Off Games: Staying positive

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GTG’s editor Susannah Taylor has been injured, and it’s more than just a pain in the leg

I am upset. I’m really, seriously upset. I’m crying, throwing things, waking up at 5am kind of upset. Why? I have what is known in the sporting and medical world as a ‘ruptured ACL.’

To you and I that means I have basically snapped a ligament in my knee, which is a bit like an elastic band. It won’t grow back, and if I ever want to go skiing again, or strut my stuff on a dance floor (as I have been known to occasionally), then I need an operation to remove a couple of my hamstrings and replace it. This means crutches, physio for six months, learning to walk again on that leg, blah de blah de blah.

How did I do it? I fell over on the last run of the last day of skiing in France over Christmas, and yes if I had a pound for everyone that said to me ‘It’s always the way, everyone always injures themselves on the last day of skiing’, I’d be able to buy a lovely new pair of Rupert Sanderson stilettos by now. Although of course I wouldn’t be able to wear them because from now on it’s going to be about boring, leg-shortening flat-soled shoes.

The reason I am most upset is because this time last year I decided to get fit for the first time in my life, and with the help and motivation of personal trainer and nutrition expert Steve Mellor at Freedom2Train, for once in my life I have stuck with it. Through wind, rain, mud, frost, nettle stings, scraped knees, thigh chafing and pulled muscles I have quite literally trained my backside off, and recently I have felt better than ever.

I am leaner than I’ve ever been since having children six years ago, I can pull my jeans on and off without undoing them, and my stomach has turned from a wobbly mess to something remarkably smooth with faint (very faint, mind) muscle definition. Before you hate me - please don't, because it hasn't been easy...I have two kids under five, I commute into London from Oxfordshire and last year we launched  this website.

Crazy as it seems I think I’m having exercise withdrawal symptoms – I'm fidgety, frustrated and I just want to don my Sweaty Bettys and break into a sprint, but I absolutely cannot because my knee would give way as it has done a few times in the last few weeks which isn’t to be encouraged. I have never been shot in the knee but I reckon it would probably feel quite similar - BANG and you’re on the floor in agony.

So, I’m trying very hard to conjure up things that will keep me positive. I’m sure there’ll be others along the way, but here are the three that come to mind right now:

Flatties

Anyone who knows me knows I love clothes and love shoes, especially heels; however I have no other option but to find some seriously good flat shoes instead. Suddenly girls’ brogues and loafers are beginning to appeal when they never have before. I’m also going to buy a pair of Nike Hi-tops – if I’m going to have a big fat leg and be on crutches I may as well be cool with it.

Delegation

I am a self-confessed perfectionist and not being able to walk might mean I have to delegate for a bit instead of doing everything myself. This might mean commissioning others to do pieces of work for me or getting the kids to pick up their clothes off the floor. Perhaps I can train them to make me breakfast in bed...this has to be positive step forward.

Isokinetic

I have been referred by Freedom2Train to an incredible clinic that deals with sporting injuries for footballers and elite athletes (clearly I fit right in) and knees in particular, and I am being seen by an amazing man called Dr Bryan English (www.isokinetic.com) who was Chelsea Football Club’s Medical Director for years. The poor man had to deal with me sobbing in his office, but he seems like the sort of guy I could trust my life with, never mind my ligament.

Staying Fit

The biggest positive I can think of in all this is that I’m going to do my utmost to stay fit and healthy throughout (too much sweat has gone into getting this far). The wonderful Steve from Freedom2Train has kindly offered to help  and I hope he realises what he’s letting himself in for.  I’m not sure if I’ll be exercising on one leg or developing Jennifer Aniston-style arm muscles but with his help and that of the physios of Isokinetic I will have a goal and emerge hopefully stronger at the end of it.

Next thing is to book my operation.  I will keep you posted...

Your Comments

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  • Andrea Vidal
  • March 17th 2013

Hey hang in there. my name is Andrea and well I'm 17 and i've already had this operation twice. Yep, your read right. twice. The first time was on my right knee when I was thirteen. I'm a martial artist so one night I was in class and we were sparring and I guess I kicked wrong and fell, hyperextending my knee. So I went through the whole surgery; three months no running, six-seven months PT, etc. I didn't back to karate for four years but that was because of other things however, I did get into water polo, swimming, dance and many other amazing sports the year after! It will feel like the end of the world sometimes, and you'll get really frustrated but it gets better and you just have to remind yourself it's not permanent. You will get back to your normal self, but at your bodies speed. Don't rush things, keep your chin up and ICE is your best friend. no but really. And yes I did say I had this surgery twice. Actually the second time was last week to be exact! But don't worry, it was my other knee. The story with this one is quite similar except I was sparring and I stepped backwards wrong and I felt the familiar pop in my knee and the 'giving out' feeling. I know it sounds scary but my point is that when I got back into martial arts I was doing far more advanced and dangerous acrobatic moves than I was when I was twelve BUT my first surgery knee was good as new and sturdy. Surgeons have got it down to an art form these days and your 'new knee' will be strong and good as new. I won't lie and say that it won't ache from time to time, but again, that's when your friend mr. ice comes in. In a way this second injury is my fault for pushing myself too hard, or I may have weak joints, but don't be afraid that you won't ever get back in the rhythm of things, because you will, and you'll learn to be more aware of yourself.
I hope all is well and if you need tips just ask!
best wishes for a wonderful recovery,
Andrea

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