It’s a warm late summer night in Blackpool, and just another football game.
After an hour of play, I chase a ball towards the touchline and nip in front of an opposition player. He steps across to shield the ball, knocks me off balance and my left foot plants into the astroturf.
In a flash, a familiar story starts again. My knee twists inwards, I feel it pop out of place, and I am on the floor knowing exactly what has happened.
It is the third time I have torn my ACL. Once in my right knee, and now twice in my left knee.
The same feelings came back to me just as fast. Instant regret (why did I chase that ball?), anger (why is it happening to me again?), and fear (have I really messed things up this time?).
I picked myself up, took a few steps, and started to talk myself into feeling better. There’s no swelling and I can bend my knee fully. I can walk no problem… maybe it’s not as bad as I thought?
This is all part of the same story and, I soon realise, I did exactly the same thing the first two times. The first time around, I had even persuaded myself to play again within 3 days.
However, this time around I have the experience. I know it’s going to need an MRI scan to be certain of anything. I start to mentally prepare myself for the worst.
I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me.
Picture taken shortly after recovering from a second ACL reconstruction, March 2020. I have done it before and I can do it again.
In this journal, I am going to document my experience from start-to-finish. It’s going to be the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I hope this can be some inspiration and help to others who are going through this. I know how tough it is, both mentally and physically. I also know how hard it can be to get the right diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare.
In all of those areas, I will write about all the info, tips, tricks, and experience I have gained. My comments are always open to anyone who has questions.
As I write this first post, I don’t have a full diagnosis. If I had to rate my chances now, I would say I am 75% sure I have a ruptured or partially torn ACL, and 90% sure I have medial meniscus damage.
The previous two times I came back to full fitness and sport in 9 months, which is the minimum recommended “safe” time. I had my dark days, but I enjoyed the challenge overall and I learned a lot about myself.
I was 24 during the first recovery, 36 during the second, and I am now 41. That previous experience is a benefit, but this challenge may be completely different.
There is a big question to ask myself. Is it time to give up football? What are my goals and are they realistic?
I do have other sports, and kitesurfing is my big passion now. At the very minimum, I will be aiming to get back to that, snowboarding, and hiking.
For now, my focus is on getting the right diagnosis and planning the surgery/treatment needed.
One step at a time.