Tearing my ACL tore apart my life
Alright, that’s a tad dramatic, but really, it did completely change my life. And I did feel like it tore apart my life at one point when it first happened. And I’m sure it will feel that way many more times throughout this process.
My identity has changed many times over the course of 27 years, but soccer player has been the most permanent one I’ve ever had. Everything else has always been variable, but soccer has always been what I could fall back on. It has always been my safety. That’s going to have to change for the next year. And it’s going to be crazy difficult.
I know that many people have been through this. And I know that many people have gotten through this. But, I think that having support of course makes it easier. And I think knowing what to expect makes it a little easier too. So I started blogging about my experience.
I hope that someone finds value in this, and if not, it’s at least a good way for me to track my experience and progress.
Day 1: Saturday 5.25.19
I can replay it in my head over and over and over again. Clear as day. I had been rehabbing my right MCL for six weeks, desperately trying to get back on the field for the Memorial Day tournament in Prescott. I got cleared the Wednesday before the tournament—cleared even without my brace.
I got to the field and It was turf. I remember saying, “Ugh, I wish I had brought my turfs. I didn’t know we were playing on turf.” I also remember saying, “My knee kind of hurts.” My friend said, “your right one?’ And I said, “actually no. It’s my left.” Hindsight is 20/20.
I could’ve chosen not to play that day. I should’ve chosen not to play that day. But nothing ever keeps me from playing and I never listen to my body because I’m stubborn. Everything usually turns out fine. Hindsight is 20/20.
I stepped onto the turf and I was playing well for about 40 minutes. I had connected almost all of my passes and I was actually playing better than expected after having been out for so long. I was the only girl who hadn’t been subbed out because I was the only defender. I should’ve taken a sub anyway. Hindsight is 20/20.
It was about 45 minutes into the game. 15 minutes into the second half. My GK was taking a goal kick. Our attacking mid checked out wide into my space (I was playing left back). I was completely annoyed, so I rolled my head back and stopped moving completely to prove a point. The game was going on all around me, but I was just standing out wide refusing to defend because I’m a bad teammate. Karma’s a bitch.
About a minute later, I decided I cared less about being mad than I cared about being scored on. So I decided to play again. We turned the ball over and a girl on the other team got the ball about 25 yards out. Left side of the field. I took a big step with my left foot, and stuck out my right foot to block the shot. It felt like everything was in slow motion.
Then next thing I remember was what felt like a bullet to my knee. Crack. Crack. Pop. Pop. I knew immediately what I had done. Neurotransmitter and muscle fatigue coupled with faulty mechanics and too firm of a plant in the turf caused me to tear my ACL. I’ve done the research.
It was the worst. Pain. Ever. I screamed louder than I’ve ever screamed before. And then I screamed and screamed and continued to scream. I rolled around on the ground, but I couldn’t find a position to take the pain away. At some point, I just laid on my back with my eyes closed and let the pain overcome me.
With my eyes closed, for a split second, I thought that MAYBE it could be just a dislocated kneecap, and I knew the recovery for that was much shorter.
When I finally opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was that my knee was still in place. Shit.
The second thing I saw was teammates and opponents surrounding me. Someone was holding my knee in place and someone else was elevating my leg to take the pain away.
Two of the guys on my team carried me off of the field while the girl continued to hold my knee in place. They sat me on the side of the field, back to goal and the tears stung my eyes. It all hit me at once. Out for a minimum of nine months. $10,000 in medical bills. No more lifting (at least no more leg day). Everything was about to change.
One of my teammates sat by my side and let me cry. I texted my PT and he called a doctor for me to see when I got home. I’m usually the kind of person who will walk anything off and who will play through anything. But I knew this time was different.
My knee didn’t swell right away or on this first day at all, but some of my teammates bought me an ace bandage and some ice. I kept the ace bandage on it all day because the compression alleviated some of the pain. Three of my teammates were PTs, so they all took turns wrapping my knee for me and testing my ACL. It felt gross. It felt like you could pull my knee forever.
Another one of my teammates bought me crutches from Goodwll. The boys carried me to my car and one of the girls drove my car while I elevated my leg in the passenger seat. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by such awesome people. They made the whole experience so much easier because in an instant, everything in my life had just gotten significantly harder.
First, I was essentially stuck in Prescott. I couldn’t drive myself home like I had intended, so I had to wait for the team to be done on Monday so that someone could drive my car home. I guess it didn’t really matter because all of the doctors were closed for the holiday anyway and hanging out with the team was a welcomed distraction from everything going on.
Secondly, I was in a TON of pain and didn’t have access to pain meds besides the high-dose pain meds a stranger gave to me (I do NOT recommend this, but I was in so much pain that I probably would’ve taken anything).
And then aside from the big things, all of the little things that you normally don’t think twice about became significantly more difficult as well. It started with things as simple as standing and walking. I couldn’t do either without the assistance of a friend, crutches, or just hopping on my other leg. Whatever I did, I had to keep my leg at a semi-straight angle because I couldn’t straighten it completely, but I also couldn’t bend it further than it was forcibly bent. And getting up any stairs (there happens to be a lot of stairs in Prescott) was particularly difficult. It’s so awkward (and painful) to keep one leg straight while going up stairs. My teammates were always walking behind me to make sure that I wouldn’t fall (I only ended up doing that once).
Showering was extremely difficult as well. Because I couldn’t trust the stability in my left knee, it was very tricky to lift my right leg up and get it into the shower. What I ended up doing was putting both hands down on the ledge, lifting my good leg over, and then lifting my bad leg with my hands while supporting myself with my good leg. The whole time I was showering, I had to hold onto something to make sure that I didn’t fall. I cried a lot in the shower. Something about the shower water masking the tears.
Then once out of the shower, getting dressed became my next next-to-impossible project. In order to get pants on, I had to sit on the ground and put my left leg in while keeping it straight (thank goodness I’m flexible). And then I could maneuver my right leg in once my left leg was secure. I kept forgetting that I had to put my left leg in first, so I’ve had to start over multiple times while getting dressed.
Putting shoes on was even harder. I had brought my favorite pair of gray running shoes with me on the trip. They’re slip ons that then tie after they’re on (mostly for aesthetic purposes). The problem, though, was that I couldn’t reach my feet to pull them on and pulling them on caused a jolt of pain to my knee. At one point, I remember sitting with my legs outstretched and crying because I couldn’t get my shoes on. My friend put them on for me.
