So, my last blog left off with my decision to have my partially torn meniscus surgically repaired. There wasn’t much that went into the pre-surgery workup, with the exception of getting clearance from my hematologist (that’s a blood doctor, in laymen’s terms). Last spring, I suffered from a large blood clot in my left leg, so large that it went from the middle of my calf up to just below my kidneys. They also found another blood clot in my right lung. So, I’ve been on Coumadin medication since that time. As such, that determines when I can have any surgical procedure done since I have to be off of that medication for at least a week prior to surgery. This wouldn’t have been a problem had my area not been hit by a huge snowstorm that pretty much halted travel between cities. I was supposed to see my hematologist the day after the snowstorm hit, to get clearance for my knee surgery, but she wasn’t at the office. Luckily, one of the other physicians was able to see me and put me on an alternate blood thinner as a supplement until after my surgery.
The next seven days were a long wait until the procedure. Once I got the clearance from my hematologist’s office, I was ready to get the surgery done so I could start healing and get back to the mats as soon as possible. The blood clots came from me not training. I went to my academy to let my instructor and teammates know I would be out for a while. I had planned on competing in the IBJJF New York Open in April. It would be my first IBJJF tournament, and I was going to have a legit training camp for it, so this was really a wrench in those plans. One of my team’s brown belts, and a regular IBJJF competitor, said he’d torn both his ACL and MCL during his wrestling days, and gave great advice on being patient through the healing process and using fish oil supplements to speed up my healing. It was nice to know that somebody I trained with had been through a knee injury, and if he could come back from ACL/MCL tears, I could certainly come back from a small meniscus injury.
The day of the surgery kind of went by in a blur. I forgot how long it actually takes the nurses to get everything ready for me to go into the operating room. One of the last things I remembered prior to going into the operating room was the nurse explaining that they had the “happy drugs” in a small syringe. I have nine tattoos, but I hate needles, so I tried not to focus on that needle she’d placed on my hospital bed. I was rolled down to the operating room and placed on the table for my surgery. Now, I had been through three surgeries dealing with my blood clots, and each time, I’d been given warning before they put me under. This time, though, there was no warning. I closed my eyes one time, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room. It was more like jolting awake in utter fear since I had no warning they were putting me under in the first place. Luckily the nurse was there who had originally helped wheel me in to the operating room, and she got me to calm down pretty quickly. I only stayed in the post-operation recovery room for about 30 minutes before I was moved to a waiting room to prepare to go home, and that was where things got blurry.
I was pretty heavily doped up. I only remember the nurse explaining that I had to be slow about what I ate once I got released from the hospital. The anesthesia would play funky with my stomach for at least a few hours, so I should only eat soup until everything settled down. I played that off since the last time I’d had outpatient surgery, I felt perfectly fine after being in recovery for about three or four hours. This time, though, they only kept me about an hour or so before releasing me. My mom went to Chick-Fil-A and ordered me some chicken noodle soup. I demanded a chicken sandwich, and tried arguing that my stomach could handle it, but she promptly ignored me. Sometimes moms know what they’re doing, apparently, because when we finally got home, I could barely eat four spoonfuls of that soup before I felt like I needed to lie down before I got sick. It wasn’t until much later that night before my appetite fully returned. Apparently these medical professionals know what they’re talking about.
The next day, my knee felt better than it had in weeks, even given that I’d just had surgery. Let me just admit now that I really don’t like putting limits on myself, physically or mentally. I am of the firm belief that you will never find out how far you can go if you don’t go past those limits on a regular basis. That being said, my orthopedic doctor wanted me to be off of the crutches by the following Friday’s follow-up appointment, and I was already walking without crutches the next day. I felt damn near invincible, enough so that I drove myself to the movies to see a film I’d wanted to see the previous day (darn that surgery for getting in the way). Yep, that was a mistake, since I ended up laid up in bed the next day with an icepack on my swollen joint. Again, gotta push the limits to find out what they really are. I spent the rest of that week working on straight leg raises, knee bends, and slowly moving around my house without the help of crutches until I was able to get around without them. By the end of the week, I was able to do deep squats, though, so I knew I was on the right track.
I didn’t leave the house again until the day of my follow-up appointment. The orthopedic doctor’s assistant saw me, and was both shocked and excited by how much I had improved. My range of motion was excellent, but she most definitely told me to STOP WITH THE SQUATS. I had just had knee surgery a week ago, no matter how simple it was, and I shouldn’t risk reinjuring my knee. I was set up with two weeks of physical therapy, with a return follow-up with the orthopedic doctor set for three weeks out. I am not looking forward to this physical therapy; I think they take pleasure in torturing people. However, I know that the sooner I can start, the sooner I can get back on the mats.