Indoor Soccer... Finally! [6.5 Months Post-Op]

My last indoor soccer game, I believe, was 2/12/09. I missed 2 games when I went on my Utah snowboard trip, and when I returned home I promptly tore my ACL and was out until ... well, now!

Last night I was happy to be back (even though I am far from a star player)! Having played ultimate frisbee for a few weekends now had me somewhat prepared for the stop-and-go as well as quick changes of directions... But, as my teammate Berkley John so kindly put it, when I play UF "no one's trying to kill me" because we're all friends and it's just pick-up. That said, there were a few times when I saw more than one person coming hard at a ball and I was definitely more timid than usual... but in my defense, I feel like last night's team was pretty talented with lots of fast, aggressive players, so perhaps it was the right way for me to play. With time, I'm sure I'll get more comfortable out there (and, hopefully back in 'soccer shape' so I can handle the more sprint-like running!). Until then, all I can do is keep showing up and try to get better-- which would have been the case, injury or not!

One exciting point in the game was a sweet pass to fellow post-op teammate, Jordan (who is just returning from back surgery). It was a textbook play, with the ball going from me, right onto his foot, and moments later, hitting the back of the net. Just try and call us gimps! ;)


Typical Recovery Period? Check. [6 Months Post-Op]

6 months have passed since I went under Dr. Shapiro's knife, and I'm delighted to have this blog to go back and remember some of those specifics that are so easily forgotten as the 'light at the end of the tunnel' comes into view. I've now gotten back to try some of my fave sports (soccer, ultimate frisbee) which was my ultimate goal. Soon indoor soccer will start up, and perhaps I can even sub on some volleyball teams this winter... But more importantly, I've made it through the 'typical' 6 month recovery, and have reached some other goals:
  • Walking without a limp
  • Running (not rumping!)
  • Reaching pre-surgical leg strength (using 1-leg press as a judge)
  • Gaining most (but not all - yet!) of my quad muscle mass back
  • I've got back my entire Range of Motion (ROM) with the exception of a little hyperextension (Dr. S said it's not necessary to get this back anyhow...)
  • My balance and control is comparable to pre-surgery, just lacking a bit still
  • For the most part, I have 'forgotten' about the knee and can enjoy my normal lifestyle!! Yippee!

Some other items of note:

  • There is still some numbness to the outside of where the incision was made, but seems to be reduced
  • Kneeling (think: yoga) is an odd sensation (probably due to partial numbness) which I believe my mind tricks me into thinking is painful, but it really isn't too bad, just uncomfortable
  • On days after lots of activity my NON-surgical leg is sometimes sore, suggesting I still overcompensate
  • I typically don't feel a difference as I go down stairs anymore, but on the aforementioned 'sore' days, that old feeling creeps back in a little
I must admit, I've gotten a little lazy in my "workouts" and it doesn't help that I don't belong to a gym. I am hoping that returning to some sports and having my BOSU ball at home in these cold/dark evenings will keep me moving and hopefully motivate me to have some level of 'rehab' at home as winter sets in!

For Wendy (who 'rumped' for the first time yesterday at 5 weeks post-op!) and Bill, who went under the knife this morning -- Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it in the end!

For anyone else who finds or reads my blog- I hope it's useful and if you ever want to 'comment', I'm happy to give you my take on the "ACL Journey", or just hear how you're doing or about your experience!

My next goal still remains: Indoor soccer with my beloved Hooligans!!


I'm Baaaaack!! [Shy of 6 Months Post-Op]

Funny how things work. I am 2 days shy of my 6-month ACL surgery anniversary and this weekend a few opportunities presented themselves which allowed me to prove to myself that I'm ready for my comeback!

We got a group together for the 3rd round of pick-up Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday, which as usual was a lot of sprinting, stopping, changing directions and a bit of jumping. Being that we play outdoors and in cleats, this has been a major confidence booster for me when considering my return to soccer.

Our normal co-ed team won't be starting indoor soccer for another week and a half or so, but the outdoor season is still wrapping up. I've heard the fields are in pretty rough shape, and fellow ACL rehabber, Jeff, opted out of the outdoor seasons entirely this summer partially because of the pounding and poor field conditions. So when I got a text from our captain on Saturday asking if I'd be able to sub on Sunday (yesterday) for outdoor, I was a combination of excited and nervous! I said yes, but worried because I'd hardly touched a soccer ball since surgery, and because I didn't want to hurt myself if the fields were that bad.

