My husband tore his ACL and had a nasty “bucket handle” tear in his meniscus (cartilage) while playing racquetball. (Planted his foot, pivoted, shoe stayed, knee went. Nasty.)
The most important piece of advice I’d give you is to not put it off–he used to be stubborn about seeing the doctor (this experience changed his mind) and because of the time between the injury and the surgery, there was more extensive damage to the cartilage that the doctor couldn’t repair, so now he only has about half the cartilage in his left knee. Since he loves tennis and racquetball and running around, it was good to get the ACL fixed, but the surgeon warned him to limit high impact activities because the lack of cartilage will contribute to early arthritis. (Early as in around 40 or so–he’s 25 now.)
His physical therapist was a god send. I’d recommend taking your SO or whoever will be taking care of you the first couple days after your surgery with you during the pre-surgery consultation with your physical therapist, and also making sure you’re comfortable with him/her and feel like they’ve got your back. You’ll be working with them for months (if your insurance will cover it) and you should make sure you like them. For example, in addition to explaining the technical details and answering all kinds of questions, my husband’s physical therapist interceded for us with the doctor a couple times (asking if he could have an advil when his pain medication was delayed, etc.) and got much more respect/better information from his office than I had.
Also, given that they’re competent, definitely listen to your physical therapist! (not that you wouldn’t, just saying.) They’re helping you walk. Walking is useful, right? Your recovery will probably be delayed and you’ll feel much weaker for longer down the road if you don’t stick with the program. My husband did it for about 6 months, and now 2 and a half years after his surgery, he feels completely stable on it.
One thing we were surprised about late in the game was how we were supposed to purchase a brace for post-op before he went to the hospital, and bring it with us. Your doctor will give you more information on it, but you should be prepared to drop a couple hundred on it, depending on your insurance. This will stretch from your hip to your ankle after surgery and have a hinge at the knee. I’m being told over my shoulder as I type this: “It really sucks. Be sure to tell them how much it sucks. And itches.” Sorry. Good news is, you only have to wear it for a little while.
After he’d been in therapy for a few months, he had to buy a really tough long term brace that was much smaller and much more expensive than the first one that he had to use whenever he exercised with it. It’s supposed to be suitable for indefinite use (well, until it breaks) for whenever his knee feels wobbly and he wants to exercise/play/etc.
This is based on the arrangement of our apartment, but: a few days before your surgery, prepare some handy snacks and premade meals that you can keep in a cooler or something near where you’ll be recuperating for your time off. I had easy food in the fridge for him while I was at work, but he hated his crutches so much that he often ended up not eating until I got home, which was pretty bad for someone recuperating.
He was out of work for 1 week and worked from home the 2nd week. He tried to go back the 2nd week, but his cubicle was too cramped for a comfortable arrangement. Luckily he was able to work from home. If I were you, I’d try figuring out a setup at work for propping your leg up before your surgery and give it a trial run to see how you can handle it.