Adrian Ulises Gonzalez
For Adrian Gonzalez, 27-years old, exercise has always been a key aspect of his life. In November 2017, he tore his ACL playing soccer and is now 11 months post-injury and 8 months post-surgery. Although he is getting back into soccer drills, he still considers himself to be in the recovery phase.
1) Can you share your ACL story?
I was playing a soccer match when I collided shoulder to shoulder with another player trying to get to the ball. The collision made me land awkwardly on my right knee and I immediately sensed something was wrong with my knee. I tried to let the pain go away before I continued playing, but I when I tried to run again, my knee completely gave out and I was in tremendous pain. I remember crawling in pain while my teammates rushed to help me.
I could not bear weight on my leg at all, and after getting an MRI, the doctor diagnosed me with a complete rupture of my right ACL. I was emotionally shattered.
I ended up recovering really well without surgery and just after 2 months, I was able to jump and run completely fine. Despite this, due to my level of physical activity, my doctor advised me to get surgery to prevent any complications that could arise in the future.
2) What was the hardest part of the experience?
The emotional state of mind that I found myself in. As a soccer player, having an ACL injury was my worst nightmare, so when it happened to me, I thought it was the end of my soccer days and even if I did come back, I was not going to be able to play like I used to. Controlling my mind to believe I could recover from this was the hardest and most important aspect of my recovery process.
3) How did you stay motivated during the recovery?
Seeing my progress as the days went by was very motivating to me. I put a lot of effort in the post-op physical therapy process. Doing my physical therapy and seeing how I was making small but important improvements day by day made me stay positive and motivated throughout the recovery.
4) What advice would you give to other athletes recovering from an ACL reconstruction?
Concentrate on your physical therapy and on training your mind to stay positive. You will get better and you will come back, its just a process that needs time and discipline. Remember that not everybody recovers from an ACL surgery the same way, so don’t compare yourself to others either. If you put in the effort (physically and emotionally) you will recover just fine.
5) Do you think this experience changed you as a person?
Of course. This experience made me realize that we can overcome anything in life as long as we have a true desire to. I had many soccer colleagues who had their ACL ruptured, but I never thought it could happen to me. This reminded me that we are all vulnerable in life and that hard times will get to us eventually. This does not mean, however, that it’s the end of the world. We can all overcome those hard, life changing moments.