More desirable than what, you might ask? Well, almost three months ago I tore my ACL; every athlete's worst nightmare. It happened on a routine play, in a small sided game, during our last practice before exams. I was chasing down a ball - like I have a thousand times - but this time it was just one slight slip and a turn and pop - I knew right away that it was bad. So, now I've learned the hard way that a broken bone heals much faster than torn ligaments or cartilage and that the work and rehab that is essential after ACL surgery is far more difficult, and painful, than actually tearing the damn thing itself!
I began therapy in Week 2, once I was back at school, and was I was utterly shocked at my new knee's limitations. My first exercises were actually just flexing my quad and hamstring, both of which I had trouble doing. Next was a leg rise. Each time the trainer would tell me to attempt a straight leg raise, which consists of just picking up my leg while lying flat, I felt instantly sick to my stomach. This early activity was by far my least favorite part of that first few days of rehab. What was most disappointing was that it seemed that my leg muscles had actually forgotten how to work properly. I would tell those muscles to lift my leg, but nothing would happen. That first session I could barely lift my leg an inch off the table. I had so much frustration that I cried a little (I will admit it!) But my leg simply refused to go any higher. I guess that was the real low point for me.
I had dissolvable stitches in my incisions, so a little after 2 weeks I was able to remove the strips off the skin and actually see what my new knee looked like. Of course it was still pretty swollen and didn't quite look like a knee yet, but what surprised me, and everyone else, most was my lack of scars. I definitely owe my doctor a huge hug the next time I see him! At a brief glance they are barely noticeable, something that I am very grateful for.
On the plus side, I can now bend my knee enough to allow for me to fit in the auditorium seats in my lectures - and I have caught up with all my classes!! I have the luxury of being able to go to therapy every day (sometimes twice), and I have really started to look forward to those sessions because with each day at rehab I can accomplish more and more. In just 2 weeks I should be able to walk on my own, something I couldn't even fathom doing in those terrible days right after my surgery. Most importantly, I now believe that I will be back before next season and ready to play again.
It has been a hard first month, and sometimes the hardest part is sitting on the sidelines and not being a part of our regular training and playing (but still getting up at 5:30 am to support my teammates). The next month will bring new challenges. If you have read my blog before, you know that I am no great fan of weights, stationary bikes, treadmills or elliptical machines. But that is where I will be spending lots of time for my rehab. It is also the start of our spring season and I don't know how well I will handle not being able to play. I hated my time out in the fall, and this will be even harder, but I have a goal to be ready by the start of pre-season and that means one month down and five to go!!!