As many of you know I had more surgery last week for my knee. So many people have asked me what happened and why my recovery from the original injury seems to have taken so long, so while I’m stuck at home in recovery I figured it would make sense to write it all down!
It all starts back in January 2016. Holiday time. A ski trip!
“It will be fun,” they said. “It’s great exercise,” they said…
Little did I know I was destined for a torn knee ligament, two surgeries and over 18 months of rehab to boot!
Don’t get me wrong, I’d been skiing before, I knew what I was getting myself into and I don’t think I know anybody who hasn’t had some kind of injury from skiing. It’s classified as an extreme sport for a reason!
Still, the beautiful vistas of Val d’Isère in France were calling to me, and with the news that the snow had arrived just in time for our holiday I was chomping at the bit to clip on my skis and hit the mountains. Furthermore, I felt like I’d eaten my body weight in turkey, mince pies and chocolate across the Christmas holidays so a skiing holiday seemed like the perfect remedy to get me back on the fitness bandwagon, especially as you can burn upwards of 4,000 calories a day while skiing!
Unfortunately for me where there hadn’t been much snow in the preceding weeks to our arrival (thanks global warming!) many of the more popular runs were hiding a very nasty layer of ice beneath the fresh powder. It was only our first morning on the pistes so I wasn’t even taking things that fast, but it was just my luck that I slipped on this ice and went flying. Annoyingly, my left ski didn’t release properly from my boot after I fell and instead impaled itself in a fresh pile of snow on the edge of the piste. Due to the effects of gravity and momentum I continued to roll down the slope even though my left foot was now stuck. As a result, my knee took the brunt of the rolling motion and ended up twisting horribly to the right. Weirdly, I felt no pain when it happened other than an uncomfortable ‘pop’ in my kneecap, nor did my knee swell up hideously either. I had no idea what I’d done at the time but everything felt OK so I didn’t think it could be that serious. In fact, I managed to ski for the rest of the week!
When I came home I was pretty much frog-marched to the doctors to for a check up as by this point my knee was displaying some stiffness, soreness and slight swelling. After two hospital appointments, one consultant appointment, one X-ray, one CT scan and one MRI the bombshell was finally discovered that yes, I had torn my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL for short), and yes I would need surgery. Nightmare!
So in June 2016 I bit the bullet and went under the knife to have the ACL replacement surgery. I was on crutches for 4 weeks, off work for 7 weeks as I couldn’t drive and literally had to learn to walk again. Not at all the summer I had in mind!
After almost two months of not using my leg in its normal way it was shocking how much the muscles in my left leg had literally wasted away. I had been so used to the swelling from the surgery that when the inflammation had finally subsided I was left with one normal leg and one skinny chicken leg!
I was put onto an intense physiotherapy plan to rebuild the muscle which was very hard work! The exercises were really simple at first glance, but for a leg which had done no work for nearly 8 weeks it meant my leg was exhausted very quickly.
Slowly but surely I started to see those muscles coming back, plus my overall fitness was also improving with time. I could walk, cycle, lift weights and squat (with very light loads) again, plus I was actually enjoying my time at the gym as I could see the progress I was making week on week. I couldn’t run yet, but I was sure that would come with time.
However, there was one thing that was holding me back. Every time I went on a long walk or had a really good gym session I would notice my knee ‘puff up’ around the joint and become very swollen again. For months I figured this was just part of the recovery process and a side effect of rebuilding the muscle groups, but after over 6 months of physiotherapy and two very painful aspirations (draining) procedures on the knee to try and curb the swelling, I went back to my consultant to see what was happening. Another MRI scan was booked and the results were not what I wanted to hear: more surgery was needed.
Unfortunately I was a rare 1 out of 100 ACL replacement surgery patients who find a part of the graft used to repair the ligament comes loose and begins grinding against the knee cap, hence the inflammation and swelling around the joint. It’s nothing to do with the surgeon who operated, or the physiotherapy exercises I was doing to rebuild my muscles. It was just bad luck! Essentially, each time I did any exercise my knee was reacting as though I was wearing a poor fitting pair of shoes and creating a ‘blister’ style protection around my knee cap and filling with inflammatory fluid. Yuck!
Luckily, it was definitely fixable and I was reassured the surgery would be quick, no crutches would be necessary, I’d only need one week off work and I’d really feel the benefit after the lump had been removed. Begrudgingly I resolved that the short term pain of having more surgery should mean the long term gain of being pain free, swelling free and able to get back to a ‘normal’ way of life. We set the date at 1st August and the countdown began!
The night before my surgery I sat down to pack my hospital bag. My nerves were already kicking in at the thought of the needles, soreness and nausea that come with going into any hospital for any procedure, never mind the embarrassment of forgetting to pack something essential!
On Sunday 30th July I had been lucky enough to help Rosa with the amazing Yankee Candle TSV day at QVC UK where we had packaged together a 9-piece bundle of five bestselling Yankee Candle fragrances. The bundles included the plug in electric refills which are so well loved and reviewed by our Fandles, and this gave me an idea! I love using the plug in refills in my home because they are a fuss-free flameless solution which I can safely leave to fragrance any room, so what about my hospital room! I popped a Pink Sands refill and plug into my hospital bag and tried to get some sleep before the big day…
Well, what a success! The nurses and doctors could not stop talking about how amazing my room smelled, what a lovely idea it was for me to make my room feel so homely, and how could they buy one for their home! It really cheered me up amongst all the not-so-nice parts of my hospital stay (I really don’t like needles!) to see how much a simple thing like a scented plug in could make people so happy. The surgery was quick, as promised, and I was discharged to come home again that evening.
As I’m writing today I’m now four days post-surgery and well on the road to recovery. I’m doing plenty of physiotherapy and I’ve already conquered basic walking and the stairs! I can’t wait to get back to the gym and back in my car again as I hate being stuck at home, especially when the sun is shining, but I’m respecting the recovery process and ensuring I get lots of rest and sleep as well. Doctor’s orders!
If you want to try a Yankee Candle plug in, or read more about what they are and how they work, you can find them here. Remember, you buy the plug and the refills separately, but all our refills work in all our plug bases.
We also have some amazing plug in deals currently on the QVC UK website, but they won’t be around for long at this price! Check them out here.