Luckily, the ground was kind of soft thanks to the previous week worth of rain, and aside from some expected ruts in the field, the game seemed to be pretty forgiving to my knee. [Note: I have not and don't plan on using a knee brace.] Once I got out there, I felt pretty strong and even tallied an assist with a corner kick! Otherwise it wasn't a brilliant game for me by any means, but it was on par with where I was pre-surgery, and that's all I can ask for!! I must also say that it was fun to be welcomed back to the field by my teammates-- I've missed being out there with you all!

I was delighted that things had gone so well in soccer, only to come home to a message asking if Eric and I would mind subbing for 2 games of softball that afternoon. How could I say no, seeing as how I'd conquered UF and soccer already this weekend?! Softball's never been a strong sport of mine, but it was fun to get back out there, toss the ball around and take a few swings. It feels good to be back!!

One day later, I am pretty sore, but I'm sure part of that has been some laziness in my exercise routine prior to this active weekend. I think there was a little unintentional overcompensation at times, because my non-surgical leg (quad, calf and even shin!) is more sore than my surgical leg... but for the sudden spike in activity in 2 short days, I don't think I would have expected any less.

Tonight, it's off to yoga, which I hope will end up with some much-needed stretching. But I couldn't be happier with the weekend's turn of events and opportunities to get back in action. My nerves are (mostly) settled and now I can look forward to my next activity to conquer: Indoor Soccer!

Until then, a big CONGRATS to Missy and Nic for their wedding this weekend-- I can't wait to walk (not limp!) down the aisle and be a part of your big day! And in addition to all this fun stuff to celebrate, I now have my own engagement to add to the list, as of 9/26/09! Perhaps it's time for me to start a new blog! ;)


Yoga, BOSU, and Kneeling [5.5 Months Post-Op]

It's a beautiful thing when you realize you're continuously 'forgetting' about your knee and any limitation you may have post-op. While I am still not at 100%, I have gotten back into most normal activities and feel confident doing just about any activity, with the exception of using my surgical leg for powerful 1-legged leaps... the power is yet to return!

One activity that has been a real confidence booster is Ultimate Frisbee. The constant changing of directions, quick sprints and sudden stops, and 'going long' for a scoring catch in the endzone remind me a lot of soccer or flag football (but with more running!) and I feel this is similar to a 'worst case' activity, yet I have very little hesitation! On top of that, there is no pain or soreness afterwards, which is key!

The yoga I am doing with Jen (today will be the 4th class) has been an eye opener mostly in the case of kneeling poses. When we lunge or stretch or sit in most positions, I do not feel a major difference from left to right. However when I have to put weight on my surgical knee (seeing as how I had a patellar tendon graft) it can become painful after a long period of time or even a short time if it's taking most of my weight at once. To help curb any kneeling pain, I use a foam pad beneath both knees whenever I can. One thing that makes me feel a *little* better is that Jen, an otherwise very healthy and active person, also thinks we are kneeling too much and it bothers her knees a little too... so maybe it's not just me!

One thing I have gotten away from is PT directed at just my left knee and surrounding muscles. When getting into a more active regimen (including running, UF, or BOSU DVD workouts) it's easy to forget to focus on the surgical leg. If it feels good, why keep the focus on one side? But I don't think this is the right approach, since just last night I was looking at the quad muscles from side to side and while it feels good in most activities, there is still a significant difference in muscle mass. This is where having a gym membership or personal trainer might come in handy (which I don't have), but also going back to the basics and doing exercises Drew left me with in our last meeting would probably help.

Finally, I am trying to do the BOSU a little more now that weather is starting to cool down and the local HS track is rarely available with school is back in session. The DVDs are some good direction for working up a sweat and getting some jumping and squatting in, but I definitely need to research some more exercises which will target my knee. I am open to suggestions!

We're creeping up on the indoor soccer season (late October, I believe) but I hope to get out with a ball and work some more soccer-like movements into my routine so I am a little more confident as I hit the turf later this month!

In just 9 days I will be at the 6 month mark. My, how time flies!