My ACL Journey

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.

 

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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. 

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This is me sitting on the side right after it happened

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. 

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You can see the gray shoes at the bottom of this picture.

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.

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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.

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I had to have my mom get groceries for me because I can’t carry them and crutch at the same time.

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These are my PT exercises for the week

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

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Just a picture of me icing this day

 

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

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This is the weird angle I mentioned

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

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These are my PT exercises for the week

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.

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When I originally posted this, it said 10 months and something days. I hope it’s true. I was just estimating.

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

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At PT, they told me keep measurements of my leg so that I could track my progress.

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.

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My handicap sticker

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

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These are my PT exercises for the week.

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.

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This is the new brace I got today

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.

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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.

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The text from my Grandpa.

 

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.

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These are my exercises for the week.

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

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This is the Instagram poll I posted. No help here I see.

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

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These are my measurements for the week

 

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.

 

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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.

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My final meal: In N Out

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.

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The front desk of the hospital

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.

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A sign in the bathroom

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.

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Me in my too big gown and party hat

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”.

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The terribly painful IV in my too small wrist

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.

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My fully wrapped leg sleeping on the couch next to my mom

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

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This is the snapchat I took at 4:30am LOL

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.

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This is where they take the hamstring graft from

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 

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This is what my knee looked like when I first took the wrap off

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.

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This is what showering with stitches looks like

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. 

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These are my PT exercises for the day

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.

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These are my PT exercises for the day

 

Day 42 (Day 8 Post-Op): Friday 7.5.19

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Here’s the weird swelling

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.

 

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These are my PT exercises for the day.

 

Day 45 (Day 11 Post-Op): Monday 7.8.19

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This is right before the stitches were taken out.

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.)

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Photo Set 1

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.

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Photo Set 2

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.

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Measurements

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.

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Pt Exercises for the week!

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.

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Weird leg swelling
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With a lovely sock indent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 10.09.38 PM.pngPT 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

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Screenshot from the video of me doing VR. You can also see in this picture how much skinnier my left leg is than my right (keep in mind my left leg is the one on the right in this picture)

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!

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These are the results of my functional test. You can see the differences between my right and left legs, which helps them to know where I am in my recovery.

Oh yeah, and I got my heel to my butt today for the first time! I almost have full range of motion 🙂

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Here are my measurements with dates for comparison. It’s definitely getting bigger!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  

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This is my month three functional test 🙂 It’s getting better!

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:

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Updated Measurements
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Updated 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.)

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Here’s my first time running 🙂

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:

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These are the results of my functional test with a month over month comparison

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:

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Here’s a graph visually comparing my lunges. As you can see, the middle date gets WAY better on both legs which seems inaccurate.
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Here’s a graph visually comparing my reaches
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Here’s a graph visually comparing my step-downs. Those lateral step downs really are the biggest difference for me. They’re SOOO HARD, but my PT says it’s normal

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.

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My current exercise list. Yes, PT still takes three hours.
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Here are the measurements from my functional testing.
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Here’s a graph of my measurements. Again, a couple random dates that seem off, but that could be because someone else measured my leg or it could be that the measurements weren’t exactly 20cm high for example. Or it could be that the measuring tape was pressed into my skin instead of just wrapped around.

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.

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This is my new functional test with the hops added to it. I’m within 80% on everything except the hopping, which is really exciting! Also, I’ve made HUGE improvements on my left leg that I’m really really proud of. Day by day it doesn’t feel like much is changing, but then all of a sudden it’s four weeks later and you can do things that you couldn’t even dream of four weeks ago 🙂

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.

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Here are my measurements. Not sure what’s up with my right leg. Ugh

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. 

Key Takeaways

  • 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

 

 

A Year Disconnected.

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Dear Social Media,

It’s been over a year and a half, and I am wondering if I still miss you. It’s been a whirlwind couple years, and I never thought I would be almost completely disconnected, but the time away has served me well.

Let me preface this by saying: I don’t think that I am any better than anyone else because I don’t rely on you anymore. I am fully aware of how self-righteous I might sound be saying “oh I don’t use social media,” so I mostly try to just keep it private (except for when I dedicate a whole blog entry to it). But the reality is, since I stopped using you, my life has completely changed. In some ways for the better, and in some ways for worse. But I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to letting you consume my life like you used to.

Originally, I left in the heat of a horrible chapter in my life. I wanted to forget. I wanted to distance myself from every bad memory that forever ran across my computer screen through likes, comments, memories, stories, etc. I wanted to be present in the moment, and I wanted to heal from all of the devastating things that had happened that year: 2017. I wanted to give myself space to breathe and to focus on becoming a better version of myself.

When I was still with you, I was compulsively checking in just to make sure it still hurt: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, close, repeat. One after the other all day long, comparing myself to any and everyone. Feeling inadequate at every turn.

And then one day, I decided that enough was enough, so I deleted all of your apps.

But we are talking about changing habits here, so it wasn’t quite as simple as deleting you, never using you again and then finding instant happiness—I wish.

