Thursday, May 29, 2008

A New Normal

Since I have passed the one year mark, I have been pushing my knee. Next week, I might try karate without a brace. I am trying to come to terms with my knee and my recovery in an attempt to "Let it Go".

Bob, an ACL recovery inspiration, has recently posted that he thinks knee may never be the same. I am going to make a similar statement. I need to take a deep breath before I type it.



My knee will never be the same.

Ok, I said it. Now comes the hard part, accepting that my knee will never be the same.

My knee feels good (some days great) but it is not the same. How can it possibly be the same? There is a bolt-like contraption attaching my new ACL to the bone. I remember seeing the doctor on my first post-op visit. They took an X-ray so he could admire his work. I did not want to look at the X-ray with a bolt through my bone. I kept thinking that he drilled through my bone to make room for the bolt. I took a peek at the X-ray and I could not believe that it was my knee up there on the screen.

I feel stronger than I did before on so many levels. I have joined a gym and have improved the stamina I lost due to the injury. I have started to lift weights regularly and am stronger. I am proud of the way I approached the surgery and rehabilitation. During my ACL recovery, I spent time examining kata and bunkai. I have become more relaxed in my karate. We were practicing individual forms and I asked my husband to analyze my kata. I was concerned about how my knee affected my movement and if it was noticeable. We discussed the parts of the form where my knee caused me trouble. Then he made another comment, he said my kata looked “effortless”. I must have looked at him in surprise because he explained that he was talking about my mental presence and confidence during the kata.

A few nights ago, a group of us was talking after class. We were sitting along the back of the dojo in a row of chairs. The conversation inevitably turned to knee stories and scar comparisons. Between us, there were several surgeries, multiple MRI’s, three knee braces, X-rays, cortisone injections, and nutritional supplements. We could not figure out whose knee made the worst noise. What a sight we must have looked!

My knee may never be the same again but I believe it will serve me well. My knee has reached its new normal. I am now in the process of accepting it.


Allison said...

Reading you're latest entry here has been a real encouragement to me. Last August I tore my ACL while practicing flying kicks in TKD and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to return. But slowly I'm getting better and better and I've started back practicing in my Dojang (doing only punches and my forms lightly).

It's nice to hear about others who have gone through the same thing and can still return to doing something they love.

Steve said...

Good luck! Consider it just the "next phase" in all this!

Hack Shaft said...

I've come to the same conclusion that things will never function quite the same for my knee either.

Like a new toy, I actually look forward to seeing just how differently things will function.

And I'm OK with that.

BobSpar said...

I think you really put it well, Michele: "My knee may never be the same again but I believe it will serve me well. My knee has reached its new normal. I am now in the process of accepting it." It is so cool that your kata look "effortless" to your husband, and that this may be due to your having to fall back on mental focus and other strengths while your knee was recovering.

You know what Yogi says about how much baseball is mental.... ;-)

Michele said...

Allison: Thank you for your comment. It is nice to know that my blog is encouraging to others. Good luck with your return to TKD.

Steve: Thanks! You are right, it is the next phase. Hopefully, the final phase in my recovery!

Hack Shaft: I agree. Different but OK. I think the hard part was realizing that my knee did not have to be "the same as before" and still be OK.

Bob: Thanks for your comment. My injury and recovery has proven to be a mental and physical test. I can tell that there is a difference in my kata. It may not look like it did before but it "feels" better.

Davidx said...

I am now four weeks post ACL surgery; recovery is slow. It's nice to read these stories from those of you who have gone through ACL surgery and are recovering/recovered. I'll get back in the dojo, not as soon as I'd like, but eventually. I do think the surgeons gloss over the mental aspects of recovery.

Anonymous said...


What an amazing post. Both slightly sad and very hopeful. If my recovery goes as well as yours physically, and even more so mentally, I will consider myself very lucky.

Plus, I love the group of you comparing knees!


Michele said...

davidX: ACL recovery is a slow process. I know that reading the stories of others helped me during my rehab. You will get back to the dojo.

BBBlues: When the group of us were looking at our knees someone mentioned a photo opportunity. No one had a camera.