In December of 2018, I went to a tumbling practice just like I had done every day for the last five years. I warmed up, I stretched, I tumbled the same passes I had for months with no difficulty. During one of my last passes ( a pass I had thrown at least 100 times prior) something went terribly wrong. I landed with one of my knees hyperextended and instantly heard a "pop." I wasn't able to walk, or put weight on my left leg. I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea the complexity of my injury.
By 7AM the next morning my school’s athletic trainer was at my house assessing at my leg. He had me an appointment with Dr. Cherie Miner by 9AM that morning. Dr. Miner had a MRI done immediately, and diagnosed me with a torn ACL, meniscus, and fractured femur. The following day I met Dr. Sam Goldstein, who explained the surgery that would now be in my future.
I had my ACL Reconstruction on December 27, 2018. I went to physical therapy every day and did physical therapy at home three times a day. I adjusted to a little slower life, I got used to a big bulky brace, and as a freshman in high school, it was not a fun transition.
At a recheck in February 2019 , Dr. Goldstein noticed that I did not have my full range of motion in my leg. Dr. Goldstein suggested a second procedure called a knee manipulation to break up any scar tissue and restore my full range of motion. In March 2019 I had my second knee surgery, which restored my full range of motion. As a 14-year-old, having a second knee surgery I remember thinking I would never be able to cheer and tumble like I used to be before I got hurt. I thought a lot of people don't come back 100% after one knee surgery, much less two. I felt like the odds were stacked against me.
I kept working. I did exactly what Dr. Goldstein told me to do and just kept on working hard. I knew I had to keep working to give myself a chance at recovery. Dr. Goldstein, Andrews Sports Medicine, and my physical therapist, Andrew Kupper, were there with me the entire time. They encouraged me, they supported me, and they gave me hope that I could recover and function at the level I previously had.
Over the course of 6 months, things turned around. I got strong. I re-built muscle. I regained speed and agility. I mentally grew. I had a "I can get back" attitude. I went through so much and came out stronger than I was before. In June, 2019 I was released for full activity with a brace! That day Dr. Goldstein along with my PT provided a great deal of education on how to keep my leg strong and prevent future injury. Part of that education included the key to knee re-injury is strong hips and core muscles. I knew I never wanted to go through that again, and since then I dedicated time every day to working out, weight lifting, and strengthening those areas to protect my knee in the future.
They normally tell patients ACL recovery is 6-9 months. I have had a recovery a little slower than that, because I ended up with a second surgical procedure. Two years later I can perform almost every tumbling pass I was able to before my injury. It is a work in progress... and mental blocks are just as much part of an injury. It has taken me a little longer than some, but am proud of how far I have come with the help of Andrews Sports Medicine and my physical therapy team. Recovery is not just about getting the skills back you were once able to perform. Recovery is about building back your strength, learning proper body mechanics, and learning how to play your sport safely. I can now squat 325lbs! Which is a lot for a 16-year-old girl!
Before I got hurt I was a good cheerleader, but I wasn't strong. Now with the help of Dr. Goldstein, I am strong, which will make me be a great athlete both mentally and physically. I am so thankful for Andrews Sports Medicine and Dr. Goldstein. I can never thank them enough for helping me through such a difficult time.