Instead, it was a lot of ups and downs. It was deleting the apps, but then checking in web browsers. It was blocking the apps on my phone’s web browser, but then checking in on my computer. It was logging out for a couple days at a time and then logging back in to see what I had missed. Trust me, it was a long process.

Then, after the millionth time of compulsively checking in and then crying my eyes out, I had finally just had it. I logged out and deactivated Facebook and Instagram and at the time, I had no idea how long I would do this for. So I taught myself to get through one day at a time. And then somehow days became weeks, which became months, which became now: a year and a half.

At first, I only kept my Snapchat because I had a 400-day streak with my mom, but I deleted everyone off of it who I even kind of a little bit associated with any negative feelings.

Then a few months in, I started noticing I had no idea what was going on in the world at all (millennials, you’d be surprised how much of your news you get from Facebook and Instagram). I also realized that I was missing out on guilty-pleasure celebrity drama. So with that, I downloaded Twitter (an app no one my age uses). I followed my brothers, a couple cousins, a couple news sources, and a couple reality TV stars. It was a pretty solid way to stay connected to some of my family and to keep up to date on news and silly TV gossip.

Then a few months later, I got really invested in LinkedIN. LinkedIN actually reads a lot like Facebook and gives you a pretty similar feel. The difference, though, is that all of the content is curated for business professionals and it actually adds value to my life. So I made my profile super fancy and I followed a bunch of business people I aspire to be like.

But Social Media, you’ve made it so people have to rely on you. You’ve made it next to impossible to stay connected without you—which is ultimately why it’s so hard for people to walk away.

So when I left you, I was worried that I would be completely disconnected from the world. And in a way, I was.

Some people did fall by the wayside. There are many people whose lives I am completely disconnected from now. There are some people who I only communicated with via social media, and when I left for a year and a half, those relationships certainly suffered.

I missed out on events because I didn’t see the Facebook invite. I lost out on being included in wedding parties because I wasn’t connected to the bride’s Instagram page. I lost touch with people who moved away that I had previously only kept up with on you, Social Media. It wasn’t easy.

But I am fortunate enough to have friends who didn’t let me feel completely isolated. My closest friends would always screen shot their Facebook invites and text them to me so I didn’t miss their events. They also always made sure to screenshot memes and text them to me instead of tagging me so that I would see them.

Being away from you really showed me who my real friends were and who was just my friend because of the convenience of liking my pictures. It became instantly obvious whose life I was legitimately important to and I’m better for it.

Deleting you, Social Media, did a lot for me—More than you know.

Most importantly, you challenged me. You challenged my thought processes and you challenged me to become my own person. In the beginning of all this, there were countless times that I wanted to share something that had happened to me, but once I no longer had the ability to, I took a hard look in the mirror to discover why I felt the need to share in the first place. The answer was almost always validation. Remember Phoebe’s there’s no truly altruistic good deed? It’s similar with you, social media. There’s no post that’s not self-serving.

But I learned something a long time ago: “The more you love your decisions, the less you need anyone else to.” So it was that simple. I stopped seeking validation from my loosest acquaintances because I didn’t need to. Being without you forced me (in the best way) to be my own person and not seek approval from whoever was watching online.

Because of this, I stopped giving into societal pressures to do things on a certain timeline and I started focusing on my own life and doing things because I truly wanted to do them.

The other thing you did for me was that you helped me to cultivate more meaningful relationships.

My life got significantly better when I started meeting people in real life and getting to know them over a hobby rather than getting to know them through a double tap on the computer screen. It forced me to like people (or dislike people) for who they presented to me in real life rather than who they presented themselves as online.

This in particular served me well for two reasons. 1.) I didn’t realize how many people I was subconsciously disliking because they had opposing views as me on Facebook. and 2.) I didn’t realize how many people I was judging for a past that I wasn’t even a part of. Everyone deserves the opportunity to change and evolve from who they used to be and without social media, everyone I meet gets to show me who they are today.

And then on my end, I liked that people couldn’t just scroll through a couple posts on Instagram to see how I was doing. If someone wanted to know what was going on in my life, they HAD to get in contact with me and ask. Of course, those conversations were few and far between, but I really cherished them when they did happen.

Even further, I liked that when I met new people, I had to exchange phone numbers with them instead of exchanging handles. And I really liked that people got to know me in person instead of getting to know my Instagram.

And then lastly, once I got rid of you, I spent significantly less time on my phone. Once I picked my head up from my phone, I was able to see a whole world that I had been missing before (as cliché as that sounds). I started living so much more for me and the memories in my head rather than the memories on my screen. I stopped constantly taking pictures every time that I was out because I had nowhere to share them. So I did a lot of truly living in the moment and it was refreshing.

A lot of people reading this right now might think this whole thing is impossible, and that they could never do it. But trust me. Sometimes pain backs us against a wall and forces us to make decisions that completely change our lives.

