Mindless Actions And The ACL Reconstruction

30 comments
October 07, 2009 Pune, India - As a child, I had always been inclined towards adventures. During the days when I was so tiny that I was meant to be carried in the arms of my Mum, I rather cried to walk with her finger in my hand. With the passage of time, this passion has seen a drastic rise and my love towards the swaying adrenaline levels has observed no negative momentum. I have been testing my guts right since my high school days - mindless jumping in the sand from the under-construction buildings, somersaults in the school garden for which I had earned an accolade of fracturing my left wrist and so on. Gradually, I had developed this unusual passion for diving and capturing aerial self-photographs. This had just started to soar to a dream of sky-diving until a couple of years back when I was deeply de-motivated by the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury in my right knee.

Well, that sounds serious right? Indeed, I know I had screwed up myself to the extent that my any sort of adventurous moves in the near future were going to be jeopardized. An ACL tear and the subsequent reconstruction surgery is one of the worst experiences one can have in life. This post describes my experience on the topic and possibly guides those people who are looking for this option in order to fix their ACL injury or the so called Sportsman's injury.

The ACL tear: Just before the Halloween of the year 2007, I had been to the Coorg district of Karnataka State in India on a vacation with my friends. The enchanting climate and the mind blasting natural beauty of the place didn't stop me from getting adventurous. We decided to climb a rocky cliff (without any safety precautions or a rope) on our way - now that is what I call a mindless adventure, insane and crazy. Almost all of us climbed mid way of the cliff but I was the only one who decided to jump from a twenty feet high altitude. And now this is where everything went wrong. Neither my mind nor my calculations worked. While I was mid-way in the air, rushing rapidly towards the rock solid surface, I realized the insanity of the decision I had made. Although I successfully managed to land on my feet, a cracking sound from my knee almost immobilized my further movement. Initially, it felt like a bone cracking sound which made me feel it was a fracture. It was just when the doctor examined my MRI scanning report; I came to know that it was a ligament tear - in fact, a complete ACL tear. Immediately after the injury occurred, it was accompanied by the swelling of my knee. The pain was so acute that it restricted even my slightest move.


Why Surgery?
Many would be merely traumatized by the idea of getting operated on oneself to fix their ligament issue. Certain doctors may advise not to opt for surgery if the tear is not so significant. In which case, the victim must learn to be extra cautious about his adventurous moves all throughout his life. Although, at times the victim might feel pretty confident that the injury no more exists, he runs a high chance of getting his tear escalated due to any miscalculated body movement. Some victims, over a period of time, so efficiently learn to adjust their knee movements that they never realize that they are still a victim of a chronic ACL tear. In my case, it was a complete tear and I had no option other than to surgically reconstruct my ACL.

The Surgery: Believe me, a surgery is a no good experience. I was half dead, literally in the operation theatre when a wicked troop of surgeons performed their experiments on me. I was injected something using a needle that penetrated deep into my abdominal spine and within a few seconds, I was paralyzed and had zero sensation below my stomach. The surgery was performed arthroscopically meaning, a cut is made into your body and a camera is inserted into it to perform the surgery. The minute aspects of the surgical process are continuously observed on a video screen. I am sure the hospital must be having the recording of the entire procedure, which I would never like to ever watch. For over an hour, I kept on hearing the sounds of the drill machine, scary stuff, reminded me of the jigsaw killer of the SAW movie series. I kept on feeling thirsty at times, probably due to loss of water from the body during the process. Finally it was over. Gradually within 3-4 hours time, I got my sensation back and I was happy to notice that I was actually able to move my left leg.

The Rehabilitation: Life was miserable immediately after the surgery. I spent a few days on the hospital bed with regular appointments of the physiotherapist. My knee was supported by a knee brace all the time. Despite exerting full body energy, sometimes it seemed impossible to lift my knee. I was frightened by my doctor saying, if I fail to perform the exercises, my leg would be a dead leg. This fear motivated me and I gradually picked up the speed. During the first week after the surgery, I used a walker to move around the restroom. Later, I was told to put my entire body weight on my operated leg. The trauma still existed which reminded me of the day the injury occurred. It took another week for me to get out of the phobia. I was advised to use walking crutches for another couple of months. Initially, it was hard to believe that I needed crutches but day after day, I was comfortable using it. I used them for a month and gradually got rid of them. The day I threw them, seemed to be one of the happiest day of my life.

The second and third month, I took extra precautions in every step I took. I made sure that I do not exert unnecessary strain over my injured knee. In the second month after the surgery, I was able to bend my knee completely. Nevertheless, it was still very weak and timid. Exercising was the only way to build up the strength and vigor into the muscles around my knee. Six months passed by and I was by the time used to my new life. By this time, I attempted to run gently and tried to gain my lost confidence back. My exercise routine was now extremely irregular but the strength in the knee improved with every day that passed by.

