On April 26, 2007, I walked in to the dojo with good intentions. I took my daughter to karate class with the hope that a different instructor would help her adjust to class. I find it difficult teaching my daughter karate especially since the dojo is adjacent to our house. She has been exposed to karate since she was born. I packed up our karate equipment and headed to the dojo. In the car, we discussed how we were going to attend class every Thursday night. I had no idea my life was going change during the next two hours.
It was during this class that I tore my ACL. I was practicing a two person bo form. At one point in the kata both partners perform an upward strike clashing their bo in the middle. Then one partner tries to sweep while the other partner jumps over the bo. I jumped over the bo. My foot planted but my upper body did not creating a twisting motion. I collapsed on the floor. I had no idea what just happened. I stood up and finished the kata. I tried to continue with the class but every time I was in nai hanchi, my leg slid out of place. This was a terrible feeling and I will remember it forever.
I drove home. I sat on the living room floor thinking that it would be better tomorrow. I was still awake at 3:00 a.m. Several times during the night, I tried to stand up and each time my leg slid out of place. I sat down and cried but not because I was in pain. I cried because there was so much going on in the next few weeks. My daughter’s birthday and First Holy Communion were just a week away. There was a party to plan and practices to attend. I knew that there was something very wrong with my knee.
I went to my family doctor the next day. I was immediately sent to an orthopedic specialist who was a sports medicine doctor. He drained my knee and sent me to get an MRI. He then told me that he thought I tore ALL the ligaments in my knee not just my ACL. If the ligaments were torn, I could decide to have surgery. He then told me that the first comfortable month of summer I would have would be August. He fitted me with an immobilizer and told me to stay off it. I saw this doctor one more time to get the MRI results. At my follow up appointment, he told my ACL was gone and I needed to see a surgeon.
The surgeon was great. The first thing he said as he walked in the room was “So, you are a karate instructor.” I said “Yes”. He said “No ACL … no karate”. I asked him if he could fix it the next day. He laughed and said “How about next week?” I liked this doctor much better. He was very positive and drew a picture for me about the procedure. He was not as gloomy as the sports medicine doctor. Ten days after surgery, I went on vacation with my family. They snapped a picture of me walking across a picnic area with one crutch. My head is lowered and I am focusing where I am walking. I look so sad. I keep that picture in my office. It reminds me to be grateful every day of how far I have come.
This is the picture that my family took 10 days after surgery while on vacation. I had no idea I was being photographed. This is one of the only pictures I have. Looking back, I wish I would have documented my recovery with photos.
Last Saturday, I attended a six hour training camp. I was armed with two knee braces, the one that I wore and the one I set out in the corner for luck. It was a good event. I saw many of my karate friends and it felt good to be training with them. At the end of the event, my leg was feeling a little tired. I made sure I took extra precautions on pivots and spins. Over the next few weeks, I plan to be very careful because of the uneasy feelings I have had since April began.