Posts Tagged ‘playing sports with a new ACL’

Happy St. Pat’s day to all from “Little Miss Lucky”–that’s me moments after my surgery.

Thanks to massive pain killers and nerve blocks, I don’t really remember most of it. I remember waking up to graham crackers and ginger ale and the nurse directing me to eat the crackers. I just wanted to fall back asleep. My leg was numb, but I could feel the bulky weight of my new reality. Maybe if I could go back to sleep, I could magically awaken to a fully rehabbed and strong ACL? Not the case. That was too much to think about. As the anesthesia slowly wore off, my surgeon came in the room. I felt like I needed to ask him so much, but was first concerned with how I was going to get into my car and leave the hospital; I couldn’t bare to think of life beyond that. Then he said,”Well, the worst part is over. It all gets better from here.”

He was and is right. Once you make the surgical decision to reconstruct your knee, every day from that point on gets better and the only thing you have to do is progress. I know, this sounds contrary to what most of the rest of this blog says. Rehab is not easy, but the great thing is that you have the opportunity each day to “rebuild” your knee and the rest of your body. You become more conscious of movements, body mechanics and proper form. You never take a moment you can move for granted again. Most people will never see life–or their bodies–from that angle. So complain as we do, the whole ACL experience makes us better athletes –and people in the end. Lucky us :)

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This whole time that I have been rehabbing, I’ve had my sights set on making my big sports comeback on the ski slopes. When I tore my ACL last Jan., I did it one week before a ski trip to Whistler. (Ouch!) I had to sit on the bench for the that one. I even booked my ski trip this year eight months post-op, hoping that would give me ample time to get fit. But sometimes, no matter how far in advance you plan and no matter how much prep work you do, your plans just fall through. Mine did.

I saw an orthropeadic surgeon a few weeks ago, and she told me I shouldn’t ski. What?! You mean to tell me that all my rehab and all my PT over the past months and all those times I unwillingly drug myself into the gym when I just wanted to collapse wasn’t good enough?!?!? Are you telling me that my knee is STILL in need attention and that I’m STILL not back to normal?! Ugh! FML!

Talk about disappointment in the midst of an already brutal, and sometimes seemingly elementary rehab process. Hearing that news sucked. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought, seeing as how I already heard that similar news about a year ago when I first tore my knee. If my knee isn’t getting stronger, at least my skin is getting tougher.

My first thought was, “What did I do wrong?” Then the guilt started creeping out. I should have gone to the gym more. I should have scheduled more PT sessions. I shoulda, coulda, woulda… This whole ordeal has taken enough of my time, stress and frustration. I had to give myself a break. After all, I have a life, and so do you. We can’t all make one singular ligament the sole focus of our crazy busy lives. We don’t all make a living playing professional sports, so sometimes the incentive to work the knee every day is non existent and just a hassle–at least it can be for me, your average former high-school athlete who wants to keep sports a part of her life for the rest of her life.

Before my doctor came to her conclusion about ruining my ski trip, she made me do the one-legged jump test. (You probably shouldn’t try this until you are ready to get back to sports.)

Stand with about 3-4 feet of clear space in front of you (hard surfaces work great)

Start with your non-surgery leg (I’m doing my best not to say “good/bad knee”)

Jump forward as far as you can. Stick the landing. Repeat with your surgically enhanced leg. It’s not that easy, huh? I didn’t do so hot. I didn’t jump very far and my landing was not stuck–I took an extra step like a nervous gymnast. The good thing was I had the confidence to attempt it–I did it without thinking twice. Just goes to show you how powerful confidence and attitude can be during rehab. That’s honestly what got me through this bit o’ bad news and allowed me to reset some goals and reevaluate my overall process and program. Now, instead of attempting the bunny hills next weekend like I would have, I plan on skiing in March at the level that I left off on; my therapist said she could even get me trained for jumping. We’ll see about that. I’m sure I’ll slowly immerse myself back onto the mountain, but this time I’ll certainly be stronger than expected. No use half-assing it. I’ve waited so long so, so hopefully I’ll be ready to conquer the mountain, as opposed to just bunny-hillin’ it.

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Leaving the office and heading off to the gym for my first post-op jog! It feels good just saying that. I’m limited to five minutes. And will let you all know how I feel after that.

Slow and steady wins the race. I imagine I will be as just like this girl, Corkthedork33, on her 1st post-op run:

On another positive note, I came across a good quote from Volklgirl on TheSkiDiva.com:

“A good day is any day you finish with the same number of bones you started with, and all the ligaments attached.”

Team Idiots Like Us

In that case, today, like most days, was a banner day. Take time to enjoy the little victories post-op–one wobbly gait at a time.