And then who would’ve thought sleeping would be so difficult? I had to sleep with my leg super elevated and I had to sleep exclusively on my back (which totally sucks because I sleep on my stomach). I also had to somehow be conscious enough to not move in my sleep which meant never getting into deep sleep.
It was extremely frustrating to not be able to do anything myself. I couldn’t carry anything because I always had to be carrying the crutches. I couldn’t walk without someone following me just in case I fell. I couldn’t cook for myself, I couldn’t get my own ice, I couldn’t wrap my own knee. I had to rely on other people to do literally anything. I felt so powerless.
Day 2: Sunday 5.26.19
My knee is the size of a grapefruit.
Day 3: Monday 5.27.19
I am driving for the first time. I have to open the door as wide as it will open and I have to push the seat all the way back to get in and out. It’s easier to get into the passenger side because I can put my bad leg in first and keep it straight while I support myself with my other leg. When I get into the driver’s side. I have to go good leg first and support myself with my bad leg. It sucks.
I used to always walk up the stairs at my apartment for extra exercise. I have to take the elevator now. 😦
Day 4: Tuesday 5.28.19
I went to work this morning because I had a meeting that I couldn’t miss. I managed to stay there for two hours before I was in too much pain and had to go home and finish my day.
I had to have my mom get groceries for me because I can’t carry them and crutch at the same time.
I saw my PT today. He confirmed what I already knew: I tore my ACL, but he was concerned about my MCL as well.
PT was VERY difficult. It was way harder than I ever imagined it could be. And it is frustrating that such simple activities could cause me so much difficulty.
I woke up in the middle of the night, still half asleep, as I often do. I was cold, so I tried to get under the covers. I accidentally bent my leg too far to try to get it under the sheets. Crack crack crack. Shooting pain similar to that of when it had just happened. No one is there to help me so I just quietly writhe in pain.
Day 5: Wednesday 5.29.19
Day 6: Thursday 5.30.19
I got my MRI. I’m really fortunate to know the right people who can get me into things like this so quickly (shoutout to my PT). The radiologist isn’t allowed to tell you what’s wrong, but she gave me a knowing look. She asked me if I felt really unstable. I said yes. I think I tore my ACL MCL and meniscus. She nodded and said, I recommend you stay off of it.
Day 7: Friday 5.31.19
I’m walking now, but still with the weird limp. I can’t straighten my leg or bend it really. It sucks. It’s a weird in between phase. The pain comes and goes. I still feel very unstable. I have to put my seat all the way back to drive so that my left leg can sit straight (man am I thankful my right leg is okay)
I went to my first surgeon today. He walked in the room with the sad look that I’ve learned to expect from doctors who have to break it to you that you tore your ACL.
I found out I tore my ACL, severely sprained my MCL, sprained my LCL, and damaged(?) my posterolateral corner corner. Meniscus looks okay though! He’s willing to do the quadricep surgery I just started researching. They take a graft from the top of your quad, instead of your patellar tendon or your hamstring.
I’ve noticed swelling in my ankle and foot as well. You can’t really tell where my calf ends and my ankle starts.
The surgeon told me to wear a brace at all times.
Unfortunately, he’s not covered by my insurance, so we are trying to figure out a cash price. Fingers crossed.
Day 9: Sunday 6.02.19
I have to go to Target, but I’m very concerned about the walk from the parking lot. There are like 10 open handicap parking spaces that I wish I could park in. The other open spaces are so far, but I park in one anyway. I make it almost half way to Target on my crutches and then get frustrated. I cannot wait to be off of these crutches.
I have been dealing with weight issues due to Hashimoto’s, and I got super excited today because I lost a decent amount of weight. Then I realize that all the weight I’m losing is muscle mass.
Day 10: Monday 6.03.19
I’ve gotten my range of motion to 98 degrees. It needs to be 120 before I can get surgery
Day 11: Tuesday 6.04.19
I saw my second surgeon today. He’s in an office with exclusively elderly patients, which makes me really nervous that he doesn’t see a lot of athletes.
Fortunately, he is comfortable using a quad graft for my ACL repair. He wants to use metal buttons to connect my ligaments. I’m hesitant to put metal into my body though. He also needs to use a cadaver for my posterolateral corner reconstruction which makes me really nervous because I don’t want something foreign in my body. My body doesn’t react well to foreign objects.
I’ll have to be in a straight leg brace for six weeks, which will delay my recovery by a month. This is really bad news.
The surgeon doesn’t seem very confident about anything, so I’m hesitant about choosing him.
He did give me paperwork for a handicap sticker though! And he gave me a PT referral so I could go through my insurance instead of paying in cash.
Day 12: Wednesday 6.05.19
I went to PT again today. My rage of motion is slightly better today than it was Monday. The pain of getting it there was TERRIBLE though. One day at a time.
I’ve been back at work for three days now and I ditched my crutches so that I could carry things around the office. Turns out, that was a Bad move. It made all the pain much much worse.
I got the handicap sticker today. I feel weird using it, but it does feel necessary most of the time. I wish I had gotten it sooner.
My walk is getting closer to normal, but I still can’t straighten my leg normally and I can’t bend my leg like normal. I sit with my legs crossed a lot and it’s extremely frustrating that I can’t do it right now. You really take for granted how much your knee does for you.
I’m feeling a little more independent finally, but the trade off (of not using crutches) is that I’m in a lot more pain.
Day 14: Friday 6.07.19
I got my range of motion to 110 degrees in PT today.
I also saw a second surgeon today, and what I learned was: ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION. This surgeon made me get an X-Ray (which was frustrating because it cost extra and I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my bones). He was shocked that the other surgeon hadn’t already ordered one and said it was standard protocol for this type of an injury..
After an hour in the waiting room, I finally got to meet with the surgeon face to face. He told me that he wouldn’t do a quad graft because it had been inadequately researched. He said that there were no long term studies proving effectiveness, and that he was only comfortable performing patellar tendon or hamstring surgery. This was disappointing to me because using a quad tendon seemed like the most appropriate surgery for my needs, but he explained to me that hamstring and patellar grafts were both highly effective and would get me back to regular performance in both soccer and lifting. I’m leaning towards patellar tendon.
He also told me that I did not need posterolateral coroner surgery and that I would not need to be in a straight leg brace. I am ELATED! This means I can have a normal recovery process and be back in nine months like I had hoped.
There is a very small chance that I could have been guarding while he was manually testing my knee. If that is the case, he may see that he needs to repair it once he’s inside my knee. The positive thing is that he will just reconstruct it by sewing it together instead of using a graft from a cadaver.
