The anniversary of my tearing my ACL was June 4. I can't believe that it's already been a year. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was in the dojang on a hot June afternoon (hot June - huh, with all the rain we've had in the Northeast, you'd still think it was spring) working on the 360 roundhouse kick when I landed improperly and heard that fateful snap.
Looking back on all that has happened, I'm surprised and quite pleased I've come this far. From doing the initial physical therapy to get my quad muscles back prior to my surgery, to reengaging in PT a week after my surgery, I didn't think I could come back as strongly. With the support of my family (tough love) and friends, I endured four long months of PT, survived the icy streets of Boston without hurting myself (knock on wood that it never happens), and got back to a level where I could start working hard in TKD again. Without a positive environment, I don't think I could have kept going, especially with how difficult life sometimes got.
If it hadn't been for one of my close school friends, I would never have gone to the hospital the night that I hurt myself. That would have been quite the problem; while I do recall limping back to my apartment after leaving TKD, I also remember I could not stand up a few hours after being sedentary. Thank goodness for friends more stubborn that I. :)
My school held its Black Belt Rank Ceremony on June 13. Grandmaster Kim chose to hold it on this day to commemorate General Choi's blessing for his choice to open up a school in Boston, and to celebrate the 35 years the school has been a fixture next to Fenway Park. He gave a fantastic speech after the belt-tying to over 50 students (all crammed into dojang 1), and definitely motivated me to work harder at TKD. In addition to receiving new black belts, we received an addition to our uniform. (At my school, as you advance a rank as a black belt, your uniform evolves along with your advancement.) 4th dans were asked to remove the tape along the black stripe on their pants; 2nd dans were asked to put on their new tops.
The 4th dans received their belts first, since they had to help tie on the rest of the ranks' belts, along with our Grandmaster. Then 3rd degrees; then 2nd degrees (1st degrees had their own ceremony). We were arranged by rank by alphabetical order, so I was at the very end. I remember waiting for a good 10-15 minutes in my line, standing as still as possible (while the kids tried hard not to scratch their ears and jump around). Luckily, Mr. Kim ended up tying my belt; while I don't associate blessings with having the grandmaster tie a belt, it sure did feel good to have him do that honor. Now I've got to practice hard to get back to pre-ACL tear level.
On another note, I substitute-taught a kid's class and half of an adult's class this past Sunday. It was a new experience for me, one that I was reluctant to partake in, partly because I feared not remembering the names of techniques and partly because I'm out of practice. I'm a very good helper one-on-one, but having a formal class bow at me and listen to my instructions is very strange, especially since I'm so inexperienced in teaching. I do want to get better so that I can be a good example for lower ranking students, but at this point, it just won't fit into my schedule.
Since even before my 2nd dan test, I had been going to the dojang and practicing forms each Sunday. My knee complained a bit in the beginning, but I fought those complaints by taking it easy - performing at 70% rather than 100%. I'd been wearing my brace to practice since early February, per advice by my surgeon. By my 10-month post-op appointment in May, my doctor told me that I didn't have to wear it any longer. In my head, I whooped for joy, but then caution told me I should remove it only when I feel comfortable enough to do so. That day came after my test; I decided to feel out the knee in practicing forms. Turns out my knee is stable enough; jumping and snapping techniques are still iffy, but I don't have to rely on the brace any longer.
I still have some minor swelling in my knee, which is a result of excess scar tissue (or so my doctor tells me). I also still do not have feeling below my kneecap, an effect that will decrease with time but will never fully disappear. My doctor informed me that they had to disrupt some nerve connections in order to get into the site of the ACL. The size of the area of numbness is decreasing, but it's still odd not to be able to feel my razor go over my knee area when I'm shaving . . .
I have yet to try out other sports with my knee in the condition it is. I have been running and lifting (when I have time), and those activities haven't given me any trouble as of late. Here's hoping to an active summer!