Bandage Off, Staples Out - 29th Jan. 2013
A Little Further Down The Road To Recovery
Physio continued, as did my home exercises, all very boring by now but had to be done in order to recover properly. I did get various new home exercises every now and again as my progress developed but still, doing something every couple of hours, every single day, as you can imagine, would become boring quite quickly. I was reducing the size of my bandage regularly, taking off the heavy strapping was good, it made me leg feel more lightweight and allowed more flexibility but I still had bandage on for now, just to prevent any damage from a possible knock or bang to my knee.
One major difference I noticed, mainly at physio, was my balance. It had dramatically deteriorated, literally to a point where standing on one leg was pretty difficult without tipping to one side. This was quite strange as my balance has always been good, better than most really but now it was like it had been reset, my mind forgot how to balance. This lead to one of the more "fun" physio exercises which involved standing on a trampoline with just one foot planted, bouncing up and down ever so slightly while catching a tennis ball , with one hand, that was being thrown at me from distance. I also developed/used my own exercises to improve my balance as progress felt slow, although according to the experts I was progressing well and quicker than expected, but ever the keen person I am, I wanted things done faster, but obviously still in a controlled environment, another injury or hiccup was the last thing needed.
Another major difference was the size of my quad/thigh muscle. I've always had big leg muscles, probably in relation to playing rugby up until I was around 14, it was a weekend of sport, rugby on the Saturday and football on the Sunday when I was younger but football soon took up my whole weekend. My leg leg was fine of course but my right thigh was "abnormal" looking. The only possible way to describe it would be to image the whole muscle (or the vastus lateralis as it's known), had been cleanly cut from my leg, it had literally vanished. To this day it still hasn't fully replenished itself, although it can take up to 2 years from the operating date to recover and as I will mention in a later post, the ACL reconstruction wasn't to be my last operation.
Taken 15th January 2013 - Top Image Is Non-operated Leg, Bottom Image Is The Operated Leg
From the above image you can see the clear difference in the size of the muscles but I have around another 14 months, possibly more to develop my right leg and hopefully retain it's normal state, if not around 90%-95% of normality. There are a few physical differences that I can still notice when playing football and running but nothing of major concern, something I have now got used to and adjusted to, some of which I will blog about in future posts (weight gain, further injury etc).
Back on the story line though, I was still on crutches but progress was clear, I didn't rely on them as much as I had done and I was given the news that my staples were ready to come out in 2 weeks. I was progressing towards the removal of the bandage from my knee which was quite nerve racking as it felt reassuring having some form of physical protection covering the wound. Below are several images of my knee with the bandage removed and the beautiful staples in place....
All The 18 Staples In Their Glory
As you can see, my leg is massively inflated, it was literally impossible to see my knee cap or any outline/definition/evidence that I still even had an actual knee there. 18 staples in my knee was quite gruesome according to most people, the reaction of many of my Facebook friends kept me amused for days after I posted this picture too! It felt quite unsafe knowing that I no longer had a bandage to cover it up but I felt the need to wear shorts just so I was more aware of where I was actually putting my knee. This might sound strange but to me it was all part of the psychological side and I did every little thing to ensure my progress wouldn't be hampered by a mistake or just a little lapse in concentration one day, after all, you won't really notice how many possible hazards are lined up in terms of banging your knee unless you have to be aware, as I was in this situation.
You may be wondering where the knee picture without staples is? I took one of those too, described by a few people as a cool looking tattoo. It was similar in the fact that the scar would be there forever, although it has since faded and become near skin toned, although still visible to most. It was at one point purple, not long after the staples were removed and it did itch intensely for weeks after I had them taken out but the only thing I could do was wet it with water, anything but actually scratch it, which was frustrating!
My Knee - Post Staple Removal
This was all done in the space of a few weeks, quite a big jump in time for just one blog post but the rest of my time was taken up by physio visits, home exercises, Uni work and not much else as I was still quite immobile, I couldn't travel any great distance because I was starting to rely on my actual leg more than I was leaning on the crutches so as you can imagine, my leg fatigued very quickly.
In my next post I intend to further explain my physio progress, travelling about, the "loss" of my crutches and the thought of returning to football, plus the hint of a slight problem within the knee........