He also said there’s a small chance my meniscus could need to be cleaned up. He didn’t see that on the MRI, but he said sometimes it’s hard to tell until you get inside of it.
He wanted to aspirate my knee to alleviate some of the swelling, thus eliminating some of the pain, but the swelling had already gone down too much. He wished I had aspirated it sooner.
Lastly, he told me he would look into using biodegradable screws in lieu of metal.
All in all, I was completely sold on this surgeon despite his unwillingness to give me the graft I want. He wanted to do as minimal surgery as possible and he exudes confidence in a way that is not arrogant. He expects much better outcomes for me than the other surgeon did. And a bonus is that he also did my friend’s surgery and she seems to be doing well.
He said, “I know I’m just your second opinion, but if you decide to do surgery with me…” I stopped him there and told him that I would 100% be doing surgery with him.
So check. I found a surgeon.
Day 16: Sunday 6.09.19, 10:00PM
Out of nowhere, I can straighten my leg completely and bend it further than I’ve ever been able to before. It was more swollen today because I’ve been on it all weekend. My ankles are swollen. My feet are swollen. But my leg is starting to feel normal again. I can almost walk without the limp. I can lift my knee pretty high. It’s awesome!
I’ve soooo taken this for granted before
Day 17: Monday 6.10.19
I got to 112 degrees today! Only 8 degrees away from being surgery ready. Also, I can finally bike for real, so I can actually get some cardio and burn some calories.
The prone hangs are THE WORST. for such an easy exercises, they are extremely painful and difficult.
The hurdles are also surprisingly difficult. You would think stepping over with your injured leg would be the most difficult, but actually, stepping over with your good leg is the most difficult because it forces your other leg to bend.
Later that night…
I’m in tears. I can’t do anything I used to do. My surgery is so far away. I’m sick of hurting. I’m sick of limping. I hate this.
Day 18: Tuesday 6.11.19
I was super excited about my ability to bike yesterday, so I tried to bike alone at the gym today, but I just could not do it comfortably. My eyes got teary because I was so frustrated and then I had to leave so I wasn’t that girl crying at the gym. I found out later that you just have to raise the seat up to make biking comfortable.
Day 21: Friday 6.14.19
I only came to PT twice this week. Big mistake. Even though I did the work on my own every single day, there’s something about the resources at PT that makes it so much better than doing the exercises on your own.
I did 15 full minutes on the bike today, but I have to lean to the right a little bit to alleviate the pain, but it’s nice to actually bike.
I got to 115 degrees today.
I was in a lot of pain today before I came in to PT, but it felt much better when I left. My PT scraped my knee a little bit today and he massaged it out, which alleviated some of the pain.
My friend gave me the brace that she used after her surgery. It is BY FAR the most comfortable brace I have ever used. It gives me so much more support than the other brace I had been using.
Today is the first time I look in the mirror and my leg LOOKS significantly smaller, and today is also the first day that I was able to put on my pants with my right leg first (a small accomplishment, but a great one).
I spent a lot of today fighting with my insurance. I have a super high deductible plan ($7,900). I figured that the surgery would end up costing more than my deductible, so I fully expected to pay the full $7,900. What I did not expect was that I would have to pay the full amount up front.
Turns out, this is considered an “elective surgery” and I have to pay for everything up to my deductible (surgery fee, facility fee, anesthesia fee etc.) BEFORE they will perform the surgery. Do people just have $7,900 lying around? I do not. They also cannot guarantee that I will not pay MORE than my deductible (which they will pay back once they get the money from my insurance). They suggested that I could “save up” and get the surgery when I could afford it, but I told them that waiting wasn’t an option considering I can’t walk or run or work or live a normal life at all.
My insurance also cannot guarantee that my anesthesiologist will be covered. I would choose a different facility to ensure that my anesthesiologist is covered, BUT my insurance only offers one facility option. This whole thing feels completely backwards.
Fortunately, some really nice people at my doctor’s office worked it out with me that I only have to pay 50% up front and then 50% after surgery.
Day 22: Saturday 6.15.19
The new brace is epic. It’s supposed to be for after surgery, but I started wearing it now because there’s so much support!
I was able to do real exercises today. I did deadlifts, single leg bosu ball endurance ropes, pushing/pulling weight sled. We’ll see how much pain I’m in tomorrow because it hurts pretty bad after all this exercise, but it didn’t hurt during.
Day 23: Sunday 6.16.19
My leg isn’t bending anymore. I’m panicking. Did I mess it up yesterday? It’s not really swollen at all anymore.
My grandpa sent me the nicest message. He really gets what I’m going through.
Day 24: Monday 6.17.19
I have an apportionment with my surgeon today to check my range of motion. Unfortunately, I scheduled it on the day that my range of motion is the worst that it has been in the last week. I have to schedule a PT appointment and see if he can help before I go to the surgeon and he tells me I’m not ready for surgery.
So I went to my PT. I started the day at about 80 degrees. After two hours of PT, I got to 120 degrees for the first time. It was excruciatingly painful, but I did it. Turns out, my quad was super tight from working out (but I didn’t notice because my whole leg just feels weird and what I did on Saturday is not something that would normally make me sore). They scraped my quad and my knee, which loosened it up quite a bit.
All of the pain is in my MCL and in the front of my knee. Every time I bend my leg, it feels kind of like it’s catching, and kind of like it’s going to pop. After a lot of bending my knee, it becomes hard to straighten and then all of the pain moves to the back of my knee.
When I went to the surgeon, he said that he thinks I’m good to go for surgery and his assessment is still the same that I just need straight forward ACL surgery. It is planned for June 27th. I have to meet with him again on the 26th to do pre-op stuff. He seems to be pushing hamstring graft. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet.
Day 26: Wednesday 6.19.19
I slept without my brace for the first time today and it was fine 🙂
Day 27: Thursday 6.18.19
I CANNOT decide which graft to get. I’ve gone back and forth a hundred times. I’m afraid that if I get hamstring I’ll be too weak in power lifts, but I’m afraid if I get patellar, I’ll have anterior knee pain for the rest of my life. It seems like patellar is the stronger graft, but it sounds like hamstring has an easier recovery.
Most people have cited the inability to kneel with the patellar graft, while most people with the hamstring graft say that they are significantly weaker on that injured leg. Both of these are huge cons for me, so I’m not sure what to do.
The most positive responses I’ve gotten have been about a cadaver, but that’s not even an option for me. Surgeons don’t do that surgery anymore unless it’s absolutely medically necessary due to the high risk of re-tear.
