15 min read

ACL an Odyssey

ACL an Odyssey

She was moving her arms to guard her sides, but that's not what I was focusing on. I was aiming for the head. I wasn't practicing those roundhouse kicks for no reason, and can we not forget those splits (I swear it wasn't meant for flexibility but more as a torture method). She flipped her stance now, I think she's trying to kick my left side. I switch to my left side and kick, aiming for her head.

Yes! I hit her! Wait... why am I falling with her? Shit, shit shit, she's holding on to my calf. We both fall and then snap.

A snap, a tear, a kind of pain I've never felt before, that single snap brought with it years of depression, bitterness, and overall sadness that lasted years. That was back in 2011. Over 10 years have passed, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. The day I tore my ACL. It was also the day I developed a fear of pain, not only physical but also mental. Can you just imagine, more than 10 years of numbness, of not feeling anything, of having a cold soul? That was me.

All those years, I was hyper-aware of my left leg, of trying to not get it bumped by anyone, of not letting anyone touch it, and I don't think I did a good job at it, given I broke my ankle this year (and did I mention it's the sample leg as the torn ACL? The universe is playing a joke on me), but something happened last year.

My sister tore her ACL too, but unlike me, she didn't go through depression and hid away. No. She was brave. She did the constructive surgery right away. She went to physical therapy, She did her exercise with tears because of the pain, but she did it anyway, and I saw it all. Saw each phase of her journey, and just four months later, she ran a 5k race. A month later, she runs a half marathon! All I could think while seeing her grow stronger and stronger is that Wonder Woman has nothing on her! Damn, I was just aww struck.

Which brings me to this year, where I decided that if Adwa (my sister) did it, why can't I? I really can't live like this anymore. True,

  • I'm scared shitless
  • My ankle isn't healed yet
  • My hemoglobin level is low
  • I have my period (TMI but deal with it)

But is that just me making excuses? I believe so, but not anymore. No more living in fear. No more making excuses for myself, no more hiding in comfort. It's time to take action, and that's what I am doing tomorrow. I'll be having the surgery I feard for the last decade. I also want to document the whole journey here. I want to look back knowing how I felt each day, week, and month because I've waited so long for this day might as well document it all.

I'll start with this audio snippet. So Athoug how are you feeling?

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The day before the surgery
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/2:11

June 7th 2022 - Day 1

Woke-up to my alarm, and it dawn on me, wow it's today! I don't think it sinked in yet that I'm doing this today. Hell I'm in the room assigned to me as we speak (or is it type?) and well it feels like any other morning just with a different view.

Maybe I'd feel different when I wear the gown, and dragged to the operating room? At the moment, I'll just enjoy the view while listening to a podcast.

my view

4 hours later, and Im still waiting... I think the wait is making my anxiety level sky rocket.

When hour 6 came along, It was time to take me to the operating room (or so I thought) instead, I was taken to a waiting room where I was facing a lime green wall and a clock for an hour (Note, best way to make an already anxious person paranoid is letting them face a blank wall with a clock). Anyways, later, I was in the operating room and one of the nurses there was so cute, I was shivering ย so she held my hand and started singing, and then 3, 2, 1 I was out...

I woke up to a burning pain in my knee, and a dry throat that felt like my pipes would break the moment I spoke.


June 8th 2022 - Day 2

Okay yesterday all I kept seeing is two heads for every person I spoke too, but today I think the drowsy effect wore off since now, people have only a single head. Also, I can put pressure on my leg! Yes, it's painful but doable (Look at the half cup full attitude, yes please keep this positive mindset Athoug).

The physical therapist came to day and bent my knee to a 90 degree angle. Progress? I think so.

physical therapy was a breeze 

I also managed to walk half the hallway and back

I am walking the runway

My sisters also came to visit which brightened my day. It was nice chilling and laughing like we always do. They also got me a card of witch the first line made me grin. Yup, you're right guys, finally!


