Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of the day that I originally hurt my knee. If you asked I could tell you every single detail about that day. It was the day of our last field hockey game and it was a Wednesday. We had dressed up like emo people. I was wearing my black corduroys, a black long sleeve shirt, and my indoor soccer shoes. I had PE right before tutorial. We were playing capture the flag. We were running the cool down lap and on the third corner my knee popped and I fell down. I tried standing up but I couldn’t do it. I sat there for a minute gathered myself and got up. By now my teacher saw me and came over to me. She didn’t really know what to do and neither did I. I decided that I at least had to make it to the gym. On my way to the gym we saw my field hockey coach who kept trying to tell me that I had to play in the game. My PE teachers said that there wasn’t a chance I was playing because I couldn’t even walk. I ended up finishing the day like any normal person would. Later that night I went over to the my neighbors house because it wasn’t a normal knee pop. I could tell that something was going on. The next few minutes were life-changing minutes. I remember lying on the floor while Daniela was examining my knee. Bruin was lying down next to me licking my face and trying to make me feel better. Daniela told me I had three possibilities: a meniscus tear, a torn MCL, or a severely sprained knee. The next day I had an MRI and it was confirmed that I had a meniscus tear. During the surgery my surgeon discovered that I had three meniscus tears and an anatomical variant that would change my life forever. It would cause me to have eight more knee surgeries.
As bad as what happened sounds, I wouldn’t change anything. I’m not going to deny the fact that I constantly think about what would have happened if I were sick that day but then I realize that this was bound to happen to me. God gives his toughest battles to the strongest people. I am a strong person and I have proved that to myself nine times now. Nine times God has given me the choice to give up or to continue the fight. Each and every time I have chosen to continue the fight because I do not know who I would be without sports. I define myself by sports. I have always been number twenty-two; always following in my neighbor’s footsteps. When that suddenly was taken away from me I always fought to get back to being number twenty-two. Freshman year I realized that my life had been changed and I would never be number twenty-two again. It just couldn’t happen. So I went to the next best thing: I became the starting varsity lacrosse goalie, and number twenty-three. I began to blaze my own trail because it was time. It was time to stray away from who I was and begin to be who I am now. I threw myself into other things. I attacked my rehab with new strength proving to everyone that I could make it back to sports. And at the end of sophomore year I was given another reality check when I had my eighth surgery. It was time to retire the starting varsity goalie, number twenty-three, and become the person I am today.
The person I am today has changed drastically in the past four years. I went from being an avid soccer player to a field hockey player to a lacrosse player to a no sport athlete. I define myself now as a no sport athlete. I will always be an athlete. Nothing is going to change that. What will change is the sport that I play. I constantly am with my teams supporting them and helping them in their season but I don’t play anymore. There are days where I am standing on the field and momentarily forget that I can’t play and I throw myself into practice like I’m still a player. It isn’t until a teammate or a coach asks me what I’m doing that I take a step back and realize I shouldn’t be playing. Those days are the hardest. Those are the days where I know it sounds harsh; you want to go die in a hole. It’s not because you want to commit suicide it’s because you’re done trying and you’re done pretending to be someone new. I hate those days. They used to happen at least once a week but as the time is passing it’s becoming once or twice every three weeks. And now I know that when you want to go die in a hole it is okay. It is okay to be sad, frustrated, mad, pissed off, any adjective that you want to use because you have been through hell and made it out somehow. Everyone says that you have to accept it and move on like that process takes a day. That’s where everyone is wrong. That process takes more than a day. It’s taken me four years and I am nowhere near accepting the fact that I am done. You have to redefine yourself. It’s cheesy but you spent your entire life trying to be someone and then in a matter of a millisecond you can’t be that person anymore. You have to spend another lifetime trying to figure out who you are.
Now, I’m not going to go blaming people for what has happened to me. I can’t look at my parents and say it’s their entire fault that I got the bad genes. I can’t look up at God and blame him for giving me this. I can’t blame my surgeon for messing up because she didn’t. I can’t blame my physical therapists for not doing their job because they did. I can’t blame anyone. I can’t even blame myself. Everyone did everything right yet I managed to get the bad end of a deal. In the words of my physical therapist “I was dealt a shitty hand and have to deal with the shit that comes with it.” Things happen; you pick up the pieces and move on no matter how hard it is. Moving on takes forever but it will happen.
I can’t say that I regret these past four years because in all honesty, I am glad these four years have happened. It’s hard to say that I’m glad I’ve had nine surgeries because that isn’t exactly true. I’m not glad that I’ve been put through hell nine times. I’m glad that everything happened because I don’t know who I would be without the nine surgeries. Who knows if I would be a superstar field hockey player? No one knows and no one will ever know because that’s not who I am. I’m slowly beginning to realize that this injury was a blessing in disguise. It taught my patience, perseverance, tenacity, compassion, cautiousness, strength, diligence, determination, endurance, faith, forgiveness, gratefulness, honor, respect, humility, loyalty, and sincerity. I don’t think I could have listed that many words in seventh grade when all this started. But since then, I’ve learned more about my friends, my family, my rehab team, and myself than I could have imagined. They have been through thick and thin with me. They have seen me at my best and at my worst. I don’t think I would’ve gotten through this without them with me every step of the way.
My final words are this: Appreciate the time that you have. Live every minute to it’s fullest because you never know which second might rip who you are right out of you. Find your friends and make sure they know that you love them because if anything were to happen to you, you better have damn good friends by your side. And most of all let what ever happen simply happen. You can’t control your destiny. If something is meant to be, it will find a way.
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