This year, around this time, marks the one year anniversary from when I hurt my left knee playing basketball. Last January, my “to-be” brother-in-law mentioned that there was an open spot on the Chicago Social basketball league that him and his friends were in. They played the year before and needed a few more guys to round out a team of about 8 or so. With my sport primarily being hockey, I naturally said yes. The league was set to play its first game at the end of January in 2015, and he asked me in December, so there was little time to shake off the cobwebs, or pretend that I knew how to play basketball.
We had decided to meet up at the local Y on a Sunday afternoon to just shoot around. To our surprise the gym that day was packed full of pick up players wanting to “play next”. There was a moderator who was calling hard fouls, but not much more than that. These guys were playing rough. Our team of six registered with the moderator and were up to play the winners of the game before. This is where my story begins.
There was a makeshift tip-off, and I found myself with the ball dribbling up the court. I’ll remind you that this was my first time actually playing in a pick-up game of basketball in probably 6 years. One of the bigger guys on my team set a screen for me as I passed the ball to the corner. My teammate shot and missed. As the other team rebounded the ball, I found myself guarding one of the biggest guys on their team as they were running the court. The ball got passed to my guy, and it was a foot race to the basket. As I jumped up, I landed awkwardly, and right then I knew something was wrong. I fell to the ground clenching my knee in agony. Play went on until some of the guys on the side noticed there was something wrong. As they helped me off the court, I felt more and more pain. At first, I thought the worst thing a basketball player wants to hear – did I break something? Did I tear something?
As I sat on the side, the pain grew worse and worse. The players on the sideline tried to console me and told me to “walk it off”, “keep bending it”, “and work it out”. I’ve hurt myself before and usually those things helped keep the pain at bay, but this time it was something I couldn’t handle. My brother-in-law was there, and asked me if I needed anything. After a few moments of not being able to put weight on it, I knew that I needed to go to the hospital. Before I knew it, I was helped into the elevator and rushed to the nearby hospital where X-Rays were immediately taken.
After about two hours of X-Rays and waiting for the radiologist, the diagnosis came back – tibia plateau fracture. For those of you that don’t know much about that particular injury, it’s when the tibia bone (the lower leg bone) breaks near the top of it (or right below the kneecap). This only occurs from trauma, or direct impact, from landing with too much force. I guess I jumped so high to block the shot that I came down with my knee locked – that could definitely do it. Anyway, after taking a few X-Rays and taking a lot of heavy duty medicine, I was sent on my way with a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon for a CT scan. It turns out that I had a minimally displaced tibia plateau fracture that would heal on its own, and with lots of physical therapy.
Back in 2000, I broke my femur playing hockey (the sport that is my first love), and that took surgery, a plate with multiple screws and a lot of physical therapy. Essentially, I knew that if I overcame that, I would easily overcome this injury. For the next several months, I worked on stretching and gaining my leg muscles back. For those that have had a knee or leg injury (specifically a plateau fracture, or even worse, a torn ACL), you know how difficult it is to gain your muscle back. I was lucky enough to have my fiancé with me to help take me to my doctor’s appointments, help me with daily things we take for granted (getting ourselves food, being able to walk ourselves to the bathroom, etc.) and most of all being there for me.
Now that I had time to recover, I spent most of it researching stretching techniques, working on muscle building exercises, and staying positive. I realized there was a whole site dedicated to those that have gone through the same injury. From what I learned was that expected non-weight-bearing time would be 4-8 weeks (depending if you had surgery, which I did not) and a few months to gain full strength in the surrounding leg muscles.
That event took place on January 11th of last year. I started putting weight on it around February 11th, and then fully walking around (with a limp) on February 17th (my birthday). After 4 sessions of physical therapy, I was able to walk for long distances before finally, in the summer, feeling like I could actually run on it. Today is January 16th. I have played two basketball games since then the last two weeks and now fully a part of that basketball league again. I’m definitely taking it easy (with a compression brace), but I’m glad that I’m part of it again. Here’s to everyone that supported me through that – thank you.