Part III of the Knee Journey Complete. Bending at 125 degrees.
TORRINGTON: The leg hung off the edge of the training table for what seemed like an eternity.
A newly repaired quad tendon in my left knee was barely bended at all when my wife Deb would hold it off the edge of our bend, trying to loosen up beyond stiff tendon.
We never, ever, ever thought about letting it go, but there it was, hanging there.
I surely had a look of disbelieve on my face when I asked my therapist, Richard Boulli if he was crazy.
Rich had all the confidence an experience to know that the bone and fresh were not going to separate and end up on the floor.
I’m glad he did. All I could do was stare at the now bobbing (but not throbbing) leg that I just wanted back onto the comfy confines of the table.
From that day, it was February 28, 2014 to today, Friday, May 16, 2014, an astounding amount of progress has been made. So much so that I officially graduated (I just like calling it that, there was no diploma) by completing twice a week therapy sessions that spanned 77 days.
When I think back to when I first walked across the hall from where my doctor’s office was to Maletta Pfeiffer and Associates/Torrington Physical Therapy, I don’t think I ever thought I would be where I am today.
This was the first time I had ever had surgery so everything was new, unchartered territory for me.
Fear ruled the day most times, I didn’t want to re-injury the leg so I was a very cautious but determined patient.
Those initial visits consisted of putting a bit of electricity through the left quad in order to
stimulate the muscle.
The muscle was kind of useless at that point, it had zero ability when it came to lifting the leg on its own.
When you are making the long road back, little victories are important and I tried to be a little further along each time I left an hour of work on the knee.
I’ll never forget that just before I started therapy, I was working on lifting the left leg (with the full brace on) while resting on my bed.
My brain would tell the leg to go up, the knee would ask me if I was crazy.
I would even use the right leg as a teacher but no peer pressure was going to work in this case.
One day though, I did manage to get the leg about a foot off the bed and felt like I had hit the game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Sports guys, always using sports analogies.
That trend of celebrating little victories would continue throughout the two plus months of work.
Rich would measure how many degrees my leg would bend each visit.
We started at about forty something and battled our way a couple degrees at a time until the final measurement of 125 degrees came back on my last visit.
90 degrees had been the early goal and while it may have taken a little longer than we liked, once the full brace came off and I started walking on my own, the bends got better every time.
Heck, I walked around New York City and Madison Square Garden without the brace when I drove down to cover the UConn/Michigan State Elite Eight game. If that doesn’t stretch you out, nothing will.
A second milestone came about when I was finally able to get full motion on the stationary bike.
The first time I sat on it, my knee barely moved. Slowly and painfully though, we stretched out the tight tendon and got around.
It was a high five moment for sure.
I do ten minutes at a time now without much discomfort at all. Little hill work in there to boot.
Weight work has increased each week, my ability to walk downhill or downstairs is still limited but coming along better.
I can manage to get up stairs without hanging on and without the knee feeling like it’s going to collapse in the wrong direction. That’s a good thing I think.
Teaching myself to walk again was not something I planned to do at fifty five but I found myself having to do just that.
Heal to toe, heal to toe.
Sounds easy but when your knee still barks (my expression for pain), not so much.
I still have a good deal to work to do, this is said to be a year recovery and we are just in month five, but the direction is pointed towards positive and I’ll keep fighting the good fight.
This was not an injury that was going to heal with time, I had to work at it and feel good about the effort I put forth.
A special thanks to Rich and the gang at the Physical Therapy Center, they are all good people who were incredibly supportive throughout.
If I needed anything, all were willing to help and just hearing a “good job today” was all I usually needed. Positive reinforcement always works.
I will continue to use the facilities to work out a couple times a week
I’ve come too far now to fall behind now.
Thanks Rich, for knowing how far to push and for helping me get back to the business of getting around!