'You got this', I told myself as I approached my bigger, taller and wider opponent on the field; football tucked under my right arm, the look of determination on my face. My mind said, 'fake left, then right and you're clear', but I did not foresee the unexpected. My right foot inserted itself into a ridge in the uneven ground and as I shifted all my weight onto the leg to manoeuvre around my 'Goliath' I heard an unnerving crunch sound resonate from my right knee. The grass and I had an intimate relationship that day, along with the two or three guys that decided to simulate a car pileup on top of me 'just for fun'. I told myself that I should walk it off, not wanting to look like a total loser. I mean, who gets injured during a practise game of flag football? Who does that? *hand flying in the air* Apparently, this girl does!!
After visiting the hospital and having an MRI, noticing that I could not weight bare on my right leg and that my knee would not allow me to bend it past a 15 to 20 degree angle, I realized the extent of my injury. Not only did I have a bucket handle tear on my meniscus (restricting my knee's mobility), I also had a completely torn ACL, sprained MCL and a bruised bone. Fan-freaking-tastic! Truth be told, my ego and my belief-in-myself took a nose dive and hid under the weight of my perceived 'loser-ness' for a while.
Living with an injury is not fun.... Trust me! 2009 and the year after, turned out to be a struggle for me both mentally and physically. My body seemed to be on a journey of its own and my mind was struggling to keep up.
I had a Scope done on my meniscus, and after some physiotherapy (which seemed like forever) I had to go back in for a Manipulation (this is where the surgeon puts you to sleep and forcefully bends the 'stiff or frozen' joint ) because my knee was not moving passed a 50 to 90 degree angle even with physiotherapy every day. I was also experiencing LDS (I believe that's what it's called), which happens when your body magnifies the pain and you end up feeling more discomfort, or should I say PAIN, than you really should; it's a protective mechanism apparently. In order to even think about ACL reconstruction, I was told that I needed to have at least a 120 degree bend.
After much grueling torture in physiotherapy, I achieved the 120 degree bend that was required for ACL reconstruction. My surgeon decided, ultimately, on not going in again to replace my torn ACL, due to my body's ability to over produce scar tissue, after my Scope. So needless to say that experience has left me slightly scarred.
I've noticed that there has been a slight change in the way I relate to post workout pain (including DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness). I still love and relish in it but not as much as I used to. The pain that I experienced due to the injury and therapy thereafter had, and has changed my outlook. On the bright side, I know that it is mostly mental, however the mental hurdles are often the hardest to get used to. I have to keep reminding myself that pain is temporary and the rewards and benefits will far outweigh the pain that comes today.
In order for me to get full range of motion back in my knee joint, I had to endure through the tears (literally) and convince myself that those around me who were trying to motivate and encourage me were not after my demise but rather my success and full recovery. I have to admit, I despised my mother, husband and therapist for a while but deep down I knew it was for the best. Because of their aid, I was able to gain mobility back in the joint, and although I can't touch my heel to my bum on the injured leg, it comes pretty close now.
There are so many morals that I have and can still gather from this situation. The good ole' text - 'Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning' can definitely work here, but what I really want you guys to take away from this is =>
Often times we keep ourselves back because of our own inner struggles, our own mental walls; our own negative thoughts. If we keep telling ourselves we can't, then we won't! If we keep allowing ourselves to make excuses then we will remain stagnant. If you allow your negative thoughts to keep driving your life's ship, then one day, in a moment of clarity (and we all get these moments now and then) you will realize how much you have lost or left behind.
So, my admonition to you, and yes to myself as well, is to always think positive thoughts, be your own cheerleader (having other's in your corner will help tremendously too) and learn to fight through the pain. Make the conscious effort to train your brain and your body will have no choice but to follow.