Mar 29, 2017

A Pain in the Knee: Part X (aka The Discharge)

So last Wednesday was a big day for me. It was my evaluation day. So it was really big. When I started my PT journey I started with an evaluation which included a lot of questions, sitting in a chair, "walking" (I was technically on crutches) and just some basic stuff to see where I was. Then I went through 20 total PT sessions from about mid December to just last week (end of March). I started with twice a week then after nine weeks of that I dropped to once a week. So I had a lot of PT, but the thing about PT is that 80% of recovery is what you do at home, so I have been doing my at-home PT every day twice a day all that time.

But finally after weeks of going to PT, it was time to evaluate again and figure out if it was time for me to being discharged and strong enough to finally take my care into my own hands. I was definitely nervous going into it because I really wanted to be done with PT but at one of my last sessions with my lead therapist he mentioned keeping me going once every other week to get me even stronger ("because I'm young." He kept saying that and it was annoying.). But I just wanted to be done. Leading up to my final evaluation, the hubs repeated reminded me that I was the patient and I had control over my care and I needed to speak up for myself.

My stomach was all in knots when I went in to my session. I started on the bike like I normally did, only after going for about a minute a tech came out to tell me that my therapist wanted me to up the level (how hard it is to pedal the bike basically) because we were really going to push my knee. That was very different than how my evaluation went going from twice a week to once a week where he told me to take it easy on the bike. So I was even more nervous that this meant he was going to give me a bunch of new things (like he did before) and I was going to struggle and not get discharged. But I pedaled on and waited for him to come out to get started.

Almost immediately my fears were settled when he started talking about discharged. He asked me how I felt like my knee was and if I was having trouble with any of my exercises. I told him that I felt like I had a good handle on everything and my knee was definitely feeling better. Then we started going through the questions I were given at my first appointment before we started the test portion.

We started with weighted squats. He gave me a 25 pound weight, I squatted with it below my knees then drew it up to my chest. I did it five times (thank goodness only 5 times) and he commented how my weight was even between my legs and you couldn't even tell which was my bad knee. So that was definitely a good start. Then we moved on to walking. I had to walk down a long hallway under 40 seconds which I did in 37 seconds. After walking we moved to going from sitting in a chair to standing 18 times in 30 seconds. If that sounds insane then you should do it. It was hard and I was winded by the end but I did it.

I was definitely feeling good because I was conquering all the things he was giving me which was all more things in my favor to actually being discharged. Then I had to step up, step up and turn around and do it again with an 8 inch step without holding on. I know to some that seems not that hard but have knee surgery and you might think that sounds a heck of a lot harder than you realize. But once again I conquered that easily (I am so glad I have been practicing not holding on at home!). Then we finished with a loop around my ankles and side stepping with my leg straight then again only with my knee bent the entire time.

And then I was done. I was officially discharged. The care and finished recovery of my knee was now in my control and my hands. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

However I wasn't done yet because the next day I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor who did my surgery. I had no idea what I was expecting but I was dreading it. But we all headed there the next day and after waiting for about an hour (my patience was definitely drained by the end) the doc finally came in. We talked about my knee and how I was doing. Then I went through a little bit of a test with him. I had to show my strength in my inner quad by tightening it then pushing against him pushing on my knee. Then the part I knew was coming and really dreading. He pushed on my knee cap and showed me where it stops and that everything looked good. And by the end, he agreed with PT and officially cleared me from having to come back for follow-ups unless I had concerns or needed something.

So I have officially been discharged and cleared and done with this part of my journey with my knee. Of course I have a long way to go before my knee is back to where is was (or actually better because now it won't dislocate). But it's just time and work I need now. The doctor told me that it could be 6 months or it could be a year before I feel 100% but that's just up to me and how much time and energy I put into it. But I am out of any danger now because my quad is definitely strong enough to hold my knee. And I can get back to things as I feel like it. I can start jumping as I feel comfortable. I can try out running as I feel like it. I can take off the compression sleeve when I feel comfortable. I can get back to my workouts as I feel comfortable.

Almost four months after having knee surgery, I am getting even closer to normal and have finally be discharged and cleared with the care of my knee back in my own hands again.

A Pain in the Knee: Part I (aka The Backstory)
A Pain in the Knee: Part II (aka The Surgery)
A Pain in the Knee: Part III (aka The Recovery)
A Pain in the Knee: Part IV (aka Physical Therapy)
A Pain in the Knee: Part V (aka Still Recovering)
A Pain in the Knee: Part VI (aka Knee Surgery & Recovery + Being a Mom = Really Hard)
A Pain in the Knee: Part VII (aka Brace Off)
A Pain in the Knee: part VIII (aka Walk Faster!)
A Pain in the Knee: Part VIIII (aka Outer Quad vs Inner Quad)

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