Aluminium Underarm Crutches - Youth | Single Adjustable Crutches | BL Care
We now have two sets of crutches in the house.

I told you guys I was cursed.

In May 2023 I published my “comprehensive guide” to suffering an ACL tear and all the fun that ensues. My partner had torn his ACL a month prior playing basketball so I wanted to share the resources I had from a patient’s perspective. We thought it wouldn’t take long for him to get into surgery since it was a full tear.

Turns out dealing with workers’ compensation insurance is a bureaucratic, more-difficult-than-it-needs-to-be, aggravating, big pile of horse shit. I mean, we’re grateful everything’s covered and all, but it took an angry call from his surgeon (who was kept in the dark by the company) and lots of scrambling from the nurse case worker to get the ball rolling after waiting months and receiving multiple rejections for arbitrary reasons.


He finally had surgery on August 16. Since I’ve had two knee surgeries and have worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, I was curious about how our experiences as a patient and a caregiver would go. Armed with a bottle of water, my journal, and a book, I took him to the surgery center and hunkered down for a long day of waiting. We were greeted by a kindly older man who was a patient advocate at the hospital. He gave me a card with my partner’s patient identification number and color codes so I could follow his progress from pre-op to recovery on a screen in the waiting room. Unlike my two surgeries, which were both during the height of the pandemic, I was allowed to hang out with him in pre-op until they were set to take him to the OR.

While my pre-op area (both times) was a hushed ghost town, this one was bustling with noise and energy–not so noisy that the man on the other side of the curtain didn’t fall asleep and snore loudly, much to our amusement. The surgeon, who works in the same physician group as my surgeon, was gracious and friendly, and the cool, crusty old tatted pre-op nurse complimented my partner on his ink when he inserted an IV. I later ran into that nurse while picking up lunch (a decent steak sandwich from the tiniest hospital cafe I’d ever seen), who let me know my partner was prepped and ready, and all was well.

The procedure went well, and the surgeon spent time with me privately to discuss all the details and show me a swath of colorful photos of the surgery in process. I’m not sure if he did that because I’d had the exact same surgery (ACL reconstruction with a quadriceps tendon graft) or if the photo show was part of his standard patient family conversation routine. Knee surgery up close looks like a bunch of glistening pink and white gobs so it’s not as gross as you might imagine. His torn ACL looked like mine had–a ragged piece of flesh not unlike a raw chicken tendon.

Somehow I got him up our steep stairs in one piece.

The short nap he took when we got home was the last good sleep he had for a while. I was told days two and three were bad and passed along that warning. They were just as bad if not worse for my partner. He had a terrible time sleeping and was in constant pain. The first week was a blur of helping him move his leg on and off the bed or couch, grabbing naps in the living room while we watched movies, nagging him to rotate his ankle and tap his foot to stave off the risk of a blood clot forming, filling his water bottle so he could swallow pain pills, and heating up chicken soup.

I jokingly complained to my parents that I was not looking forward to doing all the cooking since that’s usually his job.
They responded by sending me a chef’s hat.

Knee surgery recovery goes by slowly and quickly at the same time. The soreness in his throat (from the perioperative breathing tube) went away while his appetite returned. After experimenting with the bed, couch, and floor, he found ways to get comfortable and sleep. Under his instruction (and my chef’s hat) I made chicken parmesan. He was moving comfortably with one crutch less than a month after surgery and is making good use of a mini exercise bike I’d found on sale in the midst of my own recovery.

Had I not been through this experience myself I might have been less helpful and would have definitely worried and hovered more. I’ve learned I can’t super-impose my experience on his and to let him lead with tasks and movements he’s comfortable completing. He’s determined and hard-working, and, despite my gallows humor and lingering complaints, he has seen that someone can get through the worst of it and back to the sport they love.

We’ll get through it one day and one step at a time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.