Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lil Needs Some Advice

Hi guys

Although I've chatted to a few people who have torn their ACL, I've yet to speak to anyone who has torn their PCL and needed surgery.

My story is this - I felt something snap in my leg when I was skiing in March this year. My leg went floppy and caused me to fall (I think I hit an icy patch and turned badly but I really don't know). I was stretchered off the mountain and an MRI scan confirmed it to be an isolated PCL complete tear. My holiday was ruined and I was pretty much housebound for five weeks following my return to the UK.

I started with physio and hydrotherapy in April shortly before returning to work and almost (but not quite) have full movement in my knee five months down the line. I still have pain though (mainly on the inside of my knee) and swelling, and some days are better than others - some days I limp, some days I don't. I can sit cross-legged although not comfortably for very long and I can almost touch my bum with my heel whilst doing a hamstring curl - although I have to release it very slowly as it hurts to do so!! I had started to get a cracking/clicking in my knee when walking which I found really uncomfortable and I have no idea what this could be?

I'd started swimming (although sometimes this was uncomfortable but I'm just desperate to get fit again) and had even tried running both with and without the bulky brace. The running was hard though and I've sadly had to pull out of the half marathon I was due to run in a couple of months. Despite this, I thought I was doing ok but then a few weeks ago I stood up, my knee cracked and it completely gave way. It has been very delicate since and I feel like progress has stopped.

My consultant has tried to put me off surgery. I know what's involved and understand it's a tricky procedure and a lot less common than an ACL reconstruction. But because I ski, dance and run he said I'd be a good candidate and agreed to do it. My surgery was booked in for 27 October but has just been brought forward to two weeks time! I'm feeling very nervous about it all now and I just wanted to know that it's all going to be worth it really! If I don't have it how long until my knee will feel as normal as it can do? And will I end up with arthritis, scar tissue and other problems if I leave it? If I do have the procedure, how long will the rehabilitation be? When will I be able to drive (it's my right knee). I'm hoping that since I've been working hard at physio it won't be too bad. What do you think?

Would you absolutely recommend surgery?

It would be really good to have some feedback about it as I feel I've got no point of reference. There's also very little information on the internet.

Any advice you could possibly give me in the run up to my surgery would be gratefully received.



hamlet said...

Hello Lil,

Hamlet here. If you ever read Skinny's post, she posted about my immediate post-surgery and two years after that stories.

Before you do your surgery, ask urself this set of questions.

1. what is ur purpose of the surgery?
2. what good will it does for u?
3. how far are u willing to go?
4. are u strong enough to take up the challenge.

Here, I would like to share my answers to those question so that u can get some kind of reference and vision pre-surgery.

1. i would like to get my pcl reconstructed bcoz my plan is to come back for my fav sport; rugby.

2. is to prevent my self from getting arthritis early.

3. im willing to go as attending my rehabs everyday! endure the pain, follow every advices just to achieve my mission.

4. I have to retain myself for good 2 years before i manage to play again. it was really frustrating not to be able to things u hav done for the pass years, u know. So, i keep myself together and told myself this is for good. this is for something in the long term.

and here i am now. able to run, play, tackle like i love to again.

reading ur story, i can say u r much an athlete urself. so, i believe u hav all the treats as a strong person who never give up easily.

good luck.

p/s: most of the cases are similiar with Skinny's story. what differentiates is recovery level, rehabs, strong will and faith.

Anastasia-Eva Gabor said...

I am in a similar situation to her and would like some advice. I tore my PCL and partially tore my ACL in my right knee while running the 100m hurdles at my district track meet back in April 2011. In the beginning I was recovering great and the ACL completely healed up, but it seem about a month ago I hit a peak and things started to turn for the worse. I started to have increased pain and it too would start to crack very loudly and painfully occasionally when I walked, and at times I could feel some sort of piece of maybe cartilage or hopefully only scar tissue loosely wiggling around uncomfortably towards the inner side of my patella. I am currently starting my first year of college at the University of Florida, and my previous doctor back in my hometown told me that I should see and orthopaedic surgeon up here in town to possible have another MRI and consider having the reconstruction surgery done. Track and Field is a very important part of my life and I am hoping that I can be a part of the track team here at UF next year seeing that I recover well. I was wondering if I would be back to tip top shape and ability in a years time without problems with the knee, and if I'll be able to go to classes during the first few weeks after surgery. Thank You


Skinnygurl said...

Anastasi, a years time to be in tip top shape is a very lofty goal. You're younger so you may snap back quicker. I agree with everything Hamlet wrote in the earlier post. Take a little time and review the first part of my blog. I recorded the entire recovery as carefully as I could. This will give you an idea as to how hard this recovery is although, truly I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope reading this blog helps you.
Let us know what you decide and how you're doing.

Anastasia-Eva Gabor said...

Hi again, I just had an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon here at UF last Tuesday, and apparently he found in my first MRI (taken a few days after the accident) that I had also torn my LCL and popliteus muscle, so I went in for another MRI yesterday just to make sure and got my results back today. The results: Torn LCL and PCL, but my ACL is healed. Detatched popliteus muscle, and cracked meniscus. And there's something wrong with a part of the bone.
I have my first surgery for the LCL and popliteus scheduled for Sept. 19th, and then I need to have a 2nd surgery for my PCL 6-8 weeks later. They say that I will most likely be out for 9-12 month.
Well...I guess the worst does exist.. The news really overwhelmed me, and I'm hoping I'll be able to stay strong throughout this.