Day 28: Friday 6.21.19
I got to 127 degrees today!! And I did fancier measurements. My left leg is only a little smaller than last time, which is good, although I have lost five pounds, which I assume is all muscle weight
Day 31: Monday 6.24.19
I got to 130 degrees today! I had to see a different PT because my PT wasn’t available, but an old friend of mine is a PT at the same clinic, so I got to work with her, which was super cool. She had the pleasure of being the first person to scrape my quads and hamstrings, and that actually really seemed to loosen things up.
4 days from surgery.
Day 33: Wednesday 6.26.19
It’s the day before surgery and I had no idea how anxious I would be going into this. I’ve had this underlying anxiety all day long—heart pounding, mind racing. I just can’t stop thinking about the surgery and all the things that could potentially go wrong. My biggest fear is that I’ll wake up during the surgery or even worse, that I’ll be completely numb and asleep and feel the whole surgery and not be able to say anything.
I see my surgeon later today, and in the back of my head, I keep thinking he’s going to tell me that we can’t do surgery tomorrow or that we can’t do the patellar tendon surgery for some reason. I mean, my surgeon DOES seem privy to the hamstring graft, but I REALLY don’t want the hamstring graft. I’m concerned that I’m going to lose too much isolated hamstring strength and I’m concerned that the graft isn’t as strong as the patellar graft. I’ve done A LOT of research, and it has a slightly higher incidence of re-tear. My surgeon insists that this difference is not statistically significant, but still, it matters to me.
Anyway, it feels like my mind is running absolutely wild. I just want to finally meet with my surgeon, tell him what graft I want, and get the whole thing over with. He’s told me multiple times that the graft doesn’t matter and that he’s comfortable doing either one. I don’t know why I feel like this.
My mom and I finally met with my surgeon at 3:45pm. I sat on the table with a smile on my face. I like my surgeon and I’m looking forward to finally getting this all over with. He tested my knee (I’m not sure why—to make sure it’s still torn??? LOL) and he said everything feels good.
He started his speech about what to expect from surgery. He told me, “it doesn’t matter what graft you get: patellar or hamstring.” I interrupted him and said, “I am doing patellar.” He said, “Okay, great. No problem.” And for the first time all day, I felt completely relieved.
But of course, it wasn’t that simple.
Right after I loosened up and accepted that everything was going to go according to plan, my surgeon got a weird look on my face and scooted his chair up closer to inspect my knee.
He said, “actually, I don’t know if I feel comfortable doing a patellar graft with this on your knee.” He was pointing to an ice burn I’ve had on my knee for weeks (you can see it in my previous knee pictures). I thought he was kidding, but it turns out that he was legitimately concerned because it was peeling and the skin underneath was a pinkish/white color.
He said that if he tried to harvest my patellar graft, he would have to cut right through my ice burn, and his concern was that the stitches would get infected and that the scar would never close up.
That left me with three choices:
1.) Postpone the surgery
2.) Have risky patellar tendon surgery
3.) Use a hamstring graft instead
Postponing surgery is 100% NOT an option. It has already been a month since my original injury and I am starting to collapse too frequently. Just yesterday, I got out of my car and my knee buckled and I fell. I have been in pain constantly for the last month, and I just really can’t and don’t want to put up with it any longer.
Aside from that, I have already planned work perfectly so that I would only have to take two days off of work and there’s no way I would be able to rearrange my schedule so perfectly again.
Having risky patellar surgery seemed like a viable option until I got into the details of what that would mean. The risk of the patellar surgery was that the stitches wouldn’t stay closed in the peeling flesh from my ice burn and that they would get infected. If my knee got infected, my surgeon would have to redo the surgery up to four times which would increase my recovery to 18 months minimum. If the surgery didn’t work after the fourth time, the surgeon would have to use my hamstring anyway. Damn me for not being able to just ice correctly.
So all that was left was to take the hamstring graft and upon realizing this, I had a complete meltdown. The tears welled up, and I hate crying in front of people. All of my anxieties were becoming realities.
My surgeon knew I was upset, so he first asked, “Why not just postpone the surgery?” That made me even more upset because I just couldn’t imagine being in this position for another day. I was so excited to finally start my recovery that I couldn’t even imagine having to wait again. It just wasn’t an option.
So then he asked me for another decision, but I couldn’t just give him one without thinking about it and processing it (to death as I often do). It’s a life changing decision for me. But for my surgeon, he’s performed the surgery a million times, and I’m sure he easily forgets how life-altering it can be to one specific person.
He seemed a little annoyed that I needed so much time to think it over. At one point, he came back in, threw his hands up and said, “Fine. We’ll just do patellar and take the risks. I don’t think you can handle hamstring psychologically anyway. You’re always going to feel like it’s not good enough.” So he left and drew up the paperwork for me to get patellar tendon surgery with the risk of infection.
But when the nurse brought the paperwork, I just couldn’t sign it.
My mom said, “This feels like a sign that God wants you to do hamstring.”
And it was that that ultimately made me decide to commit to getting the hamstring graft. And at some point within that hour, I was at peace with my decision.
I am having ACL reconstruction with the hamstring graft tomorrow at 1:00pm, so I have to stop eating at 1:00am. My plan is to eat as much food and drink as much water as humanly possible so that I’m not miserably hungry and thirsty tomorrow. I also plan to stay up as late as possible, so that I can sleep until it’s time to leave for surgery.
Day 34: Thursday 6.27.19 (Surgery Day)
I woke up for the first time around 8:00am, but I forced myself to go back to sleep until 10:30am, so I wouldn’t have the chance to realize how hungry or thirsty I was.
Today’s the big day! I’ve never had surgery before, so I’m really anxious. But I’ve received so much love and support from my family and friends and it does make me feel a lot better.
I arrived at the fancy hospital at 11:30am for preop. First, I checked in at the front desk, and then I sat in the waiting room for about ten minutes. After that, they called me back to a little room where I filled out a bunch of paperwork basically stating that I understand that I could die during surgery and that I needed to choose who would make medical decisions for me if I was unable to—all paperwork that really makes you face your own mortality. After filling out all of my paperwork, I went back to the waiting room for about another ten minutes before one of the nurses came and got me. My mom wasn’t allowed to come back with me at this point, but I’m not sure why.
When I got back to my “room” (I put room in quotes because it was really more of a bed curtained off in a hallway full of beds), I had to pee in a cup. This would have been quite difficult considering I hadn’t drank anything in 12 hours, but fortunately, I expected this, so I didn’t go when I woke up.
