I “risked it for the biscuit” and I’m extremely grateful I did.
I’ve dealt with knee pain for some time. It has limited me, but I’ve tried my best to stay optimistic.
I took three days off from practice in November and came back. Things were going well — until we played Maquoketa Valley on Dec. 18.
I felt a continual popping sensation in my left knee. There wasn’t any pain, but it did not feel right. I finished the game, but at a friend’s house afterward, things turned bad.
I was walking down the stairs when, all of the sudden, I couldn’t walk. I immediately dropped down on the floor and said a few words I probably shouldn’t have. I was in excruciating pain and I could see an object move under my skin (which we later found out was one of three floating pieces of cartilage).
Four days without practicing and a few physical therapy appointments with an amazing physical therapist named Kelly Harrold, I was ready to suit up for a game against Edgewood-Colesburg on Dec. 23. After playing through some pain with the help of ibuprofen, some taping, a sleeve and a brace, we won 66-63.
But I had a decision to make.
After my parents worked with insurance and the doctors, I was able to get an MRI. I could either get arthroscopic surgery, take out the floating pieces of cartilage and hopefully resume playing in a few weeks without pain or swelling and then get the second surgery after the season. Or I could just get the second surgery immediately, be out 5 to 6 months with no chance of playing this season.
I picked the first option.
Treating the surgery as an opportunity to persevere rather than feeling sorry for myself helped a lot. I’m glad I got to “coach” from the sidelines while I was recovering. There were times, however, I asked myself “Is this worth it, what if I go through all of this for nothing.”
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But as soon as I started to worry about the things I could control, it made everything a lot simpler and easier.
It has meant the world to me to get back out there with my teammates. Throughout the countless hours icing my knee and stretching, and all the emotions in between, my teammates and coaches reminded me of what it’s all about.
Playing hard and having fun.
After having the sport I love most taken away — albeit for a short time — it helped me to not take things for granted as much. Instead of being upset that our practice ran super long or upset that I am sore, I’m thankful to go to practice and to be able to feel the soreness throughout my body.
Although I enjoy being with my teammates outside the sport, to get back after 40 days of not scrimmaging and competing with them really felt special.
One concept I learned after losing the state title last year was that “the journey is better than the inn.” I truly believe that, pushing through the knee pain — before and after surgery — was tough but looking back it feels good knowing I did my best to come back as quickly as possible.
I’m extremely grateful for my parents, family, friends, coaches and community for the support throughout it all.
North Linn plays Alburnett on Tuesday in a district final in Vinton.