The last few days have been all about my 23 year old son Nate and his initial recovery from ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair surgery. He’s young and strong, with an athlete’s temperament and a hunger for challenge. If there is an easy way and a gnarly way to climb a mountain, Nate will choose gnarly every time. He rowed competitively in high school and college, so he is no stranger to pain or hard work. It’s been amazing to watch him since last Thursday, focusing all his energy on staying calm in the face of immobility, brain fog, pain, uncertainty. He’s a case study in determined healing.
Here’s what they tell you when you are about to be discharged from ACL surgery:
The surgeon: “You feel okay now because of the nerve block, but when that wears off tomorrow, you are going to hate me. You are going to be in a LOT of pain.”
The anesthesia nurse: “Make sure you take the Oxycodone every two hours to get ahead of the pain. You don’t want to get behind on that.”
The surgeon, again: “Take one baby aspirin a day for a month, because you don’t want to get a blood clot.”
The recovery nurse: “Be sure to take the stool softener every day because the oxy kind of plugs you up. “
And: “You can alternate Tylenol and Advil in case the oxy isn’t enough.”
And: “The oxy is probably going to make you feel nauseous, so they’re giving you an anti-nausea medication for that.”
…“No showers until your one week post-op check up. “
…“You can work on weight bearing or range of motion but not both.”
…“Get to physical therapy tomorrow, not matter how much it hurts.”
Perhaps most awful, for someone like him, so intensely active and vital, is hearing these words: “Six weeks in that brace and you are not so much as getting up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself without putting it on.” Six weeks without rowing, running, rock-climbing. Six weeks without even a casual round of golf or a light cycle at the gym. Six weeks without endorphins, the air that he breathes, the chemistry that quiets his intensity.
….Did we mention this is going to hurt?