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Nobody Told Me How Depressed I Would Be After Surgery

This is hands down the hardest part of recovery.


To say my summer has been filled with adventure is an understatement. I had hopes of going on vacation with my family down to South Carolina and just spending time with friends. However, I had to push back my ACL reconstruction surgery to this summer, which has been the only exciting thing that has happened so far.

Originally, I thought about getting surgery last summer when I initially tore it. My doctor recommended for me to do physical therapy before surgery so I would have muscle memory and be able to bounce back sooner.

By the time I was finished, I had only three weeks before going off to college. There was no way I could miss my first semester.

I pushed to get surgery during Christmas break. My university had other plans since I only had a little bit over a month in between semesters, which didn't give me much a recovery time. I didn't want to rush getting better just to come back to Philadelphia in the winter when I might fall and hurt myself again.

All of this meant that I had to come home back to the Pittsburgh area to have surgery. I was excited to get my knee fixed, so I could get back to swimming and doing Zumba classes.

I was really anxious that something might go wrong and I wouldn't be able to walk properly ever again.

Look, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I was a bit overdramatic and thought of the worst-case scenario thanks to my anxiety. You've got to understand that I've never had a surgery like this before.

Sure, I've had my wisdom teeth and tonsils removed, but that's it. I've never even broken a bone before (knock on wood).

Fun fact: Mental health issues and a major surgery do not mix.

Obviously, I survived my surgery. It wasn't as bad as I thought, especially since I had the nurses who explained everything they did step by step, and my parents to keep me company until they wheeled me back to the operating room.

My surgeon also helped relieve some of my anxiety and stress by reassuring me it was actually a minor surgery and he was a professional. I ended up getting to go back home that evening so I could begin recovering.

I was advised that I would be on bedrest for 48 to 72 hours, which seemed great. But once again, I was wrong. This was the beginning of when I felt depressed.

My leg was wrapped up tightly and I had to constantly run this weird machine that pumped ice water through the bandages to help relieve some of the swelling. I've been stuck in a knee brace as well since I was unable to walk for the longest time. I was then told I might have to use crutches for four weeks, which I've never done before. This was a whole new world to me where I had to rely on other people to help me.

I still remember how I bawled in front of my house because I couldn't even go up the steps properly.

For the next week and a half, I had to rely on my mother for everything. I had to call my mom to help me out of bed, to help pull up my shorts, to help guide me up the steps, and to help with whatever else I needed.

I felt useless and just absolutely miserable. I felt like I was a burden because I couldn't do things for myself or help around the house.

I also wasn't able to shower for about two weeks, which just made me feel even worse about myself. I just felt disgusted especially when I started physical therapy because I wasn't able to shave or wash my hair, and everyone could tell.

I was insecure since I wasn't able to take care of myself. My hair was so knotted from only brushing every now and then just to be put back up in a messy bun.

I'm not normally one to obsess over my appearance, but I just don't like seeming sloppy or weak to anyone. It's just not who I am.

On top of all of that, I was worried if my knee was healing correctly. I had a panic attack one night when I was adjusting my position in my bed and my knee bent a bit, nothing extreme either. Yet I was convinced that something was wrong and had to make an emergency call to my surgeon, who confirmed nothing was wrong and I was just gaining feeling in my knee.

I was worried just because I couldn't see what my knee looked like. Like before, I was imagining the worst-case scenario in that I might have an infection and might need more surgery.

Nobody told me the effect all of this would have my mental health. I was nowhere prepared for how reliant I would have to be on other people since I was so used to looking out for myself. I've also tried to push myself to be this strong independent person, so this surgery really forced me to look from a different perspective.

My mother was the real one who helped me get through this tough time by reassuring me it was only temporary and it was okay to cry because it was tough. She might be acting as my nurse for a majority of this summer, but she always has been able to encourage me that I can get through life's toughest moments.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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