I am now 3 weeks post-ACL-op and the question that I’ve been pondering on and off since the surgery is whether I plan to ski again in the future. It’s hardly worth thinking about now since summer is almost here and we won’t see a lick of snow for at least 7 months, or if next winter is anything like this past winter then we won’t see a snowflake for another 8-9 months. Whatever. I like to think about shit like this when I’m eating ice cream and watching The Amazing Race.
For those of you who have never had ACL reconstruction surgery, let me tell you, it sucks. I opted for the patellar ligament replacement which is the strongest option but takes longer to heal. The patellar replacement connects bone to tendon to bone so when all is said it done, it will actually be stronger than the original ACL. The wonders of modern medicine! This means that medically and physically I should be capable of skiing like an Olympian when the season comes around again. Unfortunately, the ACL replacement did not come with memory replacement.
I still remember the intense pain I felt when I fell on the slopes that day and the inability to move my left leg for the first few minutes. It’s hard to forget that kind of pain and fear. And now at 3 weeks post-op I’m still hobbling around, unable to go up and down the stairs unaided, waking up in the middle of the night because it hurts to turn and then getting up in the morning and feeling like I’ve made no advances in the past week because my leg feels as stiff as it did the first few days after surgery. This shit sucks. And from what my torn-ACL companions have told me, it’s going to suck for another 4-5 months, at least.
So, I have to ask myself if I can go back to a sport that is notorious for causing this type of injury (ACL injuries are the second most common injuries in skiing) and if it’s worth it to go through the surgery, healing and recovery process again. The sad thing is, I had a ski breakthrough the day before my injury. I had a great day of skiing and unlike my previous skiing days, I wasn’t exhausted from trying too hard and being overly tense on the slopes. I had exhilarating runs and pushed myself out of my comfort zone and succeeded. I was so confident that the next morning – the morning of the injury – I wasn’t even nervous as I got on the lift. Every time before I was always super nervous for the first run of the day. This time I was happy to get on and ready to start the day. I guess the adrenaline from the previous day had not worn off yet and I falsely believed that I wasn’t tired. I should’ve known better when I had a couple of minor falls on our first short run down the slopes that morning before heading up to the summit. The fact that I had finally experienced the joy of skiing made it that much harder when I found out the extent of my injury and makes it harder still to decide whether or not to ski again.
I know I’ll be flip-flopping over this question for awhile, but when the snow starts falling again my legs will start twitching and I’ll look longingly at my barely used ski gear and hope that I will have the courage to overcome my fears and get back on the slopes.