On the night of November 14th, I knew something was wrong. I had just completed a double pike on the floor exercise and felt a pop in my right knee as I fell to the ground. I tried to stand up, but I could not make it to my feet as I felt an immediate pang shoot up the lateral part of my entire leg. As tears rolled down my face, I was able to gather enough energy to finally make it up to my feet. My gymnastics coach immediately ran to help me and she asked what happened. I tried to explain what happened, but I was in so much shock and I was unable to put my words together. Moments after my traumatic injury, my coach called my mom and I could hear her crying through the phone. I knew from this moment on that my dream of being a college gymnast would be farther from reach.
The alarm screeched at five fifteen on December 6, 2016. It was time to wake up, not for school, but to have my fifth knee surgery. I woke up feeling like my stomach was completely empty. I was unable to eat or drink anything but small amounts of water since nine o’clock on the previous night. Even though I have experienced this feeling before, I always forget how hungry I am before each surgery. I’ve done it four other times, but each time felt harder than the last. We got to the hospital and the receptionist checked me in. Finally, we were able to go to my room. The nurse took me back on my stretcher which now felt like my second bed and I was so cold that I couldn’t wait to get the “surgery socks” to warm me up. It felt like we were waiting forever for the nurses to come back to get me prepared for my surgery. They finally came and told me that it was finally time to get this challenging process over with for good.
My mom and I went down the elevator and into the anesthesia room and waited again for what felt like forever for the anesthesiologist. I felt my heart racing; I was so nervous. I remember being so scared of getting the IV. The doctor finally came and introduced himself. He gave me my first dose of anesthesia and I remember getting a little loopy. He was extremely nice, but when he pulled out the needles I could feel my stomach start to turn. I felt my arm tense up when the needle touched my skin. When it was over and the needle was in, the medicine started to kick in. My eyelids started to feel heavy and I dozed off. When I woke up I remember thinking the surgery was over, but my mom had to break the news that it hadn’t even started. Thankfully it wasn’t long before the nurses came to tell me that it was time to go into the operating room. I felt my stomach begin to turn again when they wheeled me back.
When I got into the operating room I could feel the air conditioning blowing full blast as I was getting goose bumps all over. The lights were bright like when the teacher turns them on after sitting in a dark classroom. It smelt like bleach and doctor’s office soap. They asked me to count backwards from ten as they gave me more medicine. I got to seven and started to fall asleep. About four hours later I woke up in the recovery room in a lot of pain. My leg was throbbing and my throat felt like I had just dry swallowed a big pill. Eventually a nurse came with water and more medicine. It felt like hours before the medicine started to kick in.
Unfortunately, I knew that the hardest part was yet to come. The worst part of having surgery was not being able to do the sport that I love. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do gymnastics for months. Even though I had gone through the same thing so many times, it never gets easier to do it all over. In the following months I had physical therapy a few times a week to learn how to walk, run, and jump all over again. It was so frustrating to see my leg shriveled up from atrophy. I couldn't even go down stairs for months without my knee locking up. I knew it was going to be a long road before I could be back to doing what I could before my injury. I knew I had to decide if it was worth it to try and come back a fifth time.
I decided that I would come back from another knee surgery and that it would make me stronger than ever. I knew that this surgery would push me back farther from my dream of being a college gymnast, but I knew I wouldn’t want to live with the regret of not giving it my all. Feeling the disappointment from having yet another knee surgery has pushed me harder in my training. I have become more mentally tough from all the knee surgeries I have had, and it has made me the person I am today. Even though I feel very unlucky at times for the bad knees I have been given, I realize that I am still lucky enough to be able to do the sport I love. Because of these knee surgeries I am always playing catchup, which makes it hard to stay motivated. I have begun to realize that without this journey I would not know the value of hard work, or how to overcome obstacles in life I know that through these five knee surgeries I have become a better and stronger person.