Going to start conservatively….

So, Michelle and I just had this text message exchange… and I’m not sure how I feel.  Bear with me while I work through how I’m feeling about it.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the year, when I started feeling my right knee pain and how it was really limiting what I could do and how I felt.   I put off going to the doc; because I felt like I just needed to rest it a bit; then I’d be back at it.  I took a couple of weeks off of pushing cardio hard to “let it rest”.  I came back and started running again; after a couple of weeks of 3 days per week running, I just couldn’t do it anymore due to pain; and had to stop.  It was at that point that I decided to get a referral to an Ortho doc.  I went in to see Dr. Nicholson in April; and he and his resident recommended an ultra conservative treatment, which I signed up for despite the fact that I thought it wasn’t the right course of action.  A steroid injection and PT.  The injection worked like magic on my other knee; so I thought I would give it a try on the right side.  The pain went away; no doubt about it for two whole weeks.   I took the time to give it a chance to work.   After those two weeks, I got on the elliptical; felt a familiar twinge in the right knee and haven’t touched  exercise equipment since.   I scheduled another appointment with Dr. Nicholson and he ordered an MRI.   On June 21st, I got a call from Lindsay the PA in Dr. Nicholson’s office to let me know that “Lol, you have no ACL in your right knee anymore; and this is more than Dr. Nicholson can do; so he wanted to refer me to Dr. Cole.” (emphasis mine, Lindsay was great and professional.. she would never have “LOL’d” at me).

So, today, when I went in with Michelle to meet Dr. Cole; I was really unsure of what to expect.  I had done my research into ACLR surgeries and recoveries and was ready for that discussion.   His recommendation is to go conservative.  He’s going to do a scope and clean things out and see if that alleviates the issue; rather than an ACLR with a big long recovery.  If I’m not having stability issues (which I admit, I’m not having major stability issues); then having that surgery off the bat isn’t worth the risk.

The struggle that I’m having is that its been nearly 8 months already.. and going conservative seems OK; but if it doesn’t fix it; and after another 3 months of PT and treatment it’s still not better and we end up doing the big ACLR anyway; I’ll have lost another YEAR toward reaching my goals.

So, in that respect, I’m a bit disappointed/doubtful that it will work.  So far, conservative treatments haven’t worked for me.  On the other hand, I know just how much work the recovery is from an ACL Repair; so I’m glad that a simple solution maybe, just maybe this time will work.

Also, I get it that he can’t promise that this will get me back to running and moving normally; but come on man, I’m coming to you because you are the best knee surgeon on the planet, give me something!  If it comes down to work that I can do; then he can take it to the bank that I’ll be back.   Beside, he’ll be just another doubter that I can prove wrong.

Let’s talk worst case.   Let’s say he gets in there and cleans it out and says “Aric, you’re good to go”.  I do PT like a robot; and am a machine.  I get back to it; and its still not right; or going out and/or causing pain.   When I’m there, then I can look at having the ACLR.   It wastes time.  That’s the biggest annoyance.  Doing a 1/2 Iron Triathlon before I’m 50 looks like a stretch goal now.. wait until I have another 8 months of rehab on top of it!

So… here we go again… again…

Well, here we are yet again.

My right knee ACL has failed (again) and something has to be done about it.   The past few months have been miserable because I can’t do any of the activities that make me who I am.  Consequently, I have put on weight; which is not good… I love to blame the fact that I can’t actually exercise, but in reality; its likely overeating as a reaction to both stress and depression.   That is something that I definitely will have to get a handle on.

I have an appointment with Dr. Brian Cole at Rush Orthopedics tomorrow mid-day, where I’m hoping that we get a plan of action for fixing this thing, so I can get back to what I love doing.   On the “bright side”, it seems that the most common treatment is Revision ACL.  Michelle shared with me some documents that describe the procedures (interestingly, one of the docs was written by Dr. Cole).   There is a 10% chance that I’ll need to have a 2-stage ACLR.. that means, open the knee, pull out the screws; fill in with bone graft.. heal for 6-8 weeks.. then go in and do the ACLR; which then means another 6 months before I’m back to sport!  That sounds horrible… twice the PT and twice the surgery for the same outcome!   Let’s hope that my first knee surgery was done properly (so that the screw holes align) AND that the holes themselves haven’t widened.

The first time I had my ACL repair; I took the time to write down my thoughts about the process and what I was going through.  That was long before the internet was huge; and I ended up having to write my own HTML to publish it.  It should be a lot easier now, right?

So… about running..

If you recall from my goal setting discussion below; I had set my sights on starting running January 1st.

So, as with every type of new activity you should CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR PRIOR TO STARTING ANY EXERCISE REGIME.  I followed the advice of my lovely wife and met with Dr. Pohlman to talk about my fitness goals and to get his feelings about when would be an appropriate time to start running.  At that point in my fitness journey, I had been working out for 2 months on the elliptical, was 60 pounds less than when I started and was feeling pretty good about how far I had come. I  met with Dr. Pohlman and had a long list of questions about his thoughts on next steps and to get an outsider perspective on progress and how I can be successful.  I let him know that I was planning on starting jogging on January 1st.  He did encourage me to listen to my body and to slow down if I felt pain and to not push it too fast too soon.

Now, you all know me by now and I’m not going to let simple pain get in the way of achieving my goals.  I had to be smart about it.  I had never done any type of running at all in my life… short of making sure that I was not dead last while running for football.   I hadn’t been chased by bears in a while; so I was really worried about actually failing to be able to run.  I just didn’t get the joy that every running that I knew would share about how great they felt while running and after running.  But, I knew that if I wanted to maximize my fitness and weight loss that I would have to give it a shot.  I took Michelle’s advice, and started a a couch to 5k program.  I found the one at coolrunning.com to be flexible and easy to follow and they had an app that I could use on my iphone to track my progress.

Running started pretty slowly, as you would imagine with no experience. I followed the program and was committed to not stopping.  I would finish each treadmill session no matter what.  Interestingly, C25K program starts out very slowly; with only a job for a minute or so.  The idea is to build very slowly and make lots of small increments.  The first few weeks were pretty easy.  I was able to finish and feel like I wasn’t going to die.  I upped the pace a bit to push myself.  I felt pretty confident that I would be able to actually make this thing work and complete it.

Then, I had an injury.  I was on the treadmill just jogging away.. I think, at the time, I was working on a 5 minute jog or something along those lines and my left calf just completely seized up and I couldn’t even bear weight on it.  It was bad.  It has been the only time since I started exercising that I actually thought about going to see the doctor about one of my minor aches and pains.  Needless to say, I didn’t bother; I just took a week off entirely from cardio exercise; then added back in the elliptical for another week; before I went back to the treadmill.

It was last night, when I was on the treadmill and I was able to run a full 30 minutes at a slow pace; but I was ABLE TO DO IT.  I finished and it didn’t kill me.  I still don’t get the “runners high” or feel awesome when I’m done because of the running.. I feel awesome when I’m done because I’m done and I did something that I didn’t think I could do.  Yeah, thats right; I can run.  HAH.  Take that universe.    I’m thinking that I might actually try running outside once the weather warms up a bit.  I’m slightly terrified of it and the pressure on my knees; but hey… only one way to find out.

Maybe I should register for a 5K?  Could be worth getting a t-shirt…. and an opportunity to run with Michelle.

Wish me luck!