Call me crazy, but it feels like everything I’ve been through was supposed to happen. I think I needed to be away from you to focus on the next stage of my life. And I really did accomplish a lot these last couple years.

So I’m writing you to let you know that I want to try again, but I’m going to promise you that I’ll be doing it differently this time. You will be peripheral to my real life. I won’t compulsively keep up with you. I won’t make sure that I scroll through posts until I get to the last one I saw before I closed the app the last time.

I will pop by periodically. I will keep in touch on my terms.

Thank you for all the lessons you didn’t mean to teach me these last couple years. I’m a better person for it.

Until next time,

Jazmyn

 

Out with 2018…

“2016 changed me
2017 broke me
2018 opened my eyes
2019 I’m coming back”

Somewhere along the way in the past 3 years, I really began to prioritize becoming the best version of myself. It started with my first devastating breakup conversation. It’s in those passionate heated moments that you get the harshest version of someone, but you also get the truth. Since then, I’ve gone through a couple pretty devastating breakups and they’ve all pushed me to heal myself and come out better than I was before.

Some of the things I did to heal included reading one book a month, listening to new podcasts, adopting a “never say no” attitude… But the one thing I’ve done that has been the most consistent is the one I reflect upon every year: The Lessons List. 

The lessons list is a list of things that I’ve heard in the past year that impacted my life in some meaningful way. Some of it is advice, some of it is quotes, some of it are just conversations that I’ve heard. 

You can see my 2017 list here.

The big takeaway I had from 2018 was that I need to rest and slow down. I have been running from life for so so long, and I needed to feel everything I felt this year to finally move on. 

So cheers to 2019 ~

 

Life Advice

  1. I can look okay and not be okay and that’s a hard lesson to learn…I think we live in a culture that has developed a cult around productivity or “how to maximize your time” and it’s easy to get into that mind set. I’ve gotten in that mind set a bunch of times where I see a buddy going to play golf or going fishing and I’m like “I don’t have time for that. I have a lot of stuff I have to do.” And it’s like, maybe he’s right and I’m wrong here. Like maybe it’s okay to actually do things leisurely so that you’re not always consumed with being productive…I think God was way more concerned about the relational aspects than the productive aspects in a lot of ways. I think we are way more called to sometimes just go be a good hang than we are to go work on the next project that could effect a lot of people…Because what if that’s your vice? What if your vice is success? And your vice is achieving? Everyone else thinks you’re doing so much for the world and the truth is, you’re avoiding what’s really hurting you. And why that vice is so dangerous is there is no rock bottom. Like if you have a substance problem, unfortunately there’s going to be a rock bottom. Hopefully it’s before it’s too late. Or if you are living this double life, it’s eventually going to be exposed and you’ll hit a rock bottom. But if your vice is a point of success that will never be attainable because once you hit where you thought you would be happy, the goal post moves back ten yards, you’re never going to hit rock bottom and that’s really dangerous because you can live your life on a hamster wheel and never realize you’re running in place. And in fact people will encourage you. People will tell you that they’re inspired by how much you’ve accomplished and how tireless you are and how “I don’t know how you get it all done. I don’t know how you find time to do all this.” And you don’t have the sort of checks or red flags that we are trained to look for that we grow up looking for. We are not a country that’s very good at resting…A real concern for me lately is that people start conversations with me like, “hey I know you’re so busy but” or I’ll get emails that start with “I know you’re so busy…” and I think that I am being found out. And I don’t think my life is much busier than anybody else’s. I think my job looks different, but I don’t think my life is much busier than anybody else’s, but somehow I am portraying to the world that I am incredibly busy and my life looks busier than it feels which probably means my feeler is off. Right? That I’m not resting like I should… What Jesus said is that his yolk is easy and his burden is light. What he told us to do is love God and love people and if that’s what we do, then we’ve done it…
    Everyone makes it about these vices, but in reality that’s a symptom of a disease, and if you only treat the symptoms, you’re never going to cure what’s wrong. (Relevant Podcast ‘Wild Nothing,’ 9.21.18)

This. This. This. This. This. 

This quote is number one because it has had the most profound and immediate effect on my life. I listen to this over and over and over again because it just resonates so deeply with my soul. I work tirelessly week in and week out, and I get so much validation out of being busy all the time. In fact, I somehow almost think I’m better than other people because I’m so busy all the time. But the reality is: I am not better than anyone. In fact, I’m actually worse. I’m worse because I don’t maintain relationships like I should. I don’t take care of myself like I should. I don’t sleep like I should. I’ve met so many other crazy busy people this year, and the first thing I always ask every one of them is, “What are you running from?” Because when I heard this, I realized that that’s what I’m doing: running. And I’ve been running for most of my life. I always pride myself on not having any vices, but it was when I heard this that I realized I have the worst vice of all. I am addicted to being busy. And I don’t know how to stop. 

