Week 8: We Have Quad Lift Off

We have now completed 2 weeks of physical therapy and I can already feel the results. Getting in and out of the car has become easier. When I sit at my desk at work, I can now put my left foot down at an angle that’s closer to normal rather than having to have it straight out. I’ve been released to 50 percent weight bearing and I’m up to 83 degrees of range.

 This week we have been working on getting my quad to fire. It’s amazing how small your muscle gets when you don’t use it for several weeks. While trying to get it to contract, I struggled at times to get it to fire and not to use other muscles to compensate. The assistant PT told me that what happens is that sometimes it’s like your brain doesn’t connect with that muscle when it’s that weak and uses other muscles instead to do the work and it takes a minute to reconnect that. I was lying on the table trying to contract and having to be reminded not to use my glute or hip and to focus on the quad. It sounds simple. I can do it in my right leg. I think, quad move! And it moves. In the left, I think, quad move! And it moves barely but with much more help from other muscles. Finally, towards the end of my session on Tuesday, I thought move left quad! And it reacted. It legit felt like the phone connection had been reconnected. Definitely work to be done on it still but I could feel the shift.

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Yesterday, I went to my 2nd appointment for the week and my PT and her assistant were happy with my quad firing more. I finally can lift my leg off the table about 6 inches and do some lifts. It took a lot of effort to physically and mentally get that thing off the table but once I did, it got easier.

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Last week, I struggled finding 25 percent on the crutches but with 50 percent, it feels much smoother. Putting weight on my leg doesn’t hurt. It’s not painful. It’s just weak and little awkward. I feel like Bambi learning to walk when I’m used to being Thumper. Now at 50 percent, it definitely more natural. We worked on my gait a bit. It’s amazing because as I child, I rolled over at 3 weeks and walked at 6 months. I’ve done about 32 years of walking. It’s something you take forgranted. You don’t have to will your muscles to move. You just see where you need to go and get up and it happens. You have control over your pace and distance but you don’t have to worry about the mechanics of walking. Now, I have to think carefully about how my foot strikes the ground and trying to keep straight and not overcompensate to my good side to get my gait right.

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Overall, they think I’m progressing quite well and the goal is 100 degrees rotation by my next ortho appointment on the 19th.

Another thing I wanted to address this week is the emotional healing. Everyone can see the physical part of a traumatic injury but people heal emotionally from it as well and it’s not as visible. Now, I’m a very positive person by nature but like I stated before, I want to keep these updates real. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Being injured when you are an athlete and having the injury be so gruesome is not easy on your emotional state. It’s not just playing on the field that you miss because it’s not just playing on the field that you love about the game.

 For me, football and physical activity have been my go-to staple to destress. I’m happiest and function best when I’m active. Not only do you get more endorphins which make you happy, I just am a driven person who is naturally athletic and when my body is active, the rest of me is happy and highly functioning. I’ve always know this about myself. When I’m busy and active, I get a lot done. When I have a slow down period, I almost don’t even know what to do with myself and if it’s too long, I feel lethargic and not happy. My day job is stressful and I currently do not have a physical outlet which is proving quite difficult for me to figure a way around. For several months, I’d even go to the gym on my lunch break and jump on the bike for 20 minutes. That small event, not only helped me physically, but provided a psychological break from the day that helped me go back to work in the afternoon, feeling refreshed and ready to attack the rest of the day. I’m brain storming on how to find a way to get that back, even if it’s a small thing.

 Also, a reason why I love football is the connection you have with your team. It becomes a second family. One of the reasons you bond is that you are going through the same physical ordeal together and you need to complete your individual jobs together, to achieve a common goal. After a game, you talk to your teammates about how it felt to play in the game and about specific events that happened in them. You celebrate each other and you vent your frustrations too. Now, that I’m far removed from playing, I no longer have that connection. Not that my team doesn’t love me, they do. It just is what it is. I can’t physically play right now so I have to try to connect with my viewpoint from the sidelines which is neither player nor coach. I have taken to filming on the sidelines partially because it’s my way of contributing something.

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When talking with my good friend yesterday who is a therapist, she explained to me that what I’m going through is a grieving process. I’m grieving the loss of football and what it means to me. My brain understands that’s a temporary state but my heart is still in shock. Something that all players can relate to is that football is a lifestyle. It’s not just a game. I used to joke that football has been the best girlfriend that I’ve ever had, well until my present one.

As much as I am learning to be patient with myself physically, I’m also having to learn to be patient with myself emotionally. When you work out or go to PT you are physically sore. When you go through something traumatic, you are emotionally sore. It’s a sign of growth. So I will continue to document the ups an downs, in hopes that I can look back on the journey as well as help others along the way.

Now I have to get back to firing my quad.

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