Sunday, June 26, 2011

ACL Diary: Fishy Business

We’ve moved from the desert to the lake—something we do as a family each summer. What this means for Willow is that she had to take temporary leave from her trusted physical therapist, John Woolf, and set up a program here in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Willow in a younger day
Luckily, we had connections. In advance of her surgery, we contacted a sports medicine physician who owns/operates a wellness clinic located about a mile from where Willow was born, who she had trained with last summer. He gave us advice regarding the type of surgery she should have, and was the key to our choice of hamstring replacement. 

Dr. Mullen of Premier Physical Medicine and Wellness Clinic saw Willow within days of our return and assessed her situation. He spent a lot of time loosening her knee, assuring her recovery was forthcoming, but also stressing that there would be “no shortcuts.” He immediately scheduled a session with his head physical therapist and she’s been returning to the clinic twice per week through the month of June seeing another therapist on staff.

Willow drives herself into town—about a 16-mile drive—so I haven’t been witness to her therapy appointments. She’s had a mixed response. Some days she feels her therapist isn’t working her hard enough and other days, she claims to have had a good workout. It’s unfortunate that this is her P-T’s first ACL recovery patient and I have a feeling Willow is teaching her as much as she’s teaching Willow.

In addition to her daily exercises, Dr. Mullen suggested she take a daily dose of fish oil—which she HATES, and claims does nothing for her.  I understand why she thinks this because the oral medications she’s taken to date have been Advil for head and body aches and, of course, Percocet for the pain after surgery. Swallowing these pills gave her results she could wrap her brain around. Even the Flinstone’s chewable and Gummy Bear vitamins she took as a young child provided the sweet bonus of sugar.

These fish oil capsules, however, just piss her off.


Swallowing something the size of a pinky toe that smells like the newspaper-wrapped scrap coming out of our fish-cleaning hut each week is NOT something she’ll do without prompting. And who knows what they’re really doing for her? As a rule, I am skeptical and cautious of dietary supplements and anyone who knows about our educational campaign, HerBeware, knows why. So trust, I’ve done a bit of research.

Fish oil is a source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are considered essential for human health and play a role in brain function and normal growth and development. They are obtained through foods—more specifically through fish. The herb industry’s selling points for fish oil (and, of course, this hasn’t been evaluated by the FDA) is that Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer. In addition, they are thought to help reduce the risk of arthritis, which is the key to Dr. Mullen’s recommendation. According to Dr. Scott Tashman of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, arthritis is a common long-term affliction for 60-80 percent of ACL patients.

Albeit reluctantly and only when I remember to serve it to her, Willow’s been taking fish oil tablets over the past four weeks. So far she’s shown no negative side effects of taking the supplement (difficulty breathing, hives, bruising, facial/facial area swelling). So my goal—as it’s been all along—is to get her to focus on the positive side effects of her recovery process.

She doesn’t appreciate it today; however, she may by the time she’s 30.

Meanwhile, it’s another beautiful day at the lake. I think I’ll go find Willow somewhere on the grounds, serve up a softgel, and then we’ll spend a little time fishing.



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1 comment:

Gillian said...

My Doc told me years ago to freeze them and then they have no taste!
Also you can get an orange dreamsickle flavored Omega 3 at the health food stor in little packets. My kids took them for years and din't mind the taste.