It has been 10 days since my ACL/Meniscus surgery and I’ve learned quite a few things. Not only about myself, but my relationship with my husband, the patience that comes with a personal setback, and the mental strength game. Here are a few lessons that have surfaced over the past week post ACL surgery – I hope anyone going through a similar situation, whether it’s a surgery or a personal setback, can take something from this.
- Set your mind on the next step, not the next mile. Much of the recovery road boils down to mental fatigue; getting so focused on the huge obstacles you still have to overcome, the long road you still have to travel. This is a waste of time and will not help speed things up in any way. What I’ve tried to focus on is where I want to be in the very near future, what the next few days will look like, what I should expect and prepare for. I’ve done lots of research on outcomes of ACL/Meniscus surgery, have asked a LOT of questions of my surgeon and Physical Therapist, and put the work in at home. Skipping the needed steps won’t speed things along and could possibly set you back. So, be where you are and know it’s where you need to be.
- The work you have to do will be painful. You just need to prepare for that. It hurts. A lot. But the work I’ve done over the past few days has gotten me to where I am now. I’m at 90 degrees and can straighten my leg almost completely. There’s definitely more work to do and my knee feels like there’s old wood hinging it together. But, I’m not even close to being done. So I will put in the work, no matter how painful.
- Ask for help. My husband and I have a great rhythm down when it comes to home duties. He takes care of outside and I take care of inside. Which can seem lopsided at times – let’s be honest, a lot more work needs to go on inside the house than outside on a per day basis. BUT he really stepped up over the past week, filling ice buckets, moving my CPM machine, cooking dinner & lunch (that I pre-made/ordered, but still!) being patient as I hobbled around the house, feeding the dogs, doing dishes, grocery shopping. I’m really thankful to have someone who’s willing to pick up the slack when I’m unable. My mom also offered to come and help, clean, do whatever I needed….and I took her up on it! When your mom offers to help in a time when you could really use it, no matter how old you are, you should take her up on it!
- Keep your problems in perspective. Thinking only in terms of your tragedy can leave you feeling quite pitiful. Believe me, what happened is awful and it is ok to feel down. But wallowing in your own misfortune will mentally drag you down to a place you should not visit often. Think about how fortunate you are to have what you do. In my case, I thought how lucky I was to not have broken my leg, to still have my limbs, to have insurance to be able to get healthy. There are always worse cases and the sooner you lead your thoughts with a grateful perspective, your outlook changes.
- Be patient with yourself and grateful for where you are. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else on this recovery journey. Do your research, get informed, follow people on social media who are in similar situations, but know everyone heals differently and gets to certain points at different times. I asked my Surgeons’ PA (who’s had ACL surgery) if he could bend his knee to 90 degrees 3 days after his surgery. I asked my PT what he thought about being on crutches still 6 days after surgery. I asked one of my best girlfriends when I could/should start doing hamstring exercises, cause I saw a girl on instagram who was doing them. They all told me to stop comparing my healing and progression to anyone else. Be patient in the process and don’t push yourself to reach someone’s milestones. The human body is amazing and if you’re working everyday at pushing the needle (without pain), you are right where you need to be.
- Celebrate the small milestones. From taking out my drain, to not needing to take painkillers, to taking steps without crutches, I have been very vocal and excited about the milestones I’ve reached. Allowing yourself to feel proud of your accomplishment, you set yourself up for success over the next hurdle. Sounds silly, but these little milestones get in bedded in your sub-conscious, giving you confidence when you need it most.
- It gets better everyday. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, so I’ve really needed to pace myself mentally and physically. You can not compare yourself to where someone else was at this time. You should know if you are working on it, tomorrow you will wake up stronger.