|Kacie- 2 days post-ACL surgery|
Kacie tore her ACL on July 23rd in Indianapolis and the five weeks after were spent coming to grips with a season lost, and dealing with all the emotions of that. That was difficult. But a week ago yesterday we got a call from the people at the Cleveland Clinic who told us there was a cancellation in Dr. Rosneck's surgery calendar a week or so earlier than she was originally scheduled, and they asked if we'd like to move up her ACL reconstruction.
The five weeks prior were rough. Every day was a reminder for her what she was missing. There weren't many tears and break downs after the initial diagnosis was confirmed by the MRI, but there were a few. Tuesday night, coming home from a 2-0 loss at Walsh, was one of them. We talked about the match and the strategy involved and did the entire post-game post-mortem. Two minutes later I noticed she was crying. And as I've said before, she just doesn't do that very often.
"What's wrong", I asked.
"I hate this. I hate not being out there with them on nights like this and in matches like this. It's just really hard".
It's hard for us as parents too. It's heart breaking when you see your kids hurting, either physically or emotionally.
But there are new challenges to face now.
Dr. Rosneck consulted with Lisa and me after the surgery and told us it was a "good" surgery and outcome. He showed us pictures prior to the reconstruction and after it was completed. He showed us pictures of her torn lateral meniscus as well and told us what that meant. He advised that the meniscus couldn't simply be stitched and repaired and that 40% of it had to instead be removed and smoothed out.
He assured us that had absolutely no effect on her recovery, rehab or being a potential factor in re injuring the ACL in the future. He did say the meniscus damage could portend future arthritis in her knee when she reaches the age where muscles and tissues and everything else starts to degenerate. He also said that not being to able to repair the meniscus benefits her in the short term in that if it was repaired, she'd be non-weight bearing for a few weeks while the meniscus repair was given time to heal.
Instead, she'll be in rehab on Tuesday afternoon and has been encouraged to get up now that 24 hours have passed and begin bearing weight on the repaired leg.
Right now Tuesday seems a long way away. The first 48-72 hours after that kind of surgery are brutal. There's pain and soreness. There's her feeling like it will never go away. There's medication to help with the pain and inflammation every four hours. There's medication to combat the effects of the pain meds like Benadryl to control the itching it causes. There's medication to assist with the constipation the pain meds cause. There's medication to combat nausea that all those other medications cause. There's an ice machine that has become Kacie's closest friend, pumping ice cold water to the affected area every minute of every day. There's us cajoling her to get up and move and bear weight on a knee she has no confidence in.
But it's the next step in the process and she, and we, revel in the fact that every day brings her closer to getting healthy and being back where she wants to be.
This is a despicable injury. It happened in a heartbeat and it took only 1 1/2 hours to repair. She could, and was encouraged to, walk every day from the point it happened. But now it's six months of grueling physical and mental rehab to truly "fix" it. Six months from now it will hopefully be a memory. But every day of that six months is difficult, especially emotionally. Progress is measured in degrees and in centimeters, not so much in time. There will be days that she feels like she's progressing and the next day will feel like she took two steps back. There will be days when she'll not want to subject herself to the pain and those centimeters of gain, feeling like it's not worth it at all.
But that's why we're here and that's what her support system is for. To push and encourage and console and motivate and dictate to her that every day is a day closer to being back on the field. And she's got a terrific support system. From the doctors we've dealt with, to close friends and family. From the unbelievable Gilmour soccer family to the college coaches who have reached out to assure her that they welcome players who have sustained injuries such as hers, and that many of those players thrive in their programs and benefit from the support they provide.
Kacie needed to hear that from them. Especially when she's afraid and feels like she'll never play again while she's hurting and recovering. I can't tell you how important it was psychologically for her to hear that.
Which brings to me another point about colleges and opportunities and what the injury may mean for that: I don't care. Kacie may, but I don't.
