ACL Surgery Advice Please
October 4, 2009 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Going in for ACL replacement in a few days - what can I do between now and then to prepare for the next few weeks?

So I'm going in for surgery on Wednesday to replace my right ACL, which I tore a couple of months ago. I'll be getting a cadaver ACL.

I'm looking forward to having a functional knee again, though I know that's 4-6 months from now. What I'm worried about is the next few weeks. I've read the previous questions posted, and I'm pretty clear on the idea that the week or two after surgery are going to suck. Doc is installing the cooling device & I'll be spending time w/ one of the devices that moves my knee for me as well.

I'll be staying with my dad and his GF for the first 2-3 days after, but then have to return home, where I live alone in a walkup duplex. So I have to deal with navigating stairs, and I need to get around. I have a stubborn streak, I'm lousy at asking for help, and I believe I can get anything done if required. But I realize I'll be gimpy as all hell, and I need to accept that I'll be limited in mobility for a while.

So, with all that: What made your life easier during your recovery period? If you had to do it over again, what would you do in the days leading up to it to make life easier afterwards?

Thank you!
posted by swngnmonk to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Come up with a good name for your cadaverous knee. Both of my friends that have had replacements found it easier to focus on rehabilitation with a "friend." That may seem really weird to some people, but it helped my friends.
posted by schyler523 at 4:53 PM on October 4, 2009

Since you're getting a cadaver graft, I don't know if this will apply to you, but when I had my ACL repair (patellar autograft) it hurt like crazy to move my leg around at first if my lower leg sagged. This may be hard to picture, but you needed a lot of "up" pressure on the heel, so that the tendons/ligaments/muscles that would normally straighten the leg weren't stressed. A long piece of cotton knit fabric was really useful to move the leg around by yourself without pain in the first couple of weeks.
posted by mercredi at 5:56 PM on October 4, 2009

Get take-out menus and the number of a good grocery with delivery.
Stock up on pillows of different shapes and sizes. You never know what position will be most comfortable.
Get a big-ass water bottle so you don't have to make tons of trips to and from the kitchen. For that matter, get a grocery bag or something to help you tote stuff to and from rooms.
posted by mynameisluka at 8:14 PM on October 4, 2009

Invite a roster of your friends around for separate DVD nights. This will help cheer you up, but it'll also mean there'll be someone who cares about you entering and leaving your house each day - someone who can potentially be asked to pick up some groceries/drop off a bag of laundry/get that thing you need from a high shelf. If you really find it hard to ask for help, tacking small requests like this onto a perfectly enjoyable social occasion might be easier than calling up and asking directly. (Regardless of your stubborn streak, I'm sure your friends will be more than willing to help).
posted by embrangled at 11:07 PM on October 4, 2009

This is sort of obvious, but stock up on plenty of household supplies, easy-to-prepare food, and light entertainment.

Be prepared for it to take a long-ass time to get up and down those stairs. The first few times, you will want to budget 20 minutes, no joke. OTOH, those stairs will eventually be a great form of PT.

I like embrangled's suggestion. And, as someone who has a mile-wide stubborn streak and a cadaver ACL in my left knee, I can say your life over the next 6 months will be a lot better if you can temporarily get over that, at least as far as help from friends goes. Many of your friends will actually probably want to help. Not because they feel bad for you or whatever, but because people like to do nice things for their friends.

In the same vein, plan to play it by ear in terms of when you transfer from your dad's place back to yours if possible. Thinking back to my own recovery, I would have found it pretty tough to do that sort of move three days after my surgery. YMMV, but it might be good to keep the option open.
posted by lunasol at 12:22 AM on October 5, 2009

Your MD probably will give you an rx for physical therapy after the surgery. See if you can get in for a few visits with a PT before surgery as well. Going in to the surgery with strong muscles improves your recovery afterwards. Also, get in to PT as soon as you can after the surgery -- they will help you with any mobility issues you might be having getting around on the crutches, like stairs and curbs and how to get around with the appropriate amount of weight bearing on the leg.

Also, the advice I give everyone before they go in for surgery on any part of their legs: practice scooting around on your bed using just your arms. You'll need it the first couple of days.
posted by jennyjenny at 7:13 AM on October 5, 2009

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