Thursday, April 20, 2017

Monday 17 April – Best of Botany

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, Making plans for the evening. It was a beautiful day and, as it's a public holiday, I could finish work a bit early! So Andy came to pick me up after work and we headed to Frenchman's Beach in La Perouse (Botany Bay), which is a funny little place. It's so beautiful, but looks over a quite industrial view of the docks. Something else funny about it is that, as it's one of Sydney's beaches that gets the sunset views, it's popular with photographers – which, tonight, meant a lot of wedding photographers doing staged shoots... There were five along the shore, all doing exactly the same thing, throwing chips in the air to attract birds for a more dramatic shot!

Sunday 16 April – Easter Sunday

Current location: Alexandria
11.11am, Having a lazy breakfast. I made a yummy fruit bowl for brekky, then chilled out sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea, not looking at my phone, not reading, not doing anything, just listening to the trees and the birds and trying to be mindful. It was such a nice way to start the day. In the afternoon, I headed to Bree's, where we had a big amazing family lunch with beef, and veggies, and salads, and an epic fig cake, and a lot of hot cross buns. Happy Easter!

Saturday 15 April – I love this part of the world

Current location: Wagstaffe
11.11am, Recreating our wedding, just over a year ago! This morning we came over to Wagstaffe, where we had our Aussie lovefest, and met Ducky and two other friends Lara and Ben for coffee (and hot cross buns). It was such a beautiful morning, and Andy had a little swim and we chilled by the beach for a while, and told Lara and Ben where to go for a walk in the afternoon (we suggested Lobster Beach)... Later in the evening, I got a beautiful message from Lara, saying Ben had proposed to her on Lobster Beach (and she said yes!)!!! Best news!

In the afternoon, Andy and I headed back to Sydney, and went to to the park to meet Thimo and Resi for a BBQ/picnic. It was a gorgeous evening, then they came to ours for a couple more drinks (I'm still not drinking but was loving the soda water, ha!) before they headed off and we had an early night.

Friday 14 April – Crabs and coastlines

Current location: Erskineville
11.11am, Having brunch at Naked Brew, around the corner from our house. We were with Charlie Jay, who had come down from the Gold Coast with his lovely girlfriend Lou, and I had soft-shell crab, which was amazing but kind of weird to eat for breakfast. After a fun morn, Andy and I headed up the coast to his parents' house, where we managed a quick beach trip, then went to pick up our friend Yeezy and head to Pearl Beach. The evening brought more arrivals in the form of Nick and Bree, and Bree's mum and stepdad, and we ate, drank, played Jenga (fast becoming a ritual) and embraced Easter.

Thursday 13 April – A pub with no beer

Current location: Alexandria
11.11pm, At home, doing my physio. Which is what I'm doing a lot of the time at the moment. I have to do it three times a day, and it takes about an hour-and-a-half each time, by the time I've done all my exercises and iced my knee afterwards. However, it's working! This week (which is now three weeks post-ACL reconstruction) I feel as though I've turned a corner, mentally and physically, and have started to see proper progress. One of the major contributors has been that I have stopped drinking, on advice from my physio, gym and surgeon (to help get and keep the inflammation down). It meant that tonight, the Thursday night of a long Easter weekend, I still went to the pub (two, in fact), but only drank soda water. And I feel OK about it! I so desperately want to give my knee and my recovery the best chance (#youonlygetonerecovery) that I am throwing everything at it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wednesday 12 April – Gregory Porter at his finest

Current location: Alexandria
11.11pm, On our way home from an amazing evening. Andy and I went for dinner at Macelleria (such yummy food) and then we went to see Gregory Porter at the Enmore. Oh my goodness. What a man. What a performance, what a voice, it literally gave me goosebumps. I was so impressed by such a beautiful smooth voice, such a likeable man, such a talent. 

Tuesday 11 April – Happy birthday Vinster

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, Waiting for my nephew Vinny to wake up (in the UK) so I could wish him happy birthday. He's 10, and he got an iPhone! Lucky boy. I think our ensuing FaceTimes will be excellent...

Monday, April 17, 2017

ACL reconstruction surgery – what to expect

Here is everything that happened to me on ACL surgery day. 
If you’ve got your surgery coming up, I thought it’d be useful to post what happened to me, so you know at least in part what to expect. 

