Thursday, January 15, 2009

A farewell to my left knee as I now know it...

Okay, so I can drink water for 1 more minute...

Well...that minute is up and now I have to do no gum, no water, no mints, not a drop of anything until after surgery tomorrow.

That is the easy part.

I figured since it is midnight and I am honestly still too nervous to settle in for the "night before ACL reconstructive surgery", I would write an ode to my ruptured ACL.

A farewell to all the good times we had, and a small glimpse of exciting dreams for the future I will have with a piece of my Patellar Tendon and 2 nice little screws that will now serve as my ACL.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament...Oh how you've served me, let me count the ways...

So, I wasn't exactly the most athletic youngster.

I can remember my oldest sister being quite the baller. That is she could actually make a shot when we would play CAT with the boys from church a couple times in the summer. My middle sister has come into her athletic ability later in life. She has managed to drop over 100 lbs doing Karate and Kickboxing...she has impressed me this last year with her determination.

As for me, the baby of the three Cadle (also commonly, yet incorrectly pronounced CATTLE) girls, I should have just stayed behind my guitar.

What I should not have done, is decide at age 28 I would become a full-fledged middle-aged athlete.

I played volleyball professionally for the Crescent Chipmunks in the 5th and 6th grades.

After that...well...I played once a year at the Sunday School picnic!

But this past year had been a more athletic year and on the evening of October 28th I was feeling sporty.

This past spring I joined the Y.

I played racquetball for the first time.

I never realized that I could have so much of an urge to urinate from laughing, that is until I played racquetball. I guess it is just funnier when you think you still have some coordination and a padded room, a blue ball, and a miniature racket prove you otherwise. Add this one to your bucket racquetball with uncoordinated friend. Well worth your time, guaranteed.

I enjoyed working out at the YMCA. And although I have held a gym membership, at 3 different gyms over the last 4 years, I haven't always "exercised" my membership privileges. Such as, I don't know, actually going??

But this year was different. I was going 3 to 5 times a week. We weren't just doing the treadmill or weights, and I was thoroughly enjoying my attempt at becoming athletic.

I learned to swim in July. I started diving in August, I would say I learned to dive, but we'll have to wait and make sure I can do it again this summer before I state that is an actual, well, an actual thing that I can do on demand.

I started playing basketball with Ethan a lot more. I actually bought a bicycle, a purple one, and a silver helmet. The kids and I rode around. I rode down a gravel driveway, screaming the entire way down. It was quite fun.

So - bottom line is, I was feeling like I could take on the world. Or at least, some of my older friends....

About a month or so prior to the death of my ACL, we were at, yes you guessed it, a church picnic. We always had a volleyball net up at our outdoor church functions. I had brought our volleyball. We were just back from our Disney vacation and it was strangely warm for mid-September. I was thoroughly disappointed when I walked out and there wasn't a net. I don't know if it was the brat in me, or just the desire for that "athletic fix" I had been feeding off of all summer, but I wanted to play some ball!

So, I drove all the way out to the sporting goods store to buy a net. I came back to the church and made my poor husband, and other poor guys, beat wooden sticks into the ground to halfway put up a volleyball net.

I was happy.

Until we started playing. I wasn't as good as I remembered being when I was a Chipmunk. We only played for around 45 minutes. I had spent 2 hrs trying to get a net and get it up.

I left feeling such a void. I was so unsatisfied with my performance, and I couldn't wait to play again.

I organized a group of friends to get together to play that Thursday night after Ethan's football practice. We would play outside at the church, on my new net.

As we sat there watching Ethan practice, the inevitable happened. It started raining.

I was broken-hearted. I decided we'd head to the YMCA to play, we rounded everyone up and off we went for our first night of volleyball. Man, we had a blast!

We played 2, sometimes 3 nights a week for the next few weeks. Greg and I were having so much fun getting that little bit of healthy competition. And sure enough, week by week, my old skills were coming back. Now, was I GREAT?? No, I wasn't.


Life, my dear friend, was better. I was sleeping better. I was eating better. I was living better...

I was better.

We started mixing some basketball into the plan. I wasn't good at that, but it was fun learning about the game. I felt a sense of accomplishment trying something different, after all, this had been my year of broadening my horizons.

That Tuesday night we had friends in from out of town. Friends that were athletic and good at basketball. We all gathered in the gym and started with some basketball. I was getting upset because I was so confused, and let's just be honest, I can shoot some basketball, but when people start PLAYING basketball. I should sit and watch. So, that's what I did.

Well, actually I sat and pouted.

So - they gave in and I actually got my way. It was time for volleyball.

I was serving first. Bam-Bam-Bam, it was a good night. My overhand had come back, and I was scoring some major points!!

My was filled.

We rotated twice, I was on the front row beside my friend from out of town, we'll call her Macademian. She IS a basketball player. A girl from the back row screams, "Yeah Macademian, now you can spike it!!"

M says, "I cannot!!"

I say, "YES YOU CAN, IT IS AS EASY AS 1, 2, Together JUMP!!!!

My fingertips go about 2 inches higher than the net...

I come down...

I am down.

I am stunned. No pain. Just stunned. My leg feels really strange. I push my heel out. I hear a loud pop and it starts shaking. Everyone thinks what you would think if you knew me and were there that night. I was joking.

When I wasn't getting up, they realized, maybe she isn't joking.

They started to gather around me.

I sat up stretching my leg and bending my knee. Something felt strange.

I hobbled over to a seat and assured everyone to carry on, joking with M, "That is how you DON'T spike a ball!"

Then it was there. More than ever. Digging at me. Calling my name.

The void.

I wanted to play. I didn't care that I had just made a complete idiot of myself, I'm kinda used to that. I wanted to play some BALL!!!!!!! I got up and went to the middle of the court. Everyone said sit down. The ball came to my right side and I bumped it, good bump I thought. I'm okay. It came back to me, on my left. I shifted my weight to the left and that's when I felt it. Or shall I say I should have felt something...but I didn't.

Void, this time not just in my gut from wanting to play some ball, but inside my knee...nothing - it was void.

My husband and friends helped me to the van. X-rays the next day, MRI the next week, 2 1/2 months later and I'm preparing to go under the knife so that in a year from now I can try to fill that void.

You see, when you're 28 and you've "let yourself go", and you just had started finding ways to be healthier, feel healthier, and look healthier....a torn ACL is more than an injury - it's a blanket of refreshing, clear H20 being sprayed on a burning desire for change.

I am going to be a tough girl.

I will rehab my knee so that I can ride my purple bike with E n E in a few months. So that I can take them swimming and try that dive again.

So that in a year from now...

I can play volleyball like an almost 30 something who knows what it is like to be forced to be inactive, instead of choosing it.

Again, I'm just writing to appreciate...


  1. Girl, i remember it like it was yesterday! Still can't believe it happened!
    But I know (and you know) that God is just using this as a tool to sharpen you and bring you even closer to Him and to His image.....glad you are letting me go on this journey with you!
    love you!

  2. You are a very special part of this story, I wouldn't have had it any other way, I mean come injury from actually being serious and playing ball, or from trying to be cool and showing someone else how to spike a is the mentor in me that has gotten me where I had no idea how much my friends & their support & prayers meant, but it is so comforting hearing how so many are lifting me up in prayer! It's all good...