If anyone has advice that would be great!


Lillipod said...

Hi again

Thanks for your comments. I had my PCL reconstruction two days ago. I drove myself into a complete state with the worry of it all, I've honestly never been so scared.

I have to say though, I did think about all of the stories and shared experiences on this blog and it really helped to know that so many of you have gone through this huge ordeal. Thinking about all your success stories made it a little easier.

So I'm currently all heavily bandaged and dosed up on drugs. I won't take up space here but I'm going to blog about my recovery so if anyone would like to follow me you can find me at http://pclrupture.blogspot.com/

I'm blogging for myself so I can look back at my recovery but if it helps anyone else along the way then that's great.

Anastasia - wishing you all the very best of luck with your operations.


susanv85 said...

I'm about 9 months out from my pcl repair, and my knee honestly feels great. I have much less pain than I had preop, and I'm back to doing everything I did before the surgery. I can't say at the same level but that's mostly because I'm in a new part of my life with work that is overtaking everything, I'm working 70 hours a week, so even if I never had surgery, I still don't think I would be at the same level of athletics I was before tr surgery. I don't regret it, and I guess I must have had a pretty fast recovery, age works in your favor in that regard. I was on crutches for 6-8 weeks, and then evything just went by leaps and bounds. But everyone is different. The beginning of rehab was really slow and painful though, enough to make me pull my hair out, but you get through it.

joe said...

wow, susan pretty much said exactly what i was going to.

i had surgery about 8 months ago, was on crutches for 8 weeks. i think short term, it might seem like you made the wrong decision after because it is so hard to go from doing all kinds of physical activities and then reduced to lounging with your leg elevated and being useless.

however, even now i feel better than i did before the surgery, and it is getting better every week. the main thing is do not sell yourself short. work hard in training, and keep exercising. i think the biggest advantage to the surgery will be seen 20 years down the line when you are having less problems with arthritis or other ligaments, but it definitely helped me already with the surgery. i couldn't run without the knee giving out at times, and even after 8 months i have already played soccer again and ice hockey. it will take much longer to get back to the same level i was at, but thats the process.

short version: if youre very active and into sports etc, do the surgery. work hard in your recovery, and dont get too down on yourself if its taking a long time.

hope this helps

kaz said...

I injured my knee in August 11 and now 8 months down the road after 5 months of physio, seen the surgery todayand he has decided I need surgery. I have a grade 2 PCL and grade 2 LCL, all from falling of a bike. Main problem now is the instability and pain in the knee cap. I and struggling with going up and downstairs, and struggling with swimming and unable to cycle due to pain. I am now very nervous and not sure I will get a great improvement post surgery, and the question of how long of work is very different. Surgeon was a bit non direct. Do I guess it will go back to how painful it was on first injury? any one help? Kaz

KJ said...

You just need to be prepared for a long recovery if you opt for the surgery. It took me about 2 years to get to what I consider a full recovery and still my knee will never be the same. You'll probably have to learn to adapt to a "new normal" with this injury, whether you get it repaired or not. Other folks recovered in half the time I did. Just know, the longer you go without it, the more damage you can do to your knee.

If you haven't, read Hamlet's first comment on this post and the set of questions he poses. Your quality of life doesn't sound great right now. I think all of us were in the same boat which is why we opted for the surgery.

The knee cap pain is concerning. I have patellofemoral syndrome and arthritis on 3 of the surfaces in my knee. However, I also went 6 years with my PCL injury and played rugby on it that entire time (I went from a grade I tear to grade II eventually).

Honestly, you really want to avoid getting to where I am. I turn 33 this year and am 9 years on from the original injury and 3 years out of my reconstruction. I waited entirely too long to get surgery but it's because I just didn't know. I wore away almost all my cartilage under my patella in that time and the arthritis just plain sucks.

I'm an avid CrossFitter now and I row so my knee bugs me most days of the week either due to swelling or usually due to pain. So to do it over again, I can now say that I would get the surgery...and I would do it sooner!

Ask yourself those questions at the beginning of the thread though. They will help you make a decision.

Molly said...

Kaz: Welcome ... you are among friends here. I, too, injured my knee (PCL/MCL) while bike riding. I had a successful double bundle reconstruction in 2006, but developed complications that led to graft rejection. I still cannot walk up and down stairs normally, my knee is very loose without a PCL, and I've got some pretty good arthritis going on. I wear my Breg or Donjoy braces while exercising, but otherwise I just walk around without it. KJ is so right about the need to live a 'new normal.' I don't regret having the surgery.

KJ said...

Molly, I can't remember if this has come up. Have you seriously considered having the surgery again?

Molly said...

Hi KJ: My knee is too hot to touch now. The post-op arthrofibrosis led to a general immune system response. I flare up wherever I'm medically touched - dental work included. I can't risk anything major, especially in my knee. So that means no more surgery and/or knee replacement.

Check out 'arthrofibrosis.' It's an uncommon side effect, but really nasty when it happens.

KJ said...

whoa! I remember you mentioned an immune system response at one point but had no idea what it was.

That really sucks about no new knee. I'm quite sure I'll need 2 of them!