Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Year Since My Second Knee Surgery

On September 16th, 2010, I went in for my second knee surgery. It was a knee debridement and it was necessary because there was a buildup of scar tissue that made my knee extremely stiff and I could not get full extension. This was frustrating, but after this surgery, I took my rehab very seriously and even though my knee still feels weird, I am stronger and faster than I have ever been.

So where do I even start? I am going to list some physical accomplishments that I achieved recently.

5K Run
28:48 on 7/24/05
23:07 on 4/2/11

Squats (all different types of squats)
Never did heavy squats before my ACL tear (weak legs contribute to tears)

Front Squat: 205 lbs. in May, I know I can do more than this.
Overhead Squat: 125 lbs.
Back Squat: 275 lbs. (breaking parallel)

345 lbs.

As you can see, I have been committed to strengthening my legs. I have thought about whether or not this injury would have happened if I properly took care of my body, but I guess I will never know for sure. All I know is that this injury focused me on health and fitness. I plan to continue this path for the rest of my life and will hopefully avoid any more injuries.

I leave this blog now as a resource for anyone that is going through a serious knee injury. I have been as honest as possible and this blog was a great outlet for my frustrations, accomplishments and general ramblings. If you have any questions, you may contact me through twitter.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Terrell Owens ACL Tear

When a big name athlete goes down with an ACL tear, I take notice. The most recent athlete to go down is Terrell Owens. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said that TO heals faster than most people. Remember when he came back for the Superbowl after breaking his leg? I do. His surgery was in April (like me) and expects to be playing in August. Wes Welker came back to run routes after 4 months, so anything is possible.

Remember me at 4 months? Probably not. I was not even close to jogging and I still had a noticeable limp. Being a professional athlete is nice; rehab is your job and you heal fast.

Good luck to TO and coming back this season. As I have always said, I would not wish this injury on my worst enemy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sore Shoulder

Health and fitness is my main priority in life. I CrossFit like crazy and I am fairly diligent about eating healthy. A couple weeks ago, I arm wrestled a friend and my shoulder started hurting. It was stupid, I know. Especially because my shoulder had been hurting on and off for months.

It didn't get better, so I saw the doctor. He said that it was probably a torn labrum, so I would need an MRI. I got the MRI done and it turned out that there was not a tear in my shoulder. I got a second opinion and he said it was bursitis, which is basically inflammation. That was really a close call.

After seeing the first doctor, I started thinking about what this would mean. Pain, couch, upset, etc. You get the point. I had even started planning when the surgery would be. It was crazy.

It made me think that I really have to listen to my body. The ACL tear was out of nowhere, but I sometimes kick myself because I did not take my leg exercises seriously. With the shoulder, I got upset at myself for being too competitive and pushing through pain. It is absolutely not worth it. Being fit or in shape does not mean to be stupid. Proper nutrition and preparation will help reduce the risk of serious injury. Taking days off is part of that equation.

Now I am resting my shoulder until the pain is completely gone. I have the urges to do overhead exercises, but I have to think long-term. If the ACL surgery taught me one thing, it is that being patient makes everything a lot easier.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Completing Some Goals

November 21, 2010 post:
OK, so what is next? Here are a few things I plan to do. First, I want to rejoin my kickball team as a player by playing in the South Florida Kickball Open in February. Next, I want to do all CrossFit WODs as prescribed by March. I also want to run in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in April and set a goal of an average of 9 minute miles. Finally, I want to complete the Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash.
After completing the Metro Dash yesterday, I thought back on some goals I had set for myself back in November. At the time, I had the feeling that I must accomplish these goals to prove to myself that I was back. I was determined. Over time, I realized that accomplishing these goals wasn't the end all to my recovery, but I still challenged myself.

My first goal was to play kickball in Florida in February. I did that, playing at around 75%, but I still did well and got through the day. I also played in a full day tournament last weekend and played in the field all day. I was sore, but I did well.

CrossFit WODs as prescribed. I do a good portion of them as prescribed, but not all of them. That is probably not going to happen for a long time. Everyone has weaknesses and CrossFit exploits those weaknesses every day.

I did not run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler because I simply did not want to run 10 miles. Instead, I ran a 5K that weekend and ran a great race. I wrote about that in the previous post.

My last goal was to complete the Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder. The more I read about these events, the more I realized I did not want to do them. They just didn't sound fun. Instead, I did the Metro Dash, where you go through 30 obstacles. The highlights of this race were climbing up and over a 15 foot cargo net, climbing up and over an 8 foot wall and climbing up a 12 foot wall with a rope.

Now that I accomplished these goals, what is next? I don't really know. From the day of my injury forward, I have been looking towards what is next. I am happy to say that right now I don't have any grand goals, other than working hard every day to make sure my knee gets better and better. I am not 100% and I don't know if I ever will be, but I am feeling pretty good.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

5K Race!

After I gave my one year update yesterday, I knew I would have another update today because I was running in the Hoboken Pump and Run race. This race was pretty simple. You bench 135 lbs. as many times as you can and for each rep, you get 30 seconds marked off your final 5K time.

