Did you ever wonder how you would cope with a major injury physically, mentally and financially? Have you worried about how you would manage?
It has always been in the back of my mind. Every time I heard of a wakeboarder sustaining a major injury, I felt for them and I wondered how I would perform in the same situation. Then there is this sensation when the fear becomes reality and, in my case, the reality set in when I landed wrong off a kicker two years ago and twisted my knee. Although the knee swelled up, I was still walking and after a week or so I was riding again.
But I was worried. I was worried it was something more serious and the fear of being out of action made me bury my thoughts. I tried not to act on it thinking if I kept strong and fit it would go away. Nevertheless, I decided to have an MRI at the end of the season and guess what? It revealed a partial tear of my ACL. They stated it was from a previous injury. I thought, "If I've been riding for six months and it hasn't bothered me, it can't be too bad."
I continued riding for two years without any worries until a crash at the Masters in May kick-started a string of events that would ultimately take me out for the rest of the year. After the incident in Pine Mountain, Georgia, I decided to rest and strengthen the knee. However, an MRI revealed a tear in my meniscus and a large chondral [articular cartilage injury].
Deep down I knew I wasn't OK this time. Trying to push myself to ride and wanting to attend the Pro Am in California caused a lot of stress and anxiety. It also wasn't a good sign to be in pain when I was just trying to jump the wake. During a visit to the orthopedic we made the decision to have surgery on the meniscus and that getting it done quickly would mean being back on the water in about three to four weeks, just in time for the rest of the season. This is when the diagnosis changed for the worse. The surgeon discovered my "partial" ACL tear was, in fact, a near complete tear and it was overstretched. In other words, useless. That would mean an additional surgery to repair my ACL after getting my meniscus surgery.
Emotions ran high and all kinds of thoughts started to flood my mind. Should I have had surgery two years ago? I don't really regret riding with a partially torn ACL all this time. Otherwise, I may not have won Female Trick of the Year for being the first female rider to land a whirly 540, or become the 2014 WWA World Champion. I am proud to have achieved those accomplishments.
But now, unfortunately, the time has come and the realization has hit hard to call off my 2015 competition and head home for more surgery. This will hopefully allow me to be back in Florida for part of the 2016 season.
After being on the sideline and getting all the news while being a couch potato, I've noticed a lot of other people lately are also going through a tough time with injuries. Although almost every pro rider probably has had an injury or surgery at some point, this article isn't necessarily for them. I want to share my story and progress with those that haven't been seriously injured or those that are going through the pain of injury or recovery now.
If you need surgery, make sure you take the time to research an orthopedic surgeon, the type of procedure that you require and the cost of surgery. Make sure your insurance coverage is adequate and you have someone reliable to care for you. You want to be comfortable with your decision and a good way to do this is to compare your situation with other patients' experiences with the same procedure or surgeon.
If you find yourself couch bound or preparing yourself for surgery, your first thought most likely will be, "This sucks!" It does suck. You're not wrong. I'm still in denial, hoping someone will tell me it's all a bad dream. However, it's what you tell yourself and what you do with yourself that will make the difference. It is what it is. Don't let this be a burden on you. Perhaps start up a new hobby, like playing guitar, or widen your horizon by reading books. Maybe consider meditation or even an online course. Occupy yourself to distract your potentially negative thoughts and keep looking for that next step to move forward. Keep focused on your goal and reward yourself with a treat at the end of each step.
As I recover from meniscus surgery and prepare myself to head back to Australia for an ACL reconstruction, I will continue to share my experiences and let you know that you are not alone or what to prepare for if you find yourself in the same situation. So keep an eye out on WakeWorld.com for updates!
Bec Gange is sponsored by Liquid Force, Supra, Jetpilot, Club Marine,
Mildura Health, Top End Training, Nuke Optics and Mildura Holden.