June 9th 2022 - Day 3

Today is a bit of a scary day because I feel a sort of tightness at the back of my leg muscle, I'm acting like it doesn't exist because if I voice it out, it would feel real. Also a weird thought, I keep forgetting that I actually did the surgery. Funny given that my leg is all wrapped up and at moments I feel a burning sensation coming from it, yet still, it hasn't dawn on me, that I actually did it... Why?

A funny moment during physical therapy was seeing my leg beating as if it has a heart beat

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a knee with a heart beat

and on a final note, we went back home today, and dear god it was an adventure. getting into the car, going up the stairs, and just trying to get situated.

Extra: at the end of the day, this happened

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My knee speask
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/1:24

June 10th 2022 - Day 4

Today felt a bit off honestly, I don't know what about it that just made the day a massive meh. Maybe the excruciating hot weather? Or maybe I'm not sleeping well (yeah comfort is a thing of the past) or maybe it's those bloody fruit flies. It could be a mixture of it all but damn, I don't like this mindset...


June 11th 2022 - Day 5

A new day a new attitude. Maybe it's because I've picked up reading again? I've been spending my day with Sally Rooney's character's and I'm just enjoying every minute of it.

what is normal anyways

Also, today was my first day out of the house. Getting into the car was, let's just say, a challenge. The road bumps were not to kind to my knee and well the sad bit was the whole outing was for nothing. The place was closed. Yay.


June 12th 2022 - Day 6

Now I finished Normal people the book, and today was all about the TV show, and now I have a new favorite author. Sally Rooney wrote human relationships and the way they deal with social pressure very realistically! I'm just in love and the show adaptation is so good! It truly gave it justice.

Now Athoug, this is a log of your ACL journey not your current obsessions. Okay so today is a special day. It's PT (physical therapy) day. I was nervous honestly but riding the car with my mom and the driver relived that tension because well awkward. Here's a snippet

0:00
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a injured person, a mother, and a driver go into a bar

In the waiting room, there was this wall. It's meant to be empowering and honestly it's a sweet idea, but for some reason the logo just seems off to me, what's up with the ย leaf that comes out from the leg? isn't meant to represent growth or rather growing through pain? I don't know but hey to each their own, still cute none the less.

the wall of hope

Okay, I have to put it out there, I'm a very difficult person to deal with. Stubborn, ego repulses me, and I would love to be treated like a human please. But hey I am difficult I know, so coming into this I was already on edge because well I know me, but my god I was blessed with this doctor! He was patient, called me out on my bullshit, gave me time to recover when I needed it, reassured me, and it's always a plus when someone laughs at your jokes, also he said I'm the weirdest ACL patient and I take that as a complement. He truly gave me the confidence that I've got this! Here's a clip of one of the practices

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A baby learning to walk

So from the video you can tell that I was told to use crutches and not grandpa up's thingy so to you my friend I say goodbye

Goodbye my lover goodbye my friend

Truly hope the therapist assigned to me is just as cool as the doctor (prayers please)

PS: I'm listening to Normal People soundtrack while writing this. If you're interested here's a link to the playlist. Enjoy.


June 13th 2022 - Day 7

It's a full on week now! Man, at times I can't believe that I actually did it, you know, I go one about my day, and then at times while walking, or just siting and watching something, I'd look at my knee and think "holly crap I actually did it! ... I have a normal knee now."

Today, I signed up for a race on December. Why it's just been a week and I wanted to have something that would force me to get into shape and up and running by then (because accountability and stuff is actually a thing) so yeah I did it, and here's hoping this time I don't break another ankle ๐Ÿคž


June 15th 2022 - Day 9

Today my knee had this sense of pressure that resembles a water ballon that's about to pop. On a brighter note, I met my permanent physician today and she's just a ball of sunshine.

