Of all the crap that happen last year for me -- clinical depression, bad reactions to meds, my father's anxiety, the passing of my aunt, a knee injury, a grueling residency, the passing of my grandfather, a separation, a second - more serious - knee injury and losing my residency -- the ACL tear is the only one where I feel like I got things figured out...at least enough to pass on some advice.
A little background on how I tore my ACL... I love soccer. I mean LOVE soccer. My parents wouldn't let me play as a child. Two reasons for this have been offered by my mother: 1) I was too aggressive as a child. Therefore, she was afraid I would hurt myself or other kids. 2) My mother didn't want to be "one of those moms," which I think is a soccer mom. Dollars to donuts the second reason is more true.
Anyways, in 2007 I sustained a bruised meniscus -- two pieces of cartilage in your knee that cushions you bones as you move and also help keep your knee stable -- and after that I didn't recover very well. So here comes my first piece of advice: ASK FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY AFTER ANY KNEE INJURY. Believe me; you can do nothing better to protect your knees than physical therapy.
Most people -- particularly women -- sustain ACL tears because of weak hamstrings and quadracepts. And now for my second piece of advice: STRENGTH TRAINING IS IMPORTANT TO PREVENTING KNEE INJURIES.
Obviously, I didn't follow this advice very well. And then I played with a team that was slightly above my skill level. While playing on a cool, fall evening, I went in for a late tackle on the ball; totally missed; and then I felt the tell-tale "pop"...well, for me it was more of a "crack" or a "click." But no matter what the onomonopia...you know something has gone seriously wrong.
Here's how it feels: first, your knee joint feels like it's pulling apart, then it feels like the bottom half (your tibia, fibula and foot) and the top half (your femur and hip joint) are sliding away from each other and then "Crick" and you're on the ground.
Neta's advice on what NOT TO DO after this happens:
1) Try to get back into the game. I definitely laid in a heap on the field for a minute or two; and I was carried off. But then I tried to go back. Do not do it. It won't work.
2) Walk around -- it's not going to happen. Ice, elevation and rest
3) Have sex...trust me this gets really tricky with a torn ACL
4) Go back to work. Seriously, don't do it. I went back to work two days after tearing my ACL. That was dumb, really dumb. (And since my boss was a total insensitive jerk about this, it was even that much more dumb.)
5) If it's your right leg, drive a car.
Neta's advice on what TO DO after this happens:
4) Call your doctor and schedule an appointment. Tell them it's an emergency. I saw an orthopedic surgeon (I just happened to have one on hand for my previous knee injury.) I recommend Dr. Andrew Cosgarea -- he's a little light on personality but he does all of the right things.
5) Take at least one week off of work -- two if you can swing it. Seriously, you will be a much happier, healthier, more able-bodied person for it. And your workplace will function better without an injured you there.
6) Buy one of those one-shoulder backpacks and get rid of your purse. You can't carry anything in your hands with crutches so you have to wear a backpack.
7) Buy crutches and a cane.
8) USE the crutches and then the cane.
9) Get a prescription for physical therapy from your doctor. Again, this is the best thing you can to do for your knee, even after the injury.
10) Rent a bunch of movies
As I found out, you do heal but tearing your ACL is like breaking a bone. You have some serious structural derrangement going on in your knee so you are not very stable. And it hurts like hell. I did the 800mg of ibuprofen 3x per day and 1000mg of Tylenol (acetomeniphen) 2x per day for like 5 days. Some people may require stronger pain killers -- so ask your doctor. (In another entry, we can talk about how narcotics and I do not mix.)
I hope this helps somebody. Some of the TO DO things I did; #6 and #8 I didn't and wish I did.
Tags: acl tear, november 2008
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