Week One Coming Back from ACL Surgery

Posted: February 18, 2016

ACL is probably the most dreaded acronym for any athlete. ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of the 4 ligaments that support the knee. In contrast to an ankle sprain or a strained hamstring, the ACL does not repair itself (lack of blood supply and availability of nutrients to repair) so it requires surgery if you want to return to play to your sport. Little did I know, I would find out first hand the extent of what a torn ACL actually meant.

I was playing in the last game for my Sunday league just for fun. The center mid of the other team had an awful touch and I knew I could get a touch around her and go down the field. Just as I predicted, I got the ball. What I didn't predict was a slide tackle out of no where from the girl I just stole the ball from. Next thing, I heard the infamous 'pop', I knew immediately it was my ACL.

After doctors appointments and an MRI later showed not only a torn ACL, but a torn MCL, LCL, popliteus, partially torn PCL, and an impaction fracture on my femur. So not awesome. Next step was to schedule my first surgery ever to get my ACL reconstructed.

First five days post-surgery were interesting to say the least. Not only are you physically exhausted, but mentally and emotionally. Every movement takes 10x the effort and you have to rely on everyone just to do simple things like bathing to bringing you food because you can't even walk. I'm not going to lie it brought me to tears a couple times because I was so pissed that this happened, it is something out of your control.

The first week of rehab sucked. My knee was almost the size of a grapefruit, while my thigh was atrophying (breakdown of muscle fibers aka the muscle in my leg was getting smaller). The top priorities during the first week is to regain full extension in your knee (0 degrees) and get your quad to fire (to regain muscle strength and stability). By the end of the week I was at full extension, my quad was firing pretty good, and at 90ish degrees of flexion. Various emotions are going through my mind that first week; (1) this SUCKS, (2) I love my ice machine, and (3) look how far I've come since Monday.

The first week took a lot out of me and challenged me in every way possible. Not only did I have to deal with the pain, but trust in my rehab program, and to practice patience. It's one of many weeks to come; however, it is one of those things where you need to look ahead and stay positive because it is only up from here. Every day is a consistent battle of determination, strength, and will.