Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Don't Compare--Chapter 17

I had a talk with my sensei Monday night because I was feeling discouraged about my grappling--and I need my grappling to get my black belt.

Besides feeling tired from my new job, I just don't feel I'm doing well compared to some others in my class.

He said:

1) Don't compare myself with others, who by definition are in different situations. (I'm re-re-relearning this lesson.)

2) He can see what I've overcome my fears about my knee getting reinjured--I had to do that before I could move on.

3) The new job is also draining me mentally, which affects what you can learn in grappling and how fast you can react.

He said to focus not on everything, but on two or three submissions from the guard and from side control, and to take a private lesson or two, which I'm going to do.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


This poor-quality photo is important to me. It's a picture from 14 years ago of my daughter and my father enjoying a moment together, around the time of her first birthday.

It's pretty easy to tell they're of different races. My daughter is Asian, born in Korea, and adopted by us. She was a happy baby, eager to laugh (as you can see from the photo). She's now a beautiful young lady in high school who is very skilled in photography--she would have taken a much higher-quality photo than this.

My father, who was 74 when the photo was taken, is white; he grew up during the Great Depression and was in the Army Air Force in Africa and Italy in World War II. Now he's 88, and while he and my mother are still living independently (with lots of help from my brother), it's very clear that age is taking its toll on them mentally and physically. I'm trying to see them (in another state) more often because I know the clock is ticking.

However, and this is surprising to me because I've seen other people grow bitter as they age, as they grow older they both express an incredible sweetness, and a love of connection with the people in their lives.

You can see that connection in this photo, between an older man born in America in the Depression and a Korean girl who came across the ocean to join a family.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Attaboy from Sensei

Thursday night, after a "core" class, I was putting on my shoes and my sensei was standing nearby. He asked me how I was feeling out on the floor.

I honestly told him that work has been just relentlessly tiring, and that I'm exhausted every time I step onto the mat.

"But the key is, you're still getting on the mat," he said.

It was just a little comment, but it felt so encouraging.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Turns out Brooke's doctor did evaluate her and decided her growth plate has stopped growing, so she is old enough for traditional ACL surgery (see prior post and the comments on an older post as well). I'm relieved to hear it.

I hope everybody had a fun, relaxing Fourth of July. Just a few less-famous lines from the Declaration of Independence:

...all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Teens and ACL Surgery--A Risk

Brooke, a 14-year-old reader who hurt her ACL, has made comments on an earlier post of mine about her fear of ACL surgery.

My concern is that she may be too young for traditional adult ACL surgery. A New York Times article earlier this year talked about the risks. Two passages:

The standard and effective treatment for such an injury in adults is surgery. But the operation poses a greater risk for children and adolescents who have not finished growing because it involves drilling into a growth plate, an area of still-developing tissue at the end of the leg bone.

And here's the scary part for growing teens:

But the standard A.C.L. repair operation, with its drilling into the growth plate, may cause permanent damage to the still-growing bones of young children. After drilling, surgeons replace the torn ligament with a tendon taken from elsewhere in the body, like the hamstring, or from a cadaver. But if the drilling damages a child’s growth plate, the leg bone will not develop normally.

That happened recently to a 14-year-old boy who was referred to Dr. Freddie H. Fu, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh. A year after the operation, Dr. Fu said, the leg with the repair was bowed 20 degrees on one side and was shorter than the other leg.

“I had to go in on the other side and stop the growth,” Dr. Fu said. “Now, about six months later, the leg is still crooked. There still is a two-inch difference in length which I have to fix.” The boy, he said, “will be a little bit shorter” as a result, although both legs will be the same length.

I'm not a doctor, but I'm encouraging Brooke to show the article to her parents.

For us adult ACL recoverees, we can nod our heads along with this passage from the article (boldface added by me):

Every orthopedist is familiar with A.C.L. tears, but in adults. It is “the most common and most dreaded injury in professional sports,” Dr. Kocher said. The well-established operation to repair it often results in a full return to function. And doctors often recommend that adults have the operation because without the ligament the knee is not stable.