The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 5)

The major league baseball season is 162 games long, and if I think of rehab as 162 mini-battles, I can pace myself to success. Today was such a little victory, because this morning I completed my first leg raise.

For the non-ACLers out there, a leg raise is simply lying on your back, straightening your leg, and elevating off the floor to a 45 degree angle. From Thursday until last night, I was unable to lift my left leg off the ground on its own, and had to use my right leg to steer it around. Today I succeed in doing a couple of leg raises at a time. Tomorrow I will try to complete a set of ten.

The other exercises continue to go well. My goal is to achieve 90-degree flexibility by my first PT appointment on  Thursday, and I’m getting there.

The biggest challenge on this Funday was balancing pain and focus. I have difficulty concentrating after taking painkillers, and morning pain is still pretty intense. That said, I got through most of the day without painkillers and was thus able to get some good work done.

I haven’t been outside since the surgery. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, but as soon as the semi-spring sun starts shining I look forward to crutching it around my backyard.

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The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 4)

If my post from yesterday seemed terse and bitter, that’s the ebb and flow of ACL recovery. Progress plateaus, spikes, and plateaus in a hypnotic, “Walk Like An Egyptian” fashion. Yesterday was one of those plateaus. All the more reason to hit the ground running this morning.

There are four exercises designed for early stage ACL rehab. The first involves pressing the quad down on a towel, to build up that moribund muscle. The second straightens the leg on an angle. The third bends the knee from an elevated position. The fourth is the leg raise.

Leg raises are still out of the question, but I got to all three of these exercises earlier today, and can feel immediate progress. So this is one of those spike days. Swelling continues to go down, and it is no longer painful to stand on my left leg, though I’m still avoiding putting unnecessary weight on it.

With the physical world in some semblance of order, it’s time to get my brain back in the game and start writing on again.

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The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 3)

On the third day, I rested. After sleeping for 11.5 hours, I woke up groggy, with pain at its apex. I popped two Codeines and fell back asleep for 4.5 hours.

Started a couple of the lightest exercises, but not leg raises. Those weren’t even a possibility. Leg left needs to wake up and know it’s there.

The best news of the day is that we’ve had to tighten the brace a couple of times today because the swelling has gone down.


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The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 2)

This is supposed to be the hardest day of the Recovery.  As the local anesthesia in the leg wears off, the pain rises. This is indeed how my day started, but I am pleased to say I am making it through. Here’s how:

1) The Cryo/Cuff Ice Cooler. This baby is great. It apples continuous cool pressure more effectively than ice packs, which slip off when you move. This one was provided by my neighbor Earl, a former MLS player who makes me feel like a knee injury amateur.

2) Sleep as needed. This morning I woke up after a few hours because it was getting tough to sleep through the pain. No worries- it was one of the most productive mornings I’ve had in a long time. I was exhausted by the afternoon, and fell into an easy nap.

3) The momentum of rehab. There is not much you can on Day 2. But you can still do quad clenches to get those muscles going. Did numerous sets of those. Meanwhile, I’m trying to work hard on right leg, the source of most my career injuries. Tomorrow I’m going to try leg raises on the left. Was impossible today, and no need to push it.

4) Figured out physical therapy. This was a drag. No one likes dealing with insurance, scheduling, etc. I was thinking of bifurcating my recovery into two physical therapists. After all, the first stage of PT is just getting your leg to work, and the second stage is getting back to peak athleticism. For stage 1, I really wanted somewhere close to me in Williamsburg. But for all the talk of gentrification, no highly regarded knee PTs out here, so I’ll be going into downtown Manhattan. At least then I’ll end up keeping the same PT for the whole process.

5) Painkillers. Obviously codeine is involved. I’m trying not to take more than one every four hours. (You can technically take two at a time.) Two at a time really makes you woozy, whereas you can be almost peak functional on one.

6) Friends rolling by. In addition to Anna’s steadfast care, I had three people come by today, with two more coming by later tonight.

Gonna kick it and try to illegally stream Hawks-Cavs tonight.

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Day 1: The Road to ACL Recovery

I recently tore my left ACL. Seven years ago I tore my right ACL, so this completes the set. That remains the most painful injury of my life, and the long, tedious, often agony-inducing path to rehab tried me harder than perhaps any challenge I’ve faced.

This time I’m more psychologically prepared, and want to keep a running tab on the recovery process. This will be helpful to me, but hopefully also to anyone about to go under the knife. If you have any tips, questions or commiserating about ACL recovery, this is a welcoming space.

Day 1 Strategy

The first few days after ACL surgery, the sensation of moving one’s leg induces a heinous version of pins and needles shooting through your entire leg. Painkillers reduce the throbbing pain, but not the pain of moving.

To this end, my fiancee Anna and I set up a mattress in the living room, to minimize the number of steps I’ll be from anywhere in the apartment – the fridge, the bathroom, the television, etc.

On Day 1 I’ll be moving as little as possible. We have acquired copious ice. I’ve got enough books to last a week and all the relevant electronics within arms reach of the bed.


The day of the surgery you have to be at the hospital by 7:30am. It is slushing outside in the ugliest way possible. I’m glad I”m not on crutches yet as I head out the door.

Day 1 Report

Surgery went swimmingly.  It was a little alarming to start the morning with about a dozen doctors and nurses who roamed in between 7:30am and 10:30am, all nonchalantly asking which knee, or in some cases, what type of procedure I was having. But once things got moving, the Hospital for Special Surgery ran like a well oiled machine.