Then, I had to change into a “one-size-fits-all” gown. I asked if I could keep my sports bra or underwear on. Two nurses laughed at me like that was a dumb question (i don’t know, maybe it was), but the one nice nurse explained to me that they have to keep everything in the operating room sterile, so I would have to take everything off (including jewelry).
Trying to fit into the stupid gown was a nightmare. It was way way way too big. And being an extremely modest person, I was afraid that something would peek out. I tied all of the straps as tight as I could, but I was still falling out of the gown, so I just laid down and put the blanket over me. They do give you socks to put on though! And a shower cap, or as my nurse called it, a “Party Hat”.
A number of people cycled in and out of my room asking a series of questions. The pharmacist came in and asked me what medications and vitamins I was taking. A nurse came in and asked me what metal I still had on my body. Another nurse came in and took my vitals and started an IV in my wrist. They all asked me which knee they would be working on.
After all of the questions and vitals, my mom was finally allowed to come back. We watched the rest of the soccer game that was on TV and waited until almost 2pm.
Around 2pm, a new nurse came in, the anesthesiologist came in, the surgeon came in, and this is when everything starts to get hazy for me.
The surgeon came in and asked me which graft we were doing. He seemed like he was serious, but maybe he was making a surgeon joke? I matched him with a joke and told him we were doing patellar tendon surgery and then quickly said, “JUST KIDDING STILL HAMSTRING.” He asked me which knee we were doing surgery on (I don’t think this was a joke), and then he signed my left knee.
After that, the anesthesiologist came and gave me some pain meds (I think). And then he gave me a nerve block, which was a big shot in my femoral artery (I think). I remember squirming in pain while my mom held my hand.
The next thing I remember was getting wheeled into the operating room in complete terror. The room was white and laying on that table made me feel like I was a science experiment. The nurse was standing over me when she whispered that it was time for me to go to sleep. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I tried to fight the inevitable deep sleep I was about to enter. And that’s it. That’s the last thing I remember.
When I woke up, I was violently shaking. I was partially cold, partially anxious, and partially in a lot of pain. And maybe it was partially a response to the anesthesia. I was begging for pain meds, but the nurse kept telling me that she couldn’t give me any more.
My mom said that I was in the recovery room for two hours before they would let her come see me, but to me, it only felt like five minutes. I was in and out of sleep, I guess. At some point, I do remember my mom feeding me peaches from a fruit cup (GROSS) and making me drink a Sprite (that I apparently asked for, which is weird because I don’t drink soda).
I think I threw both of those things up.
I don’t remember leaving the hospital. I vaguely remember getting home and getting out of my car super woozy on crutches (bad combination). My mom stood behind me as we shuffled down the hallway to my apartment. It took like 15 minutes to get up to my fourth floor apartment.
My mom put me upstairs and then ran to get my prescriptions before CVS closed.
I ate a bag of cherries and threw them up.
I was extremely dizzy and extremely nauseous every time I moved, so I finally laid on the couch and went to bed at about 8:45pm.
My mom slept on the couch next to me. I woke up almost every hour in extreme pain. She would ask if I was okay and then I would immediately fall back asleep.
Day 35 (Day 1 Post-Op): Friday 6.28.19
I woke up at 4am ready to start my day. I had like 17 hours of sleep on Thursday, so after waking up every hour from 8:30pm-4:30am, I just couldn’t go back to sleep anymore.
So I just stayed awake and watched the soccer game at 6:00am
I’m in and out of sleep.
My mom and roommate manage my medication and cook me food when I need it. I take Gabapentin three times a day for nerve pain. I take Diclofenac twice a day. It is a Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. I take hydrocodone (pain medicine) three times a day. And if I’m in pain, I take the hydrocodone twice.
Nothing very eventful happed today. I literally just stayed on the couch and watched TV all day. Occasionally, I get up and go to the bathroom, but it is a tiresome process that I avoid if possible. I legitimately have to pee standing over the toilet because my hamstring hurts so bad that I can’t sit down.
And maybe you think I would’ve expected all the hamstring pain. But I didn’t expect that at all. The part of the hamstring they take is on the front of my leg, so why would my high hamstring hurt?
I can’t lift my leg at all. It’s surreal to have no ability to lift my leg. I also can’t feel most of my leg, which is also a really weird feeling. I wonder if it will come back?
Day 36 (Day 2 Post-Op): Saturday 6.29.19
Today was A LOT better than yesterday. I’m walking around mostly without my crutches, and I’m not in nearly as much pain today as I was yesterday. I guess I am taking pain meds, so maybe I just can’t tell how much pain I’m in??
I slept through the night (on the couch) last night, but I always wake up in the worst pain. I think it’s because when I stretch in the morning, I activate my hamstring without even knowing it. You’d be surprised how often you activate your hamstrings without even knowing it.
I was able to take the wrap off today. My leg actually looks WAY better than I expected. The stitches kind of hurt when you touch them the wrong way, so I prefer to keep them under a wrap, although I think you’re supposed to let them breath
I lost SOOO much muscle since this all started. I’ve lost almost 7 pounds, and I think it’s all muscle. My hamstring and calf are very jiggly, which I HATE. I can’t wait to start working out again.
I was finally able to take a shower today. I put my leg in a trash bag and wrapped it with saran wrap. It stayed pretty dry!
Day 37 (Day 3 Post-Op): Sunday 6.30.19
I was able to leave my house for the first time. My mom drove me to church and then to my brothers’ basketball game.
It was exhausting, but it was nice to see sunlight for once.
Day 38 (Day 4 Post-Op): Monday 7.1.19
I took no pain meds today for the first time because I was worried I would need to drive, and I did end up driving myself.
I went to PT today. I got to 65 degrees! And I was able to get my knee completely flat as well. They opened up my brace to 30 degrees, so that I would get enough flexion (?) to walk relatively normal. I have a lot of trouble lifting my leg by myself. It’s frustrating.
I learned a lot about my ACL graft today.
First, I learned that my ACL graft was the strongest it’s ever going to be the day that it was put in, and will be the weakest it’s going to be for the next 6 weeks. At 4 months, it’s going to be what it is, and it won’t get any stronger after that. At three months, the graft will be strong enough for me to start running and jumping. I’ll start with jumping rope and at 14 weeks, I should be able to do straight ahead jogging.
At four months, I will be able to do shuffling and plyometrics. At 6-7 months, I will be able to plant (just not with full rotation). At eight months, I will be able to plant and play soccer with no contact. At nine months, I will be able to have a full contact “practice”. And then three weeks later, I will be able to play soccer games again.
