There was no pain. The popping sound that is a common characteristic of a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament was absent at well, or was there, and I simply didnít hear it. I was sprinting downfield towards the makeshift endzone when it happened. I looked back over my left shoulder towards the quarterback, looking for the ball, which was going to fall short because it was underthrown or I had overrun the pass. Who knows? Precise routes arenít exactly a part of pick-up games of two-hand touch. I hit the brakes, and came to a hard stop and then I was on the ground. No transition or time to think about breaking my fall. Just down, ever so suddenly down on the ground, cradling my leg, and wondering what the hell happened. I hadnít felt my leg give way. It was more like the leg hadnít been there at all. I had reached out for the ground with my left leg, only to find out that it wasnít there, and that it had vanished at this key moment, leaving nothing to support my body, nothing to keep me upright. The ball bounced besides me on the scraggly grass of the Ellipse and rolled away.
[Woops, didn't realize that the extended entry wouldn't go out in the RSS feed. There is more after the jump.]
I was able to limp off the field without much of a problem and was able to deny reality for a bit. Walking back to the Farragut West station was when I first experienced the wonders of a trick knee. I took a long stride as I walked toward the escalator, I heard a sharp, loud crack, the knee gave way and I nearly fell down again. Thatís when I knew that I was going to be joining my brother in the Patellar Tendon Autograft Club (we have membership cards and everything). By the time I got out of my car after driving home, the knee was locked in a bent position by the tight embrace of excess fluid that was swelling my knee to the dimensions of a grapefruit.
A week later, my knee slipped again while I was walking into the basement of a bar in Adams Morgan on Cinco de Mayo. After having a beer, it was time to head back to my apartment and practice the routine that had become very familiar: rest, ice, compression and elevation. The next week, I would finally get an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, have an MRI, confirm that I was lacking a key ligament and had also managed to shred my medial meniscus to boot.
On July 14th, an anesthesiologist at Virginia Hospital Center slid a Tuohy needle and a catheter into the epidural space of my spine. Seemingly moments later, I woke up in the recovery room, still numb from the waist down. As the grogginess of the painkillers wore off, I massaged my legs with my hands in an effort to restore some semblance of feeling. Looking at the end of the gurney, I made my alien feet wave hello to the feeling end of my body. I couldnít seem them yet, but underneath the bandages on my left leg were 4 fresh sutures: 1 long line of stitches that started in the middle of my kneecap and went down my leg for another 3 inches and 3 small X-shaped ones where the arthroscopic tubes had been inserted into my body. Inside my knee, a piece of my patellar tendon had been anchored in place as a new ACL by my surgeon. That was about almost 6 months ago, and Iím getting near normal levels of activity. As soon as a month or two from now, I may even be playing soccer again.
Back on that day in the last week of April, I went down to the Ellipse to find a few of my friends for a pick-up game of soccer. Instead, I wound up playing frisbee and football with a nice group of folks who called themselves the Mall Ball gang. I hope to be playing soccer indoor before it gets warm again, but once the temperature rises, Iím sure that Iíll be down on the Ellipse again, this time looking for the Mall Ball people. I need another chance out on that field, if only to close out this last year of surgery and rehabilitation.
Music for anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery:
Burning Airlines -
Sweet Deals On Surgery