jeff, I and our three adult children were celebrating his 60 birthday. The sun was shining, the slopes were in good condition and not crowded. Perfect ski conditions. Then disaster struck. I found myself in a physically and mentally awkward position, and in attempting to manoeuvre myself out I injured my knee. I knew instantly it wasn’t minor. Attempting to put weight on it, my knee buckled, and I slid two thirds of the way down a steep slope. I shuffled the remaining distance on my bottom. Hitchhiking a ride on a ski patrol snow mobile to make it back to base was not how I had planned to get down the mountain.
Fast forward nine weeks. I’ve had my second ever stay in a hospital. I’ve been reminded how important it is to be an active navigator through the health care system, rather than a passive passenger. My mantra is that this is my body, my health, my life. I want the best long-term outcome, one that will allow me to continue to flourish in practice and in life.
I went to see Mr Simon Smith (Orthopaedic surgeon) three weeks after the injury. I had written a list of questions which he patiently and confidently answered.
I contacted Tayla Hadden (Exercise physiologist) at Maximum Results and commenced an exercise program to ensure my knee was in the best possible shape pre-surgery. I consulted my family and the team at Chiropractic First to determine the least disruptive timing of scheduling this procedure and subsequent time off to recover.
Once the date was locked in, trepidation set in. Ironically every day my injured knee became stronger. My daily step count rose. I returned to high intensity interval training, focusing on resistance exercises and avoiding any high impact activities. Seven seeks post-surgery I walked 15000 steps, including the length of my favourite beach, admittedly slower and more cautiously than usual. Had I made the right decision? It wasn’t too late to back out. Mr Smith’s advice kept coming back to me “most patients who don’t get it reconstructed now are back within twelve months because their knee is unstable”.