Do you know what ACL stands for?
You have seen these three letters dozens of times on Sportscenter or in the news when a star athlete goes down with a knee injury and is out for the season. They are three letters that always carry bad news with them. Three letters you hope to never have to deal with yourself.
Three letters that can have such a huge impact on someone’s life in the blink of an eye.
Like so many other athletes I didn’t know what ACL stood for until my right knee buckled underneath me on a humid August night back in 2016. Flash forward 3 years later and I had made it through the surgery, the months of excruciating rehab, the doubts, and the process of regaining confidence, but when I least expected it all of that work was taken away from me.
A month ago I re-tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament in my right knee.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Every time I say to someone or write down that I re-tore my ACL it sinks in a little deeper that this is real. That I won’t wake up one morning and my knee will be back to normal, that I’ll be back to normal.
Unfortunately this has also happened to hundreds of people before me.
Even in the lacrosse world there have been many players that have gone through two or even more knee surgeries. John Kluh, Adam Charlambides, Taylor Gait, and John Grant Jr. are a few players I can think of recently that have had the unthinkable happen, but been able to get through it to be able to play lacrosse again. It helps to know it’s not impossible to get better.
As I face having to get surgery and go through all of the rehab again, this time is going to be so much different than when I did it my senior year of college.
Last time I had 40 teammates, my coaches, my trainers, and other athletes going through ACL rehab. Being around my teammates everyday at practice and joking around made things easier. There were 4 other Canisius athletes going through ACL rehab at the same time as me and going through the painful exercises, learning to walk and run again, and trying to get back to normal. It was so helpful to have other people who are going through the same thing. Someone to vent to and being able to encourage each other as you all reached your goals.
Thanks to all of that help I played in a game 6 months to the day of my surgery. I took a faceoff against Monmouth in a game we lost 11-6, but for me the score didn’t matter and losing that faceoff didn’t matter. I had won the battle against my knee, against myself.
This time I don’t know if it’s going to be easier or even more difficult already knowing what recovery is like week to week. Knowing how painful the rehab is going to be, knowing that I have to wait 3 months to be able to jog, and knowing I’ll have to regain my confidence to play lacrosse all over again.
It’s so strange to say that I’m looking forward to getting surgery, but you can work out as much as you want, stretch, ice, or do anything else and nothing will make your knee better except surgery. Surgery means you can finally take a step toward recovery and to take a step toward playing lacrosse again. I’ve already done it once so I know I can do it again.
I didn’t really want to write this article, but I think I needed to to help myself cope and hopefully to help any other lacrosse players going through the same thing.
This is for the players who broke down crying when they got the results. There will be days when your knee is throbbing in pain and it never seems like it will get better. When you watch your friends running around healthy and it feels like torture. You have to keep going because when you are finally able to run again and when you are finally able to play the sport you love again all of those days are worth it.
All you have to do is remember:
The knee is a long way from the heart.