Sometimes I wonder what it wold look like in my life, though, if I just rested. Since I was old enough to work, I’ve had a job or two or three or four, and at my busiest five. And in that season of having five jobs, I finally realized that I was doing a terrible job at all five of my jobs because I was so exhausted and burned out. So I started quitting jobs, and while I don’t have quite as much money as I used to, I do have more peace than I’ve had in a very long time. I don’t know what this will look like moving forward, but right now, I am really prioritizing my peace of mind and I am pretty happy with that. 

  1. It’s easy to do the wrong thing. Wrong things are always easy. The right things are the things that are hard (Friday Night Tykes, Netflix)
  1. Stay strong. Make them wonder how you handled it. (Lady Gang Podcast)
  1. Are you right with you? (13 Reasons Why, Netflix).

It’s a simple question, but it is so important. You have nothing to regret, fear, be ashamed of if you are right within yourself.

  1. Time wasted rationalizing the mediocre could be time spent creating the magnificent and the time on earth to be you is very brief (Self-Helpless, ‘Money’ 6.11.18, original quote from Amy Rodman’s You Are a Badass at Making Money)
  1. It’s easy to confuse a lot of activity with a purposeful life. (Bob Goff)
  1. FEAR MEANS GO

A friend of mine is doing really awesome things with his life, and he said this to me one night, and I just loved it. Basically, if you’re afraid of something, that’s exactly the reason that you should do it. I can’t say that I am completely pushing myself to my limit (because I’m scared), but I am for sure taking slow and meaningful steps to living more of my life in the uncomfortable because that’s where growth most frequently occurs.

  1. We would pride ourselves on saying we’re not like our parent’s generation. It’s not about a big house. I don’t need a TV in this room and that room and the backyard. I don’t need all that stuff. Right?… We are not about stuff, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not just as equally consumeristic because we may be less about stuff, but man we are far more about experiences.  (Riccardo Stewart, Redemption Tempe, Exiles: Consumerism 10.28.18)

This one really resonated with me because I do pride myself on “minimalism” and not caring about having material possessions. But I do care so much about my experiences. I care too much about my experiences. I have such intense “FOMO” that I basically never say no to anything unless I absolutely have to. That means going to dinners with every friend that comes into town, that means going to lunch with every guy that asks me on a date, that means going to coffee when I don’t even like coffee. I learned this year that I need to be more intentional about how I spend my time and to prioritize meaningful experiences and not just “consume” experiences just because I can.

 

Healing

  1. Here’s the thing about pain in our lives: it will reveal itself at some point (Funtherapy Podcast, ‘Maria Goff’). 

This one hit me deep because I’ve been running from pain my whole life. And I’ve finally realized that you can’t outrun pain. It will eventually catch up to you and it will come out in ways that you can’t even imagine. The only way to move through pain is to feel it and I’ve spent a lot of this year living in my pain and navigating my pain. But the positive that comes out of that is that you start to heal. And I’ve done a whole lot of healing this year. I still have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful that complete healing will also lead to a complete transformation. 

  1. A lesson from my therapist: “People are capable of withstanding a lot of suffering, but that doesn’t mean they *should* suffer.” In other words, you don’t always have to bear a burden just because you can. (Twitter @chrisguillebeau)
  1. Forgive yourself for not knowing better at the time. Forgive yourself for giving away your power. Forgive yourself for past behaviors. Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring trauma. Forgive yourself for being who you needed to be. (Twitter @audreykitching)
  1. When someone is grieving and you say, “How are you feeling right now?,” you’re putting the responsibility on the person that you’re trying to console to explain how they’re feeling. To explain to you. Here’s another bad one: “tell me if there’s anything I can do.” You’re putting the responsibility on the person to come to you to ask for help. Just tell them what you’re going to do for them. If they’re struggling to get to work, drive them. If you can’t think of anything to say, tell a story about them [the deceased]. (The Psychology of Black Mirror Podcast, ‘San Junipero Nostalgia Therapy & Virtual Reality’)

I really like this because I’ve spent a lot of my life grieving, and I very clearly know the things that I hate to hear (“it will get better”, “I’m sorry”, “Are you okay?” etc.) But I could never pinpoint what I would rather hear instead. And then I heard this. Sometimes people just need you to be there and tell them how you’re going to take care of them.

  1. I have a friend who always asks me before venting/sharing concerns if I “have the mental space for it right now” & I gotta say…that willingness to respect boundaries and not demand a loved one dedicate emotional energy they may no have that day…that’s the healthiest shit ever (Twitter @itsMiri)
  1. If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.
  1. “Overwhelm” is what happens when we forget we are in control of our own life (Self-Helpless, ‘Money’ 6.11.18, original quote from Amy Rodman’s You Are a Badass at Making Money)
  1. You cant heal in the same environment that made you sick.

I had a HELL of a year this year. But I got myself out of the hell that I made my home and basically recreated my whole life. I moved, I got rid of my car, I got rid of every reminder that kept me chained to my bed for two months. And I finally started to heal because of it and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. It’s true. You have to distance yourself from a painful environment if you ever want to move past it. 

