As most of you all know, I tore my patellar tendon on May 20th. I had surgery the 25th of May, and since then have been struggling through physical therapy and recovery. There’s an old adage that goes, do as I say, not as I do. What I DID was “momentarily forget” how old I am, and go up for a Behind the Back, Reverse Layup, with the left hand off the backboard. What I am SAYING is to always, always, always, stretch before you play.
For those of you who happen to do as I did in a “moment of forgetfulness,” I am here to share some recovery advice with you. Assuming, however, that you are wiser (or younger) than I am, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy laughing through the pain and celebrating the small victories on a long road to recovery with me.
So, you did as I did, or you just want to imagine what it would be like if you happened to have a “moment of forgetfulness.” First of all, forget sleeping comfortably at all for the first four weeks. The velcro on my brace catches on the sheets whenever I roll over, and unless I have something underneath my leg at all times, I am in immense pain. Even just a few weeks ago, almost two months after surgery, I had such sharp pain and cramping in my knee that it woke me up in the middle of the night on a regular basis.
Second, forget independence and self reliance. It was not until June 21st, nearly one month after surgery, that I was able to use my right leg to lift my left leg (the injured one) over the pillows so I could do it myself instead of having someone else (namely my wife who already has six children to take care of) do it for me. July 3rd was the first time I was able to use one crutch instead of two, but it was still incredibly difficult to walk on my own, and there was no chance of walking without crutches at that point.
Third, forget mobility and exercise. Even by July 6th, almost a month and a half after surgery, the only activity I was allowed to do was stand up in a pool or get in the hot tub for a few minutes to stretch out my leg.
Fourth, be ready to be in pain, almost continually. In the midst of my many physical therapy appointments, my knee gets incredibly swollen. One of the things I recommend the most to relieve this is a compression ice machine which will cool your leg so you don’t have to keep getting ice. I got one for $160 bucks and it’s awesome. One of the tricks I found is to get water bottles, fill them, remove the lid, and then allow the bottle to freeze. Then, you can screw the cap back on and you have made your own reusable ice pack. Using these cold compression machines along with an ace bandage will drastically reduce your swelling after you do therapy or any other type of strenuous activity. I have even tried massaging it with lavender, peppermint, chamomile, lemon grass, and doterra deep blue essential oils.
However, this injury has forced me to rejoice and be thankful for even small victories! On June 24th I was only able to bend my knee 52 degrees and it took me two hours to get 215 steps on the NuStep machine. By July 10th, I was able to reach almost 80 degrees and was able to do 500 steps in 21 minutes and 41 seconds – a new record for me! I accomplished these things by hanging my leg over a table, doing leg presses, and using a biodex machine and stepper. These seemed like such simple activities before my injury, but now I am learning to appreciate the great health I have enjoyed most of my life, and know I will be much less likely to take that for granted in the future.
I am so appreciative to everyone who has helped me along this journey. My 6 brave children who had to watch their dad go through this injury. My amazing and faithful wife who found time to make me a delicious turkey dinner and peach cobbler dessert in the midst of taking care of our 6 brave children on her own. My nephew who takes time out of his week to play chauffeur. The amazing doctors who have walked me through every step of my recovery. My church family who has prayed for me, and done whatever they can to help Anna and the kids. And finally, my staff at Veritas Risk Management who have kept the office running smoothly through this whole process! I appreciate each and every one of you, and couldn’t have done it without you.
I still have a long way to go, and a lot of small battles to win, but I am on my way to recovery. Thank you for joining me on my journey, and once again, a reminder to do as I say, not as I do!
If you would like more details about my recovery, click here to explore my recovery timeline.