perspectives - APRIL 2019
Lessons Learned Along the Way - OCR Athlete
Athlete: Amanda JENKINS
Amanda Jenkins, 31 years old, has always been a very athletic person, but did not find her true passion until she discovered OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) two years ago. She was hooked after her first race.
She ended up running 26 OCR races over those two seasons including the North American OCR Championships and the OCR World Championships. While training for OCR, she found herself training a lot of grip strength in the local Ninja Warrior gyms. As a result, she fell in love with that too! She decided 2019 was going to be her year to try out for American Ninja Warrior.
“I had been training for two years on Ninja obstacles and felt strong enough to apply for the show. The day after I sent in my application, I suffered my “perfectly imperfect” fall off of a Ninja Warrior obstacle. I was coming down an obstacle about 12 feet high and I slipped. I didn’t have enough time to react once I realized I was falling and it was too late. All I could do was scream “Nooooo!!!” I landed with my left leg out, the foot planted while my upper body was still spinning on impact. My knee buckled and my femur dislocated and slid behind my tibia causing a very rare and very dangerous “full knee dislocation.” It repositioned itself and then dislocated a second time in ER. Deep down I knew this was a very bad injury. I later found out that I had in fact tore everything in my knee (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL, and lateral meniscus).
I spent one month completely immobilized in one of those awful and super uncomfortable braces that cannot bend. I was beyond bummed and in so much pain. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself besides feel pretty bummed and helpless. I have never had to rely on others like this before. I spent about two weeks uncertain of anything really, and then one day I decided I needed to snap out of it.
“I’m injured but I’m not dead” I told myself. “I’m lucky that I didn’t lose my leg. Heck, I’m very lucky in this unlucky situation that it wasn’t actually any worse!” So I decided I was going to start to work with what I still had and stop being a downer. I started just messing around with workouts with my crutches and began posting the silly little crutch routines on my social media. I started getting a lot of other people who said they could relate with me and loved my positive attitude, so I decided I wanted to share the whole journey! I began getting into the weight room and having others bring me my weights so I could do some upper body bench workouts. I wasn’t going to let this injury prevent me from my goals. The stronger I started to get, the better I felt. The more I shared with others and learned from others, the better I felt and more confident I felt that this will all work out.
I was able to take off the immobization brace after one month. Then, right away, I spent the following month trying to learn how to re-bend my leg again. Doctor said that my MCL and LCL were healing themselves but she wanted me to get full range of motion back before surgery for ACL, PCL, and meniscus. This hurt so bad!!! I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to learn how to bend my knee again. It took me about 3 weeks of agony but I kept sharing my ups and downs and I never quit. I made sure I did my PT morning and night even when I didn’t want to. I was able to get full range of motion the week before scheduled surgery. I was so proud that I had come so far! Then I had surgery.
I had surgery exactly two months after my fall. Doctor only ended up having to reconstruct my ACL using hamstring tendon and she also repaired my lateral meniscus. She told me my PCL was actually healing on its own now too!!!
Finally, the surgery was over, now time to focus on recovery. But the pain was unreal. I felt like I was going backwards now. I was back in a brace. Non weight bearing. The pain was worse than ever. But, I continued to share my ups and downs, I continued to do my PT morning and night, and I continued to remind myself that I will get better... “I’m injured, not dead.”
Fast forward one month from surgery and here I am. I get my brace off this week. I’m recovering faster than expected, and I’m smiling pretty much every day. I feel stronger than ever, mentally and physically. My journey to recovery is not over and I know I have a lot more work to do before I am running OCR again or competing on ANW... but I will not give up. I still have goals and I am modifying workouts to get there. I work with what I can and do a lot of upper body workouts too. I continue to share my journey with others as it keeps me motivated and it also helps motivate others too. That is the most amazing feeling.
Yes, I have fears that I may never run the same again, but I am still going to try my best to get there. However, for now, my next goal is to learn how to walk without a brace. One step at a time. I have learned to celebrate and share every little accomplishment. Every small step gets you that much closer to recovery.
You are injured but not dead.
Work with what you can!
You can still workout your upper body. Modify most workouts.
Still set goals and find a way to work towards them.
Share your journey with others and celebrate each little accomplishment along the way.
Staying positive is key.
Thank you Amanda for sharing your experiences to inspire athletes across the globe!
SPECIAL THANKS TO KEY PLAYERS IN AMANDA’S RECOVERY:
LYDIA A. WHITE, SURGEON, M.D. OF TENNESSEE ORTHOPAEDIC ALLIANCE
BEN SACHS, REHAB SPECIALIST, D.P.T. OF TENNESSEE ORTHOPAEDIC ALLIANCE