So today marks the one year anniversary of my knee surgery. Sometimes it feels like a lot longer than that. I suppose that’s due to the injury taking place over 2 years ago. I had injured it one night stepping weird and my amazing coworkers were able to cover for me because something just wasn’t right and it couldn’t straighten. That night my knee swelled. To date that is the worst pain I have ever endured. It hurt so bad, it took my breath away and I was left with silent screaming throughout the night, I couldn’t make a sound.
A day ot two after I went in for an MRI. I had SO much swelling in my knee. It was filled with fluid and they determined that I had a gastroc tear off the femur and recommended physical therapy. I put in the time over several months and while I started to compensate with my other leg and gain some strength and mobility nothing quite felt right, and it’d still lock up. Sometimes the manual manipulation from PT shocked me with pain so unbearable I thought I’d pass out. However, I guess with thinking just it was only a muscle tear they wouldn’t have known better. I also assumed for sometime that what I was going through must be normal as well. So I endured.
Going back to when I received my MRI imaging, I had noticed what I believed to be a tear. I obsessed over my MRI after getting my results (just days after the injury) which I pointed out to my doctor. I have animal medical certification so of course I obsessed reviewing my MRI. I looked at it several times a DAY for several months. I would watch educational videos from radiologists going over a different knee injuries via MRIs. While I do not claim to be an expert, I knew without a doubt my MRI looked like I had a tear. I wasn’t getting back to 100%, my employer, coworkers and friends also thought at this point I should be better than I was in recovery. I asked my doctor for a second MRI and sure enough the spot I had suspected was indeed a tear!!! Even the type I thought it was (bucket handle tear) and it was serious, and a large one. When I got the results I cried. I felt vindicated and justified.
Oh, did I mention right after I injured it we had just bought our 1st house!? Literally just days after injury we closed on our house. It was winter, there was snow and ice and I couldn’t help with anything. I was on crutches, couldn’t walk much less lift anything.
I knew I needed to get a second opinion. At this point it was coming up to 8 or 9 months since the date of injury and I was starting all over again. My new doctor was very thorough. He agreed that surgery was going to be needed however was unconvinced anything could be repaired. Basically my meniscus looked like hamburger meat at this point. He said he would try to repair it, though after waking up from surgery, he informed me that there was just nothing to salvage.
All right so physical therapy again.. I was determined more than ever to come back stronger. I’d been through the injury, I had gone through physical therapy and all of the pain and frustration of daily life and in between and doubting myself and the guilt. Oh, let’s not forget something called the pandemic! It hit in between the original injury/mis-diagnosis and on my 2nd opinion and surgery. That was another point in which I needed to start over. And now it was round two recovery after my surgery more physical therapy. More time losing what I tried so hard to build.
However nothing was going to stop me. I had all the help with physical therapy and training from some of the best and most caring people. I was not going to give up on myself. I had made a promise to myself to become better, stronger. I no longer wanted to be passive about my health and fitness. I couldn’t do it alone, and am so lucky to have had and continue to have that support.
So, today I went to the studio to train, wanting to post something cool because I have done so many neat things getting back stronger. I had missed out on so much… But today was one of those days I needed to swallow my own medicine. Some days we make leaps and bounds and other days we don’t. Today was a flop. BUT I still tried, still put in effort, tried again when I wanted to pout and give up. Listening to my body has been a big wake up call. It’s not taking the easy way out when I just feel a little bit tired or unmotivated. It is resting when I when I know I am at fatigue. I need to honor my body when it’s asking me to stop.
So today is a pretty cool day. I am so proud of myself. Some days feel like wins, some don’t. I do my best to not let the non-winning days get me down, because let me tell you, I have had much worse feeling days than not getting the move or the photo or perfect video.
You don’t think about an injury having such an impact on your life whether it’s internal and emotional or external and physical. I think we all just think “oh ok, they’ll get better” and it’s only a hiccup. It affects your day-to-day life and quite honestly it affects many other people’s life too.
I could have a whole other book to write on how it affected everything but I’ll try and keep it to a not so small list. Let’s talk about the guilt:
I had guilt what when it happened and what that would mean for my employer.
Guilt that I now needed my coworkers from both my jobs to cover for me. I don’t like asking for help or making others do more work because I can’t.
Guilt over not being able to help my coworkers or showing frustration when I would try to help lift a pet, or need sit down and rest… but you could tell they just needed help so I would at the expense of my own discomfort.
Guilt of not sticking to my boundaries.
Guilt over not being able to be fully myself with my with my family, my friends my coworkers.
Guilt about being a bad new home owner and spouse. That my family need to help me so much because I couldn’t get around well.
Guilt of me trailing behind on my crutches trying to help with shopping, getting tired and winded. It became a chore for me to go with.
