Friday, August 2, 2013

Week 10

I think my scar looks awesome. Probably won't see my actual knee for 9 more months though, I have to live with the swelling until then.

Overdue Update: Summer

It's been a while since I have posted on my blog, but for good reason. Since I started walking 100% independently, I've been able to work and volunteer and go to concerts, the city, college tours and more fun things with friends that I wasn't able to do before.

Being very busy makes my recovery seem like it's going a lot slower however - I look back, and I think "It's only been two months since my surgery?" When it feels like a year. But nonetheless, I am recovering on pace. I can ride a bike at any position with extra resistance, I can swim, and I can do any machine there is at the gym.

Just yesterday I reached 141° for ROM (my goal is 145° by the 12th..but I expect to exceed that). Then in about a week and a half I will start hopping/jumping which means I will be able to shoot again!! (Although I have been doing free throws/in the lane)

I've continued to talk to college coaches, which just gets me more nervous than excited for my upcoming senior season. What if I'm a lot worse? What if I can't get my shooting range back as fast? What if I just don't meet their expectations in general? I just hate playing the "what if" game, and that's all that runs through my head when I think about this upcoming year.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Importance of a Support System

Without my parents, I wouldn't have been able to survive the first few days after my injury, and my surgery.
Without my friends, I wouldn't be able to keep a smile on my face throughout this whole process.
Without my doctors and physical therapists pushing me and cheering me on, I wouldn't be able to push past the pain.
Without my dedicated AAU coach, I wouldn't be going to practices and games and cheer on my team because it would be too hard.
Without my teammates, I wouldn't be able to smile and laugh through the practices and games, or continue to learn about myself as a basketball player and about the game itself.

No matter what kind of injury, or hard event that someone goes through, they can't do it alone. Many times during this whole thing, I start to think that I am alone. But then I remember everything that all these people have done just for me. There's no benefit in helping someone who can't help others (right now at least). This kind of support system cannot be taken for granted. Not just in these freak accidents, but also in life. I didn't realize how much I needed other people until this happened, but it made me remember how much they did for me before too.

If you know someone who is struggling with something in there life, you don't even have to make some grand gesture. A call, or a text that just says something nice and supportive can get someone through a whole day.

So I'd just like to say thank you to everyone out there that have supported me and helped me in any way the past 2 months. I can honestly say, I have no idea where I would be, or in what kind of mental state I would be in, without you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dangers of Boredom

Because summer has started, I don't have anything to take up most of my day. I work on my rehab and recovery, but that only takes so long. It's only been a few days, but I'm already starting to feel the pain of boredom, and missing out on fun. I do have friends that help me out and offer to do things with me. But then starts the cycle.

What can I do?

Not much. At least, not while I'm still on crutches and a knee brace. I was planning on spending most of my days working out and playing basketball and hanging out at the beach and playing more basketball. This seems to me, to be one of the toughest mental parts of recovery. If I stay bored, I have nothing else to do, but think and become more sad and depressed.

So far, I've been able to spend some time hanging with friends at grad parties, and eating out and watching movies. But you can only do that so many times...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Daily Disgusting: Weight Loss Edition

When my friend who has had 2 ACL tears, told me how she lost a lot of weight during her recovery, I laughed at the thought that I would. I'm not the healthiest eater, then add in the fact I can't exercise, I thought I'd gain at least 5-7 pounds. But somehow, my friend was right, and I've lost 5 pounds. I don't know if anyone else can tell from the picture, but it seems to me that all that weight came from my leg. 

I really don't want to have to spend time trying to gain back all the muscle in my leg. But I guess that's another thing I'm going to have to deal with, and for anyone else with injury to expect.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Good Days vs Bad Days

With this recovery, every day is new. Quickly, beginning with waking up, I can figure out if today is going to be a "good" day or a "bad" day.

Good days are wonderful. Waking up without any pain, able to put a lot of weight on my injured leg, get through my rehab exercises easily while pushing myself further than the day before. Not a lot of swelling, which leads to less stiffness. This helps with my overall mood as well. On these days I'm up to go places and get off the couch. Sometimes I have good days without the good mood, and vis versa, however.