  1. You go back to painful situations because they’re comfortable and familiar (Love, Netflix)
  1. How dare I consider surrender simply because I want the warmth of the sun. This warmth has not been promised to me. My faith does not require it.
  1. All things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28)… As I was processing what that verse meant to me…the reality of if I said, “Hey, if I give you a stick of butter and I give you some flour and I give you some raw eggs” and I say “Y’all eat that and enjoy it,” you wouldn’t enjoy that…But something happens when you mix them together and let them be refined under the heat. You get something good like cake or cookies and what I needed to know in the same way was that if I took my tears, if I took my depression, if I take my anxiety, and my fears, and my hurt, and I mixed it together, then God could refine that and make something good out of it” (Lecrae, Relevant Podcast)

I absolutely LOVE this quote because I’ve never looked at it this way. Sure, each part of your life might look broken when taken individually. But somehow, when you combine all of the broken parts, it becomes beautiful. It just made so much more sense to me when he broke it down with the cake metaphor. You would never eat just butter, raw eggs, and flour, but that doesn’t mean those parts are worthless. They just have to be refined. Your broken parts aren’t worthless. They just have to be refined in the right environment.

 

Relationships

  1. RED FLAG: if someone is constantly bad mouthing their ex (J-train podcast)

When I was much more inexperienced in the world of dating, I used to think that I wanted the person I was dating to despise their ex. But as I got older, I realized that a lot of people date and break up for really no reason at all. A lot of times, you just aren’t meant to spend the rest of your life with someone and that’s okay. Imagine if we all believe in “the one”. There are plenty of wonderful people who are simply not “the one” who you may be compatible with, but you’re just not meant to be with forever. And if you have something bad to say about that person, that says more about you than it really does about them. If someone still has the capacity to bad mouth their ex, they probably still care more than they should. 

  1. When you meet the right person, you won’t have to make excuses for them.
  1. TRUST ACTIONS NOT WORDS

I taught myself this one (through wayyy too many trial and errors). When I like someone, I always want to believe the best in them, but I too often find myself believing in the things they say, rather than the things that they actually show me. Dating is really difficult in 2018, and I feel like I (along with probably many other women) want to meet someone so badly that I excuse a lot of actions because their pretty words justified them. I need to start believing in what people show me and start letting them go when their actions don’t match their words.

  1. When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags. (Cara Maria Sorbello, US Weekly)
  1. People look so different once you don’t care about them anymore.

This one rocked my world and I don’t quite know why. And it still rocks my world every time I read it. Something about this idea is so true and resonates so deeply with me. I see people SO SO SO differently once I don’t care about them anymore. They literally look like different humans to me. Which is actually probably one of the really dangerous things about my personality. I fall in love with people and I soften their look in my mind so much that I can’t recognize their danger. They look safe to me even when they’re not. But the second I fall out of love, they look so much like different humans that they’re almost unrecognizable to me. It’s a really crazy phenomenon.

  1. Be cognizant of how you speak to the people you love. Would you ever speak to your boss that way? You can control your emotions. Why would you show your boss more respect than your husband? (Kelly Marie) 

This statement was so profound to me because I had never looked at it this way. We were talking about snapping on the people we love the most and that people do it because they trust that someone is never going to leave. But we are capable of controlling our emotions. We do it all day every day, so why not do it with the people that matter the most? 

  1. Don’t give advice when not asked for it especially about relationships. Don’t be that girl telling a guy to be careful.

There is a time and place for advice, and pretty generally the time and place is when and where it’s asked for. Every relationship is different and complex and emotional in ways that are inexplicable to other people. So instead of giving unwarranted advice, I try to just be my friends’ biggest cheerleader (unless of course they are in an unsafe situation). If someone asks for my opinion, I give it, but pretty generally, people end up doing whatever they want to do no matter what. You might as well be there with them than not friends because you interjected your opinion where it wasn’t asked for. 

  1. Rarely do two people fall in love on the same day and rarely do they fall out of love the same day. (Self Helpless, ‘The Five Love Languages’ 8.28.17)
  1. If I could love the wrong person that much, how much could I love the right person? (The Bachelorette)

So Bekka said this on the Bachelorette, which makes it so much harder to relate to because how the hell did she love Arie so much and how the hell did she like Garrett more than Blake OR the really hot guy she sent home on episode one. But I digress. When you take this one at face value, it’s so accurate. I have never loved anyone as deeply as I loved my ex, and I often feel like I’m never going to love someone like that again. Like I don’t have the capacity to love someone like that again. But this reminds me that I loved the wrong person so deeply, that one day, I’m going to also love the right person beyond what that even was.

  1. Some love stories are short stories (Greek)
  1. You like because, You love despite (Set It Up, Netflix)

More specifically, you like someone because of their qualities, you love someone despite their qualities. More specifically, you like someone because of all of the qualities that they have that you’re looking for, you love someone despite all the “negative” qualities that they may have.

