Yesterday was 10 days after the knee rebuild. I visited the doctor, and went to my first PT appointment. I learned a lot about what is in store for me for the next few weeks.
The first thing we did was take out the stitches and clean up the site of the surgery. The stitches came out really cool. There was just one stitch in the middle that the nurse snipped, and then she grabbed the tail of the stitch that was hanging out of the skin first at the top, and pulled slowly. It pulled the entire string out all the way through the knee. Felt kind of cool.
The worst part of the entire visit was pulling the sterile tape strips off the wound. There was about 10 of them across the wound and each one pulled about 40 hairs out with it. That was fun. Of course after the stitches were out, she quickly stuck a similar number down across the wound again. That way, I can look forward to getting rid of all of the rest of the hair around the site again in about a week. I always figured they would shave around a surgery spot, but they actually do not do that any more. The medical world no longer thinks that is sanitary and leads to more infections.
Then I went across the hall to the Physical Therapy office. They worked with me on a new set of exercises (thank god, as I had mastered the original set and was bored with them). I learned how to walk all over again, and we took a lot of measurements on range of motion etc… Not much for the first visit, but I did come away with a set of cool rubber band type things to work on strength in the knee.
I was telling the doctor that I was feeling good, and wanted to go faster on this whole recover thing. He said “that is great! I am glad you are excited to get going. But, let me show you some pictures.” He showed me all the pictures from my surgery. Great shots of a completely spaghetti’d ACL, a piece of Patella tendon completely out of my body, one of my meniscus before it was cleaned up that was flipped over – inside out – yet still in my knee, a picture of a drill bit through my knee bones. In the end, he said “You do not want to have to go through this again. You need to take this slowly. We are not going to challenge your fitness for the next 6 weeks. We are going to go slowly, and allow all the work we did in there to heal itself, and for that new ACL/Patella Tendon to graft itself to the bone.” Sobering thoughts.
Apparently, it takes about 6-8 weeks for the tendon to graft into the bone. After that, you really will not hurt it. But, before then it needs to be given time to heal itself.
Here are some significant steps along the way over the next few weeks.
– In week 2-3, I should be able to get off the crutches. That is about Oct 18-19.
– Also in week 2-3, we will start using the bicycle to help the range of motion. Still no real pedaling though.
– In week 3-4, I should start to transition out of the knee brace. That is about Oct 25, or so. That means I can probably go to Crawfordsville with Scott to help him, but I am not 100% certain that I will not still be in a brace. That is probably ok.
– The focus for my rehab through week 7 or so, is range of motion. That is about Thanksgiving week. After that, we will start working on building strength.
– At about 12 weeks, I will be cleared for most everything. Not skiing, and probably only very light running, but cycling will be fine (although at that time it will be just on a trainer due to winter). That will be about Christmas time.
– In January I will be able to be truly training for the GNCC season.
I will be behind where I would normally be, but probably not in too bad of a situation. We can probably get down to Southern Illinois to ride in late Feb, and there is the indoor MX track in Joliet that we can get to in early Feb to start to work on bike set up etc…
I may not be super strong and confident for the first races, but I should be able to ride though. In the end, this season of GNCC racing is not about winning races, or championships. It is about seeing what a national series is like, and being on the same course with Barry Hawk, Charlie Mullins, Justin Williamson, David Knight et al…
I continue to be encouraged by Justin Williamson. He had similar surgery in January of next year. Rode the first races really conservatively, and then came on after the first 1/3 of the season. At the end, it looks like he will probably win the XC2 pro class. That guy is my hero.