This is the story of what has happened (so far) after I tore my ACL, not of the actual tearing event (because I think I’ve relived that enough). My coaches told me the week before surgery that everyone with an injury has funny stories afterwards, and I think I already have my fair share to write about . . . Here goes nothing!
After getting injured on August 27th, the weeks before surgery were filled with daily rehab in order to regain full leg strength and range of motion. It’s kinda trippy doing single leg press, single leg hamstring flexion, and front and side lunges while remembering you’re missing a ligament . . . The only major mishap that occurred was when I forgot to be controlled in a side lunge and re-popped my knee out laterally. But don’t worry, I learned a lesson. Also, I had to walk everywhere without a limp, which took a couple days of practice. Once I got it down again, I walked everywhere I possibly could. I speed-walked back and forth to class, passing healthy people on the way. I took all 4 flights of stairs up to my Freshman Seminar class every Tuesday and Thursday, arriving at the top gasping for air. I timed myself to see how fast I could walk from my dorm to the locker room and back, because I had left my toothbrush there. (8min) I shagged hundreds of thousands of balls at practices. (You think I’m exaggerating? You try it.) And I enjoyed every minute of it! I am never going to take walking for granted again.
On the day before surgery, my mom flew into town and we drove up to the house of one of my fellow freshies who lives in the lovely mountain town of Evergreen. I spent the night chatting with my momma and the family of the house, and also constantly eating and drinking milk, because I had to abstain from food and non-clear liquids at midnight. I think I squeezed in another bowl of cereal at 11 . . . The next morning it was easy to get ready: no make-up allowed, no hair products, no jewelry, no breakfast. We hopped into the car at 8 to check in at 9, and right then got the phone call from the hospital that my surgery had been pushed forward 2 hours, so we didn’t need to check in until 11. My stomach growled . . . When we finally did make it to the hospital, my mom made sure I took the stairs up to the 2nd floor, one last time. I checked in and changed into this sick-awesome gown and stockings, and then got to explain to the nurses that no, I’ve never had an IV, no, I’ve never gone under, no, I’ve never been on pain meds, yes, I’m nervous. After finally getting the IV in, marking the correct leg with permanent marker (“The left one?” “YES, definitely the left one!”), and having me sign off on a dozen different procedural forms, they wheeled me down the hall back into the operating room. The last thing I remember was thinking “Ooh, this OR looks like it should be on House . . .”
I woke up with a sore throat from the intubation tube, two weird little plastic thingies up my nose, and a monstrously heavy black brace on my leg. I felt a little throbbing, and I remembered the anesthesiologist had told me that if I felt uncomfortable upon waking up, all I had to do was ask for more medicine. But I was afraid to talk, because I thought I might go into a nonsensical, drug-induced rant, so I repeated the exact words of the anesthesiologist: “Excuse me? I’m uncomfortable. Can I have more medicine please?” And it worked!! I was laying there with my eyes closed, mentally patting myself on the back for not sounding stupid. As soon as my mom got back there and they explained how the procedure had gone, I started asking all these technical questions like, “Were they able to use the graft from my hamstring, or did they have to supplement a cadaver graft?” And the whole time I was thinking, “Holy Cow! I’m saying exactly what I want to say!! I’m still in control!” But the whole time I could hardly keep my eyes open, so I had a hard time convincing the nurses that I was actually lucid. One of them began explaining strategies of when to take which pain medicines, and I was listening, but my eyes were only open a crack, and my head was nodding and rolling around on my neck. The nurse just looked at me and said, “You won’t remember any of this later.” With my eyes closed, I assured her, “Oh yes I will.”
And so far I have! When I feel like writing again (hopefully soon), it will be about first crutching attempts, pain pills, starting rehab, and lots and lots of milk.
(Originally posted 10/18/10)