Knee recoveries are a long process with many ups and downs. My recovery seemed exceptionally slow, particularly regaining range of motion. My surgeon had instructed me to set my CPM to 30 degrees the first week post-op. I should have known I was in for trouble when I couldn’t start at 30 and could only achieve 15 degrees!
Although I was extremely diligent doing my physical therapy exercises, I was still behind where my surgeon had hoped I would be at my 1 month post-op checkup. Even though I know you don’t compare your recovery to anyone else’s, this was still very disheartening. It’s one of the moments where you know you’re going to get better but you’re still feeling frustrated because you’re itching to be more independent. Despite my recovery being exceptionally slow I wouldn’t change it because it taught me valuable life lessons.
1. Don’t give up
Recovery taught me that no matter how much life pushes you down, you have to get back up and keep fighting. Even when you don’t feel or notice progress, change is happening. Allow yourself to feel whatever frustrations arise and then get back to your exercises with a positive outlook. Feel proud of your strength as you continue to rise and keep fighting each time you feel disheartened. As Muhammad Ali said “Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”
2. Live in the moment
Of course there’s a clear end goal with ACL recovery, and that’s to get your life back to normal. It’s important to set goals for yourself, but if there’s one thing this recovery really taught me is that you also have to live in the moment and embrace where you are that day. Life goes by quickly and we have to change our mindset from only focusing on reaching our end destination, or before we know it we reach our goal and realize that we completely missed the moment. ACL recovery makes it somewhat easy to focus on the present, especially if you’re in pain from the surgery. That same mindset should be applied to all life journeys to make the destination that much more enriching.
3. It’s ok to feel down
I’ve always been the type of person that tries not to get upset over little things. While we should always maintain perspective, sometimes we need to release what we’re feeling, even if it’s caused by something trivial. I remember once during my recovery when all these emotions started to pent up. The painkillers were making me throw up, my knee still really hurt and no matter what I didn’t feel comfortable. I was already on edge and then someone said a comment that wasn’t negative in the slightest, but I was overly sensitive and got very emotional. I left the table and started crying because I felt the complete opposite of balance. After my mini meltdown, I felt so much better after honouring my feelings. When I went to apologize to everyone, my mother’s close friend, who had battled through cancer, told me that it’s important to release and then to just let it go. She said no ruminating, just embrace the new calm happy present moment. I’ve learned that applying this to life is especially beneficial. The longer we hold on to what no longer serves us, the more hold it has over us and our present moment.
Stay strong, my fellow knee warriors!