Post-ACL tear: Hanging in there emotionally

It's been a little over two weeks since tearing my ACL again. Each day gets a bit better; it's not so much good days and bad days, but good and bad parts of each day. It took me 5 days to actually cry and two weeks for anger. After all of the training the last year building up to what I wanted to be an amazing physical year, it's pretty devastating and the timing sucks with our planned road trip starting October. If I could be wheeled into the operating room and be fine in 2 months, I'd jump at it. ACL surgery is mentally hard, really hard. It's at least 6 months of rehab waiting for the graft to strengthen and I had waited 9 months.

On any account I'm physically doing amazing. Just over two weeks and I barely have swelling and I'm still stronger than I was a year ago when I first got hurt. Getting myself into the gym is a double-edged sword. I want to climb and get really frustrated, but seeing people and having their support is also critical. I have to forget about the past and stay focused on what I can do now, which is strengthening my legs even more as much as I possibly can. Then take it step by step.

ligaments cartoon

I've been blessed with support. A coworker sent me this cartoon (it's funnier now than it was two weeks ago), my best friend in Germany spent an hour on the phone with me, a climbing friend who also had 2 ACL tears shared her grief with me, I've talked with a PT friend who was incredulous, had dinner with another active climbing friend who's going through his own physical rehab, got encouragement from an older, wiser, and amazingly fit couple at the gym, and I got a really encouraging email from a friend who lives in Abu Dhabi now.

And not to mention Jeremy, who's been supporting me...every day. I can't say enough how much he's been through these couple weeks. He says it'll all be ok. I know he's right, but it's so hard to believe when I know I mentally can't trust my knee. Give it time, he says, it's only been a couple weeks. There's no use to worrying, he says, what's done is done and you have to stay positive. He somehow knows when I start thinking about it too much and I'll hear "it'll be ok, stop thinking."

I've been trying to find meaning through the anger and frustration. I was so diligent in rehab, worked so hard last year, and I don't take risks. Of all the times, why now right before this year? How could I have been weaker all those years before this and not have had a major injury? Why right after another, why couldn't I have enjoyed the road trip first before another injury? Was it really just a fluke, my body not taking well to the cadaver graft, or just a culmination of a weak graft and quad-to-hamstring imbalance (my quads are much stronger, which puts more strain on the ACL)?

I'm the ultimate student mentally and physically--I have to have a goal to gnaw on and see progress. I'm really trying to find something I can grasp to learn from out of this. Life deals blows that you can't ever plan for, and it could be worse. This will make me stronger and wiser. Learn to enjoy the process and moment rather than planning so much. This could've been a timebomb--better it tore now than while on the road. Maybe I have poor biomechanics that I can work on to avoid other injuries down the road. Learn to listen to your husband when he says it'll be ok.

It's still a huge pill to swallow a second time.