Monday, December 31, 2007

New ACL New Outlook

My injury has given me a lot of time to think about karate and what it means to me. When I was first injured the surgeon came into the room and said "So, you are a karate instructor" and I said "Yes". I will remember his response forever "No ACL - no Karate". He indicated that people live without ACL's (I know a few) but in order to continue with karate I would need my knee repaired. I did not hesitate a moment and scheduled the surgery.

While I was away from the dojo during my recovery, I was amazed about how much free time I had. I started to enjoy my time away from the dojo. I was often asked when I was coming back to the dojo. I think I told everyone that I would not be back until Jan 2008. There may have even been a moment or two when I considered not coming back at all. This lasted about 3 months. I made my first appearance in the dojo in August. I was "walking" through some kata and I was not in any sort of stance but it was good to be back. My short time away made me realize how important karate is to me.

I am now approaching karate with a new outlook. I am so glad to be training again. My movement has changed, my self-defense has changed and my bunkai has changed because I need to consider the safety of my knee. I know that I will work through this and the end result will make me a stronger martial artist.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sparring With A New ACL

I finally did it. It was time to put the sparring gear on again. I must confess that I would rather practice kata, kobudo or bunkai than spar. I usually spar with my left foot forward and this was ok. When I changed to right foot forward (new ACL) it felt terrible. I used to enjoy kicking but I was cautious and only threw a few. The techniques, stances and combinations that I relied on in the past did not work so well. At the end of class I decided to use this as an opportunity to expand/explore the way I fight. I am going to have to make modifications in my fighting style to accommodate for my new ACL. I am sure that as I regain the confidence and strength in my knee the old techniques will still work. Hopefully I will have some new combinations to add in few months!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Functional Brace

I have love/hate feelings toward my functional ACL brace. I remember when I first heard about the brace. It was during my 12 week post-op visit. My fabulous surgeon came in and looked at my knee. He then shook my hand and told me to call him if I ever needed any other surgery. He is the surgeon for the local minor league hockey and baseball teams so I guess he gets a lot of repeat clients. I informed him, in a nice way, that I was hoping that I would never see him again. He then proceeded to tell me that I would need to be fitted for a functional brace to be worn for 1 year during karate. I was surprised because the main reason I had the surgery was so I DID NOT have to wear a brace.

A few weeks later I got the call that my brace was ready. I was told that I needed to come in for a fitting and to make sure that I knew how to put the brace on. When I arrived at my fitting I sat down and waited for the man to bring out the brace. When he pulled the brace out of the very nice carrying case my jaw must have dropped to the floor. This brace was not that much smaller than my post-op brace. When I tried it on it went mid-thigh to mid-calf. It was not what I expected at all. I am not sure what I expected but it was definitely not that. I left it in the bag for about two weeks, I did not even want to look at it. This was the only time that I questioned my decision to have the surgery. I felt defeated.

Eventually I took the brace out of the bag and headed to the dojo. It felt awkward at first but it provided an amazing sense of security. Even though the brace is physically protecting my knee it gave me an emotional/mental boost. When I am in class I sometimes forget that I am wearing an ACL brace. When the time comes, I wonder if I will have a hard time letting it go.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I Think About My Knee Every Day

It has been a little over 7 months since my surgery but each day I wake up and think about my knee. How will it feel today? Will it make that nice crackling noise when I go up and down the stairs? Will I feel limpy (I don't think this is a word but I use it to describe the days my knee feels tired and has a trace of a limp)? Is the weather changing? My knee has correctly predicted the last two winter storms.

My PT also had an ACL Reconstruction but over 20 years ago. She told me that she was in a plaster cast from her ankle to mid-thigh for about 8 weeks. It was set at a slightly bent angle and after 8 weeks the cast came off and the therapy began. She told me that her experience made her want to be a Physical Therapist. I could not imagine having to be in a cast for 8 weeks. Thank goodness for medical innovation! I had asked her how long it took her to "forget" about her knee. She said that it took her over a year to play basketball again without focusing on her knee.

The truth is I am afraid of falling. I read about someone falling on wet grass 6 months after surgery and having to have the surgery again. I actually did fall about a month ago. I was walking on grass and there was a small hole in the ground. I fell and I just sat there. I would not stand up. When I first injured my right knee during karate my leg planted and my knee twisted. The result was me collapsing on to the ground. When I stood up I felt my lower leg separate from the upper leg. I was sure that I was going to stand up and have that feeling again. When I decided to get up I went into the house and iced my knee and kept it elevated. I was certain that I did it again. The next day I woke up and realized that my left ankle was swollen and it hurt quite badly. I was so focused on my right knee that I did not even know that I actually injured my left leg.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Range of Motion ROM

After I had my ACL Reconstruction I was obsessed by my ROM. My PT always measured my ROM at the end of the session and then would write it down on my chart. I dreaded hearing the number. I felt I was improving when the numbers went up but was depressed when it stayed the same. My PT told me not to worry that my ROM would get where it needed to be. I had a solution - I needed to find out how to measure my ROM on a daily basis. My husband bought me a beautiful pink protractor. I was able to measure my ROM from a seated position. I think I measured my ROM at least 3 times a day. Looking back, I did not need to worry so much about my ROM. My PT was right and I recovered my range.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Where's Elly??

It is two days before Christmas and I have a dilemma. My daughter lost her favorite stuffed elephant - Elly. My daughter took her everywhere. Elly was almost part of the family. Elly has been on countless family outings and even was hidden in a purse during my daughters First Penance. Elly has been lost since Halloween.

I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas. I expected the usual .. Mio Pet, Barbies and of course the wii. That was not the response I got. She told me that she asked Santa to return Elly to her. I truly believe that the miniature elephant is somewhere hidden in the house. Needless to say, I have been searching the house room by room but no Elly.

Well, got to get back to looking.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A New World

Wow. It feels like I am stepping out in to a new world. This is my first and hopefully not my last post. I have spent time exploring the blogging world and decided to jump in. In May 2007, I had ACL Reconstruction on my right knee. I spent hours and hours online researching and reading. The main reason I decided to have the surgery was to get back to training and teaching karate. I returned to the dojo three months after surgery on a limited basis. My doctor told me that as of Thanksgiving I have no restrictions. A crazy work schedule sidelined my PT but I am back at it.