This month, this nightmare is going to observe its 2nd anniversary. After the accident, life has taken a different turn - not that I have stopped being adventures but I am now able to differentiate good adventures from the mindless ones.


30 comments :

  1. One of my very close frnds has this tear (partial ACL tear). He injured his knee while pplaying football. He is very scared pf the operation and has been putting it off for more than 7-8 years now.

    I have seen him in pain and can fully understand the hell you went through. Hope you never get into such trouble again.

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  2. That's so true Paritosh. Occurrences depict that women are easily prone to ACL injuries. Most men and women prefer to avoid the surgery but that is not a long term solution to the problem. Avoiding surgery just means that you have decided to learn to live with the injury.

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    1. Hi
      I also injured my right knee ACL
      & Confused whether to go for operation or not. Also heard that Reconstruction lead to arthritis. Hence request you to please suggest your experience

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  3. Very informative and touching experience. I appreciate your courage and patience. Will share it with more friends. Thanks.

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  4. Its nice that you are good now and that you have learnt to differentiate between good and mindless adventures. and by the way, happy 2nd worst nightmare anniversary.


    shilpa

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  5. Well Thanks for sharing that.... we are a few group of friendz and do mindless adventures mostly like climbing through difficult path on any chosen mountains or hills whatever..and the monsoons are like heaven for us thats the time when such adventures happen... thanks maybe next time we do a mindless activity the magnitude would be less...Sorry cant stop doing it though...

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  6. he he... last year broke my both feet.. fell from a tree

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  7. Having undergone a surgery, I can well understand how all that feels - anyhow good to know that you feel better now!

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  8. @Neeraj!!!
    Hi!!!
    Am a first timer here...
    And even I have gone through this trauma of ACL rehabilitation!! And yes the rehabilitation takes a really long time!!!
    Mine was a different story though!! A complete Badminton freak, I twisted my left knee an year and a half ago at the court!!! Had to get the ACL reconstructed!! Somehow I rehabilitated and started playing at the end of the year!!!!!
    And guess what!! I again tore my ACL.. This time on the right knee thankfully!! :-(

    I am still under two minds if I should get another surgery or not!!!
    :-(

    You have made a valid point in this post!! Life takes a different turn after the accident!! Sadly I realized it a little too late!!

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  9. @Whats In A Name, Feeling very sad to hear your story. I an imagine how painful it could be to have that injury to both the legs. Please continue the physiotherapy exercises to recuperate faster. It was something I missed during my initial days. Now I realize the importance of those exercises. My sincere advice to all ACL injury vistims would be to take up physiotherapy very very seriously after your surgery!

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  10. I repeat, never skip physiotherapy! You won't get the lost time back!

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  11. Hi i am a 16 years old male from jordan and i had a complet ACL tear and LL tear and also dissfigered my cartleg while i was riding the bike and i am still in the physiotherapy its been one month and 15 days since i started it,till now i am able to flex my knee to 125' (the normal range is 130-135' if u are laying on your stamock) the doctors tell me i well be able to do every thing i used to again and i hope for the best
    THANK YOU

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  12. Hey Neeraj, I got my ACL done 3 weeks ago. Unlike your cause of injury, all that happened was a simple twist of my knee while swinging my cricket bat during a no-competition, "time-pass" game with my colleagues. I went through the same surgical procedure as yours.
    Until 2 weeks after the surgery, my ortho had just asked me to twitch my knee and contract-stretch kind of a routine for my ankle/feet. During the 3rd week, he asked me to lift my leg while lying down. I am able to do that after mustering courage over 3-4 days after he told !! Oh God! it was really scary when he suddenly asked me to lift my operated leg up during one of my visits to get my stitches removed :( I am still moving with my knee brace.
    I have started working full-time from home (thanks unfortunately to my IT job), which is like 14 hrs of the day. I will make it a point to continue with my physiotherapy sincerely. Hope I will recover soon. And, hope you do get out of the traumatic memories soon !!
    Stay Well, buddy!

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  13. @Venki, The popping sound followed by the surgical drills into your bone - nothing can be worse then these. I will pray for your quick recovery. Keep on wearing your knee braces for as many days as possible. In my case, I had stopped it after 2 months. I was extremely sick of it. Moreover, I wanted to see myself unsupported. But, this could be absolute foolishness if you manage to tear your reconstructed ACL again due to stopping the use of braces. All the best!

