I’m pleased to announce my debut as a writer for Martial Journal! This site is a collective of martial artists from different backgrounds sharing knowledge, opinions, tips, and thoughts about what they love.
My article “Recovering From an Injury: Four Things Athletes Want You To Know” is written by an athlete for athletes and those who love them. Recovering from an injury can be a long, frustrating, and lonely process. We need the people who care about us to understand how we’re feeling and what we need along the way.
July 24, 2021, was the one year anniversary (or “ann-knee-versary” if you will allow me one pun) of my ACL reconstruction surgery. I had a fun day lined up to celebrate my progress and mobility: a morning yoga class, an afternoon swim, and dinner at my favorite neighborhood Italian bistro. I thought the day would run as smoothly as my repurposed quadriceps tendon.
My knee had other plans.
When I rolled out my yoga mat and set up my trusty blocks (now a staple of my yoga practice) I knew my knee was not in a good mood. It ached and felt more tight than it had in days. God help me if I had to do a child’s pose. I inwardly rolled my eyes at my ornery joint and clumsily followed along with the instructor’s commands.
As I winced at the pain and tried to breathe more flexion into my leg I thought about my year long journey. I have lived with some kind of pain and discomfort every day for a year. Sometimes I feel frustrated and exhausted. Sometimes I long for a light at the end of the tunnel, a deus ex machina, a sudden whirlwind change that grants me perfect, pain-free full extension and flexion. Sometimes I feel stuck and don’t see an end in sight.
The other day I was chatting with my dad about the new house he’s renovating. He suggested I go to a mattress store and pick out a brand I like that he can buy for “my” room that I stay in when I visit.
“Dad, that’s low on my priority list,” I told him. “I do some kind of therapy five days a week either for my knee or my head, I’m still working, and I’m still doing book stuff [podcasts, articles, interviews, etc.]. I don’t have time to look for a mattress. I’ll just trust your judgement.”
Up until very recently, I was rehabbing either my body or mind five days a week. It sounded like a lot when I said it out loud.
Once again, as I did nearly a year ago, I find myself with my right leg wrapped in a bandage from thigh to foot and repeating an alternating series of exercising and icing. On Friday, June 18th, my trusty orthopedic surgeon carefully scraped scar tissue away from my shiny new ACL (well, my repurposed quadriceps tendon, but new in its job as ACL).
Although I’ve been able to get back to many normal activities since last July’s ACL surgery, this scar tissue has impeded my knee from reaching full extension or flexion. It feels stiff whenever I walk downstairs. I still can’t do a full child’s pose in yoga.
The other day my coworkers and I were planning some lectures we are going to give as part of a leadership development series. For the first time in over a year, we will be presenting to a live audience in person, and we have to dress the part. My team, men in their fifties and sixties, joked about how they might need to get new clothes since the running gag is everyone has gained weight during the pandemic. I told them that was the advantage of wearing dresses–they’re a lot more forgiving.
My post-pandemic body is different than it was a year ago. It’s squishier and, according to some clothes that didn’t fit when I did a recent closet de-cluttering, a little larger.
You may be wondering how I ended up in this predicament in the first place. Take a look at this post (“POP! Goes My ACL”) for the detailed story of how I injured myself and what followed in the immediate aftermath.
The short version is I tore my ACL doing a jump kick, and not even a good one at that.
The last time I swam laps was early March 2020. I remember waking up to my early alarm one morning and thinking, “Eh, I’ll sleep in. There’s always next week.”
Then the pandemic happened.
Then knee surgery happened.