It was Saturday, April 4, my team’s third lacrosse game of the season. We were playing on the turf field at OCC and the game started out frigid, not ideal lacrosse conditions. A few minutes into the second half, there was a white out. With everything being so slippery and muscles starting to stiffen, it was just an injury waiting to happen. There were about 10 minutes left in the game, I was sprinting down the field next to a Central Square player who had the ball. Out of nowhere, it happened. Pop, Pop, Pop! The girl didn’t even make contact with me and I was on the ground rolling around swearing, loudly.
The trainer came over, checked out my knee and then told me the exact thing no athlete ever wanted to hear, “Yup, you tore your ACL.” There were no tears, I was just in shock and I didn’t want to believe it. As they drove me off the field, my dad, a Physical Therapist, approached me on the sideline. He looked at me and said, “Trainers don’t know anything, a lot of the times they’re wrong. You probably just sprained it.” Staying optimistic about the whole situation was hard in the few days leading up to my MRI, but my dad said nothing but encouraging things to keep my head up.
My MRI was on Tuesday and to my dismay, I had done a lot of damage to my knee. When I looked at the scans myself, the room started to spin, I started to get tunnel vision, and my hearing became fuzzy. Fortunately, I didn’t pass out, but I was very close. Two days later, I started Physical Therapy with my dad at his office. The first day was rough, mentally, but the next two weeks of PT slowly got better. I complained a lot about doing muscle building activities, mainly because I had very little motivation to do them. It was the little sayings like, “It’ll be over before you know it,” “It’ll only make you stronger,” and “No Julia, you can’t just sleep instead” that got me to keep pushing myself. After about 2 and a half weeks of PT, the day I was dreading the most finally came, surgery day.
I was nervous, I mean who wouldn’t be? The 45-minute drive had gone by faster than I had hoped. When I arrived, there were nervous, anxious, and bored looks on everyone’s faces in the gloomy waiting room. At first I was nervous, then they called me into the room, sedated me, and put a nerve block down my whole leg. This was all done in about 10 minutes so I was thinking, “Oh perfect, the worst part was over now.” I was so wrong. The surgery before me ran two hours longer than expected so I had to wait in a plain, curtained off section of a room with a numb, cold, and sensationless leg just laying there. Here’s the thing, my dad is corny and can find a joke in any type of situation. As I laid on the hospital bed, nervous and bored out of my mind, my dad was trying to make jokes about my leg that he knew I’d laugh at because they were so terrible. His constant attempts to make me smile in the hours of waiting were what mentally got me through the long process. Without it, I would’ve been a nervous mess.
Post-surgery rehab was by far the hardest step on my road to recovery; mentally and physically. For the first few nights, there was just constant knee and hamstring pain. To add to that, finding a comfortable position to finally sleep in was next to impossible. Days at PT were brutal. From the early first steps of stretching, getting range of motion back, and reducing the knee swelling to the later activities of muscle building and eventually running, everything was painful. It was possibly one of the worst 7 months of my life, but I got through it, and you know how? Because I had motivational, optimistic, and positive people in my life for every minute of it. They were there to push me during the hard times and pick me up when I would fall (sometimes literally). Through this experience, I learned that optimism and positivity are in fact, the most important and motivational aspects of getting through life. I hope I never go through something like this again, but if I do, I know I won’t have to get through it alone.