Lauren's Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Patient story

Surgery results and benefits vary per individual. Specific results cannot be guaranteed.
23 years old Paul Trikha Kingston upon thames Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
    

What is your day to day life like?

I’m quite active as a person. I have dogs, so I walk them every day. I also go to the gym regularly.

I also love to travel. I was in the middle of a backpacking trip when I got injured. I’d just finished Uni and I took 4 months off to travel and got injured.

How did you injure your knee?

I was in Japan skiing with my family in January 2020. It was the second day of the trip when I got injured and ruptured my ACL.

I’ve skied every year of my life, basically, so I’m a very confident skier. I’m not a beginner at all. I’ve skied a lot. But I fell and noticed there was a really loud noise in my knee. I knew something was wrong then. I stood up and my whole knee caved in. At that point, I knew I couldn’t ski down the mountain myself.

We called mountain rescue and they took me down in a Ski-Doo, which is a type of skimobile. From there, they took me straight to the clinic. Luckily, the resort we were at is quite popular among Australians, so I was able to find a doctor that spoke English. The language barrier wasn’t really an issue.

My knee didn’t really hurt at that point. It wasn’t a painful injury, though my body was in a lot of shock. At the clinic, they put me in a knee brace and sent me home with some painkillers. We then organised an MRI scan.

Originally, my plan had been to go to Australia after Japan. I didn’t know if that was a good idea but my doctor in Japan said he was quite happy for me to chill on a beach in Australia. He said it’s recommended you wait at least two months after the ACL injury to have surgery if you’re not a professional athlete.

So because I’m not a professional athlete, I followed my travel plan and went to Australia.

I ended up staying there for about a month. While I was there, I had another MRI and saw a physio. It was useful to get an MRI in Australia because the one I had from Japan was in Japanese.

I was walking by the time I saw the physio in Australia. She gave me some exercises to do and told me my knee was strong enough to allow me to walk without the brace. That was a huge relief.

I did have to cut my trip short because of the injury. I was meant to go to New Zealand for another month after Australia, but I decided against that because it was going to be a quite active trip and there would be a lot of walking. By then I could walk around to get myself around, but I wasn’t walking properly. I couldn’t go on hikes and things.

My travel insurance covered everything which was so good. They sorted me a flight home and the MRIs and hospital bills as well.

When I got back home to the UK I knew surgery was probably my best option because I did want to do sport and be active again.

How did you come across Medbelle?

I got back to the UK in mid-February 2020 and knew I wanted surgery. I did a Google search. A few things came up.

I browsed a few of them, but Medbelle asked for some details about my injury. I gave them, not thinking much of it. Then my Patient Care Adviser Ann called me. At that point, Medbelle seemed like the easiest option.

I was a little bit skeptical to start with because I’d never really heard of Medbelle. But Ann set up my consultation. I thought, “it’s a free initial consult. I may as well go, and if it’s a disaster I won’t go with them.” But, it was really good, so I was happy to move forward.

After my chat with Mr Trikha I thought “okay, this is legit.” That settled any nerves I had. I did some research on Mr Trikha as well and felt happy to go with him.

Can you tell me about your initial consultation process?

I went into the consultation knowing I wanted surgery. I was 22 when I injured my ACL. I was quite active, going to the gym regularly and I knew there was no way I wasn’t going to have it repaired.

Plus for young people, they pretty much always recommend surgery. I thought it quite unlikely he’d advise against the surgery.

Mr Trikha basically agreed with my doctor in Japan who said that surgery was definitely my best option. He had a close look at my knees and made notes as to what he would do during the surgery. It seemed like he knew what he was doing.

I only met Mr Trikha once before surgery. He seemed like a very confident surgeon to me. He’s clearly an expert. He knows what he’s doing.

After the consultation, I felt quite happy. At that point, I just wanted to get it done.

How did you find your pre-operative appointment?

It was fine. It wasn’t anything of note, really. It was a few days before my surgery because I had quite a quick turnaround from initial consult to surgery.

What were your expectations for healing before surgery?

In a way, I kind of expected the recovery to be similar to the initial injury. I was on crutches for about 2 weeks and then started walking again and then went from there. My recovery was not like that.

Did you feel well prepared to have surgery?

I knew what to expect. Physically, I hadn’t done much pre-hab so my body wasn’t in the best shape. My leg was really weak at that point.

I definitely needed the surgery done, but I don’t think I quite knew the importance of pre-hab and building up the muscles beforehand. I don’t think it’s essential, but it does help recovery.