**If you want a condensed version, go straight to the end of this post for my Top 5 Must-Do’s and Don’t Do’s of ACL recovery**

I was at Prince of Wales Public Hospital, in Randwick, Sydney, Australia, and my surgeon was Dr David Broe. My physio is Sam Bartlett at Erko Physio (after the surgery I could have had free physio on Medicare but as I’d been seeing Sam for the past eight months since my injury, I wanted to carry on with him). 
I am 31, healthy in every other way, had a fit and active lifestyle and played a lot of sport socially. I didn’t have private healthcare, which led to a longer wait for surgery than recommended, and so all procedures were done through Medicare. I had a complete ACL reconstruction, using the hamstring graft, done through keyhole surgery, I didn’t require a brace afterwards, and it was on my left leg. 

It went something like this. I was pretty scared. I had seen how buggered people were when they first got home from the surgery. I had been pre-warned you are basically a hermit for a week, as you can’t really move, you’re in a lot of pain, and the meds you’re on send you to sleep. 
A couple of days before, the hospital admissions lady, who’d I’d spoken to on and off for the past eight months, called me and told me they had to postpone my surgery, because an emergency one had to be scheduled for the same day. I cried down the phone and explained how frustrated I was that my ‘three-month waitlist’ had already turned into almost nine months, and now it was going to be even longer. Long story short, she hadn’t noticed I was on the ‘emergency’ list too (which guarantees you surgery in three months), some oversight had clearly happened, and she would keep me on the list to have surgery as scheduled a couple of days later. All good. 
The day before surgery, the hospital called me and told me what to expect in terms of arriving at the hospital, what to bring, what to wear etc. They were hopeful I’d get out the same day, but told me to still bring overnight clothes and lots of things to read or entertain me as I might be waiting around a lot. 

On the day, I wore a really baggy dress and flip-flops and packed some leggings and a jumper. I also packed my iPad, a book, and chargers, as well as overnight toiletries such as toothpaste and deodorant. A friend dropped me at the hospital, I admitted myself, and then began to wait. Before too long, a nurse came to get me, and checked things like my date of birth (get ready to say this a LOT), whether I was feeling well, which leg was injured, my date of birth (again), when I’d last eaten etc. She gave me a gown to change into and put my belongings into a locker. I was moved to a day surgery ward and sat in a hospital-style chair (you could adjust it to support the legs etc) for about 20 minutes, until she came back, rechecked a few things and then a porter came with a trolley to take me down to surgery. This was only about 45 minutes after I’d been admitted, so not long at all. 
I was taken down to the pre-operating room, which is basically like a big waiting room of beds, where people are waiting for all sorts of surgeries. Here my surgeon, Dr Broe, came in to have a chat, double-check which leg was being operated on (he marked the leg with permanent marker) and reassure me. I was feeling pretty calm and relaxed at this stage. 

After a wait of about half an hour, a porter came to get me and wheel me to the operating theatre. In there, I met the anaesthetist, who double-checked my name and date of birth, and then put a drip into my arm. He put the general anaesthetic into my arm and I remember the room getting a bit wobbly and feeling a little woozy, but it didn’t happen as quickly as I expected (this was my first GA). Me, the anaesthetist and his assistant were all laughing as I felt like I was drunk, and then I don’t remember anything after that.

I woke up laughing and then immediately began crying. I was told afterwards that I actually woke up and tried to pull my breathing tube out (I don’t remember having a breathing tube) and also knocked out my drip, so they had to reattach that. This is all a bit of a blur – I remember asking for my glasses (which I didn’t need at all!) and then crying a lot because it hurt. Prepare yourself for this. I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I was in soooo much pain. It was pretty localised pain, just around my knee, but it was bad. A lovely nurse gave me more endone immediately, and then it was much better. I was in the recovery room for a couple of hours I think, but I kept going in and out of sleep. Lots of other patients were arriving and leaving, and nurses kept checking on me. After a while, someone from day surgery came to get me and move me back up to the ward I started in. I was in a trolley, but when I got up there I had to move into a chair. 

Moving back into the chair hurt so bloody much. I was still crying a lot but I had already had the full amount of painkillers so they gave me a sandwich instead! Ha. It actually kind of helped. For the next couple of hours, I dosed and was in a total daze. I replied to some texts, but don’t really have a huge amount of memory from this time. After a couple more hours, the hospital physio came to see me. She needed me to try walking (on crutches) but every time I stood up, I felt dizzy. She was super patient and just waited and waited. After a while I felt OK (that sandwich must have kicked in!) and so we very slowly made it down the corridor. The leg felt surprisingly OK – very heavy and still sore, but not too painful. She asked if I would need to go up steps at home (yes) and then we tried going up and down stairs. It was probably only about 15 minutes in total but it was pretty tiring!

