Posts Tagged ‘ACL encouragement’

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 ūüôā

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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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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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Today is my five-month anniversary with my newly constructed ligament.

Overall things have been going well. I think my biggest obstacle now is life getting in my way. It’s hard to stick to a 2/day PT schedule when you work long hours, socialize and overall are feeling a little bit more back to normal. Not that normal, though. I still try to make it to PT twice a week, but find myself cancelling a lot of those appointments due to the aforementioned commitments of “life.” Some of it I can control, while others I can’t.

Right now I feel like I’m in a weird holding period of “feeling fine to go about the normal day” but “not up to par with normal physical activities.” I can walk to work just fine, substitute the stairs for the elevator with no problem, but I’m just not back to my old physical regime–soccer two nights a week, the gym every other night, run 3 miles, then play various other sports throughout the week. I’ll get there. I just have to reevaluate the importance of pushing myself to go beyond getting through the normal day and getting back into normal activities. Besides, if I want to be skiing by the end of January, I think I have my work cut of for me.

If it helps any, at least it did for me, go back and look through the pictures of your progress. Maybe you have pictures after surgery, your scar progression or any pictures of you post-op. Now, think about where you are today–how you feel, how your strength is and your mobility. Finally, take your hand and give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back. Congrats, champ! You’re that much closer to your normal life.

I think about the bandages, the CPM machine, the pain killers that made me sick, the crutches, that damn brace in the middle of summer and my humility–none of those things are present in my life anymore. I¬†hope you continue to shed layers of bad ACL experiences every day.¬†

After Surgery–ACL Scar¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† DSCN1822

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This past Saturday I attended my first Hawkeye football game, and unfortunatley I brought my “interesting” knee luck with me as Junior wide receiver Paul Chaney Jr. sustained an season-ending¬† injury–the dreaded torn ACL.¬†

Iowa wide receiver Paul Chaney Jr. tore an ACL last week against Michigan. He's out for the season. True freshman Keenan Davis moved up a run on the ladder, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. (Gazette file)Photo from Gazette Online

As I¬†braved the cold weather with the help of Hawkeye Vodka¬†and watched the game from 30 rows up on the 50-yard line, never once did I ¬†notice any player go down hard enough to stop the clock and cause a concern. Then again, when I tore my ACL I was able to get back up and I really didn’t know that I tore any ligaments. At this point, I can’t confirm when he tore it and if he played on it, but it’s certain that he won’t return to the field until next year.

It’s a sad loss, considering he was, according to Adam Rittenburg’s article on espn.com,¬†“Iowa’s top return man on both punts and kickoffs, averaging 20.1 yards on kickoff returns and 5.1 yards on punt returns. He also has seven receptions and five rushes this season.”

I can’t stress it enough that these things can happen to anyone–even the fittest, NFL prospects. But of course, there’s always hope. So many famous athletes have bounced back to their same level of play, just look at Tiger Woods. (I’ll blog about him later on this week.) The important thing to keep in mind when a highly competitive and potentially lucrative athlete tears their ACL is to not come back too soon. Read: Jerry Rice. If you are unfamiliar with Rice, he is a Hall of Fame football player who returned to the field approx. 3 months after ACL surgery. His first post-op game, he broke his kneecap.

So Chaney, please take your time getting back to the game ūüôā As much as it sucks to sit on the sidelines, it will be worth it to¬†get reconstructed back to new. Enjoy being a spectator for once, especially in Iowa City–I know I did.

I wonder what kind of graft he’ll go for? (I’m always curious, especially with high-perfoming humans.)


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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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