What was your day of surgery like, from beginning to end?

I had my surgery in early March 2020. I think I got to New Victoria Hospital around 8 in the morning. It was quite an early appointment.

I just got settled in and met Mr Trikha. All the nurses were really helpful. And then they wheeled me off to surgery. It was pretty straightforward.

I’d never had surgery or gone under general anaesthetic before so I was feeling nervous. Going under anaesthesia was fine. The anesthesiologist was just chatting to me and then I clearly passed out at some point. I definitely felt comfortable.

The surgery finished around 11:30 in the morning. I had all afternoon to recover. It was very painful at that point, so I was on a lot of drugs. The pain was pretty much just around my knee.

The hospital was so nice it felt like a hotel. I chose to stay in the hospital overnight even though it wasn’t required. Anyway, it was included in my surgery fees.

Plus, it would have just been me and my mum and our two dogs at home that night. So my mum said “I think it would be too stressful if the dogs are around you. It will be easier if you’re in the hospital for the night. So, you may as well.”

I was also pretty exhausted at that point so it was a great choice to stay. I slept quite a bit and watched Netflix on my phone to pass the time.

Also, the food at the hospital was amazing! They brought everything to my bed. There were full menus to choose from. There was so much choice! I think I had a lamb shank for dinner. It was so good!

It was also nice having a private room and having nurses there all the time. I was really well attended to while I was there.

I can’t remember exactly, but the physiotherapist got me walking either that same day or the next morning before I was discharged.

I also had an x-ray of my knee to make sure the joint was fine before I was allowed to leave. I never got to see that, but the man who looked at it was happy, so I was let go.

What was it like for you in the days and weeks following surgery?

The first two weeks were quite difficult. It was just very painful. I wasn’t expecting it to hurt so much. I followed a very strict painkiller schedule so I knew when I was allowed to take the next one. I had no interest in “powering through” without painkillers.

How did you and your surgeon interact after surgery?

By the time I needed my first post-operative appointment, the hospital had closed due to coronavirus so I had to have it over Skype. That was at two weeks post-op.

I had another one at 6 weeks also over Skype.

Then my 3-month appointment was in-person, which Ann booked for me.

All the appointments went well. The appointments over Skype were fine. Mr Trikha asked me how I was. I also had to walk so he could see how I was healing. He was happy with my results every time.

How is your knee now compared to how it was before surgery?

In a way, my knee was more comfortable pre-surgery because it didn’t hurt, but I had a limited range of movement.

Even though I have some pain now, I can still do a lot more things now than before.

I’m told the pain is because I’m still building up my muscles. My physio says it’s 12 months recovery time to rebuild the muscles. This is because I basically didn’t use the right muscles in my knee for over two months after the injury so they just wasted away and got really stiff. Like, I could have forced it, but it would have really hurt.

My ACL is fine now, I’m just building up strength in my muscles. So now it hurts when I do a heavy exercise session, but my physio says this is completely normal.

How has your experience been with physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy has been going well.

I’m not sure if I started physiotherapy the same week as the surgery or the week after. I had one in-person physio session with the physio at New Victoria Hospital before the hospital had to close in late March because of coronavirus.

Then a couple of sessions were cancelled but I had found a physio really near my house so I switched there because I didn’t know what was happening with the virus. I figured I wanted to choose somewhere near my house in case they did reopen. Plus, I think there were 10 physio appointments included in my surgery package, so looking back now, I would have needed more than that.

I had a physio session every week for the first 2 months. Then I started going every 2 weeks, and now 5 months into recovery I’m going once a month.

In the first two weeks after surgery, the physio used a TENS unit on my knee to stimulate the muscles. That was so painful to me that I cried the first time. They used it two sessions in a row and it wasn’t as bad the second time but it still hurt.

The physio also taught me how to use my crutches and how to walk properly again. I hadn’t been walking properly for a while.

When I got injured, I couldn’t straighten my knee, so I got used to walking with a bent knee for like 2 months at that point. I had forgotten how to walk normally.

Do you have any words of advice for other patients considering this procedure?

The only thing I would say that surprised me was I didn’t know how painful it would be. Though, Mr Trikha did warn me. He said, “you’re going to hate me for a week and feel like your life is over.” He was definitely right and I totally underestimated that part of it.

Thinking about it now, like, it’s major surgery, so obviously it’s going to hurt, but it’s worth it.

I’d say It’s difficult but it’s worth it if you want to go back to your life before the injury. I’m not there yet but I’m getting better.

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