ACL Post Op Panic

Hi Steph,
I really enjoyed your honest account of your ACL injury. Thank-you. I’m currently experiencing the same post operative panic about stretching the graft – four days after surgery my left heel (aclr left leg) slipped off my right foot as i was lifting it and hit the floor. Drop of about 3/4 foot. I felt a sharp stabbing pain at the back of my knee where the graft tunnel would be. My surgeon has said that it would take a lot more force to dislodge a bone-patellar graft but it continues to incite panic.

I currently live in Hong Kong and despite my years of paragliding (which is excellent in this city believe it or not) and surfing, I tore my ACL in a motorcycle accident. I was lucky that I got out of it with only two broken ribs and a torn ACL.

As you highlighted, the hardest part is immobility and being housebound. Fear seems to be an ever present part of my world at the moment despite everyone’s reassurances.

Thanks again for the article and any words of encouragement would be most welcome:)

Hi Iain,
If your surgeon said you didn’t tear your graft, I bet you didn’t. I was continuously having minor panic attacks about tearing mine the first 2-6 months after surgery. I still had them a year after surgery! It really wasn’t until 2 years after the surgery that I finally trusted my graft and my knee, but I am not a very trusting person especially after someone (in this case, my knee) has let me down once already 😉

I feel your panic! I think I was more panicked than any post-op ACL surgery patient in the history of the world: I was continuously convinced I had torn the graft in the first 2 months after surgery. I drove 3.5 hours to Salt Lake to see my surgeon, because I was afraid I pivoted too much on my left leg when getting into the driver’s seat of my car, and that I surely had torn the graft. I wore my Don-Joy brace every time I skydived on BASE jumped for almost 2 years after surgery. Trust in Allah, but always tie your camel.

If you have easy access to your surgeon and he tells you things are still fine, then just go see him whenever you are having a panic attack. And, BE CAREFUL. I basically assumed my graft had the durability of toilet paper for the first 6 months after surgery and treated it accordingly. Better to be paranoid than in for surgery #. I talked to people who tore their grafts because they went out dancing at a bar, rode their bikes, or went skiing in the first 2 months. So don’t do that stuff for a while. Don’t do anything that has the potential to tear your graft, particularly for the first few months!

I had my surgery in 2009, and I can’t even tell now: it was definitely worth it 🙂 I feel so fortunate to live in a time and place where they can give me my ACL back.

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