Sunday, April 10, 2011

Facing Uncertainty with Patience

It's going to take patience to work through this ACL tear and figure out what I can and should do.

On Friday morning, I got the diagnosis from my doctor--complete ACL tear in my right knee, plus meniscus damage.

My leg isn't painful except when I bend it too far (meniscus) or I step in a way the knee becomes unstable (ACL). It's more my brain that's sore.

My doctor, who had performed ACL reconstruction surgery on my left knee four years ago, said Friday morning he expected that without an ACL, I could run and eventually probably even sprint--which I'd been doing lately for conditioning. The day before, I had gone on an elliptical machine for 22 minutes, and my leg felt fine at the time. It was a little sore an hour later, which a naproxen took care of. My doctor thought that activity was fine, and said the knee is still healing from the initial incident.

However, while running is okay, he thinks that martial arts would put me at risk of further damage to the knee, which is unstable without an ACL, because martial arts involves torquing the knee. A knee brace wouldn't help with torquing.

I don't want to have ACL reconstruction surgery again. I simply can't afford the time away from work and life it would require right now; in any case, the doctor said the knee needs to heal before surgery, so there's no rush.

The reason my head hurts is that, while I don't want to do ACL surgery, I also do want to continue training.

My martial arts instruction got me into shape; it taught me to face up to my fears; to face up to conflict instead of avoiding it; that getting hit just means I'm still in the fight; that I can protect myself. These are all extremely important things to me, body and soul.

I could maintain my conditioning even if I gave up martial arts. But I would be leaving behind a crucial part of my life if I had to give up my school due to my injury.

I have decided to respond with patience.

I'm going to do physical therapy for a month to strengthen the muscles around the knee to compensate for the lack of an ACL. I'm going to discuss with the therapist, or perhaps even a physiatrist, what activities I can safely do.

I'm going to very carefully try to take certain martial arts classes. On Friday evening, I took a "core" class that entails a bag workout and physical and strength conditioning, but no sparring. I was very careful; my knee was a little sore afterward but fine. Oddly, one of the most difficult things in class was some of the stretching at the beginning.

I'm going to have to leave grappling behind, which I'm fine about.

I would like to carefully, carefully try out sparring, including being selective about partners. I will probably be boxing more than kickboxing--a shame since my kicks were pretty good.

I'll see how my leg does. I'll talk about my situation to doctors and others (including a remarkable classmate who does train without an ACL).

I'll give it time.


Journeyman said...

A true test of your warrior spirit. Good luck.

BobSpar said...

Thanks, Journeyman.

GregS said...

I had an ACLr using a BPB autograft in Sept 2010 that has now failed and I am planning on fixing it again. Any advise?

Bob McG said...

Hi, GregS,

I'm sorry to hear it failed so quickly. How did the physical therapy go beforehand? The only advice I can think of is 1) get a second opinion from another surgeon, and 2) you might also talk to a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor for an opinion from somebody who isn't paid to operate.