Bad days are obviously - bad. Whether it's waking up with an aching pain somewhere in my leg, feeling like I can't move an inch because I'm so sore and stiff, or horrible pain. Luckily, the pain has dramatically decreased, and even when I do have pain, I can handle it. Another symptom of a bad day comes while I'm doing my rehab. Either half-assing it because I feel like I don't need to do right now, or don't want to. Or, what usually leads to those feelings - not being able to do my rehab well. Getting frustrated, because I can't bend my knee as far as I could the day before. Which leads to anger and thoughts like, "Why is this happening? I should be able to get back to that point, if not farther! This is stupid" blah blah blah.

The worst days, could not even involve any of those things. Just feeling depressed, is what can halt any forward moving with my recovery. No matter what caused me to start feeling that way for the day, it always ends up the same. I will refuse to do anything. I becomes stubborn an snappy at everyone, because inside my head I'm snapping and yelling and screaming at myself. I'll ask why this happened, why it had to happen now, why it's taking so long, why it seems none of my friends actually care about me when I'm in this position. All these thoughts flood into my head and I can't think about anything else.

In the beginning of my recovery, bad days were everyday. But slowly, those bad days are going away, and good days slip in there more often. Still waiting for a whole week of good days, but I feel that might not happen until I can freely walk again.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My multi-daily rehab routine

I was surprised when my surgeon told me to see the physical therapist the day after my surgery. But not so surprising, I wasn't able to go. I was still nauseous and dizzy and scared to go down the stairs. Luckily, my PT was able to come to my house, although I still couldn't do much.

Recovery day 2 started very slow:
  • Ankle pumps - elevating my leg, then circling and moving my ankle and foot
  • Quad sets - flexing and pushing my knee down with my quad for about 5 seconds
  • Heel slides - bending at the hip, bringing your leg up while bending at the knee to keep foot down)
I saw her again almost a week later and added one more thing to my routine:
  • Straight leg raises with a quad set every time I come back down
Recovery week 2 we added a lot more (in moderation):
  • Straight leg raises to the outside, with my injured side facing towards the ceiling
  • Straight leg raises to the inside, with my injured side against the floor, and my other leg touching the floor infront of me (inner thigh workout)
  • Sitting heel slides - sitting in a chair using your other leg to help push your leg back further
  • Ball squeezes - with my knees bent as far as I can sitting, the ball between my knees
  • Weight shift - with my brace on, holding a counter, shifting my weight onto my injured side and back off again
  • Sitting toe raises - sitting in a chair, bending my knee as much as I can comfortably, and slowly raising up to my toes and sinking back down. 
It's a lot, and both my parents and my physical therapist like to remind me, when I'm not doing anything I should be doing these.. and then icing 20 minutes off, 20 minutes on.

Everything is horribly tough the first few times. But eventually they get easier. When I do my heel slides and bend my knee, it's stiff and sore at first - then I get to a happy middle where it actually feels really good - then I bend it extra further and that's where the pain gets tough. 

The daily disgusting

I've always been a little squeamish when it comes to blood and things like that. But I've been forced to deal with that on a daily basis now. These are a two pictures of my knee and leg about two weeks after the surgery.

Looking at these, to me, they don't look as bad. But that's because there's no way I could show just how much swelling there is in a picture - although you can see where it is by the yellowed areas.

I didn't post these to gross people out. I post them, to hopefully look back and scroll and see how even though I might not notice it, it does get better. The swelling goes down. The bruises go away, and hopefully eventually, my knee will look like a knee again.

An injury should not injure your dreams

When I first got my diagnosis of an ACL tear, I instantly thought back about my dreams of playing in college. At first, I saw them slipping away, which is what caused most of my depressed feelings for the first week.

However, my AAU coach would not let that happen. He has talked to almost every coach at every school that I am interested in, and they all are interested in me. He made sure that I didn't give up, and told me to email coaches and tell them about myself. This is with a little help from technology. My last high school season was filmed and posted online, so I was able to share that publicly and send the link to all of the college coaches who I am interested in playing for.

I knew ACL tears were frequent among girl basketball players. But I didn't think that coaches would want anything to do with an injured player. I was very wrong. Because it is so frequent, many of the coaches I have been in contact with shared with me the number of players they've had who have had some sort of ACL injury. They said they were no stranger to it, and knew that it is very possible to come back better than ever.

