Torn ACL or How things can change in a New York Minute. Take 2

Over two weeks ago I slipped while doing a lunge—part of my exercise program to stay strong and flexible now that I have reached my ninth decade. The following day at an Ortho Urgent Care, I found out that I had injured both my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and my Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL). Definitive diagnosis pending.

What follows is one of the many examples of having a mobility problem as an older woman.

One morning, a week ago, I fell out of bed. Well, I just slid out of bed as I attempted to wipe up water from the floor with a bath towel. I had spilled the water out of a bottle with a spout that could be closed just in case I tipped it over from the bedside table it wouldn’t spill. (that only works if I close the spout in the first place.)

I didn’t want to slip on a wet floor and harm my already injured left knee, so I called my husband to bring me a bath towel. Of course, my husband could’ve wiped up the spill, but I am always in a rush to get a job done. While I leaned over trying to soak up all the drops under the bed, I stretched out too far. I couldn’t pull myself back onto the bed. I had no choice but to slither to the floor taking care to keep my injured knee straight. There I was on my stomach. On the floor. Parallel to the bed. Face down. After I managed to roll over, my husband bent to pull me up. No way would I allow him to do so. He might damage his back, or worse. I lay for a few moments trying to figure out how to get up from the floor. Scenarios danced in my head: 911, fire department, neighbors, grandchildren, embarrassment. Finally, I bent my good knee, crawled over to the bed, and pulled myself up. Gazing at the ceiling, I felt lucky as an 80-year-old that I had the strength to wiggle out of a tight situation without injury to me or my husband.

Thank goodness feet first

Yesterday, I had an MRI and today I will see an orthopedic physician to find out the extent of the damage and, most important, what I will need to do to heal the injury. Will the exercises I have done (thanks to Dr. Google and YouTube) show an improvement to my knee? Now I only wear the leg brace and use a cane when I am outside. More recently, I have managed to climb up and down the stairs of our 2-story townhouse.

This injury is teaching me to listen to my body, find ways to keep up my strength and flexibility as I age, and to slow down to smell the flowers.  There are probably more lessons for me to learn as I move forward.

I can hardly wait.

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.

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