Also I got this cute gift from a friend. I feel loved ๐Ÿฅฐ

walking on sunshine, woooah

June 18th 2022 - Day 12

Today I follow up with my doctor to check on my sutures. In the morning I was young and naive and here's my thought process at the time

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Hours before Dr follow up
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/2:33

I wanted to enjoy the visit so why not do a montage and thats' what I just did

It's been a while since I last edited a video, I'm a bit rusty.

Okay if you've watched you'd know I started freaking out at one point, and well that's when everything went down to hill.

When they opened the bandaids and I got to see the wound, there is this one part in that wasn't sealed and you can see a gush of blood and flesh and it had this weird bump. I kept asking why they wouldn't suture it or at least seal it but I kept getting a non convincing response.

I came into the hospital all hopeful and optimistic, left all sad and depressed. Cried in the car, cried when I told my mother about it, and just felt all gloom and glum.

I hate feeling like this because not only is it affecting my mood, it also made me scared. Scared of doing my physical therapy exercises because hell I have an open wound! I also keep pressing on it to have the skin align, but my mother said something that made me stop and think

Leave your body to heal itself - mom

I'll leave it at that wise saying and not mope around some more.


June 20th 2022 - Day 14

I approached today with a new mindset. Let me back up a bit. From my last entry, you could tell that my emotions were all over the place, and I was in a negative head space. It lasted two days. It's mostly due to the open wound and the belief that it will leave a hideous scare. I'm aware that's a bit superficial of me, but the thing is I already have a not so great self-image and to add that to the list is just icing on the cake.

Now back to the new mindset. I thought of the Japanese practice where they put together a broken pot or ceramic using gold to highlight that there is beauty in broken things. Using this practice, I tried to implement it to what I am going through. So yes, it might be a hideous scare, but this scare made me knee normal. Made me have a healthy knee again. Despite how you will look scare, I will love you. You are giving me the ability to move freely again.

With that said, something nice also happened today. I visited my nutritionist because well I've been really bad at the health department. Funny thing happened, looking at the measurements, I've gained in muscles, and you know what do I own thanks to? The crutches! Yes my weight isn't that good, but those muscles are shaping up! ย 

Side note, I got some flowers! Seriously this journey also made me realize I'm loved (I need to work on my self image man)

oh look at the view, it's filled with blue

June 21st 2022 - Day 15

New PT exercises! I did bridge today. Yes I freaked out a bit but it all ended well. So maybe new exercises = leveling up? I'll just think that. I need whatever positive mental state to survive this journey. So yes, new level unlocked ๐Ÿ”“


June 23rd 2022 - Day 17

I was sitting in the rest area, waiting for my physical therapist to come. I usually just sit, and play any game on my phone, but this time I decided to bring my headphones and just listen to music (It always has a way of soothing my nerves). While listening to a playlist, this track came

No more running

A rush of emotions came in that little room. Why might you ask, well this was the song that triggered this hole journey! This was the song that made me take the plunge and go through this whole shebang.

MACKS might not have written this song in hopes for people to face their fears (I'm sure it might be a love song or something) but there is this one line

If I'm undone undone by the fears I'm running from

That line, it made me sob in the car, decide to do the surgery, book an appointment, and actually do it in a span of a week.

Ten years of doubt were undone by a single song lyric. Thank you MACKS.

3 minutes later, my Physical therapist came, and I went to training with a real smile for a change.


June 24th 2022 - Day 18

It's 1:00 A.M, I'm wide awake... Those sutures are bloody burning! Not only that, but itchy as well. I think my body is rejecting those strings. I really can't wait for June 2nd to come and hopefully (really hopefully ๐Ÿ™ ) would remove them and not have a June 18th incident again.


June 26th 2022 - Day 20

Today is a momentous day! It's funny that I'm saying this when yesterday was the day of pain. Anyways back to the momentousnesses, I biked today! This officially makes me leveled up! Take a look ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

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Eddy Merckx has nothing on me

Also, my bend reached 110 degrees! I can't take off the smile from my face, super happy in comparison to last weeks mood. I guess I owe my knee a thank you for improving.