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Here is the next video in the series. Be sure to stretch, stretch, stretch! I can feel myself getting stronger by the day and can not wait to hit the slopes. One more month! (Note: some of these excercises in the video are for advanced skiers. You know where you are in your progress, so only do what you are comfortable with and capable of.)

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Any ACL rehabber knows it takes a little more than three weeks to prepare for something. But, here’s a series of videos I found on youtube to help prep me even more for the slopes. I head to Tahoe in about a month. This programs claims to prep you in three weeks.

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Today I realized that after sitting at my desk for long periods of time, I can comfortably get up and walk like it’s no problem.

Prior to now, every time I would get up, I would feel like my leg was “stuck” and I would have to walk it out before it would straight. Walking is fine, it’s been that way for a long time, but removing the “stuck leg” step in the process is a small step for my day, but a big step towards recovery.

Here’s a little motivation to get you through the week. This video is from slimthugga34’s youtubechannel

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Maybe I’ve just never noticed it before, but it seems like every week some NFL or college footballer is tearing their ACLs. There’s even more injuries when you throw in women’s soccer, basketball, UFC and more. Be safe out there! I don’t wish the intensive recovery process and life-changing injury on anyone! Perhaps you can add these people below to your list of inspirational athletes to motivate your recovery process. 

The Detroit Lions Brandon Pettigrew just tore his ACL vs. the Packers. No surgery scheduled yet.

Redskins’ Jamon tore ACL vs. Philly this past Sunday.

OU’s Sooner’s Basketball team just lost Whitney Hand to a complete ACL tear.

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Hey everyone!

Let’s pool together our collective knee wisdom and help a fellow reader out. He recently commented in the “All About Knee” section, and I wanted to bring it to the forefront to get your opinions.

Here’s his comment:

I had patellar graft on June 19th from my left knee and i am back jogging in straight line this week(week15) twice a week.I am in the gym 3 nites a week as well which starts with 20 mins intense on bike and think continuous work on my quads and hamstrings.My left quad is till very light compared to my good lef so my physio suggested i push more now with my left leg.I have slight pain after jogging now but its not too bad.
Has anybody got any good tips on how to increase quad and hamstring muscle bar the usual leg press and leg curl machines.

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I’ve been back from New Zealand for a week now, but then I jetted off to exotic Iowa for a few days. That said, I have to apologize for the lack of blog activity. For the record, New Zealand is an amazing and inspiring place. (It was well worth pushing myself through extra PT for.) I could easily sit here and type about the shire-esque landscapes and mountains meeting the sea, but this is my knee blog, not my travel blog. So while my eyes relished the moments abroad, my knee got to see a lot, too. For starters, New Zealand is a very active place–a true haven for those seeking adventure sports especially.

While I was there, I could easily sit on an Air Zealand flight  for 12+ hours without complaining (just get up and walkabout a lot), hike through trails, climb on smaller mountains, climb into caves, do a TON of stairs, trampoline, swim and, of course, wine taste. So my trip wasn’t the adventure-filled one that most imagine, but that just leaves room to come back.

When I underwent my surgery, I had New Zealand in the back of my mind as my pure motivator to get through it all. When I finally got there and ventured through the North and South Islands, I found the active people and enticing activities inspiring me to keep at my PT so one day I could possibly return and go skiing, surfing, bungee jumping, skydiving and many other adventurous Kiwi hobbies. Although I’m reaching more positive points in my therapy, I know I still have more to do and a few more mountains to move. But what’s the fun of life if we aren’t constantly trying to better ourselves?

I hope your knee is getting better every day.

New Zealand

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Yesterday, I made a quick run to Walgreen’s and ran into this guy …


… at first, I was startled. I couldn’t believe his hair do, so I had to ask him about it. Turns out, Jack, with www.rollersoccer.com tattooed on the back of his head, is the owner creator of the Rollersoccer Federation International. As we talked soccer, it’s inevitable that I had to bring up my knee and how I lost it to soccer. No one who plays soccer questions an ACL soccer injury; they happen all the time.

Jack went on to tell me that some of soccer’s greatest players have used roller soccer as rehab to get back to the grassy field. Interesting. People wearing roller blades, sprinting up and down a wooden gym floor all while trying to incorporate the fundamentals of soccer is actually GOOD for knee rehab? What do you think? I’ll have to check with my surgeon and PTs on that one. Nonetheless, Jack–a very enthusiatic and outgoing fellow–piqued my interest. I do like a challenge, so while I’m still in wall-squat and leg-lift prohibition, I’ll look into the sport of roller soccer. 

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