On November 4, 2019 I was at my workplace (also a gym) doing a workout for the second time to compete with my husband in the CrossFit Open. I was moving much quicker this time and on my way to a victory when God had other plans. As I went to jerk 135 pounds over my head, I instantly felt the infamous “pop” and quickly fell to the ground. As a trainer and athlete, so many emotions were surfacing and the adrenaline was pumping. I severed my right ACL completely and had a small meniscus tear.
After searching for a surgeon who I felt connected with, I miraculously found Dr. Jo Hannafin. Working with another female athlete just put me at ease and my gut told me she was the one. We discussed how the knee works, different types of grafts, (who knew there were options!?) and what recovery would be like. We then scheduled surgery for the next month.
Surgery day was exciting and a little emotional for me. The prep at HSS was meticulously organized and I was impressed with the flow of things. I got to speak to Dr. Hannafin and Dr. Verni before the procedure. I was in a good mood being surrounded by strong, smart women. Several hours later I woke up in recovery with my husband by my side and the wonderful nursing staff who laughed at all my bad jokes. Later that evening we took a car home and I slept on the couch with my leg elevated.
For the next few months, recovery was brutal. I chose a patellar tendon graft which is the most painful, but also the strongest I hear. This information about the pain was not something I took seriously until post-op. The drugs helped but I didn’t like the way I felt and they also cause a lot of constipation which is no fun. I started seeing a local physical therapist in Jersey City that was using outdated methods of recovery (pushing and forcing me into painful positions) who in the end was causing more harm than good. I eventually switched to physical therapy at HSS and things started looking brighter.
After just two weeks of therapy with HSS, I lost my crutch and began to feel independent again. I may or may not have been ugly crying in the streets of NYC when I got the clear to walk. During my time at the therapy center, I worked with Zach Rogers who has the biggest smile and a heart of gold. I could always tell he really cared about my progress, even when I was busting his chops. I also worked with Sarah McLean once a week doing aqua therapy. This was different and I enjoyed every session I had with her.
With the physical struggles came mental hurdles that I did not think would affect me, but indeed I was going down a dark path. Dr. Hannafin referred me to Dr. Deborah Roche who is a sports psychologist at HSS and she was instrumental in my recovery. We talked through so much and I have applied a lot of what she taught me to my everyday life. I recommend all patients to see her because she made such a difference in my life. Even during COVID times she reached out often to check in. We had some phone calls that made me feel heard and also calmed me down.
All of the care I received in person and virtually through HSS was top notch. I wish sometimes that I still lived in the city so I could just stop by and say hello, but of course things are different these days. Every provider that I came across, whether I was working with them or not was polite and nice.
While my recovery has been a roller coaster, it has only made me stronger. One other curveball I received during my healing is two months post-op I found out I was pregnant! This made things a little complicated, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.
As of writing this, all of my online physical therapy through HSS has ended. Now in my third trimester, I remain active and train for birth. I walk, swim, paddle, lift weights and do yoga regularly. I almost have full range of motion back in my knee and even began running up until I was about 28 weeks. So many good things have come out of this injury: resilience, improved movement patterns, strength, motherhood and more! I am so thankful to have HSS take such great care of me during this crazy phase of life. I am back in the game and can’t wait to see what motherhood brings!
Thank you HSS!