June 28th 2022 - Day 22

So now that I can use a bike, the next logical step is well buying one right, right? (say yes to justify my purchase).

I'm determined to get healthy and fit now, before I used to make up excuses because of a torn ACL, well now, I have a normal knee now so no excuse ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

Hello new best friend

June 30th 2022 - Day 24

Today PT was in the morning so I got to meet new people. One of whom was a basketball player. She made my past memories of playing come rushing in. I was a bit jealous because back then it was rare to find people to play with and here she is with a national team. Now all I want is to get better, and play as well.

Also, my PT (physical therapist) will go on a vacation, I'm not good with change. A little anxious now...


July 1st 2022 - Day 25

Observation: it's kinda odd that an inanimate object that you never used before nor cared for would grow to be something you feel as if it's an extension of yourself. Hell I trust the crutches more than I do my own arms, and that frightens me.

On another note, I started secretly practicing to walk without the harness. Don't tell my doctor, PT or even family (They coddle me too much that the thought a lone would freak them out).


July 2nd 2022 - Day 26

So today is my second checkup with the doctor. I was in a low kind of energy mood, why might you ask? Well PTSD thats' why. I keep remembering the last visit and how horrible it felt.

I wanted to capture how I felt so I decided to record before the visit and well,

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Before meeting up with the doctor for the second time
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/1:11

Time kept ticking and it's time to go... This time I got some back up with me (a.k.a Mom) just incase I start to panic again, but it turned out well. I removed the sutures but still though there's this still open bumpy wound that I'm not happy about which everyone is telling me it's normal, them saying that makes me feel like I'm in the twilight zone but oh well at least the sutures are off.

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I thought they'd pull off the strings not just the tip ๐Ÿ™„

Also another good note! The doctor gave me the clear to take off the harness, more proof that PT is babying me.


July 3rd 2022 - Day 27

I met my temp PT, not sure how I feel about him... No honestly, I know how I feel. I'm not a fan, he said something misogynistic and it rubbed me off the wrong way. On the other hand he did give me new moves so I'm grateful. Is this what they mean by a double edge sword?

I'm not enjoying PT anymore and I kinda don't trust them either. I feel that I should be in a different level by now. I keep comparing myself with my sister and she said she was doing more difficult moves at my stage... Don't know what to do nor feel. I was googling ACL rehab to maybe do some on my own... or should I just switch centers? Maybe I should wait for my original PT to come back and voice my concerns.

Aaaaaagh I hate feeling like this ๐Ÿ˜”


July 4th 2022 - Day 28

I officially removed the bandaid that was covering the scare, The site was... one can say not a sight for sour eyes, hell it might have been the sour in the eyes to begin with. Yet, pessimism aside, I'm happy they're off. They've been causing me itchiness and I actually developed a rash.

It sorta looks like my most abused emoji ๐Ÿ˜

Today also marked my first visit with the doctor that did the surgery. He addressed most of my concerns (mainly the protruding skin in the scare) and all seems and looks good. He did a

  • leg extension test (all systems go)
  • a bending test (we aced it)
  • muscle strength (we failed miserably... In his own words "Your muscles are so weak")

That comment "Your muscles are so weak" might have just been an observation on his part and didn't mean much, but it shattered me. Why? Well it just solidifies my concern with PT and how I feel that I'm not progressing. I'll wait for my official PT to come back and address these concerns because this girl is freaking out.


July 5th 2022 - Day 29

Today, I realized that my mentality is going back to my good old negative habits. Especially reading over the last couple of entries I wrote here. I've been focusing on all the things outside of my control, and as all the stoics say, Ignore what you can control and focus on what you can.

So yes, I'm zen now, and I'll mainly focus on getting better and what I can do to achieve that. So watch me "try" emphasis on "try" to control my emotions.