“From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
This past Sunday made ten months post-ACL reconstructive surgery. Now a solid four months into the strengthening exercises, my regiment shifts completely indoors to the confines of a gym due to the harsh Canadian winter. As of today, I saw black ice on my walk to work and knew – I will have to tread lightly for the foreseeable future.
This entry will have two updates of progress: one physical, one mental. Let’s start with perhaps the more exciting of the two (to you), for any of you who have been following my recovery:
Progress Update #1: I’m back
I played football. Not full speed, nor was it in an actual game, but I got out there and ran drills with my quarterback and another wide receiver on the field. For the first time in almost 2 years, I laced up the very same cleats I sustained my injury in, dawned the familiar gloves and eased back into it. It was rough. Like really rough. My vertical jump was the first thing that I noticed had regressed substantially. Simple overhead catches were now very complicated and others that required nothing more than a hop now pushed me to my limited. That sucked.
Without the ability to cut on a dime like I used to, I had to adapt. You never realize how much twisting and turning there is in sport, because it comes so effortlessly. It’s like being sick. You don’t appreciate your health or regular bodily function until something isn’t right. But, airing on the side of caution, I rounded my routes, I slowed my speed, and I stepped deliberately, especially when I was unsure.
I know this sounds like the most depressing comeback ever, but I cannot describe how good it felt. To run, to catch, to laugh, to sweat, to tire the way I used to rather than by lifting my leg hundreds of times on a mat. It’s a motivational anecdote, and probably the most “real” my progress has been to date. For that, I’m incredibly excited and focused on continuing my strengthening, especially my hamstrings (from which my graft was taken).
#2 It’s arguably, all mental
This injury has changed the way I think about adversity. Last Tuesday, my girlfriend expressed her sympathy that something work-related wasn’t going the way I had planned. I responded to her rather maturely that sometimes life throws things at us and we either adapt or we sulk, then adapt. The words and the philosophy seem foreign to me. That hasn’t traditionally been the way I’ve embraced conflict. But I know exactly where it came from and for that, I’m grateful.
Continue to work hard and the results will come. Maybe not today, but definitely tomorrow. To my #ACLFam welcoming winter as I am, please be careful and watch where you’re going.