Surgery, Finally.

It’s Valentine’s Day! No, I did not have a hot steamy date, it was surgery day! No one wanted to have surgery on the romance filled holiday, but I didn’t care, I would have taken NYE to get this over with. When the day finally arrived, I was elated. My surgeon told me that the time leading up to my surgery would be the hardest part, and he wasn’t wrong. My patience had been pushed to the max. I didn’t feel nervous at all, just really ready to get on the road to recovery.

My very dear friend Mary, and I, woke up bright and early that Tuesday morning, 4:30 am to be exact, and headed to the surgery center. I had the first scheduled operation that morning, and was happy to get in and out. This was an outpatient procedure, so I knew I would be back home by about 11:30 am and Mary would stay with me the entire time; she took the day off of work. (Side note: my friends are the best, bar none.) Once we arrived, the usual took place: check-in, sign your life away, put on your fancy hospital gown, hop into bed and get your IV started. I made sure to make the unusual happen too: hand out Valentine's Day cards! Yes, I bought a few boxes of the old school candy hearts, and wrote out generic guy/girl cards for the staff. I decided that it was important to make sure that the mood was light, and everyone was in good spirits, since it was my life in their hands, after all. This silly gesture was obviously the best part of their day, and seemed to do the trick, since I am still here and alive today. Once they wheeled me back into the OR, I got to see them “making” my new ACL. How cool is that?! I opted to have a cadaver replacement, and in my case, it was an Achilles' tendon they would use. David, Dr. T's assistant, held up this long, thick, white tendon that would be going into my knee. It was a little surreal, and morbid, but damn science is cool. I told them to make me extra fast and sturdy, then off to la-la land I went.

I don’t know how long the surgery took exactly, but when I woke up I felt like I had been knocked out for an entire year. I was coherent, but insanely groggy and surprisingly in a decent amount of pain. The nurses had been incredibly kind and helpful up until this point, and continued to be so. The post-op nurse asked if I was in pain, I nodded and tried to curl up into a ball. She told me she would get me something for the pain, I smiled and nodded again. Thanks to that extra boost of pain relief, the next few hours are a little fuzzy. Mary came back to see me and helped me get dressed, and was there when Dr. T came back to speak to me. This is when I found out favorable and not so favorable news. He told me that he didn't have to reconstruct my MCL (hallelujah), but he did have to do a meniscus repair. Dang it. I had to cancel my physical therapy appointment that week because I needed to allow more time for that to heal. This entire process had been seven steps forward, and ten back. It was frustrating and hard to accept the extent of my injuries.  Had it not been for all the drugs, I probably would have been more upset by this news, but I was just happy to be on the other side of surgery. I trusted the work of my surgeon and I trusted the strength of myself.

Once I was back home, I was feeling pretty good. After I had a few friends help get me into my apartment, and was back in the comfort of my bed, I was ready to nap. My friends, family, and co-workers made those first few days tolerable. Without them, I would have been lost in my thoughts. While I was happy to be on the other side of surgery, I knew I had a long road ahead of me. I was trying to not look at how far I had to go, but how far I had already come. It's all about perspective. One day at a time, Claire, I thought to myself, you can do this. So, Thank You. Thank you to my thicker-than-thieves circle that has always been there for me; to the selfless donor who provided me with healthy tissue to continue living my active lifestyle; to my surgeon and his team for his advanced technique and skill; and thank you universe for looking out for me. I'll forever be grateful for the kindness and generosity that has been shown to me, and will throw it right back out into the universe. I believe in you karmic energy.

**Warning: The below pictures might be a little graphic for some. They are photos of the inside of my knee - before and after.**

 

 

Ruptured ACL - the red, squishy mess the silver instrument is pressing on.

Ruptured ACL - the red, squishy mess the silver instrument is pressing on.

Reconstructed ACL using Achilles' tendon cadaver. 

Reconstructed ACL using Achilles' tendon cadaver.