The WAITING ROOM => GENERAL KNEE QUESTIONS and comments (good for new threads) => Topic started by: soozles on February 06, 2011, 02:30:59 AM

Title: getting over fear
Post by: soozles on February 06, 2011, 02:30:59 AM
Just wondering how others get over the fear of after the surgery, returning back to sport. I'm still a few months from being cleared to go ice skating again, I'm hoping that when I see my OS back in March, he'll give me the go ahead to start running and amp up my rehab even further, but I know that I won't be able to get back on the ice until at least May. But I almost know that I am going to be terrified going back on the ice, I was skating when I had my accident and although I kept skating for years after the original injury, I'm feeling more apprehensive about returning to the ice after the surgery, and my return is still months away. I feel like it's all mental though, and obviously, I know that I won't be jumping or doing sit spins right off the bat, I will need to work back up to that, but just stepping onto the ice again, I almost have this fear that I'll fall the same way again and end up needing to go through this whole surgery and rehab again. I know it's likely all mental, and I know that my knee will be stronger than it was before, but I feel like it's going to be a giant roadblock. I don't even know why I'm stressing about this now, guess I have nothing else to do now, so I stress about something that is months from now. Anybody with some great words of wisdom?
Title: Re: getting over fear
Post by: smillie on February 06, 2011, 05:06:01 AM
The fear is normal! So is obsessing over the next step (or next 10 steps) in your recovery. We sit around resting and icing and obsessing in between rehabbing and trying to get on with our lives. The best advice is to stop obsessing, but since I personally haven't been able to stop obsessing, I'll leave that advice giving to someone else.  :D  Are you working with a PT? As you near the time to get back on the ice, the most comforting and safe thing to do is to be working with a therapist or trainer who can make sure that you have strengthened what needs to be strengthened and can assess you and make sure you are ready to proceed. That way, you can step back onto the ice with confidence in your knee and your strength and know that you are ready. It will probably be scary at first and having someone working with you will be good because you can talk through that.
Title: Re: getting over fear
Post by: crankerchick on February 06, 2011, 04:03:55 PM
This is a great topic. I think everyone goes through some kind of fear like this, be it returning to sports or just returning to "life" after an injury. I know for me I've had patella instability for almost my entire life that I can remember--since I was about 9 years old, so like 2/3 of my life. There was always the back-of-the-mind fear that the patella was going to pop out. Even now that I'm very confident that my more troublesome of the 2 knees is fixed, I still sometimes have those negative thoughts, and my knee has been stable for over a year now--ever since my surgery.

I guess I'm a little different because I didn't worry about getting back to activities--I always looked forward to getting to the point where I could try something to see what it would be like. If anything, I obsess over NOT being able to do something and begin busting my ass to be able to do it. An example is running. I don't even like running--hate it in fact--but after my derotation surgery, once I was walking, being able to run normally became a prime focus for me. And then once I was able to run, I was like, "meh, nope, still don't like it!" I remember my first time bowling after my surgery. I didn't fear injury or pain. If anything, I feared the let down of it sucking and me not being able to do it after having got my hopes up that I could.

The funny thing about fear is the unknown is more scary than the actual thing. When you are actually in the moment, you take that breath, and go for it and realize nothing bad happened, then you have that confidence to keep going and you don't even think about it anymore. When I play basketball, my mind is so far away from my leg and my surgery at that point and it's great to not even think about my leg and just have fun.

My advice would be to focus on the positive. While you are not skating now, focus on how great it will be to get back out there, rather than how scary it might be. You just might find when you are actually in the moment, you are more excited than scared. You are just scared at the thought right now because it's normal to fear the unknown.

I think so many things are about how we mentally approach them. Try to focus on the positive--how great it will feel to finally be back out there. If you keep in your mind in check, when the time comes your body will take care of the rest.
Title: Re: getting over fear
Post by: soozles on February 06, 2011, 04:50:23 PM
See, I'm looking forward to getting back out there doing what I used to do. At the same time, it really scares me. Before the surgery, I knew my knee was unstable, and if I fell, it wasn't like I was going to make it any worse. I guess I knew what to expect from it. And I do know how to fall properly, but sometimes you can't help it and you fall awkwardly or you catch a rut, you can do some damage. I didn't really worry about it before, because the ligament was already torn, what was I going to do? But now, I feel like if I go out there and catch a rut, I can very well damage my knee again. And to make matters worse, the one that was operated on is my right leg, which is the one that I land on after I jump, what happens if I hit the landing badly and all that force gets transmitted through my leg? Or my knee isn't as strong as it was and can't support the landing? Logically, I know that my knee is stronger now than it was before the surgery and that if anything, it should be easier to support the landing with a stable knee versus an unstable one. But the other side of me is running all the "what ifs" in my head.