  1. The next person you date, just be aware, it might feel a little bit lackluster because you have been set up to feel like relationships should be this huge rollercoaster where you have spikes of adrenaline… You’re used to doing these crazy high peaks and valleys, but what’s normal is more just this kind of consistent middle ground… It should not be this huge stop start over and over and over. (Self Helpless, ‘Living with Borderline Personality Disorder’ 9.3.18)
  1. “If he hasn’t asked you out by Wednesday, don’t go out with him. That’s how we used to do it back in my day” (11.20.18, some lady at chase bank)

On this particular day, I walked into Chase bank and I sat down on my phone waiting to be called up to the teller. This lady sat across from me and said “It’s such a shame you all are on those things all the time now.” I rolled my eyes, not interested in diving into the conversation about millennial and our phones so I just smiled. She continued, “It’s like you guys don’t value face to face interaction.” And I don’t know if she was looking to get a rise out of me or what, so I put my phone down and humored her. If anyone knows me, I am kind of introverted and I don’t love conversations with strangers, but I’m really glad I put my phone down that day. She told me a story about her ex-boyfriend who has been writing her love letters for 50 years and she just finally told him to stop. Like okay girl! I hope boys are still chasing me into my 70s haha. And then she just randomly told me to not go out with guys who wait until the last minute because that means they were waiting for a better option in the interim. And she is so right!

  1. If you give him an ultimatum between you and her, you will lose either way. If he chooses her, you’re going to be hurt. If he chooses you, he’s going to resent you and memorialize her. If she really is an asshole, give her the chance to be an asshole. If she leaves, she’ll never have the chance to prove that’s who she is.

 

Professional

  1. Talk less, smile more, never let them know what you’re against or for (Hamilton)
  1. Write it, regret it. Say it, forget it. (J train Podcast)

In other words, call/talk in person. Don’t text or email anything important

  1. Money doesn’t cry (Shark Tank)

In other words, don’t bring your emotions to work. Leave your emotions at the door and do your job. The reality is that nobody cares about your life or what’s going on at home, so keep it at home.

  1. People who have to make decisions during the day or use their brain for their work need to refuel their battery by working with their hands and people who work with their hands need to refuel by mental stimulation and reading and learning…I don’t work after six. If you email me at my work address after 6, You won’t get a reply. I have to put boundaries on that. On the weekends at dinner I won’t have my phone out with my kid. I have to create space that I’m not plugged in or else you’re going to burn out. Sabbath is real. (Cameron Strang, The Relevant Podcast)
  1. Say yes to everything until you have to say no (The Lady Gang Podcast)

So this was said as career advice, and I definitely have used it in that regard (You know, say yes to anything your boss asks you to do to be a good employee). But at one point, I started just taking it as life advice and I started saying yes to all kinds of random opportunities. I made it my goal to never say no to anything. And I actually walked away with some of the most wonderful experiences because of it.

  1. Money doesn’t make you happy, it gives you options. (Self-Helpless, ‘Money’ 6.11.18, original quote from Amy Rodman’s You Are a Badass at Making Money)
  1. If I give them the power to feed me, I give them the power to starve me #selfmade (Self-Helpless, ‘Holiday Anxiety’ 12.3.18, original quote from Ida Rodriguez)

I love this so so so much. I am no entrepreneur, but boy do I love the idea of having the ability to create my own destiny. I love the idea of not having to rely to anyone but myself. 

  1. Don’t speak unless you improve upon the silence (U UP? Podcast)
  1. You need to disconnect from people that are hindering your growth, causing you to compromise, and find some favor connections: people that are going places, people that are at another level, people that have what you dream about. You need some eagles in your life (Joel Osteen)

This kind of reminds me of some of my very favorite quotes: “Sit with the winners, the conversations are different” and “don’t take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” You can’t improve your life by surrounding yourself with people who hold you down. You need to be surrounded by people who push you and inspire you. And if someone is consistently hindering your growth, you have to distance yourself. And I think that I really needed to learn that this year. I want to be around more people that I aspire to be like in the upcoming year. 

 

Faith

  1. There is something wildly vulnerable about receiving forgiveness and even telling somebody that I forgive you. And we know that this is not easy. It is painful because you’re saying I’m willing to absorb the pain and not treat you as your sins deserve. The reason why the first section is there: bitterness and anger and rage is because we want people to be treated the way that they treated us. I had so much hatred in my heart towards my pop and I can say, “well I was justified because of this, that, and the other.” Maybe. But what about the fact that God did not relate to me on the basis of my works of what I did or none of us would ever be saved? If God says, “listen until you get things right, I ain’t comin.” No. While we were still sinners Christ died for us, and he didn’t die for us as friends. He died for us as enemies and made us friends. (Riccardo Stewart, Redemption Tempe, Ephesians: Put On Kindness & Love 4:31-5:2)
  1. Most of us have no idea how lost we are, but rest in the idea that God is looking for us. Someone loves us enough who knows where we are going, where we have been, and where we are going and won’t let us become lost (Riccardo Stewart, Redemption Tempe)
  1. The teacher is the quietest during the test (Wes)

For anyone who actually knows me, you know that my life has been plagued with trauma (if you don’t know, just read some of my older posts). I was raised Catholic and I was taught to trust that God always has a plan. But I’ve strayed from my religion so many times because I don’t know how I can possibly explain all of the pain that I’ve lived through. For as long as I can remember, I have been looking for God and I’ve always struggled to feel truly connected. My friend, Wes, has always been someone that has pushed me spiritually, and amidst my struggles with faith, Wes said this to me and it resonated so deeply with me. I am hopeful that if I stay faithful during the doubtful seasons, I will be met with something magnificent.

