sleeping was the hardest part
Immediately after the surgery, the surgeon had positive remarks. He successfully removed the ossicles from the patellar tendon without issue. He said that the internal condition of the knee was quite good.
There was some roughening of the cartilage behind the knee cap that he attempted to smooth out. However, the meniscus, ACL, and PCL were completely intact. That is great news for the long term.
Eventually, my knee will be arthritic due to the chondromalacia. However, in the words of the surgeon, it will be a "long time" from now.
The incisions were wrapped with gauze and bandages. No cast or braces were necessary. I rented crutches from the drug store. I was given no restrictions on bearing weight on the knee.
Note: if you have a bone graph or different knee diagnosis (such as torn meniscus), you may be restricted from bearing weight on the knee for some time. I received a prescription for a pain medication, which I chose not to fill. Instead, I took ibuprofen for about a week or so before I no longer needed it.
My recovery was not that painful, really. I followed the nurse’s advice and took the ibuprofen consistently to stay ahead of the pain. I was able to bear weight on the knee within 24 hours. When I showered, I would wrap my knee and bandages with cellophane. Doing so kept the knee and bandages dry.
The worst and most painful part of the entire recovery was sleeping at night. If you can sleep on your back, sleeping will not be that bad for you. However, if you prefer to sleep on your sides, like I do, you are in for some uncomfortable weeks. For several days, I had no choice but to sleep on my back because the pressure on my surgery knee from the other knee while sleeping on my side was too painful, even when padded by soft pillows.
In general, the pain level went up for a few days before slowly coming down over a week or two.
In the first two weeks, I mostly used the crutches to get around, but I was able to step more and more each day. I also did exercises, extending and contracting the knee in the air while seated. I also extended and contracted the toes. For the first several days I could not do the straight leg lift exercises.
Each day you get a little more movement back. I had to wait about two weeks before I could get the stitches out, due to scheduling, but you could probably get them out sooner.
In the first two months I experienced slow but steady improvement in the strength and range of motion. I also started rehabilitation exercises.
The picture is taken approximately two months after surgery. You can clearly see the incision on the patellar tendon. You can also see two of the arthroscopic holes. The one near the patellar tendon incision was for the light and saline in. The one on the right was for saline out. Not shown on the inside of the knee is a third hole, which is a mirror image of the first one. That hole was for the cutting tool.
Each hole was stitched with one stitch. The incision was stitched with three or four stitches.