I do feel like that once I'm at that point, if I just go for it, I'll be fine. I'm in PT now, but i can't yet do any of the sports training stuff, I'm still not able to use my hamstrings! And I know that I am going to have to ease myself back into it, even the pros don't go and play a game right after being cleared to start practicing. But I'm just nervous, I need to stop obsessing, I know. It's like being nervous and excited at the same time. The other part of it is that once I do go skating again, I'll have been off the ice for nearly a year. That's a long time.
Title: Re: getting over fear
Post by: mollyc on February 06, 2011, 05:17:28 PM
The way I dealt with it was to over-prepare. I got myself more fit than I needed. Built my quad muscles back stronger than I needed to ski and play tennis. I did a lot of sports-specific PT (super important!). By the time I went back to first tennis and then skiing, I really felt like my knee could handle anything. I had tested all the movements in the gym under more controlled circumstances and had a lot of confidence in my knee...more so than before this ordeal, in fact.

I got injured coming off a ski lift when I got hit by someone, so I was very nervous riding the ski lift for the first 5 or 6 times up...heart pounding, etc.  But, as my confidence grew on the slopes, it grew on the ski lift as well.

Bottom line is that you can do this.  It's just a matter of hard work and good preparation. You've shown you can do this already...both in your work in PT with this injury and in medical just need to keep it up.  The work you do in the gym to build up the physical capabilities feeds into the mental work, building confidence.
Title: Re: getting over fear
Post by: crankerchick on February 06, 2011, 08:02:25 PM
Another thing I have told people before is to remember that anything can happen at any given time. The what-ifs are not anything you can control so there's no use worrying about them. Anything can happen. You could step off a curb and twist an ankle. I know someone who stepped up a step and tore their ACL (no kidding). I could get hit by a bus tomorrow but I don't leave my house every morning thinking, "I hope I don't get hit by a bus today!"

Like mollyc said, we just have to take control of what is in our control and let the chips fall where they may. Train and work out and get yourself in the best physical shape. Work with a personal trainer or PT on activity specific maneuvers. But after that, take the mind out of the equation otherwise your mind could get in the way of enjoying the outing, or worse, be the cause of something bad happening by being tentative and overcompensating.

I'll be honest, I was pretty nervous about mountain biking for the first time after surgery. That was probably the only activity that I had both the "I can't wait" and "Boy am I nervous" attitudes at the same time. I was worried about falling on my side with the hardware. My doctor had said I could ride with the metal and it would be fine, but still I was worried about falling on it. My first outing I knew I better go slow since I was (and am) still a beginner at mountain biking in general, and then add in the recent surgery to the mix. I did almost fall that first time and I really think it was because I was being too cautious and going too slow. I didn't have enough speed to make it up a very bumpy hill and I hit a bump just wrong and was very quickly out of control. I managed to keep myself from falling, but the lesson was learned nonetheless: cannot let the fear drive me, I just needed to ride and go with it.

I say just try your best to be positive. When you start thinking about what it will be like to go out, and you feel the fear, just remind yourself that it is still a ways away and you will prepare yourself as best you can and that is all that you can control anyway.
Title: Re: getting over fear
Post by: Snowy on February 07, 2011, 03:58:20 PM
Crankerchick said it really well:
The funny thing about fear is the unknown is more scary than the actual thing. When you are actually in the moment, you take that breath, and go for it and realize nothing bad happened, then you have that confidence to keep going and you don't even think about it anymore.

I've just started skiing again after my ACL reconstruction, and I couldn't believe how nervous I was on my first day out. A return to skiing is what all of this has been about for me, from the decision to have the reconstruction to the work I've put into rehab. Driving up the mountain I felt like I was on my way to the first day of a new school year as a kid, and even as I was hauling my gear out of the car and clicking into my skis I couldn't actually wrap my head around the fact that after all this time, I was actually going to ski. And then I pointed my tips down the mountain, and I did. The first turn was fine, the second turn was fine, and then I was into the moment and all the nerves had gone.

It was the same when I first went out on my bike; that was very early in rehab (just a month after surgery) and even though I'd been riding away on the stationary bike for an hour a day, I had no idea whether I'd be able to turn the pedals and balance. My leg was a lot more stiff and useless then, and it almost felt like learning a whole new sport. But once I was up on the seat and pedaling, it was all okay.

The psychological aspect of returning to sports is a lot harder than the physical aspect in many respects. Rehab is geared around getting us back to the things we love, so as long as we stick to the program we should be more than physically capable of these activities. But the brain doesn't accept that until you've actually been out and done it, which makes the preparation the hardest part. The nerves do increase as the moment gets closer, but the minute you're actually out there on the ice I think you'll find that they get pushed into the background. :)