So my knee's busted up.
About a week ago, during scrimmage, I was sprinting hard to the left before I abruptly changed direction to try and save the disc. I felt my knee twist and heard a series of cracks before I went down. At that point, I was more overcome by fear than by pain. And when our captain firmly said, "No lifting. No running," that's the only time I teared up.
Two weeks before
With a major tournament coming up in a few weeks, I wanted to know what was what, so I went to see an orthopedic surgeon (someone I've been good friends with for two decades). He asked me what happened and examined me, and said he was "90 percent sure it's a meniscus tear, but the ACL seems intact." I told him about my upcoming tournament, my voice dripping with the sound of hope (Please tell me I can play, it implied). "Oh, honey," he sighed. "There's always next year." He said we could wait it out to see if there was any improvement, or I could go get an MRI scan so we would know right away. Being the impatient person that I am, I opted for the MRI.
I don't think I've ever believed in anything as much as I believed in that 10%. I was so confident, so sure that it was nothing but a sprain. For a few days, I was haunted by that terrible sound--I shuddered as that crrrrack-crrrrack-crrrrack of my knee played over and over in my head. But I told myself it just sounded a lot like the really bad ankle sprain I got years ago. I was walking (OK, hobbling). I didn't really feel any pain except when I bent or twisted my leg. The only reason I took pain meds was to manage the swelling, but other than that I could do without.
I went to get my MRI results in great spirits. Finally, the little anxiety I had (if any) would be put to rest. I would be proven right. I was giddy thinking about how happy I would be to put this silliness behind me and be given the go-signal to work out.
And then I read it. Some parts of the summary jumped out at me:
Complex tear involving the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus, extending to the superior and inferior articular surfaces.
At this point, I felt my stomach sink. But it got worse:
Complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament.
Mild to moderate grade partial tears involving the medial and fibular collateral ligaments.
I was stunned. I was heartbroken. At worst, I thought it would be a meniscus tear that would need surgery and six weeks' recovery time. But this? This meant I was out for at least six months.
Can they see my broken heart in my MRI results?
My doctor's first question: "Do you want to be competitive again?" I was still in shock, still trying to process everything, but without a doubt, the answer was yes. And that meant surgery. I was in a haze as we talked in general terms about the procedure and costs and recovery time. "Why are you crying? You can still walk! You'll get through this!" he said, upbeat. I knew there was much to be thankful for, and there was no doubt in my mind that I would come back from it, but the whole situation still sucked. For someone who works out almost every day, six months feels like an eternity.
I'd pretty much reformed my eating habits as I was committed to reaching my fitness goal by the end of the year. But the weekend I got the results, there was a whole lot of emotional eating going on. (There was also a lot of swearing and just utter disbelief.) But I gave myself a deadline, and told myself I wasn't going to wallow after that. I was going to re-commit to eating clean since that's the only thing I could really do, and I was going to come back stronger.
My IG story says it all
One of my best friends, M, remarked that mentally, I seem to be in a different place than I was a few months ago. I seem stronger. And she's right. I have absolute confidence that I'll be back (even with nega people telling me it took them years or blah blah--I tend to tune them out). I've asked those who've had similar injuries about the toughest parts of recovery, and I'm preparing myself to face those challenges. It helps that I'm getting so much support and encouragement from friends and family.
My moral support, I, when I got my results
I remember at my son's parent-teacher conference, his teacher mentioned that my kid is "single-minded"; when he puts his mind to one thing, he fully commits to it. And I marveled at that because at that time, I felt so unfocused. I wondered where he got it from. Now I'm starting to see that, hey, maybe he got it from me.
As with every other crappy thing that has happened this year, this made me wonder what the universe was trying to tell me. "The universe doesn't want me to get abs." "The universe is telling me to take a break from ultimate." And, with the looming cost of surgery: "The universe is telling me to get a job!" But one of my best friends, P, was more insightful: "With everything that's happening to you, it's like the universe is telling you to pause. And maybe redirect your attention to other things."
And I think she may be right, too. (This is why she and M are my best friends.) This "pause" has allowed me to revisit some of my dreams, and they're starting to take shape. And the focus and drive I have when it comes to recovery is spilling over to this neglected area of my life.
When I had to tell the staff that our beloved magazine was being killed a few months ago, I said, "This could be the best thing that happens to you." I'm repeating these words to myself now. This injury, this pause, could be the best thing that ever happens to me.