These emails were the final push I needed to get serious about my recovery and PT. If they believed I could come back, and they were willing to keep recruiting me, I knew I had to prove to myself that I was worth it. I didn't want to let myself or these coaches down.

Granted, these aren't D1 coaches, mostly D3. But as odd as it sounds, that is my dream - D2 or 3 basketball. I don't need the days and weeks of travel, or competition that goes with being a D1 athlete. I've always known I'll need a career after basketball (psychology or a coach), and I know that I have to be able to focus in school to make that happen. To me, D3 is the perfect option. It's still intense and competitive, and you're playing with great players, but it's not as demanding.

With my recovery, I've had to stick with one day at a time.
But with continuing my basketball career, I have to look ahead because there is no "right now". I am determined to play basketball in college, and I will love every minute of it.

Post #1 Day #18

Today is the 18th day of recovery since my surgery. I count the day of the surgery, since that was the most brutal, horrible day yet. 

Since this is my first post, I guess I will explain myself to people who might have stumbled upon this, or just don't know exactly what happened. 

April 20th, I was in my second tournament with my AAU team. We were in Illinois, and starting our first game of the tournament. I was one of the starters of the game, and we did well to get our team going. When my sub came, I was instantly anxious to get back in. We were ahead, but not by much. When I go back into the game, there is probably 10 minutes left in the first half. We do a few plays, we play a little defense. I don't remember much about that. I just remember standing at the elbow, looking up at my teammate's shot and seeing an opening to get the rebound. No one else was around. I sprinted to the block, jumped up, and before I even came down I was turning back towards the basket. That was my fatal mistake. My feet and legs were still pointed towards the sideline. The rest of my body was twisting backwards. Snap. I felt something. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I couldn't stand. I fell to the floor dropping the ball. I grabbed my knee and screamed - although there was no pain. Just a burning sensation (and obvious weakness). I looked up at the ref who was standing by me, waiting to see if I was faking. I screamed for help, and the game stopped. 

I was sure I just hyperextended my knee. I could still walk a little bit. Could I stand on one leg? No. My coach was smart enough not to put me back in the rest of the game. Something was seriously wrong. 
Going to the local hospital once the game was finished, and we won, all they could do was take an x-ray and send me home in an immobilizer. I couldn't believe it. My dad and I drove over 9 hours to get to this tournament, and we're leaving in less than a day. But I needed and MRI so no feelings like that would keep me there. 

I got home late that same night. But I wasn't too nervous about the next day, because I didn't even think it was anything serious. But I was sadly mistaken.

ACL. The three deadly letters. 9 months the doctor said. 9 months. I was able to keep it together up until that point. I started shaking and sobbing. I did the math, that would put me back on the court in January. Maybe. I could see all my dreams of playing in college start to slip from my fingers. This was my summer I cried. This was the summer I was going to make myself the best player and person I could have been. 

But that had to wait. After a few days, I was finally able to pull myself together and I went to see my physical therapist to prep my leg for surgery. Quickly, I was convinced my recovery would be a lot less than 9 months. 6 months from surgery they said. You should be able to play before Christmas. 

But wait. That doesn't just happen on it's own. It takes serious dedication to get to that. It takes pushing your leg as much as you can, but knowing the limit before pushing it too far too fast. 

I finally started getting my confidence back. Now it's June 7th, and I'm down to one crutch (on my opposite side, to keep me from creating a limp). And bending my knee to over 80 degrees. It doesn't sound like much, but it's the best I can do right now, while still living a life outside of recovery. 

So my parents, and my physical therapist told me I should start a blog. To log my recovery and anything else. To help keep me sane during this, and to show to others who might go through the same thing in the future. I would like to become a coach after college, and I know that ACL tears will continue to happen. I don't want people to hear the first diagnosis of 9 or 10 months and quit. You can't quit. You started it, and now you have to finish it. You have to conquer this stupid thing and suck it up. 

Although those are tough words coming from me, who cried almost every day straight for about a week. I'm not saying I have all the answers - far from it. I don't even think I have any answers. And to what questions even? But that's the story. Now, let's move on.