I also learned that your ACL gets an afferent (?) signal from the brain. When you tear your ACL, it’s because the signal didn’t get there fast enough to tell your knee to correct itself. An afferent signal means that the signal bypasses the spinal cord and goes straight to your knee. That signal doesn’t come back to a reconstructed ACL until 12-16 months after surgery. My PT thinks that within the next few years, ACL recovery is going to be pushed back to 12 months. I honestly might wait that long to really play again. We’ll see if I still feel that way in nine months LOL.
Anyway, I did finally take pain meds at night and I slept in my brace because I was really sore from PT.
Day 40 (Day 6 Post-Op): Wednesday 7.3.19
I can’t feel my leg. It’s surreal. I can feel pressure, but I can’t feel light touch on the outside of my leg.
Day 42 (Day 8 Post-Op): Friday 7.5.19
My knee inexplicably swelled up today, and I have a lot of pain behind my knee.
I went to PT for three hours. I walked about 4,000 steps. I kept my brace on the majority of the day with an ace under it.
It may have gotten slightly wet in the shower today because I got lazy about wrapping it up.
I’m hoping it’s all nothing.
My PT says that some days will just hurt worse than others, so hopefully that’s what’s going on.
Day 45 (Day 11 Post-Op): Monday 7.8.19
I went to the doctor today for a follow-up, post-op appointment, and it actually went really well (way better than expected because I half expected them to tell me I re-tore my ACL. Yes I’m paranoid.)
So first, I took off my brace and ace bandage to reveal the doctor’s fine craftsmanship that is my newly constructed ACL. The nurse took one look at it and said, “Wow that’s healing really nicely.” She could just say that to everyone, but it made me feel like it’s better than usual (or better than they expected at least)?
The PA came in right after to see how the scars were healing and to evaluate my swelling (of course all the swelling was gone by the time he looked at it). He said that it looked great and that he was really impressed with how it was healing.
Then he pulled out the scissors to cut the stitches out and asked me if I had any questions. I said no even though in my head I was wondering “where are the pain meds for you cutting these stitches out? Are you going to give me pain meds? Are you going to at least numb it first?”. The answers were all no. I didn’t realize that they were going to just cut them out, but they did. Just snip snip snip right in front of me. And despite all of my anxieties, It actually didn’t really hurt and it was over in like two seconds.
He put new Steri strips on and told me he was impressed with my mobility and that he wasn’t worried about me at all because of the awesome PT I’m seeing. (He’s not wrong.)
Then the surgeon came in to go over my pictures with me. I’ve had the pictures for weeks, but I didn’t understand them until today.
So in Photo Set 1, the first picture on the top left is my torn ACL. The picture on the top right, is the surgeon pulling my torn ACL out.
The four middle pictures are in-tact menisci. (I think?)
The bottom two pictures are of my lateral menisci. There is a slight tear, but he said that it wasn’t worth fixing. He said it might bug me a little bit later in life, but the cost of surgery on my meniscus now was not worth the extra recovery time. I’m thankful for that.
In Photo Set 2, I don’t remember what the top two pictures are. Maybe like bone or something where they screwed the ACL in??
I know the third picture (reading left to right) is my empty knee with no ligament in it. And then the fourth and fifth pictures are my new ACL.
The surgeon had to take two of my hamstring ligaments because the first one they took was only 7mm thick. The new one is now 10mm thick, but a little too short. The surgeon doesn’t seem concerned, but I’m freaking out because I have researched this a lot and retear is likely caused by the ligament being cut too short.
Oh well. I have no control over it now. I’m just hoping for the best. I go back and see the surgeon again in two weeks.
I went to PT right after the doctor and I got my measurements again (and here are my measurements from last week too).
We added some new PT exercises, but at this point, I’m adding new PT exercises almost every day and I’m spending 3 hours there almost every time I go. I cannot wait to see this all pay off.
Day 47 (Day 13 Post-Op): Wednesday 7.10.19
And the depression has finally hit me. I’ve been wondering when it would come. I knew that I had been handling all of this too well. I knew the positive attitude couldn’t last for the full nine months.
I just feel defeated. I feel like my body has completely betrayed me, and I feel like nothing is getting any better. I haven’t been able to walk for the last two months and I’m just ready to be done with all this.
Before all this happened, I was pretty happy with my body. (I mean, I think I’ll always want to make changes to my body, but I was generally pretty happy about where I had gotten in the gym.) And now, I don’t like how I look. I look in the mirror, and I hate what I see. My left leg is sooooooo skinny and I’m gaining stomach fat from the complete lack of cardio. And I’m losing weight every day (which usually would be a good thing if it didn’t mean straight muscle weight)
Not only am I aesthetically unhappy, I’m also in a lot of inexplicable pain. It feels like constant shooting pain around my MCL. And then on top of that, the nerve pain feels like needles pricking me from the inside out.
I also found out today that I can’t shave my leg. I can shave my ankle, the inside of my leg, and above my knee. But I cannot shave the outside of my knee–the part that I can’t feel. It’s weird. I can feel pressure, but I can’t really feel light touch. What I can feel is the razor blade. It feels like I’m cutting my leg to the bone, but every time I check, I’m not. It feels like the sharpest blade cutting through my skin, and I have to pull away every time, which means I just can’t shave at all. All of the sensations on that side of my leg are inexplicable. I can’t wait until I get all of the feeling back in my leg.
I am really just sad. The inability to do anything makes me not even want to try to do anything. I stopped going to the gym because I dread going and I dread not being able to do the lifts I’m accustomed to. I know that I could just do upper body or modify my lifts, but I just don’t want to.
I could also just eat healthy, but I don’t really want to do that either. All I crave is junk and crap, which makes absolutely no sense because I always eat clean. And all of a sudden, I just don’t want to do it anymore.
I didn’t expect the emotional toll to be the hardest part, but right now, it definitely is.
Day 49 (Day 15 Post-Op): Friday 7.12.19
Welp. I came quite a long way in two days. It’s funny how that can happen.
I’m not sad anymore. In fact, I went to the gym yesterday and killed bis and shoulders, and I’ve been in a pretty good mood for the last two days.
I had PT today, and wouldn’t you know all of a sudden I got to 108 degrees and I can FINALLY do full circles on the bike, which means CARDIO AND BURNING CALORIES!!!! THANK GOODNESS. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not the easiest or best bike riding in the world, but I can do it and that’s what matters to me right now!
I did get some weird leg swelling today. Well, mostly my ankle (cankle) is SUPER swollen, and it’s hard to tell where my calf ends and my ankle begins, BUT fortunately, I wore tight socks for many hours today and you can see the pleasant indent that would normally separate my ankle from my calf. I’m sure I was just on my feet too long and I’m sure I just wore the ace for too long.
