Today is exactly 21 weeks after breaking my knee cap, so its worth looking back at my recovery so far. I had originally intended to map out all my recovery but life got in the way.
My recovery was going very well until the 17th week of my recovery when I had a setback. Before my setback, I felt I was well on the path to recovery and that the 6-9 months my physio had said it would take to make a full recovery was a very pessimistic. By Easter (with Good Friday being the 16 week mark) I could:
- Walk at normal speed with (almost) no limp. Walking speed is something I can quantify from my Garmin Vivosmart 3. I could almost walk downstairs normally too.
- Bend my knee to about 120 degrees – far from perfect, but a big advance on when I first came out of plaster and was allowed to bend to 30 degrees but the knee would barely move.
- Do a straight leg raise (i.e. lie on my back and lift my leg up from the hips, holding the leg straight). It took many weeks before I could finally do this but I was well past this stage.
- Cycle. I had gradually built up from 10 minutes in the gym on 4 March to initially trying to cycle outdoors but finding my knee didn’t quite want to bend enough, more (very boring) indoor cycling, through to cycling to work for the first time on 23 March.
After all that progress, I may have overdone it. I cycled to work and back for 2 days in a row and went for a long walk at lunchtime. My knee swelled up again and got very painful. I think going to my physio gym class made it worse. After a few days I was walking very slowly and painfully and couldn’t even do a straight leg raise.
After a visit to A&E, I went back to fracture clinic on 16 April and I finally saw the consultant, or I should say a consultant, as A&E booked me in for the first available appointment, so it was a different day to usual and a different consultant. He thinks that the lump I had noticed when my knee worsened is one of the two pins sticking out and wants to get the metalwork out asap. This is good news as I’ve so far had conflicting opinions on taking it out, but come to the view myself that it probably should come out asap.
Over the last few weeks, my knee has got much better again. It was getting better before I saw the consultant and has carried on improving Psychologically, knowing that part of what I’m feeling is the top of the pin scraping against my flesh has actually made the pain easier to bear. So last Friday (19 weeks after my accident) I went to the gym and did 15 minutes on the exercise bike (my first pedalling since the 5 April when my knee was getting swollen again). It tired my knee but that gave me the confidence that I could get back on the bike.
I didn’t actually cycle until yesterday due to having a cold and rainy weather. I cycled to my physio gym session and going up The Bishop’s Avenue, which is a few minutes of steady climbing, was harder work on my overall fitness than my knee. The gym session itself also went well and I cycled on to work and then home today (alternating in this way was what one of the physios had advised).
The physios commented that my knee looked a lot more normal and less swollen. For reasons I don’t entirely I understand I had shaved my legs the previous day for the first time since my accident. Shaven knees make it a lot easier to see what’s going on and, while there is some swelling still, I think a lot of the extra size of the knee (it looks about 1.5 taller than it should) is actually due to the wire/pins rather than swelling. Somehow, seeing this and knowing that the bump above it is the top of one of the pins makes me feel a lot better about it.
I have a date for taking the metalwork out – 8 weeks to go, so the day after that 2nd operation will be 29 weeks after my initial accident. That will give me 4 weeks to train for Ride London!
Finally I have had the blood clot to deal with and am on anti-coagulants for 6 months. Apart from the knowledge of having it, the main effect has been that my calf gets very swollen over the day (big marks from socks!), sometimes very itchy (skin stretching I think) and that I am often conscious of it as I walk (again I think this is probably about the skin being sore). This week has been the first week where I’ve felt the swelling might be going down and I’m getting less conscious of it.