  1. We’re feasting on culture, but starving on God (Riccardo Stewart, Redemption Tempe 11.18.18)

 

Health

  1. ALWAYS get a second opinion at doctors. 

This one is such a simple lesson, but it really is life-changing once you learn it. I grew up like most people, always trusting certain types of people: police officers, firefighters, doctors, teachers etc. And you don’t even realize how deep-rooted this trust is until you’re faced with the reality that these people are all just humans just like you. They all have subconscious thoughts that they can’t overpower. They all make the wrong choice sometimes. And yet, it took two experiences to make me realize that the ONLY person I can trust without fail is myself, including with things that professionals are trained to know better than myself. So the first example is that I have been told for many years that I couldn’t get Lasic eye surgery, which is wildly disappointing because my vision just keeps getting worse and worse, but this year, by an annoying misfortune, I had to go to a new eye doctor and she told me “of course you can” when I asked her if I could get Lasic. When I told her that they had been telling me for at least five years that I couldn’t get Lasic, she said “yeah they probably didn’t want you to stop spending money on contacts and glasses.” This news came to me after I no longer had vision insurance, so it currently isn’t an option for me to get Lasic, but it’s nice to know that it’s on the table! The second example is that I have spent this whole year REALLY struggling with my weight. I have a lean body, I’m athletic, I work out every single day, I play soccer 2-5 times a week, and I’m on a whole-food plant-based diet (annoying, I know). There is NO reason at ALL that I should be gaining weight, and yet I’ve gained almost 20 pounds in two years. I do realize that for some people this doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m only 5 feet tall and I’m borderline “obese”! I’ve told my doctor countless times that there is something wrong with me because there’s no reason that I should constantly be in a calorie deficit and gaining weight. But she is extremely insensitive and she says REALLY annoying things like, “well you’re getting older and your metabolism is slowing down” or “I can send you to a nutritionist.” But I know my body better than anyone else, and I am POSITIVE something is wrong. It has nothing to do with getting older and it DEFINITELY doesn’t have anything to do with my diet. So anyway, I complain to my friends all the time, and one of my friends suggested I try her doctor. I kept saying “but everyone loves this doctor,” and she said, “but you don’t!” And I was like you’re right! So anyway, I plan to try out a new doctor in 2019 and I’m praying that she takes the time to hear and diagnose my concerns.

** Turns out, I have Hashimoto’s. My doctor wasn’t going to test my levels, but I insisted and low and behold, they were five times the normal level. I get retested in April to see if the medication works for me. (It doesn’t). But at least I’m on the process to getting it under control!

What They Don’t Tell You About Living Through Tragedy… (What I wish I could’ve told myself in 2005)

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Author’s Note: I started writing this piece three years ago to help others understand what living through a tragedy might be like. But the more I wrote, the more personal it became. It turned into a way for me to navigate all of the feelings I had about what had happened to me for the last (at the time) ten years. I didn’t anticipate how much this piece would come to mean to me and how much I wanted it to perfectly capture all of my feelings and emotions. This became my therapy to finally help me deal with my dad’s death, and in writing this, I realized that it wasn’t so much his actual death that destroyed me, but everything that followed. So many people suggested that I shouldn’t share this because of the feelings it might hurt. To that, I say: “You own everything that happened to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” Continue reading

Out with 2017…

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I hate to be a cliché using something as arbitrary as the dates of a year to mark the periods of my life. But, without measurement and comparison, we know no true accomplishment or failure. So for a while now, I’ve been saying that 2017 was the second worst year of my life (second to the year my dad died), but I actually believe 2017 has truly been the worst year of my life. I gave my heart to someone fully and completely, only to have it shattered in the worst possible way. I watched helplessly as my little brother struggled through the worst injury of his career. I gave up the only passion that I ever had chasing a life that wasn’t meant for me. I learned secrets about the years following my dad’s death that left me feeling abandoned and disconnected from my own last name. I sustained the worst injury of my soccer career (even if it was just in adult league). I failed countless times in my career. And I cried more times than I think I’ve ever cried in my entire life. I lost myself in every sense of the word.

But moving through that Hell, I learned a lot. “Experience is the most brutal of teachers, but my God do you learn.” There were some pivotal moments in 2017 that shifted my reality and touched me very deeply. And every time it happens, I put a note in my phone to help me remember.

