I can’t believe that already 5 weeks have gone by since I was sat in a hospital bed waiting nervously for my knee operation. I was pretty scared, I was undergoing surgery for the first time in my life and about to embark on a 6 month journey back to my skis with lots of new challenges. I had no idea what to expect.
I had the classic hamstring ACL reconstruction. Some of the hamstring tendons on the inside of my thigh were taken to form a new ligament, the old ligament was shaved away. The new ligament was attached by drilling a hole through my tibia and another through my femur. I didn’t ask for any more details, I still find the whole concept incredible. When I came round from surgery I felt pretty dopey but good. The last thing I remember was the anaesthetist asking how fast I ski, I still don’t know if she got her answer. The surgeon told me that everything had gone perfectly to plan with my knee. I spent the next five days in London recovering before heading to the IRU (Intensive Rehabilitation Unit) at Bisham Abbey National Sport Centre.
I didn’t know what to expect the first day I started my rehab. I soon made a new best friend: a Game Ready ice and compression machine that went everywhere with me. It was brilliant at getting rid of my knee swelling. My days were filled up with daily physio and strength and conditioning sessions, a mobility session for my knee which I can now do in my sleep having done it 4 times a day for the last 6 weeks, a nutritionist, a soft tissue massage therapist, a psychologist and regular check with the on site doctor. I was back on the bike on the first day of physio and we didn’t waste any time with getting back into the gym to restrengthen my left leg which had lost 2 cm of muscle in just 5 days since surgery. My knee was very closely monitored for any changes in swelling and pain.
After the first two weeks of rehab I experienced my first really bad days since the surgery. You might think that seems soon when recovery is a 6 month journey but those of you that have been injured before will know how slowly the days crawl by, especially at the beginning. My mood would shift from being willing to work at 100% to wondering what the point of it all was. Still, my mind always came back to skiing and it set me on the right path again.
My hard work started to pay off in weeks 3 and 4 when I did my first squats with a weight on my back in 2 months and I really started to see my quad muscle reappear. I began to be able to hyper extend my knee without any problem and my natural knee flexion has returned. These may seem like such small things but when you’re starting right at the bottom, like you do coming out of surgery, they feel like huge victories.
I’m heading home back to Italy for a few weeks before I will return to rehab again for another week or so. The hard work doesn’t stop while I’m away as I can keep doing my mobility 24/7 and the awesome team in the IRU will be sending me gym sessions and closely following my progress whilst I’m away.