What to Expect When You’re Expecting ACL Surgery and What Happens Next?

If you asked me that question a month ago, my answer would be a flat out, “I don’t know.”

My leg selfie. A snapshot of my right knee, one month before my ACL surgery.

Now don’t get me wrong. After your pre-surgery consult your orthopedic surgeon will hand you an envelope. That envelope contains all of the information that you will need to know prior to, on the day of, and 48-hours post, your ACL surgery.

This is a MUST READ! Do not wait until the day before your surgery to read it. If you think you’re seeing the same information three times, and the only differentiating factor is the color of paper it’s printed on-it’s not. Even if you don’t take a single one of those vitamins or medications that are listed on the “Do Not Take a Week Prior to Your surgery” list-who cares. Because guess what? If you don’t read it, you may arrive at the hospital to find out that you can’t have the surgery. And do you know where you can find that little piece of info? Yes, that’s right. It’s in the packet.

The folder also includes important information for the person who will be picking you up from hospital. If you didn’t get to that part, you may find yourself being escorted back to your place of residence by someone called an “Ambulette.” I think that’s a super cute professional title but maybe they should change it to something like, an “Ambulator.” It just has a safer ring to it. For example, “With just a blink of an eye, the Ambulator has the ability to make all street traffic stop, and to silence all car horns, so you can exit the car slowly and anxiety free.” Right? It sounds so much better.

A few of the pages from the folder I received after my initial pre-op appointment.

Last, but definitely not least, is the information about how you will feel, what you need to do, and what you may, or may not experience, during the next 48 hours to a week after your surgery. (Note: I probably should have read this portion a bit more carefully  but that is for another post.)

The material in this folder won’t tell you how much pain you’re going to be in, or how much work, and time, you will have to dedicate to your recovery. I have three theories about this:

  1. If ACL surgery candidates knew how hellacious the recovery period was going to be, they would probably opt-out of the surgery
  2. Everyone experiences pain differently
  3. No two ACL Reconstructive Surgeries are the same

Tomorrow, officially marks my one month ACL Reconstruction Surgery Anniversary.  And if you were to ask me the same question again, my answer would be a flat out, “It’s a hellacious experience” but I will also tell you that it gets better every day.

I am not a doctor. I am just an Upper East Side girl who tore her ACL. I can’t tell you how you’re going to feel or when you will be able to lose the crutches (which you’ll soon find out have a mind of their own). What I will share with you over the next couple of months is my experience, as well as some tips and tricks on how I am getting through it. From my pre-op prep list to tips on how to select the right “designated driver” to pick you up from the hospital, to how to make your thrice daily at-home PT workouts fun, to ideas on how to pass the time, I finally have the opportunity to put all my useless information to good use.

It’s going to be a long road, with some bumps along the way, but I can guarantee that if you stick with me, we’re going to have some fun.

My recovery timeline.

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