Day 55 (Day 21 Post-Op): Thursday 7.18.19
Writing got less exciting when it was more of the same every day. My nerves really hurt. My leg can’t tell if it’s cold or hot or itchy or in pain. It really sucks, and it’s really confusing. My leg is also getting REALLY stiff. I sit at a desk for much too long during the day. I probably need to do a better job of taking my brace off and moving it around.
My PT grad student is leaving tomorrow. 😦 I’m really going to miss her. She made all of this semi-bareable.
PT is more of the same, except I can now get on the elliptical for five minutes, and I’ve added significantly more weight to all my weighted exercises. My muscles are starting to work, but because of that, they get SUPER sore. And when they get sore, I can’t stretch them because I can’t bend my leg enough to stretch it. Catch 22.
Day 56 (Day 22 Post-Op): Friday 7.19.19
My knee is doing a lot of catching lately. And sometimes, I try to push through the catching and something like cracks? It doesn’t hurt, but I hate the feeling!
Day 59 (Day 25 Post-Op): Monday 7.22.19
I did my measurements today. My PT was disappointed with how small my leg was. It has to be within a half an inch to play again, and obviously I’m not ready to play yet, but it just lets me know how far I have to go.
My range of motion is also not good. It should be full by now, and I can only get it to 123 painful degrees.
Bad news all around today.
Day 67 (Day 33 Post-Op): Tuesday 7.30.19
The changes are happening much slower now, so I don’t have as much to write about now.
I saw the surgeon last Wednesday. He didn’t seem concerned about anything at all. The PA thought I was a little behind on range of motion and thought my quad looked a little small (both notes that I got from my PT). He also got the pleasure of hearing my knee crack when he bent it too far. It’s been doing that. It catches about every fourth time I try to bend my leg, and It cracks when someone is manually moving my leg about 1 in 8 times. The PA thinks it’s because my quad isn’t strong enough to keep my kneecap in place and that my kneecap is slipping. I’m concerned about my meniscus.
I’m only wearing the brace in crowded areas now and I can walk basically normally now.
I’ve added some exercises here and there and my range of motion is about 132.
I still have a lot of nerve issues. It kind of hurts? for my knee to brush up against anything. Light touch is the most uncomfortable and almost painful? It’s difficult to explain. I can shave now much better than I could before. It still hurts pretty badly where my scar is and along the outside of my knee.
My knee also just hurts in general, and it’s getting frustrating to not be able to bend it further. It’s swollen too and I have so much fear that this is just going to be my life forever now. I REALLY hope this gets better.
Day 80 (Day 46 Post-Op): Monday 8.12.19
I’m so close to full range of motion! I started doing cognitive exercises while doing my physical exercises, which is supposed to work better for athletes. It helps to engage their minds similar to how they are engaged in their sports. So today, while I was doing my BFR exercises, I had a computer in front of me with the Stroop Effect Test. Colors would pop up on the screen and I would have to say the word or the color (it switched) while I was doing my exercises. It made the exercises easier because I wasn’t so focused on the pain, but it was also super hard to engage my mind at the same time. I really liked it. I love my PT because we are always doing cool and innovative new techniques.
Day 82 (Day 48 Post-Op): Wednesday 8.14.19
I cried at PT for the first time today. I feel so defeated. I feel like I can never do anything on Wednesdays because I’m still too sore from Monday. My recovery rate sucks and I just can’t take it anymore :(. I’m SOOOO frustrated. Every little thing is pissing me off at PT. I can’t squat. I can’t do the lunges. AND EVERYONE KEEPS ASKING ME WHAT’S WRONG. I KNOW THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO BE NICE BUT LIKE I TORE MY ACL, IT SUCKS. IT WILL ALWAYS SUCK!!!!!
I’m dropping down to two days a week for now for “my emotional health.” Honestly probably for the best.
Day 84 (Day 50 Post-Op): Friday 8.16.19
PT was super cool today. I got to try VR for the first time. So basically, I would put on this mask and the VR would be a roller coaster and I would have to turn my head with the roller coaster so that I could stay on it. Simultaneously, I was supposed to be doing squats. It’s a little disorienting, so my PT stood behind me while I did it, but it was super cool and made the exercise a lot easier for me (in that I wasn’t just focused on the pain).
I also did functional testing today, which can be kind of disappointing because it shows me how far away I am from being 100%, but it is a good thing to know, especially because I meet with my surgeon on Monday. All of the reaches were done with a tape measurer taped to the floor. And the step-downs were done off of boxes getting increasingly taller. My right leg is bomb though!
Oh yeah, and I got my heel to my butt today for the first time! I almost have full range of motion 🙂
Day 108 (Day 74 Post-Op): Friday 9.09.19
It’s been a while! Honestly not that much changes day to day anymore, so I don’t feel as inclined to write. At this point in my recovery, I don’t feel as strong as I would’ve hoped. I can still tell that my left leg is significantly weaker, and my knee still gets really sore sometimes. I can walk up and down the stairs now (not super easily, but it’s not super hard either). I can sit criss cross now (again, not super easily, but I can do it).
I’m really scared my leg will never feel normal again. When I lay on my back and stick my legs up in the air, and then release them at the knees (if that makes sense?) My right heel touches my butt and rests there comfortably. My left knee stops quite a ways before that. I can push it to touch my butt, but it doesn’t do it naturally. I love to sit criss cross, so I hope one day it feels comfortable and normal again.
I also did something really dumb…. I did like a roundhouse kick on my left leg, which involved me pivoting, which seemed to mess up my MCL. I didn’t even think about it… I just did it. Sometimes it feels like I just forget the things I can’t do (which I guess is good because I’m forgetting about the injury).
On the positive side, I can juggle a soccer ball, and I CAN jog (although I’m not supposed to until next week). I can also pass and shoot (although again, I’m not supposed to, but it reassures me that I’m not going to completely suck when I get back) I am starting to believe that I will get back to normal one day.
PT is kind of stagnant right now. I go in there and basically do my exercises alone now (because I know them all, not because no one is helping me). I am doing a lot of the same things because I can’t do more yet. I’m hoping once I get cleared to jog, I’ll be able to do more. I’ve been doing two days a week, which has seemed to go well. I realistically can’t imagine going any more than that time-wise. I also feel like I’m getting more out of it now that I’m going twice a week. But who knows? Maybe that’s all mental.
