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.

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May 18, 2012
Update NEW
by: Author

I submitted this story a couple weeks after surgery -- today is my one-year anniversary of getting surgery and my new ACL is still intact! I worked so so hard in physical therapy for 8 months, and then was able to play in every game of my senior year lacrosse season - and I actually think I came back a better player than I used to be. Every game I played in and award that I won meant so much more because I came back from this to play again. My biggest fear the whole time was that I would re-tear my ACL -- but I made it through a whole year! So keep working hard, it paid off for me and I sincerely hope it will for you too!!

Apr 21, 2012
Lax ALC Tear NEW
by: Megan

As I was reading your story I could totally relate to you in many ways! I just tore my ACL playing Lacrosse 4 weeks ago. Though this is my first year playing I am the team captain and I have helped my team win all six of our games so far. But before I got hurt I haven't met a single person who has also torn theirs while playing lacrosse, so I'm glad I came across your story!
"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."
After I read this....I couldn't agree with you more...this has been me the last month and boy I will tell you it is the worst feeling in the entire world! Plus I'm a state track runner and now my 4x1 relay is trying to qualify without me and it's just one of the toughest things competitive athletes can go through! I'm just telling you hang in there and together we will recover and be even better than we were before! Good luck!

Jul 25, 2011
Letz never give up
by: Tristan

I tore my ACL last December, and had done the sirgery on March!! I have the same problems as all of us have... what if this.. what if that........ but I think things are turning better and better ,days after days.. Just wish all of us luck, and keep going on what we're doing!! cheers!! : )

Jul 05, 2011
by: Jael

I am 15 and I tore my ACL last fall playing varsity soccer. I had the patella graft too! Defiantly the worst thing about it was sitting and watching the rest of the season from the bench on crutches! I hated seeing them get better and better and me just sit there doing nothing!
I know what you mean about not being as good of a player. I was worried too! I didn’t know how I could be as fast as I was. But now I am playing again and although I am not as fast yet, I am getting faster and faster every day!
I am sure you will probably too!!
I think the mental part of these injuries is the worst. I thought about all the “what ifs” and it was hard, but looking back most of those were nothing!

Keep working hard and STAY STRONG!! That is the thing that helped me.

I hope you can play this next season!!!

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