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  14. @Neeraj - Thanks for your feedback and advice. It's now 7 weeks since my ACL reconstruction surgery happened. During my visit to the surgeon last week, he advised me to take off the knee brace and start walking like a 'normal' person! It looked like a genuine recommendation, but looking back at your caution, I'm a bit worried. I've not put on my braces for the last 1 week...been trying walk with the elbow crutch, often without that too..
    My physiotherapy sessions are in progress...Intense pain in the muscles and tendon and deep-throated cries of pain when the session happens...but I'm enduring all of that, since I want to recover soon! However, one other complication that I'm facing is that the Quadriceps muscles (muscles just above the knee cap) have hardened and kind of consolidated into one place..forming a "band" above the knee and not letting me bend or walk normally...Have you been through this? Any suggested remedies?
    Thanks in advance.

    I wish everything is fine with you these days in life! Take care.

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  15. Neeraj,

    Thanks for the detailed description of your operation.

    I tore my ACL playing football, and also tore BOTH the meniscii. Strangely enough, after a couple of weeks, I was able to limp back to NEAR-NORMALCY.

    I managed to put off surgery for several years, but now the problem is getting to the point, where I must have the surgery done.

    Could you please tell me at which Hospital in Pune you got your operation done, and also the name of the Doctor and the Physio-Therapist that worked on your leg ? Also, did they use a patellar-graft to reconstruct your ACL, or some other technique ? Thanks a lot.

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  16. Hello Mr. Anonymous - I was operated at Appollo hospital, Bangalore. I underwent physiotherapy only for a week which was a mistake from my side. Yes, the surgeon used patellar graft technique.

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  17. @Venki, Firstly I apologize for a delayed response. Actually, the experiences vary from case to case basis and depending on the nature of the tear. I have just shared my experience which was a complete tear :(
    Please follow your doctors recommendations as he would interpret your condition better based on your MRI reports

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  18. Hi neeraj,
    I met with an accident recently and complete acl tear.
    doctors have suggested ACL reconstruction surgery.
    I have taken opinion from Manipal, Hosmat, st johns.
    Looks like you underwent surgery in Apollo, Bangalore.

    Can you let know details of the consultant doctor and whether you considered other hospitals before choosing Apollo and whether you have any suggestion on the hospital for surgery.

    Thanks,
    Praveen

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  19. hi praveen,

    I remember, i was operated by Dr. kishore's team... I had no consultation earlier.. my case was an emergency... and i was rushed to the hospital... just the only option i had at that time. BTW I am fine now but try to walk, run carefully.... and avoid any sudden jerks on my knee... all the best...

    regards,
    neeraj

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  20. Hi Neeraj,
    Thanks for your reply.
    Does your last line mean even after surgery we have to be very concious of our activities like:

    Avoiding sudden jerks, movements etc.
    How about driving bike/car/climbing steps etc?

    Do you feel any pain if you try to climb steps or drive 2-wheeler or kneel down or sit crossed-legs?

    I have got mixed opinion from doctors.
    Some are saying that I can try managing without surgery and if I face any instability issue I can go for surgery. Otherwise I can live with some lifestyle modifications..
    Any comments on above?

    Thanks in advance for your response,
    -Praveen

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  21. Hi Praveen - please do not get scared much. I do not feel any pain performing my daily activities. But yes, I had missed physio probably this is why I was not able to regain enough strength in my thigh & leg muscles. I strongly suggest you to not miss physio (no matter how bad it may feel). Just try to regain your confidence level which will happen gradually (I am sure) but at the same time ensure that you take care of your movements at least initially after the surgery. The worst would be to have an ACL tear again and undergoing the same surgery again.

    Take Care! :)
    Rgds,
    Neeraj

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  22. Thanks for the post...I have recently got an ACL sprain... thankfully its not a tear... and am not too sure how to deal with it... cause the pain is not that bad... and doctor said surgery is not really required... but I was so looking forward to sky diving next month... dunno whether I can do it now though! will keep u posted..have u been able to fulfill ur dream of skydiving?

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  23. Not yet! :) Just remember, safety first!

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  24. Hi , Did anyone know which hospital in India , anywhere within India , has the facility for allograft acl reconstruction ( cadaver donated acl graft ) instead of allograft . I have been trying to find this information .

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  25. Does anyone know which hospital in India has the facility to provide allograft acl reconstruction ( cadaver donated graft ) instead of usual autograft?

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  27. Hey neeraj l I also have the same problem but only acl 3grade tear not meniscus tear and I am from Delhi so suggest me a good hospital where I can go for surgery

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  28. Hi Devilisgy - I was operated at Apollo Hospital by Dr. Kishor Subbahiya at Bangalore. I am not knowledgeable about hospitals in Delhi.

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    1. Yeah my surgery is done in sic safdarjung when I will climb the stairs on my own

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