My husband had arrived by this point, and then Dr Broe came in to say goodbye and tell me how everything went. To be honest, this whole thing was a blur so I have no idea what he said, but I had a follow-up appointment (which the nurses scheduled before I left) organised for two weeks time. He also gave me an operation report, saying everything that happened in the procedure, and a whole lot of info about rehab in the first few days. Get someone else to listen to this, or take some notes of anything important, because your memory won't be too great. A porter wheeled me in a wheelchair down to the exit and then waited with me while my husband went to get the car and also stop at the pharmacy to get my script/meds (which was anti-inflammatories, Endone, another painkiller called Targin and some anti-constipation drugs – nice. You’ll need them!). The pain was OK getting into the car, going home and getting into my apartment. The main thing I would say at this point is set everything up around you. It was hard getting on and off the sofa so have drinks, something to read or do, snacks, etc, all within arm’s reach. This is relevant for the first couple of days. 

I slept surprisingly fine, although that could have been the result of the GA and endone. I slept on my back, with a towel under my knee, as it was stuck in a bent position. I ate normally (dinner before bed) and then woke a couple of times in the night in pain, but nothing too out of the ordinary or unmanageable. 

Waking up the next day was bad, I was in a lot of pain, but as soon as I took painkillers, I was fine. Showering was super hard, as ours is in a bath and I couldn't lift my leg to get into it. The dressings are waterproof but you still need to tie a plastic bag or something around the leg. I ended up turning the shower head out and standing in the bathroom, treating it more like a wet room. We have a drain in the floor so it worked fine, but I don't know what I would have done otherwise... Buy some wipes for the first couple of days or get someone to help you shower!
One major thing I found this week, was that I couldn’t follow conversations very well. My memory had been badly affected, and I found I couldn’t remember certain words, or keep up with chats. I was super tired and slept a lot. My advice for this week is don’t make any plans and don’t allow too many people to come and visit. You heal while you sleep so do as much of it as you can. I think I probably tried to do a little too much, and as a result I was shattered and my swelling didn’t go down. 

This is something I want to talk a bit about. The first couple of days I was just resting and ice-ing the knee. Then I saw my physio (on Day 4 post-op) and started on some gentle rehab, trying to straighten and bend my leg, and get my quads firing. One thing I really struggled with in the first week was getting the swelling down. It’s a common thing to happen, and in fact most of week 1 rehab is focused on reducing inflammation.
Some good foods to eat for this include: turmeric (black pepper helps release the active ingredient curcumin), green tea and pineapple. However, the biggest thing, which I was unaware of, is don’t drink alcohol! I did (not a whole lot, but a few glasses of wine here and there), and I had no idea that it caused inflammation… as soon as I stopped, the swelling went down, so just do yourself a favour and don’t drink! I’m now four weeks post-op and am still having to ice every few hours, drinking heaps of green tea, no alcohol, and sleeping in compression tights (skins), plus wearing the pressure bandage.
I had a chat with a friend who’s been through this, who reminded me “You only get one recovery”. There’s no point deciding three months in that you’re going to take it seriously. Start strong and give yourself the best chance of the best recovery. 

Week one will be hard at times, totally manageable at times, and even kind of enjoyable at times (what’s not to love about lying on the couch watching Netflix?). It’s different for everyone, but for me the hard times came after the first week, when I really became aware of how little I could do – but it does get better, and you will make progress, I promise! 
Everyone’s experience is different, but hopefully now you’ll know a little more about what to expect on the day. Any other questions, feel free to get in touch by commenting below!  

And if you can’t be bothered to read all this, and just want a few pointers, here’s my round up of Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts….

1 - Pack/wear comfy clothes, and shoes that don’t need lacing up etc (slip-ons are best) to the hospital.

2 - Ask any questions you want to of the medical staff. They’ll help you!

3 - Write down anything important on the day, especially after surgery. My memory of the day is so hazy, I couldn’t remember much at all.

4 - Do your rehab. If you’ve been told to focus on anything in the first week (such as getting the quad firing or working on your extension/flexion, do it! The longer you leave it, the harder it’ll be. 

5 - Be kind to yourself. This surgery, while totally manageable, does suck, so be as nice to yourself as possible. Eat nice foods, light candles, watch sport, do whatever makes you happy. 

1 - Worry! This is a routine procedure and the medical staff all know exactly what they’re doing. They’ll be kind and caring, and they will fix you!