I benched 27 times. I had benched 22 the Wednesday what I practiced and was hoping to match that mark. While I was benching, I realized I was going to do better than 22. When I hit 25, I started thinking 30, but 30 was not to be. I got about halfway up to get 28, but I was too tired at that point. I was very satisfied with this rep count, although it would have been nice to hit the maximum of 30 reps.

The real test was the 5K. I had not run much since my surgery and the longest run I went on was 1.5 miles. I did this two weeks ago at CrossFit. I came out on a pretty nice pace and tried to not slow down throughout the race. My knee felt fine throughout and the real issue was my lower back, which was sore from the deadlifts I did on Wednesday. I felt that my pace was great and I was pushing myself just hard enough. 

When it came to the last straightaway, I knew it was time to really push it. I immediately heard a couple friends cheering for me and it gave me a little extra boost. I got away from the two people I was head to head with for the last mile or so and finished strong. I had a final 5K time of 23:07, which beat my previous PR of 28:48 that I did in 2005. When they subtracted my time for the bench presses, I had a final score of 9:37. I finished in 42nd place, which was in the top half of the race.

Overall, I am extremely satisfied. This proved to me that my rehab choices have been the right choices. Joining CrossFit was a great decision. My knee felt absolutely fine. I barely run and I destroyed my previous best time, which says a lot about the workouts that I do at CrossFit. My friends at the finish line said I was not limping at all at the end. As I said yesterday, this rehab is far from over, but today was a great day for my confidence.

Friday, April 1, 2011

One Year Post-Op

This was no April Fools Day joke. I was extremely prepared for this surgery. I knew I had to do it and I there was no other choice. If I wanted to be active again, I needed to have the surgery. Sure, I could get a brace, but I would be taking a serious risk of having long term damage to my knee. A year has passed, so where am I now?

The Good:

  • I am active again, working out harder than ever
  • I do not limp when I walk anymore
The Bad:
  • My knee is still sore sometimes, especially after sitting down for a while
  • The track of my kneecap is not smooth, so my knee cracks and gets tight sometimes
  • I limp when I run hard, although I am working on this and not worried
So there you have it. My knee is not 100%, but I am working hard to get there. I have had many obstacles thrown in my way and it has only made me work harder. This rehab is ongoing and although it has been a year since my ACL Reconstruction, I still have a little while to go before I am back at full strength. 

In honor of the one year anniversary of this surgery, here I am celebrating...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Year in Review (since injury)

This has been quite a year since February 20, 2010. That day started great; I was playing kickball in South Florida and with just one twist of the knee, my life would take a dramatic turn. This has been the most challenging year of my life, both physically and mentally. Now, two knee surgeries later and after many Physical Therapy appointments (somewhere in the low 60s), I am still working hard to get back to what I consider normal.

I could never have prepared myself for what I have experienced. As a physically active person before my surgery, I found it difficult to sit around for the majority of my day. While I was recovering (aka, sitting on the couch), it gave me time to think about what I was going to do when I got better, find some new interests and ultimately learn more about myself. I took a great interest in nutrition and physical fitness. I read blogs, books and spoke to people who were in recovery from major injuries. As soon as I could, I returned to CrossFit to do whatever I could to stay in shape. While people were doing olympic lifts, I kept myself busy with basic bodyweight exercises. I knew that as long as I could drag myself out of my apartment, I would feel better about the recovery.

I eventually decided to clean up my diet by following the paleo diet with the intention of ridding my body of pro-inflamatory foods, which would hopefully help me in the recovery. I did this and lost a significant amount of weight. It didn't actually help the recovery in the early stages, because I needed another surgery to clean up the scar tissue that had formed, but did not give up on the idea of eating healthier, because I knew that the decreased weight would only help my knee over the long term.

While recovering, I religiously attended CrossFit workouts. Doing this was my outlet. The workouts were mostly bodyweight exercises, but doing this, along with the Paleo Diet resulted in dramatic changes to my body. I was significantly leaner and stronger. As my knee got better, I started doing overhead barbell exercises and noticed an increase in strength from before my injury. The pushups, pullups and situps that I was doing worked!

So after this year, I am still not 100%, but last week, I returned to the kickball field in the same spot I injured myself. I was not as fast or as good as I was, but I felt that I gave a respectable performance, all things considered. The team did well; we matched our performance from last year and had two very impressive wins. I said early on that I would return stronger than I was before my injury. I said that, but had nothing to base that on. Now when I look back on that statement, I stand by it 100% and believe that I will be faster and stronger than I was the day before my injury. At this point, I am stronger than I was and as soon as I build the strength back in my right leg, I will be faster than ever. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will be the case.

I am first to admit that I have taken this recovery very seriously. I never thought this would be the case, but I had never experienced a major injury before. I would not wish this on my worst enemy, but at the end of the day, I think this has made me a stronger person. I have a stronger personality now and am more focused on what I want out of life.

I don't expect my knee to ever be the same and that is fine. I am done using my bad knee as an excuse for not performing at a high level or why I am not in a great mood. Any and all shortcomings will be because of a lack of preparation or care that I take of my mind and body. At the same time, I am working hard to not take life as seriously as I have over the past year because taking life too seriously is no way to live. It is all about balance and I am working to find that balance.