This is going to be a really long post. Like super long, so I apologize in advance. It’s just that when I tore my ACL, I felt alone. I would search the internet for answers to my endless list of questions and never really found many answers. So, I thought I would share my experience with the world, in hopes that maybe someday someone who needs it will find this, and maybe find some answers they need.
First, I want to say that this happened my senior year. My last year of high school, my last year on a competitive dance team, my last year at home, my last year with my friends. It truly did ruin the entire year for me. I was so looking forward to my senior year being the best year of high school, and because of my ACL, among other reasons, it was not. One of the prime reasons that my ACL journey was really difficult was because of the way it happened. I am way to embarrassed to tell you how but trust me, it was the dumbest decision of my life, and I regret it more than anything I have ever done. A lot of people mock me, and make fun of me for the way I tore it and that also made it really difficult for me.
I danced on a torn ACL for a month. My knee kept giving out, which was excruciating, and I couldn’t straighten my knee all the way. I though I tore my meniscus and was expecting a quick two month recovery. I visited the doctor three times before getting the news that I tore my ACL, which just made me incredibly angry because I wasted precious time in those weeks my doctor misdiagnosed me.
I decided to wait until after homecoming to have my surgery because this was already ruining my whole year, and I wanted to be able to participate in my last homecoming week and dance. At the football game that night, I broke down on the sidelines watching my team preform without me. It felt like the most unfair thing in the world to me and it was so unbelievably painful for me to not be able to dance. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to understand that pain.
For weeks before, and even after my surgery I would break down and cry for hours feeling like nothing could stop the pain I was feeling in my heart. I know how selfish I sound right now and that there are people all over the world dying and hungry and my problem is nothing compared to that. But, in that moment, it truly felt like nothing would ever make me happy again.
My surgery went smoothly, I had completely torn my ACL, and partially torn my meniscus. When I woke up I was in a lot of pain but they quickly loaded me up with medicine and I felt a lot better. I got home and my leg was completely numb because of the nerve blocks so I assumed it wouldn’t be that bad. I had an ice machine, circulating ice to my leg constantly, and was on Percocet and oxytocin.
I was in bed, at home for a total of a week and a half. I. was. so. bored. I watched Netflix and youtube all day long. My friends came over but most of the time I didn’t want them to. A lot of times they would come over without asking which really upset me, but I didn’t show it. I know this also sounds selfish but I was in a lot of pain. Like a lot. And I needed to be alone.
Let me tell you, ACL surgery is no joke. It is not fun. It is so extremely painful in an achy way and I could not stand it. The Percocet was fine, it made me very woozy and light headed, but I didn’t become addicted at all which I read was a big concern about taking this drug after ACL surgery.
One day, after being literally stuck in my room, with no fresh air for a week, I began to feel claustrophobic. I had a panic attack I guess, and I knew I had to get out of there. I got out of bed for the first time in a week and I climbed the stairs on my crutches and went outside in my driveway. In hindsight, this was very dangerous because I could’ve fallen down the stairs and no-one was home but I really was sick of it. That was a pretty bad day for me.
Another terrible experience was weaning of the drugs. I got so so so so sick. I was throwing up and it was just a horrific experience, especially when you can barely move. I have vowed to never be in a situation where I need to take Percocet ever again.
The last really bad thing I can think of was the crutches, and the brace. I was on crutches for 7 weeks. I had crutches at school and had to walk up and down the stairs with them and everyone had to do everything for me. I hate crutches. And then the brace. This thing is huge, it covers your entire leg and just really sucks. Sleeping with it was horrible as well as the fact that I couldn’t bend my knee in it and it put a lot of pressure on the sensitive, swollen area of my knee.
Physical therapy was one of the bright sides of this whole experience. I loved my therapist and truly enjoyed going twice a week. It was nice to work towards being able to dance fully again and to be able to see results.
The last thing I will say about this because I know I’m rambling, is that you really find out who your true friends are when something like this happens. It was hard for me at first, but really nice to know who was really there for me.
I am still not done with my recovery, 9 months later, and don’t know when I will be confident enough to dance again fully. This experience has definitely taught me a lot and I am so grateful for the people who helped me and sent me words of encouragement throughout this long journey. Please, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments, or over email.