I'm old enough and have enough perspective to understand what some may not, which is that "breaks" and life altering opportunities are not reserved for college and potential college scholarships, and I think it's a mistake to assume they are. Kacie may well go on to play good soccer at a good school and someone may make it financially easier to do so. But what can't be denied, as she enters her third year at Gilmour, is that her brains, along with her desire and ability to play soccer at a high level, have already presented her with an opportunity that we could not ignore or pass up. Playing at Gilmour, to look at it only athletically, has already presented her with an opportunity to win a state title in soccer as a sophomore who started all 26 matches and who was an integral contributor to that accomplishment.
Being at Gilmour also introduced and led Kacie to a lifelong friendship with Izzy and Annie Greene and an opportunity to play for the Cleveland Cobras and Sean McNamara. That led directly to a national championship in the U-17 age group.
None of that happens without the opportunity that was presented to attend Gilmour.
More importantly, what Gilmour has given Kacie is academic opportunities, social opportunities and a much broader view of the world than we could have hoped for prior to looking into it. In short, opportunities don't come solely after high school in the form of college financial assistance. Your break or opportunity may come prior to that and you better be ready to consider it.
I'm also old enough, have enough perspective and have seen enough of the NCAA D1/2/3 models to tell you that I put absolutely no emphasis, after going through the recruiting and school selection process, on one being better or more prestigious than the other.
Kacie was not likely to play at Penn State, Stanford or North Carolina. Not at 5'2, 110lbs. And I've seen D2 programs that were simply in disarray and an awful environment for for student-athletes. There is no way in hell I'd ever send Kacie to Lake Erie College, a D2 school that offers athletic money to play soccer or volleyball, etc., for example.
Classes? Yes. Sports? No.
Not a chance.
I don't care that it's perceived as a higher level than D3. The athletic program there is a mess. I can personally and painfully attest to that fact.
And the perception that D2 is automatically a higher level of sports than D3 is also laughable. An example: When Jess was going through the volleyball recruiting process she visited Cal U in Pennsylvania, a D2 school. Their coach offered her a spot on the roster and some financial assistance to come play there. She also visited Wittenberg, a D3 school. Wittenberg's first offer, based solely on academics, made Wittenberg less expensive than what Cal U could have done despite Wittenberg's sticker price being twice Cal U's. And the Cal U coach was honest enough to tell us that "If Wittenberg played in our conference, Wittenberg would win our conference more years than not".
Kacie isn't playing for the USWNT after college. Kacie is not playing for the Orlando Pride after college. What Kacie is doing after college is entering the workforce and beginning her adult life. And I want Kacie to attend the school that best prepares her for that. And if you don't think there are D3 schools that can do that for your kid, while being extremely focused on their soccer or volleyball program, you're mistaken. Wittenberg played for a national championship two seasons ago and won one a few years before that.
I'm not worried about this injury to Kacie in terms of what it means for her collegiate career. If she rehabs and if she does so diligently, Kacie will play NCAA soccer. I may also have mentioned that 3% to 6% of high school athletes go on to play NCAA sports. That percentage rises to 25% of high school athletes going to play NCAA sports who have had ACL reconstruction. So why do roughly five times more ACL reconstruction patients go on to play in college? Because they're more driven, they're more motivated, they're more talented and they're more competitive than the general population of athletes who sustain that injury and call it quits.
But first things first. She needs to shower. She needs to stand up and lock her left leg. She needs to limp to the mailbox to grab the mail and consider that a victory. Then she needs to throw herself into rehab like she threw herself into the tackle against a girl twice her size that got us to this point.
Every day is a day further away from the moment she was lying on a field in Indianapolis and a day closer to her getting back on one.
*Anyone who knows me understands that I deal with things by writing about them. It's how I work through my own trash. In other words, this is more for me and mine than for anything or anyone else.
As I sit here today, my plan is to keep a kind of running diary in regard to Kacie's injury and to update it as I need to and want to. I've long thought about a blog or book or something regarding amateur athletics. From the club scene to the recruiting scene and any and all things in between. The injury piece is, unfortunately, a part of that. And if someone reads it who's been there and can add to or educate me about this injury I welcome it. If someone less inclined to talk about it sees it and finds a comrade in arms (or knees) then that's great too.
If you have experience with the injury and/or the rehab you can reach me at Peeker643@gmail.com