The anesthesiologist seemed regretful when he pricked me, as his son was at my elementary alma mater, St. Hilda’s and St. Hughes, and he was wondering how to get him into Collegiate, my high school alma mater, and he was pricking my brain on the schools.

I woke up from anesthesia with the procedure long over, and the bottom half of my body number. It took almost two hours to feel my toes, and what a joy that was. I also had to pee, but wasn’t sure my bladder could react. This is apparently a thing, and when I finally did pee it took several minutes.

I felt virtually no pain until many hours after the surgery. This is because in addition to being given general anesthesia, I was administered locally in my upper leg. That anesthesia takes 12-20 hours to wear off, which is why pain is starting to flood in around now (2am).

Even so, I don’t feel the constant pins and needles that accompanied my right ACL surgery in 2008. Fingers crossed for tomorrow, which is probably going to be the low point of the whole recovery process. Nowhere to go but up.

Doc says I can start quad pinches as early as tomorrow, and leg raises in a few days. His assistant thinks leg raises can start sooner than that. I am beyond excited to try some of these exercises, which I know very well by now, before my first PT session, which will be in about a week.


Posted in Daily Nos | Tagged , | 3 Comments, a new site exploring New York City’s history

If you’re stopping by LTD, you probably know me, Janos, from some walk of life. I have a new site up,, which looks at New York City’s current events through a historical lens. The site already has a few articles, book reviews and a podcast up, and starting February 1, it will have a very cool Today in NYC History feature.

If you are a fan of Janos, NYC, or just history, you’ll enjoy

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Dartmouth Fraternities Should Admit Women

My article calling on Dartmouth fraternities to voluntarily admit women was published in my alma mater’s paper this morning.   I’ve advocated this position privately for some time now, and hope it contributes to the discussion about how to move Dartmouth forward after years of terrible media publicity, part of which, I argue, is the by-product of anachronistic male-controlled social spaces.

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Best Cover Songs of All-Time: Round of 32, Day 4

The Tide is High

(*Thank you to Joe Cocker for all the great music and positive feelings he spread. – LTD,12/22/14 )

This is The End, for now.  I’ve always seen LTD as a fun break from my otherwise perhaps overly serious approach to life.  But right now the air in New York is too heavy for me to really put my heart into running out the string on a music tournament, particularly when so many regulars have been too busy to participate.  We WILL finish this tournament later this winter, when the mood feels right, with our final 16 songs in tow. Here’s your last set of contenders to earn a spot in that esteemed company.

Listen to today’s match-ups at the bottom of this playlist (except Sting, at 5:15), see the brackets here, and vote by commenting below before 11:59pm on Friday.

#1 Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley) vs. #9 Like a Rollin’ Stone (Rolling Stones)

#4 Killing Me Softly (Fugees) vs. #12 Police and Thieves (Clash)

#2 Tide Is High (Blondie) vs. #10 America (Sting)

#3 With a Little Help From My Friends (Joe Cocker) vs. #11 Higher Ground (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Special shout to Adam S., Dem Adam, Lindsay, Jacob’s various aliases, Anna Z, Al, Orce and Daddy-O for their regular or semi-regular participation.  Enjoy the holidays!

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Best Covers of All-Time: Round of 32, Day 3

Beyonce2 As soon to be former tournament competitor R. Kelly would say, it’s the freakin’ weekend, I’m about to have me some fun. Listen to today’s match-ups at the bottom of this playlist, see the brackets here, and vote by commenting below before 11:59pm on Sunday.

#1 Hurt (Johnny Cash) vs. #8 Sex on Fire (Beyonce).  I found a good audio for Sex on Fire- let’s see if it gives Bey a fighting chance.

#13 I Fought the Law (Clash) vs. #5 Blinded by the Light (Manfred Mann).  Cash would have seemed like the obvious winner out of this quadrant, but scores from last round suggest a Clash v. Cash battle would be tight, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (full name) has its supporters too.

#2 Twist and Shout (Beatles) vs. #7 I Heard it Through the Grapevine (CCR).   Fun fact: The Grapevine Tavern was a hip hangout in the Bohemian West Village between the wars. You could go there to get the latest gossip, and “hear it through the Grapevine.”  Beatles major favorites in this quadrant, but all four songs offer something unique.

#3 Valerie (Amy Winehouse) vs. #6  Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (Me First and the Gimme Gimmes).

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Best Covers of All-Time: Round of 32, Day 2

Full name: Israel "Iz" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole

Full name: Israel “Iz” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole

Spreading the match-ups out by an extra day to see if that encourages more participation. Listen to today’s match-ups at the bottom of this playlist, see the brackets here, and vote by commenting below before 11:59pm on Friday.  You can listen to R. Kelly (Track 17) here.

#1 All Along the Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix) vs. #8 In the Pines (Nirvana).  Recently read about a show Leadbelly did with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger in New York, 1940- some old school, radical times.

#4 Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel K.) vs. #5 The Great Pretender (Freddie Mercury).  Perhaps this showdown is coming early in the tournament, but I imagine it will be a close one! The winner takes on Jimi v. Kurt.

#2 House of the Rising Sun (Animals) vs. #7 Change Gonna Come (R. Kelly). As you can see, I’ve linked to the audio of the R. Kelly show, which is higher quality than Youtube.  Just learned that while House is an obscure old song, the man who brought it to prominence was Woody Guthrie.

#3 Respect (Aretha Franklin) vs. #6 Head On (Pixies).  Based on last round, Aretha is heavily favored here, but Head On is a great pregame song, if anyone is off to a mid-week holiday party.

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