College Athlete's ACL Injury & Surgery

For the past 3 years I have played & started on the varsity soccer and lacrosse teams at my NCAA Division III College. I've also been an all-region lacrosse player since my freshman year and was a national statistics leader my sophomore year.

Then, on April 4th, my lacrosse team was playing our rival school. With about 5 minutes left in the game I was running full-speed downfield in the hope of scoring. I went to cut around the last defender in front of me, but my foot got caught in a hole on our crappy grass field. Thus, instead of cutting, my ACL ripped in half. I knew immediately what I had done. I have seen so many of my teammates tear theirs, and have always been very scared of tearing my own. I fell over, looked up at my teammate, and said, "I just tore my ACL. It's over."
A week later it was confirmed that I had completely torn my ACL. I tried to convince my trainer and doctor to let me play without an ACL, but surprise, that didn't fly. I hated watching my teammates do what I loved the most while I sat on the sidelines in a brace. In addition, there was no way I would recover in time for my senior year soccer season, so I had to accept that I would never play competitive soccer again.
After I finished finals, I flew home. I saw the orthopedic surgeon the next day, and had surgery the day after that - May 18th. I chose to get the patella graft. The thing that surprised me the most was just how much surgery sucked. I knew so many people who had torn their ACLs, why did none of them mention just how terrible it is? I have never been in as much pain as I was coming out of the OR. The next week was not much better: not being able to move my leg myself, being in a lot of pain especially when increasing my CPM, vomiting from the pain pills....
I started physical therapy 6 days after surgery, could walk in 7, and got my stitches out in 8. Since then, I have improved a lot. I now have no limp and am doing a lot more challenging therapy. However, I'm only 4 weeks out of surgery and although I'm doing well I'm already starting to get frustrated with how weak I am, how little I can do in comparison to my workouts pre-injury, and how repetitive the exercises are. I know that I have to do this, but its such a long process. I just want to play already!
My ultimate goal is to be back for my senior year lacrosse season in February 2012. I know that this is a realistic goal and am confident that I can meet it, yet a part of me is afraid that I will not. What if something goes wrong? What if I go too slow in rehab, or go too fast? Mostly, I'm scared that even if I do get back to play, I will no longer be the player that I was. I had a reputation, and I have expectations of myself on the lacrosse field, and I am terrified that I will not be able to live up to what I used to be. Part of what made me good was my speed and agility and quickness -- all of which this injury threatens. I try not to think about this too much, as it is a long way off, but its always in the back of my mind. For now, all I can do is my physical therapy and hope for the best. I don't know why I had to go through all this, but I do know that I will do everything I can to not let it stop me.

Return to ACL Surgery Stories.