Third and Final ACL surgery

by Nick
(Miami)

Hey everyone,

I'm currently recovering from my third ACL surgery, and this one has easily been the most difficult on me mentally. I feel like I need to communicate with some people who can understand what I'm going through, and after reading some of the stories on this site it seems like I'm not alone.

Prior to these injuries I was a three sport athlete, with basketball as my first real love in sports. I was dunking a basketball in 8th grade, playing in AAU tournaments when I wasn't playing with the varsity squad at my high school. I also played football and volleyball for my hs.
Then I tore my left ACL along with stretching the MCL when I was 16. This happened when I was playing basketball before practice after someone on the other team came down on me after I grabbed a rebound. I was going in to my junior year of high school.
Almost exactly a year later, going into my senior year I was getting back in great shape and building my confidence back until I landed awkwardly on a wet spot (playing basketball of course) and my right knee slid out and I tore my ACL and meniscus in my right knee. Unlike the first injury, I knew right away I tore it. It was by far the most painful injury I had felt. It was tough giving up football and volleyball; my knee's just couldn't take it. However I couldn't give up basketball. It meant too much to me and I had great support from my family and my teammates. I really pushed myself with the rehab, came back and finished the last half of the season. I wasn't anywhere near the same player I was before but I refused to let these injuries take that away from me.

This past winter break when I was back from college, I re-tore my left ACL playing ball with some friends. It happened nearly the same way my first injury went down, this time someone falling and colliding with me after I came down from a jump shot. I didn't have enough time to get it fixed then, so I decided to wait till I came back this summer to get the surgery done.
During the spring I really felt better about myself. I starting lifting weights again and took up swimming. I didn't want to play team sports that would have me turning or moving laterally in fear of messing up my meniscus. I lost decent amount of weight and was in the best shape I had been in since I tore my first ACL back when I was 16! I was weary of getting the replacement surgery again because, as you guys know, it just sucks.
What ultimately got me in the operating room was a couple things: I knew if I didn't get it repaired now I probably never would in the future, My parents kept pushing me to do it, and I was a lot more comfortable and had more trust in the orthopedic surgeon we went to this time. And it made the most sense financially to do it now (with the insurance lol).
I ended up having the surgery the first week I got back down for summer, just twelve days ago. I'm glad I kept myself working out and in shape up to the day before the surgery as the muscles on that leg haven't atrophied much. I feel like I've found alternative (and seemingly safer) ways that I enjoy to stay in shape and active once I recover. I'm going to get back in the gym and pool. I would like to complete a triathalon sometime soon so one of my recovery goals is to get back to running.

I could deal through whatever therapy I need to, as going through this multiple times has increased my knowledge and understanding on the subject, and also upped my pain threshold. What's been difficult is telling myself not to ever play the sport I used to love anymore. I don't feel like it should be like this, I mean I just turned 20! Because of these injuries I feel like I missed out completely on what should and could have been the best years of my competitive sports careers. What did I do so different than anyone else that made this happen? What did I do to deserve this? I dont even want to think about all of the down time I've gone through because of my knees or opportunities I could have missed out on because I was sitting on the sidelines.
I just feel like its not worth it if I keep getting injured. I have no idea what I was doing wrong, or why it had to keep happening to me. This is the third summer of going through this. I don't want these surgeries to get the best of me but I just don't know what to do about it any more. I could only imagine if I went back to playing sports and I end up tearing something again. It just seems like at this point that is the best way I can guarantee myself not to tear it. The surgery has killed my mood completely and I cant tell myself that I would ever do this one more time. Just to go through all this pain and months of wearing knee braces and crutches just to play a sport that does the same thing to you again?

I'm not trying to find sympathy, trust me I hear enough every time I tell someone this is the third time I've messed my knees up. I'm just glad to know that there are other people out there who can understand what I'm going through. It hasn't been easy but I hope that I can learn and make myself a better individual through it. I know I can get through it but sometimes its just hard to the whole thing off my mind. Anyone got some suggestions on how I can get my spirits back up? Or at least clear my mind off of this?

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