These are the lessons I learned in 2017:

Relationships

  • Always leave people better than you found them (Dan Savage).

I started listening to Dan Savage in 2017. It’s a really unique sex and relationship podcast, but the one of the overarching messages from Dan’s podcast is that you’re either going to get married or break up and not every ending has to be bad. People are chapters in our story and are meant to help us become who we are supposed to be; as long as you leave someone better than you found them, that relationship wasn’t a failure. This resonated with me because he wasn’t just talking about romantic relationships. He was talking about every relationship. And in that, I realized that I haven’t always left people better than I found them. I haven’t always made people’s lives better. But in 2017, I started being cognizant of my character in other people’s story, and will continue to try to leave people better than I found them

  • Have genuine cheerleaders—people who are legitimately happy for your success. 
  • Clean up your side of the street (Keltie Knight)

I love this because I have had a LOT of failed relationships in my life. And I always struggle to let people go because I want to resolve every single issue. But I know that I have always “cleaned my side of the street,” and I find peace in that.

  • You get away with a lot when you let people into your life (a parent of one of the kids on my soccer team)

This really connected with me because as a soccer coach, I feel like I always have to put on a façade that everything is okay and that I am perfect and I am always sure of my decisions. The truth is that I am not. One night, after a frustrating training session, I sat with this dad in the parking lot for an hour talking about my real life, and he told me how much more he liked me and how much more everyone would like me if I let them see the human in me and not just the coach. This was extremely eye-opening to me. It doesn’t just apply to soccer though—this is the kind of management style I want to have professionally as well. I want to let people in so that they trust me and can relate to me, rather than fear me.

  • Don’t make someone feel isolated when they have no escape (i.e. on vacation with your family) 
  • “Never confuse a lesson for a soulmate” 
  • Never let someone tell you twice that they don’t want you


Comparison

  • Don’t compare your hustle to someone else’s highlight reel (Sophia Marusso) 
  • Whenever you feel sad about someone’s cute candid pictures, remember what it took to get that picture (i.e. okay now look at me and I will look away like I don’t notice) (my brother) 
  • Run your own best race. If you start looking at them, you’ll go out of your lane.


Intuition

  • Listen to what YOU know is right. Don’t let people convince you out of what you know. 
  • Never apologize for trusting your intuition—your brain can play tricks, your heart can blind, but your gut is always right


Healing

  • Not every experience has to be attached to pain (Corrine Fisher) 
  • Things don’t always have to be better than others. They can just be different (My roommate).

This one really stuck with me because I have spent so much of my life comparing myself to everyone else, and I had stopped living my life for me. I was living my life to be better or just as good as someone else. I was always hurting over failed relationships (friends and romantic) and I remember feeling so much pain watching people replace memories. But then she said that to me, and it changed something in me. There are things that are just different. And that’s okay.

  • You can handle anything in the moment, it’s our fear of what might happen that undoes us (The Fosters). 
  • Time doesn’t heal pain, moving through pain does (A therapist)

This resonated with me because people always say time heals all wounds. And I kept wondering why mine weren’t healing. And in the moment that I heard this, I realized that mine weren’t healing because I was ignoring them. I was pretending they didn’t hurt. But this was the year that I decided to face all the pain. Has it been hell? Absolutely. But I’m hoping on the other side there’s healing.


Professional

  • Don’t say “I was told” at work. It is the least accountable thing you can say (My boss). 
  • Stop saying “just” in emails (i.e. I’m just checking in). Say what you mean. (LadyGang Podcast) 
  • Don’t tell anyone what to do with their time or money (My soccer director)


Spiritual

  • “I don’t know if He (Jesus) is going to do that (give her the opportunity to meet her biological father) on this side of Heaven” (Redemption)

I love this simply because there’s an idea here that many people don’t dive into: that maybe God won’t do something on this side of Heaven because it isn’t meant for you here or it isn’t right for you here. But maybe He will move for you on the other side of Heaven. Maybe you just have to wait until you get there to see the bigger picture. There’s always a reason. He just can’t always show you what you want when you want it.

  • If He’s (God) big enough to be angry at, He’s big enough to have a reason (Riccardo) 
  • Mans rejection is God’s protection (Jeannie Mai) 
  • Turn your test into testimony, your mess into a message (Relevant) 

 

So here’s to 2018. They say happiness is a choice, so I’m leaving all of this hurt in 2017 and I’m going to live my best life in 2018. Cheers.

3 am nightmares.

Whimpering getting louder Louder and LOUDER.

It won’t stop.

Takes his last breath. Death rattle.

‘Call 911’

They bust through the door.

They drop him in the hall.

Huddled on my bed.

He’s on the living room floor.

CPR. Heart Monitor.

1 more time and we’re going to call it.

Time of death.

Crying. Numbness. Confusion.

Here’s a teddy bear for each of you.

His body lays in the living room for two hours

We hide in my room.

I call my grandpa.

My whole family appeared.

Funeral.

Food.

Flowers.

And ten years later, no one remembers but us.