My Journey

December 18, 2008
By Dani Long, Columbia, MO

It was a warm Sunday in April 2008. I was in the car with my best friend Lola on our way to another soccer game in St. Louis. It seemed like that was all we did anymore, play soccer, but that didn’t matter because we loved it. Our game started at eleven o’clock, but our strict coach always made us get there an hour early and as usual Lola and I were running late. We arrived just in time to start warm-ups, which Alexis and Sam lead of course. Everything was going as it always did, nothing seemed out of the ordinary but little did I know my life was going to change drastically that day.

That was the day that I tore my ACL. I didn’t even get to play five minutes of that game; I tore it within three minutes of the referee blowing his whistle. All I did was lose my balance after crossing the ball and fell, and my soccer season was over. I didn’t know that something was seriously wrong until I woke up the next morning and couldn’t bend my knee. I went to a physical therapist and he told me that he thought it was torn but he wanted me to see an orthopedic doctor before we could tell for sure. So I went to Columbia Orthopedic Group later on in the day and talked to Dr. Tarbox and got X-rays. He told me that he couldn’t be certain if it was torn or not from the X-rays so we scheduled a MRI for Tuesday. We didn’t find out until Wednesday, but I had a long recovery ahead of me.

After I got the news I was absolutely devastated and cried all the time. Soccer was my life, and now it had been taken away from me and I had no clue what to do. My growth plates weren’t together yet so I had to wait a month before I could have my surgery. During that month I went to every practice, every game, and had physical therapy twice a week. And when the month was over I went to Dr. Tarbox and the surgery was set for Thursday, May 15th. Surprisingly enough for what was ahead of me I wasn’t the least bit nervous; the only thing I was worried about was the scar. The day after surgery was the easiest because my entire left leg was still numb from the nerve block they gave me, but the Saturday after was the worst. It was by far the worst week of my life.

It gradually got better over the summer though. I went to physical therapy three times a week and by September I was really seeing results. My physical therapist, Phil, was my rock throughout the whole process. He was always there to encourage me and help be reach my goals. In May I made it my goal to be ready to play again by our last tournament at the end of October, and it was his goal to help me be ready. Turns out that I exceeded my goal, I played in my first game two weeks before our final tournament. Playing again was absolutely amazing; it was the best I had felt in so long. I wasn’t one hundred percent but just getting out there was sensational.

The whole experience of tearing my ACL taught me a very valuable lesson; that if you want something you have to work to get it. When I had soccer I thought that it would never go away and it would always be there but when it was gone I had to work the hardest I ever had to get it back. I still struggle with what happened, physically and mentally. But because I love soccer so much I know that when I play all of the worries will be gone. Granted it was very difficult but it was worth it, and I would go through again in a heartbeat for soccer, my one true love.

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