Guilt for ignoring my pets because I wasn’t able to pick them up or play.
Guilt when and my husband, family and friends would try to hug me, and that thought scared me because I would have to step just a little differently and that my bad leg would step just wrong or get bumped and knew the pain would come. I could see them watch my hesitation, it made them sad. It made me sad to let them down. To make them feel less-than. I just hurt…. it hurt to be touched and moved, and to try to explain that is hard. People start to see it as rejection. That wasn’t the case. But how do you describe that constantly. I felt alone.
Guilt of living with that apprehension to move at times was suffocating. Is this the moment I feel that unbearable pain again?
Guilt on how it clearly affected everything and everyday I was reminded of that, every minute. Occasionally it still does.
I was in pain every day for several months, it got a little better, then worse, and then again after surgery. So that’s really accumulating on about 2 years of constant pain whether it is stabbing or achey. There would be days that it take my breath away. I can’t count the number of nights I woke up wanting to scream from the pain. But I couldn’t do that. I got sick of talking about my stupid knee. I didn’t want to express anything anymore because it made other people uncomfortable or sad.
It surprised me how an injury can be so isolating at times.
As I type this, I find myself getting very emotional.. which I find curious. I guess there are some things that I still feel bad about and I have to work through.
Let’s talk about the frustration.
Frustrated at myself when the injury first occurred because it put a lot of stress on my coworkers and employer. They needed to not only cover my classes but also cover my roll in our annual show. I needed to explain how to teach my routine to another instructor so that she could show my students and help teach them, giving more of her time.
Frustrated because I couldn’t function at my other job as a CVT.
Frustrated because it was winter and I was in crutches. When I would arrive to the clinic, all of the closer parking spots would be taken so I’d have to hold my breath and make my way up to the door from further away, in snow or ice. Everyday it scared the shit out of me. I was so worried about falling, feeling that pain, having another injury.
Frustrated when I had asked if there was any way I could possibly maybe have a spot closer to the door it was brushed aside by one of the previous clinic owners. They said that it was a good opportunity to work on balance and arm strength.
Frustration with myself and with others. I was frustrated after I started feeling better after the injury and then again after the surgery, but I wasn’t 100%, and others to no fault of their own not being able to understand that.
Frustrated working at an animal clinic, clients thinking it’s funny when their dog pulls you every which way. Let me tell you it isn’t. The Tech may laugh or giggle to make you feel comfortable but trust me they’re in pain, tired and have had to handle easily 10x more than they should on a daily basis, likely leading to an injury.
All of this is from time of injury through the misdiagnosis, covid, through surgery, my second recovery phase.
Frustrated at people asking why wasn’t I better. How can my kneesstill be an issue. Basically what is wrong with me that I’m just not back to 100%. I would hear “well, you seem fine”. “When are you going to get back to your normal duties?”.
For every one good day I had 3 following terrible days.
PHEW. Mainly, I was just tired. I was in pain everyday. Frustrated and done with this stupid knee. That brought sadness. I was sad about a lot of things too. I was sad about a loss of my strength the loss of my confidence in my body and it’s abilities. Let’s move on shall we?
I want to talk about what I’m grateful for and it and it counts way more than any of the frustration and sadness and defeat.
I’m grateful for an amazing employer who supported me in seeking help, even knowing it was frustrating and stressful time for her as well.
I am grateful to my coworkers from both jobs who supported and loved me. Who knew how heavy my heart was, and how difficult things got.
I am grateful to my students who bring me the biggest smiles and joy.
I am grateful for Aerial Dance and the community.
I am grateful for the people I have met and have built lasting bonds with.
I am grateful for having connections who helped to get me recommendations for a new doctor and new physical therapy team.
I am grateful to my family that helped paint, take down wallpaper, clean, load and unpack during the move.
I am exceptionally grateful for those select beautiful souls who have continually helped me train, rebuild, who have encouraged me, who helped me become more confident. They pushed me and challenged me to be better version of myself. More than I ever thought possible over this last year and continue to do so.
Their kindness and compassion is so very appreciated.
I am not the same person that I was two years ago. That is clear and I think it’s a very good thing. That can come with challenges for those who prefer the previous version of you. For those who truly care, they embrace you as you evolve. It’s astounding how insignificant, just a hiccup, an injury may seem. Trust me, it does affect everything, and sometimes that is for the better. 🙂
I look at is as a catalyst. I have grown. I am stronger physically, and even more so in my mind and soul, my resolve, perseverance and resilience. For the pieces of me that I have lost, I have gained so much more. I have realized life is too short, too weird, too random and complicated not to take chances. Not to set boundaries. Life moves with or without you, go after what lights a fire in your heart. Advocate for yourself. Trust that you will make it through.
Allow your journey to be one you won’t regret.