Knee Surgery 2015: Post Op Weeks 5 & 6

  • Updated: December 10, 2015
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

This is part of a series of entries covering my fall back in 2011, surgery in 2015, and my recovery immediately afterwards. If you came here directly the rest of the entries can be found here.

The 6 week post op visit was another milestone with the doctor clearing me to finally start bending past 90 degrees (which is a bigger deal than you'd think if you haven't had this sort of surgery...)

Week 5 the biggest improvement was around PT working to get me back to a normal -ish gait. They put out these small cones and had me start walking over them in a very exaggerated fashion and had me start trying to walk that way day to day.

Basically, this

This improved things quite a bit though it still takes some amount of concentration to walk any distance.

Other than that life has generally gotten back to normal with the hardest part being the continued forced inactivity.

I've been desperate to try and find something to do exercise wise where I could actually feel muscles getting tired. After talking with the physical therapist I ordered an inexpensive hand bike hoping I could at least get an upper body workout.  (I was pointed away from weights since it can be hard to do those without engaging the knee in some fashion)

Stamina In Stride Total Body Cycle @ Amazon
It was pretty much a waste. The resistance doesn't crank up to the point where I feel like I really have to work and it was just generally not satisfying. If it wasn't for the difficulty of disassembling the damn thing and the fact I broke part of the the resistance knob trying to crank it up I'd return it.

The greatest development since regaining the ability to put socks on myself happened the night before the 6 week post op appointment. I was itching at one of the three pieces of stitches that were supposed to dissolve but have still been sticking out of my surgery wounds catching on things and generally driving me crazy when the bloody thing finally came out. I gave a whoop of joy and promptly did my best to repeat accidentally scratching out the other two which worked as well. It was incredibly satisfying.

And then came the followup exam with Grummet where activity options finally opened up.

Sweet sweet extremely gradual progress
I had my PT regiment increased quite a bit and was finally allowed to bend my knee past 90 degrees which was simultaneously extremely satisfying and (considering the amount of care I'd taken to avoid doing that exact thing the last 6 weeks) kind of freaky. I'm still supposed to avoid weighting the knee while bent though PT can do that in a very gradual fashion.

While I'm cleared to start on an exercise bike and a very low angle elliptical hiking is still out. We also discussed the WTC activities I'd been trying to plan for over the next few months. The 15 mile conditioning hike at the end of January I was expecting to miss but I had been somewhat hopeful I could do the Joshua Tree rock scrambling activity two weeks later. We decided the amount of bending required made it a bad idea that early. I was tentatively cleared to do a snowshoe and snow camp in late March / early April with the warning I'd probably have the hardest time just with endurance.

I did mention I had the most trouble with the exercise when you sit on the edge of a bed leg dangling down and try to straighten up the leg. He explained that made sense since at about 30 degrees I was engaging the location of the microfracture hence the pain. It hurts less now though I've always gone really easy on that exercise.

I'm not sure what caused it specifically but my knee was swollen for days after my visit with Grummet. I actually noticed it while walking out of the office. I didn't remember a particular incident like banging it or bending in a way that caused pain. I mentioned it at PT but they didn't seem overly concerned and pointed out it was far less swollen than it had been after surgery. I iced it a few times over the next few days and in a week it had settled down again.  It did put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm about newly allowed activities.

Since I had it ok'ed I did try and go paddling. I'm not allowed to carry the kayak for obvious reasons so I have to sit around while Kristen and Jen do all the fun parts.

I was also very careful getting in and out of the kayak making sure to have someone hold is steady in case I lost my balance getting in or out. I did however manage to walk up a whole very gradual sand berm between the shore and my jeep all by myself. So at least there's that.

Paddling itself felt great though I didn't really use the knee brace since I was worried about hitting my kneecap.  I'm looking forward to doing more after the successful Christmas Paddle.

My immediate plans are to continue ramping up on the exercise bike and hopefully at some point actually get to have some resistance. PT is finally more interesting and can push me a little so I'm looking forward to those now. And my day to day life isn't really impacted except for the 20 times I day I look out my back window at the trail leading into O'Neil and sigh sadly.


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