#newACLnoproblem — the months before
This is a story from Elisabeth Kellerer, about her first part of her “injury story “— it’s about the 7 months until she found out what she had.
Most people know exactly when and why they tore their ACL. They notice the wrong movement, they hear it, they fell a horrible pain, the knee starts swelling immediately. But there are also people who have literally no idea when, why and in what exercise they tore their ACL. And here I am, being one of them.
In march of this year I went to my yearly holiday to Lake Garda with my boyfriend, we ran on the promenade, we swam in the ice cold lake and we cycled in the mountains. During those bike rides I first noticed a light pain in my knee — but as every runner / triathlete I sometimes do feel a little stiffness in my joints or my muscles ache. Usually that’s nothing to worry about and nothing a few rest days, a black roll and good food can’t heal. Maybe those bike rides in the mountains were just a little too much, maybe my training in the past months was just a little too much.
Little did I know that even 7 months later the pain would be still there. Little did I know that I will spend 7 months with physiotherapy, some time with aquajogging, a lot of time with swimming, a little time with cycling and only a few hours with running.
I spent 7 months without a real diagnosis, nothing wrong visible on the MRI and the hope that the injury will go away, that something will help. I spent 7 months in constant knee pain and big doubts about myself as I felt like the pain wasn’t real and it was only my head making me feel like this.
Since that holiday in Italy the knee pain first appeared and then disappeared again, first running was the only thing I wasn’t able to do anymore but soon also cycling started to hurt. I went to see a doctor and we did some x-rays and a MRI and some tests but nothing seemed to be wrong. As a conclusion of a patella luxation I had like 8 years ago and the visible instability in my knee my doctor assumed that my MPFL (Medial Petellofemoral Ligament) is somehow damaged and thereby too weak. So I went to the physiotherapist, stopped running and did all I could do to make my leg muscles strong enough to compensate the weak ligament. Some months passed but the pain was still the same and at the end of my physio prescription my physio told me: “We didn’t make the pain worse — that’s the only thing we achieved.”
I was frustrated. And I couldn’t understand it. But I also didn’t wanted to give up on everything I loved so much. I continued doing my sports as good as possible as obviously nothing really seemed to be wrong my knee, I learned how to tape my knee to give it more support, I finished three sprint triathlons — but honestly, it was far from being fun and free and happy and all the other words that describe doing what you love. It was exhausting and mostly painful.
On August 7th I finished my last triathlon of the season after having the worst pain during the 5k run. This race somehow was the reminder for my head that I needed. I finally really KNEW that something was wrong. That was no imagination and that was definitely not just an instability. I had pain everyday, when walking stairs, when swimming, when cycling, when lying in my bed, so I went to see my doctor again and told him that I want the MPFL reconstruction he suggested.
When I woke up from the surgery on October 7th the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t had an orthesis on my knee and I started to fear that they didn’t find anything wrong and all the pain was after all nothing but imagination. Moments later I was told that they just did an arthroscopy and that I will need an acl reconstruction because they saw that my acl was almost completely torn. Finally I had a diagnosis. A reason behind the pain. It was hard to accept that I once damaged my body like this but at the same time it somehow was such a relief to finally know what’s wrong and that it was something they could fix.
On October 28th I got my ACL reconstruction — and since then every step is a step into the right direction, every day is a surprise, every day is a blessing, some days are hard, this whole thing changes and challenges me daily. 4 weeks have passed now and I’m prouder and happier and more balanced than I ever knew I could be. I grow with it.
This journey will take a lot of time. But I have goals. And I’m in it to win it.