7 – My ACL Journey – Sleeping, Showering, and Riding in a Car After Surgery

9/29/22 – Sleeping Sucks

I decided tonight to skip on the oxy and continue with just Tylenol and Motrin. My husband left me an oxy pill on my side table just in case I wake up in pain but I never ended up using it. Sleeping in a knee brace locked into extension is not very comfortable. Being a side sleeping, I would toss and turn often during my sleep so trying to sleep like a vampire on my back was the worst thing I could go through. I found that if I actually slept on my affected side, the knee brace protected my knee in place and I was more comfortable on my left hip. My unaffected leg was on top and I propped it up on the wedge so keep it from touching my other knee. Throughout the night I would alternate between sleeping on my back and on my left side. 

My lower back suffered the most, waking up with a lot of stiffness and soreness in my lower back and SI joints. I had to thoroughly stretch out every morning before I woke up or I would end up limping more because I developed sciatic pain in my left glute.  

Thank goodness I don’t have work tomorrow, because ACL, you are killing me. 

9/30/22 – First Shower Post-Op

Nothing is more humbling than allowing another person to do everything for you. Before my surgery I had planned out my bathroom layout, putting items in reachable area…smart placement of stools, towels, trash bins, etc so I could maneuver the bathroom independently. I even tested out trying to do multiple showers on one leg and testing out standing positions, sitting positions, where I could prop up my knee. 

All that sense of “independence” went out the window after surgery.  

The day after surgery, my husband helped me undress and wipe my entire body down with a towel. You will never feel loved until someone hand wipes your body as they also try to hold you up from falling over. Thank god that only had to happen twice and I thank my husband over and over again for supporting my hygiene.  

My surgeon allowed me to shower today, 3 days post op, since my incisions were small. His instructions were, let the water and soap glide over your wound, no need to cover and don’t soak it. I was honestly scared of removing the bandage, anticipating minced meat underneath, so I decided to do it after the shower. Also, for some reason, leaving the bandage gave my knee a layer of protection so it wasn’t so vulnerable (even though I knew it did nothing).  

Undressing myself is always an ordeal in itself. The shirts weren’t a problem, it was always the bottom. Trying to figure out how to balance on the affected leg, bend over the sink and hold myself up, while I kick off my bottoms. The slightest tug on my surgical knee would cause it to buckle. My husband would help me into the shower and I used the ledge to pull myself in. 

Showering has never felt so refreshing and blissful in my life.  

 I was able to stand on my own so he just sat outside the shower until I finished. He basically dried me off and carried me out of the shower since I couldn’t seem to lift my leg 1 inch to step out. I learned that if I placed my crutches around the bathroom, I could use the walls, counters, and crutches to essentially move around like I’m in a round-about cubicle.  Also, the single leg RDLs really paid off to pick up things from the floor.  

After my shower, I took my bandages off and cleaned around the wound. There was a lot of gunky skin glue around my incisions. Some were dry and intact, some were kind of wet so I let my knee sit out for a bit before I covered them with new steri-strips.  

This quick video below shows how I did that:  

Some reminders when changing bandages: 

  1. Don’t rip the steri-strips off your skin and waking your wound bleed. This is not ripping off a bandaid literally. You can even tack the skin down with your other hand and slowly peal the strips off so it doesn’t peel off the scab as well.  
  2. Change your bandages right after you shower because you don’t want to have a soggy wet pad of bacteria sitting on your wound for long. It is also softer and the bandage isn’t so stick so you don’t have to tug at it. If the bandage has fused with your blood, then just cut off as much as you can but I don’t suggest ripping it off if it is hurting.  
  3. Do NOT soak your wound in water because that will cause infection. NO BATHS should be taken because the bacteria in your armpits and your butt will cause SEVERE infections in your wound. 
  4. Do not cover your wound too tightly because you want it to breath to form a scab. If you seal it too tight, there will be more likelihood of bacteria incubation.  
  5. When water runs over your wound, it may sting a bit, but it’s ok, you’re tough! 

10/1/22 – First Car Ride

I got to get out of the house today! Quick trip to Target to get butt wipes and pick up pizza for lunch. I was so excited to go outside into the world for a little bit. I fitted my brace because my leg size had changed with removing all the bandages. Below is a video of how to customize your brace to fit your leg better. 

Brace Fitting Video: 

We decided that getting into the SUV was easier than my sedan since it was higher off the ground. I turned around and sat down first, then swung my leg in. Problem was it was locked in extension so it did not clear the door even though it was opened fully. My husband had to lift my leg up and over like folding me into a V in order to get into the car. Since my knee did not bend in the brace, it did not touch the floor unless I slouched and slid down the seat. Things will be much more comfortable when I can bend my knee and unlock the brace.  

I tried to do some shopping in Target but after trekking the parking lot, I only made it like 20 feet and I was exhausted. Ended up browsing pajamas because it was the closest thing to the exit. Pizza, however, was a pleasant treat after eating soup for the past few days. 

BTW, ask the doctor for a temporary handicap sign. It is a game changer, trust me, when you walk super slow and you’re swollen, the last thing you want to do is hobble around. 10 feet will feel like 100. You can get the necessary forms from your doctor and take it to you local DMV or AAA office to get a temporary handicap placard made.  

LA handicap parking rules dictate that disabled permit holders are entitled to park: 

  • In designated disabled parking spaces 
  • Next to a blue curb (indicating parking spaces that are reserved for disabled permit holders) 
  • Next to a green curb for unlimited time 
  • In metered, on-street spaces for free 

Disabled parking permit holders are not entitled to park: 

  • In spaces marked with a crosshatched pattern next to a disabled space 
  • Next to a red curb, yellow curb, or white curb 

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