2 - Drink alcohol. It won’t help in the long run, and you want to give yourself the best chance of recovery.

3 - Panic if your memory is bad. It probably will be, so write down anything important, and don’t worry about the rest, it’ll come back.

4 - Do too much on your leg. Being on it (even on crutches) will cause it to swell, and so much of the first week is about trying to get that swelling down.

5 - Plan anything for the first week. You don’t know how you’ll feel but chances are it’ll be tired and sore.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Monday 10 April – My blessing and my curse

Current location: Alexandria.
11.11am, Crying, I think! My knee was super painful tonight as I had a really intensive physio session after work. I think I overdid it over the weekend with too much walking so it was pretty swollen, then Sam my amazing physio pushed me pretty hard (which is good) and it was all a bit much! Anyway, I am striding in leaps and bounds in some areas (flexion) and not quite achieving what I should in others (extension) so I just have to keep going. I'm currently doing about two to three hours of physio a day so it's super frustrating to not see a whole lot of progress, but nights like tonight remind me I have to keep persevering or the pain will not be worth it!

Sunday 9 April – Soccer and Sunday dinner

Current location: Bondi
11.11am, Having brunch with Willis, Laura, Laura's mum Vicky, Sarah and Verity. And baby Hudson! Who i was meeting for the first time, what a cutie. We had a yummy brunch at Brown Sugar, then I went to Queens Park to watch Andy play football (we lost 7-2 in the El Classico, eek!) then off to Manly for a Sunday dinner with the family. Today is our one year Aussie wedding anniversary, and we cracked open our amazing vintage 2004 Dom Perignon to celebrate.

Saturday 8 April – Busy mornings and sad goodbyes

Current location: Alexandria
11.11am, Eating brekkie at Bitton. It was a lovely morning, but a sad one as it was our last one with Rochy and Jdog before they move to Perth this afternoon! We'd had Paxton's third birthday party in a Surry Hills park before that, and before that I went to the gym to do my rehab, see my friends and get on a bike for the first time since the op! It was very painful but I was pleased I could do it.
Rochy and Juler's goodbye brunch was also painful, but as we will see them all in two weeks at their wedding, it wasn't too bad! We dropped them to the airport and then Andy and I came back, chilled out for a bit (watched netball and football!) and headed to Phil and Katie's engagement drinks at a cool bar. We had plans to go out for dinner after, but we'd eaten so much chicken and arancini balls that we were pretty full, so we came home, watched Netflix and went to bed.

Friday 7 April – More cute visitors

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, Texting Colin and Christabel to say thank you for coming around this morning. I love a pre-work hang-out, especially when it's with gorgeous baby Eli. In the afternoon I had a specialist appt with my favourite man Dr Broe, and had my stitches out, then in the eve I went to the Forresters with some football friends and showed everyone my scar. Cool.

Thursday 6 April – Work triplets

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, At work. I came back on Tuesday and so far it has been pretty painful and tiring. Not using my brain for a week has meant I'm pretty stuffed after a day of concentrating, and not being on painkillers anymore has also led to some sore days. But progress is definitely happening, and I am able to bend my leg a lot more than before. And at least I match my co-workers!

Sunday 2 April – Babysitters gone wild

Current location: Ettalong Beach
11.11am, Leaving the coast to come back down to Sydney; Manly, specifically, where Andy and I babysat little Livvy. She loved some of her afternoon and disliked some of it (judging by some crying) but on the whole it was an awesome afternoon of playing and jiggling and feeding and singing, and then Andy and I got Menulog Thai and watched TV, like proper babysitters. 

Saturday 1 April – Parties and coast trips and netball

Current location: Ettalong Beach 
11.11pm, Having some drinks with Andy's family. Trace and Foles are visiting so we came up to see them, and drink all of Val's nice wine, and watch the netball and cheer for Taylah. It was also the F45 end of challenge party, which I went to for a bit and hobbled around watching people bowl. I managed to play pool (and lose badly) and have a few good chats and catch-ups too, which was ace.

Friday 31 March – Cute little visitors

Current location: Alexandria
11.11am, Having a brekkie with Frankie. He took me out (to Bitton, at the end of the road), which was lovely, and then Jess and Livvy came to visit. We had a walk to the park (one minute away) and watched the mums drinking after-school wines and having picnics, then decided we wanted a bubbles. I only realised the next week that I'm not supposed to be drinking, so the evening entailed Ben and Lara coming over for 'one drink', which turned into many drinks and Menulog pizza. I love my friends for keeping me entertained and indulging my Friday night feeling!