Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012 6:25:10 AM
During last years basketball season, early October sometime, I witnessed something that, what I thought at the moment, had torn my life apart. Let me remind you, that basketball is by far my favorite sport, my favorite hobby, it’s honestly something that’s extremely important to me.
It all started when I was at United Middle school with my teammates from Conemaugh Valley. Going into this game, we were 6 and 3, and I was over confident in going home with another win. We started this game like any other, good passes, good plays, and few mistakes. Halftime rolled around, and I made my first half-court buzzard beater. Going into the locker room we were anything but satisfied with United’s 15-9 lead. Being one of the older members of the team, and trying to be a leader, I kept my head up and tried everything I could to keep the girls pumped up. At this time, I didn’t think we could go back out there, playing like we’ve been playing, and pull out a win, but I still tried to have faith in us. The coach pointed out our mistakes, set up a new defense for us to run, and seemed pretty convinced that we could win this. I remember not feeling to good going back out onto the court. The 3rd quarter started, and we were doing a good job at keeping our opponents from scoring. We inbounded the ball under United’s basket. I received the pass and as I was dribbling down the floor, I could feel myself getting tired, and lazy. One of the girls, who I actually know from the other team, had stepped on my left foot while trying to defend me. I stopped, grabbed the ball, and putting all my weight on my right leg, I pulled my left foot from under hers. Her momentum from running had carried her into me, sending me straight to the ground. My right knee hit first, and the rest of my body fell the opposite direction. I heard a pop as I hit the ground. As soon as I fell to the ground I attempted to get back up. I took one step on my right leg, and uncontrollably, fell straight back down, not being able to walk. As I fell I took one last look at the score board, 15-13 United, 4:52 with the clock still running. My arms clung around my leg as I buried my face in the ground and let out a soft but painful cry. The pain shot through my whole right side of my leg, from my hip to my toes. I’ve never felt anything like it before. Rolling on the ground holding in tears, I looked at my coach as he was motioning for me to get up. I shook my head in response as to say I couldn’t. The refs blew their whistles and my coaches stepped onto the court surrounding me. I couldn’t walk or stand on my leg, so they brought a wheelchair onto the floor, and called an ambulance. It took a pretty long time for the ambulance to finally arrive at the Middle school. The EMT asked me a lot of questions, and still to this day I’m not sure if I answered any of them correctly. I was terrified of what was going to happen next.
I called my mom on the phone, because this had been my first game that both of my parents had missed. My mom and dad both were going to meet us at Conemaugh Hospital. It was a pretty long drive; I was tired, in pain, and worrying about letting my teammates down.
When we arrived at the Hospital, they sent me for x-rays and I couldn’t stop shaking during them. They reviewed them, and assured me it was sprained. I received an immobilizer and crutches. We got home and it was swelled pretty badly. I got a shower, and it actually didn’t hurt at all anymore. I was happy to hear nothing was wrong, but something definitely just didn’t seem right with it. My mom wanted a second opinion, and I’m sure glad she did. We made an appointment with Dr. Hill, scheduled for the next day. We showed up, and he told me to lie down, and he messed around with my knee. It moved way further then it should be able to. There was way too much give. He finally told me that he was almost 100% sure I had torn my ACL, MCL, and Meniscus. Hearing this sent me straight into tears. With the surgery and rehab I would undergo, would I ever be the same at basketball? Would I still even be able to play? I now know that I took the news a little to hard. I know some great athletes that had done this same thing. People receive surgery for this type of thing every day. But that didn’t make me feel any better. The Dr. scheduled us for an MRI to confirm his theory. He was kind of old, so I kept telling myself nothing was wrong and he was crazy. We went that same night for the MRI. I couldn’t sleep right for a few nights after that. We got the results back, and everything the Dr. had stated, was in fact proven to be correct. I wasn’t sure how to handle the news, considering I kind of knew already. I guess I was in denial though. The day finally came around, October 18th, and I went in to the hospital to receive my surgery. The Dr. said it went well but he wanted me to spend the night there. It was the worst night of my life. Before that I was up moving around on my crutches, no pain at all. The anesthesia finally started to wear off though. I couldn’t get comfortable, the guy in the room beside me was screaming, nurses came in every 5 minutes to scan my wristband, and my knee was killing me. I wanted to go home in my own bed. The fact that my mom was laying in the chair beside me, made me feel better though. The next morning a nurse came in to take the bandages off and I was able to look at the incision. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. We were able to go home, but the car ride was anything but comfortable and painless. I spent the next two weeks laying on the couch, getting up to walk on my crutches to keep the blood flowing every so often, and ordering my family around. I kept feeling like every time I got up, the stitches were going to rip open. Showering, walking, sleeping; it was all so hard to do. But eventually everything healed, and I was fine. I only had to wear a small lock brace, but I had to keep walking on crutches. It took close to 9 months for me to be able to walk without my crutches. It took so long because my MCL wouldn’t seem to heal. It got to the point where they were going to send me to Pittsburgh for another surgery. The fear came back as I kept telling everyone “The surgery wasn’t that bad.” I couldn’t sleep for another two nights because I was once again terrified of what was going to happen next.
I was going to physical therapy by then, and they told me my MCL had begun to heal. Words couldn’t explain how relieved I was to hear this. Months of therapy and exercises, and I was almost as good as I was before. Sure, my knee still gives me trouble, and I still have pain when I move it the wrong way. Yeah, my right leg is weaker than my left leg, but in time that’ll change. I’m just thankful my mom made me another Dr. appointment when she did, before I made it worse.
Hearing I had torn my ACL and MCL, was an experience that had shocked me beyond any other news I ever received. I over exaggerated the outcome of what was to happen, but knowing that I had done the same thing that many Pro athletes had done, both astounded and amazed me. I look forward to sharing this with my kids, or kids that have done this and are also terrified of what is to happen. Overall, this struggle is for sure something I will never forget.