I did testing today. I improved significantly on both legs which is exciting. But I still have a long way to go on my left leg. It’s just so much weaker. Here are my updated measurements and exercises:
Day 132 (Day 98 Post-Op): Wednesday 10.2.19
As I was reading ACL blogs and listening to ACL podcasts, I realized that they all kind of taper off around three months, and I think that’s because not much really changes day to day anymore. At first, the changes are SO drastic that there’s something to write about every single day, but now it’s a lot of the same stuff.
Until two weeks ago! I finally got the okay to start preparing to run, which consisted of adding agility to my rehab. Some of my agility included: ankle flips, side to side ankle flips, up up down downs, up and overs, agility ladders. At first, I felt really unsure and I was hesitant to do any side to side movements. But I wanted to run SO bad, so with a little convincing from my techs, I was able to do all of the agility stuff just fine. It felt REALLY weird, but not painful. I think mentally I was still pretty unsure, but also my leg is still pretty weak in comparison to my good leg (although I have noticed that my good leg is getting weaker because I’m not spending enough time on it.)
Anyway, I FINALLY GOT TO RUN TODAY!! It was really exciting for me because there was a time that I really thought I was never going to get here. There was a time that I felt like I was never going to be able to do anything again, and I finally did it! 🙂
Now, please don’t mistake my excitement for success. It was NOT perfect. I had to walk for five minutes and then I got to do 30s of jogging and then 30s of standing. I was supposed to do that for five minutes, but I did it for 15 because I was so excited. I limped through most of it, and by the end of PT, the front of my knee was REALLY sore. I wasn’t in pain while I was running, but it just felt weird to run, and I just couldn’t help but to limp. My leg always feels heavy and it doesn’t feel natural I guess is the best way to describe it. I have to think about using my left leg. I also get these like air bubbles in my knee? And it feels like they need to pop a lot. I mostly get them after doing passive knee extension, but after running so much, I felt it a lot too. So the running was a huge exciting thing, but the rest of PT was kind of a wash because I didn’t feel like I could do much else afterwards. I’ll take it though. Small victories.
6 more months until I can play soccer again. Hopefully.
Day 142 (Day 108 Post-Op): Wednesday 10.12.19
I did functional testing today, and I analyzed my results because I’m psycho and love numbers. haha:
Basically what I realized is that at least one of my functional tests was wrong, or I’ve gotten significantly worse since last time I tested. I assume it’s that it was done wrong on September 9th because there’s no way that I got 6 cm better and then 6 cm worse. Typically when this happens, I guess they measure from the front of the shoe when it’s supposed to be the back (or something like that). Another factor too, though, is that I feel like I hurt my right hamstring during the functional testing, so I’m not positive that this is actually indicative of where I am. It’s ballpark, but I was disappointed that I didn’t see more improvement, particularly my posterior step down because I KNOW that I can get 18cm, and for whatever reason, it just wasn’t happening today. Oh well. I guess this gives me something to work for. Here are graphs of all of my tests:
My exercises are changing a little more frequently now. I am running like three to four days a week now. Not a lot, but it doesn’t hurt at all on grass, so I try to do that whenever I can. Every time I go to watch my adult league team play, I run around the field a few times.
I’ve tweaked my knee a few times now (either from dancing when I shouldn’t be or the stupid dog sprinting at my knee), but all in all, things are going fairly well, and I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. It feels good to start to be able to do normal things again. Five more months to go!
Day 182 (Day 148 Post-Op): Thursday 11.21.19
I started jumping about three weeks ago. THAT was surreal. I started with squat jumps and broad jumps, which were odd feeling at first, but are becoming easier and easier the more that I do them. These don’t feel as weird because I’m using both legs and I’m sure I’m compensating with my right leg. Aside from that, I added single leg hopping, lateral blast offs, and single leg quarter turns and OH MY GOSH. I had no idea that it would be SO hard. I couldn’t do the single leg hopping like AT ALL. I fell with every single hop. And it was SO uncomfortable to land on one leg. It was such an unstable feeling. But, in the past three weeks, it has gotten a lot better. I can actually do it relatively quickly now, which is pretty awesome, and I feel pretty accomplished.
I did functional testing Monday. I was really unhappy with the results, so I did the whole functional test again. I improved slightly, but I’m still not quite where I would like to be. My measurements were AWFUL. My right leg has gotten SO much smaller, and I’m really unhappy with those results. I’m also actively trying to lose weight, so is that the reason? maybe. But still. I didn’t necessarily want to lose leg weight.
I saw my surgeon’s PA yesterday. He suggested that I had tendonitis in my hamstring and that I should put a topical anti-inflammatory on it. Some of the PTs suggested that 1.) I’m running too much and 2.) I’m overextending my stride. This was extremely disappointing news because I was SO excited to run again. I NEED to feel that burn again. I NEED the exercise. But I will ease up SLIGHTLY until after the holiday… in one week. LOL
I learned today that my hamstrings are abnormally weak for being five months out. It feels like my body is completely betraying me. I thought I was at a very normal place, but the PT who saw me today seemed concerned about the progress of my hamstrings. She couldn’t get my hamstrings to fire at all. She put needles in them with electricity and all that happened was that my quads started pulsing. She had me lay on my stomach and held my foot and asked me to pull my foot to my butt (using my hamstring). I was pulling as hard as I could, and she didn’t see anything happening except in my calf. She assured me that everyone’s progress was different and that I shouldn’t stress too much about it, but I can’t help but obsess over it. All I want to do now is work out my hamstrings every second of every day. I HAVE to get them to where they need to be so that I can play in March. I just have to.
- Put something underneath your knee to alleviate the pain
- Use a backpack instead of a purse while you’re on crutches
- Keep your crutches on the drivers side in the back seat
- Be prepared for every doctor to walk into the room with a disappointed face to let you know you tore your ACL. It’s kind of funny
- Keep measurements of your legs
- If a PT tells you to go see an orthopedic surgeon, they know it’s torn. They just aren’t allowed to tell you
- If you tell people ahead of time it’s torn, people will be more likely to be honest with you about what it is. The more you act like you’re not sure or don’t want to know, the less likely you’ll get information. If you’re right, you get what you expected. If you’re wrong, you’re pleasantly surprised.
- You will be unable to run and jump and you will forget that you can’t run and jump–don’t try it if you can remember!
- They will ask you 100 times which knee they’re doing surgery on. Better to be too sure than not sure enough! This is completely normal.
- You will have to stop taking vitamins and pain meds a week before surgery
- Don’t pee the morning of surgery unless you’re confident you’ll be able to go again