A Success Story (so far so good)

by Caleb Epley

You hear the countless horror stories of athletes tearing their ACL's and having to miss entire seasons. We all know that person with the bad knee that seems to be constantly in the OR. An ACL injury is the equivalent of a death sentence to a competitive athlete. Or so I thought.


It was during a basketball practice last November that I gained entrance to the infamous club. We were doing a simple drill when a loose ball landed between my legs. A teammate made the dive for it and.. POP. My knee hyperextends at the collision. I crawl off of the court in pain and fear the worst. Practice proceeds, I ice my knee and prepare to tell my mother we will be visiting the doctor soon.

Fast forward a week later and my MRI results are in. By now the swelling in my knee had gone down and I was fairly optimistic. I was walking fine and was thinking at worst I had a torn meniscus. The doctor quickly proved me wrong.

At this point I'll make it known that I am an exceptional sprinter in track and field. I broke several middle school records by almost a second and was running times that would have won most high school meets. My high school career has been plagued with injuries during the spring. A knee issue my freshman year and a broken ankle my sophomore year kept me from running to my full potential.

Alas, I was faced with the decision to have my torn ACL and meniscus repaired and suffer another missed track season.. Or do the unthinkable. Postpone the surgery until the summer and run on the injured leg.

Everyone thought I was crazy, but I chose to wait. I couldn't play any basketball, and a lot of workouts were tough to do, but the decision ended up paying off for me. I finished 22nd in my state in both the 100 and the 200 on a torn ACL. I suffered some soreness after meets, but overall my knee held up well during the season.

My surgery was scheduled July 13. I was a little nervous heading in, but so far the injury hadn't lived up to the horror stories that I'd always heard. My doctor specializes in hamstring grafts but I chose the patella due to its reputation for strength.

The procedure went well and I was wheeled out of the hospital high on pain meds. Man, that first night is tough. I stayed up with my medicine and rehab though and by day 7 I could walk without a limp.

I am five weeks post op now and I have full ROM. I never wear a brace and aside from the tightness in my patella my knee feels normal. I can swim, squat, lunge, do quad stretches, and ride the bike with high resistance. I even can do some light jogging. (don't tell my doctor)

I feel great about how my recovery is coming along and feel confident I can return to state in track this year. My advice to everyone would be to work hard on getting your motion back, and get your knee back to normal strength before surgery.

So far my ankle injury was worse than this has been. Don't believe the horror stories you hear. If you work hard an don't slack off on your rehab, an acl tear is just a minor setback. Looking forward to finishing recovery!

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