Sunday, January 13, 2008

Emotions of My Recovery

I am feeling a little overwhelmed with my knee lately. I am 8 months out of surgery but I feel stuck at the same level of improvement. My insurance only paid for 60 consecutive days of PT for my injury. I was given an exercise plan and have been following it. I was sidetracked a few weeks due to work demands. One day I ran into my PT at a sporting event. She told me that if she did not know that I had surgery she would never be able to tell by the way that I am walking. However, there are still things that I can not do yet and am wondering if I am behind schedule. I began to think back about how felt along the path to recovery.

Fear - This was my first reaction. What have I done to my knee? How bad is it? Will I ever walk again? (In hindsight this was an overreaction but I think I asked the doctor this at least 10 times.)

Denial - I was convinced the injury was not that bad. When my family doctor initially examined my knee I told him that it always moved that way. I was certain that it was only a sprain because I never had knee problems before. I was wrong.

Acceptance - I reached this point when the surgeon said "Get it fixed." Once the word fixed sunk into my brain I realized that my knee would one day be better.

Fear - When I could not do the straight leg lift right after surgery I was afraid. I thought that maybe I would not be able to do what I needed to do to get better.

Acceptance - I circled June 27th on my calander and counted the days until the brace came off.

Depression - This was when I realized that I had to wear a functional brace for a year post surgery.

Frustration - I think this was the most prevalant emotion. I was frustrated that I could not do basic things. I was upset that I could not drive for 6 weeks. Now I am frustrated because I feel I am no longer improving. I even forgot how to skip. My daughter wanted me to skip with her and my legs kind of forgot how. Skipping is not easy with a new ACL.

I have always tried to approach my surgery/recovery with a positive attitude. The weeks before my surgery, I read as many ACL stories as I could find. It seemed that the stories could be divided into two categories - people who said that this was the worst/hardest thing they have ever gone through or people who were at their kids soccer game three days after surgery. I decided that I would be one of the latter. Right now I am having a hard time remaining positive.


BobSpar said...

Hi, Michele,

I'm sorry to hear you're feeling frustrated at the moment. I think it's inevitable to have that feeling at some point, especially if you have high goals for yourself. I think it's great that your PT says she would never guess you'd had surgery.

Michele said...


Thanks for your encouraging words. I need to focus on my progress rather that what I can not do. Right after surgery results were immediate but now progress is slower and harder to recognize.

Thanks again!

Hack Shaft said...


Best of luck with overcoming the emotional challenges.

When I first returned to Karate, I was horribly sore in awful places for weeks, and developed a sense of humor about it all. Some new ache would show up, or I'd stumble going down stairs from being sore, and it just made me giggle all the more!

That first straight leg lift after surgery, I was there. And I laughed my ass off at the ridiculousness of it all!

I've since learned that laughing in the face of pain is a very real, and very powerful thing. I hope you can find your laughter again!