Torn ACL or How things can change in a New York Minute.

So here I am, a new octogenarian who thinks she is still twenty (my birthday was May 3rd).

When I turned 80, I decided that I wanted to stay strong and flexible. Last Thursday, I was doing lunges while watching Grace and Frankie on TV. Grace and Frankie are my role models. Love ‘em and will miss them since this is their last session. I only allow myself one episode at a time.

I had great intentions that evening but didn’t do too well on the execution. While attempting a lunge, my left leg slid sideways which overextended my knee. I toppled backward on the carpet. The pain alerted me that I had caused a big problem. I immediately followed the RICE treatment: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The next day, after an x-ray and physical manipulation of my knee, the Physician’s Assistant at an Ortho Urgent Care declared that I had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a common injury of athletes and more common in women. I lumbered out of the Urgent Care wearing a hinged T scope knee brace and with future MRI and orthopedic physician appointments, and an acute awareness of my advancing age.

My husband and I had spent the middle two weeks in May at the North Carolina beach in celebration of my birthday. I walked twice a day: once with walking shoes on the streets behind our rental home and once on the beach, dipping my bare feet in the cool Atlantic waves as the tide flowed onto shore. I felt wonderful. Walking is my main exercise. It not only keeps me in shape, but clears my brain, letting the creative juices bubble up. This is why I prefer to walk alone—or with a non-communicative husband.

As I write this, it’s been almost 72 hours since my injury. I’ve discarded the ice and am now using a heating pad. My leg is elevated when I’m sitting. I walk with a walker and the knee brace. I borrowed a shower chair and cancelled my social engagements with friends for the next two weeks. My life has narrowed. However, I’m not deterred even if it takes a while to get back to my previous level of activity. Damn that New York minute.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. This week, I am one of Marianna’s canceled friends; we commiserated via phone for eighty minutes. I neglected to tell her I long ago binged the last episodes of GRACE AND FRANKIE. Advice on doing lunges: keep the rubber side down.


  2. As Joan Didion said, “Life changes in the moment.” But holy cow. Bummer. Glad you were able to enjoy those two lovely weeks of walking on the beach before this–let it be over soon–little setback.


  3. Oh dear sorry to hear that! My 84yr old Dad similarly tore his biceps tendon ( he’s a golfer) curtailing his activity for a while but all back to working order. Hope it repairs soon


  4. Oh boy, can I relate! As I told you, I broke and dislocated my wrist when I was entering Dollar Tree- was in a hurry and wasn’t watching where I was going. A UPS driver saw me and my wrist hanging and called 911. There went my day, in a NYM! Police came, ambulance came and the kindly police officer called my husband. Because of covid restrictions , I couldn’t see my husband until 8 PM when I was discharged. After 3and 1/2 months, my ulna has not yet completely healed. I have definitely had a long run though, first time ever that I broke a bone, and first time ever I had major surgery. I am still healing and very fortunate-was treated very well in the hospital I had once worked in AND it wasn’t my hip! Wishing you a complete recovery. I’m sure both of us will be extremely cautious when walking or doing lunges! Looking forward to seeing you in Sept!


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