Holly Aiston is a 21 year old Exercise physiology student, and hopes to one day open her own clinic and help others with knee and other injuries. She is a sports fanatic, and especially loves AFL football.
1) Can you share your ACL story?
So I tore my ACL when I was 16 - I was playing basketball in phys ed at school! My dad actually didn’t believe me when I told him that something was wrong! So it took me about a month to get him to allow me to have an MRI - we got it back and I had completely torn my ACL partially torn my PCL, fractured my femur and I had some pretty crazy bore bruising! Dad didn’t want to get me surgery because he didn’t want to pay for it, so a few months later my mum took me to see a public specialist to get me on a wait list. I waited 9 months to have my knee operated on. Within this time I continued to play volleyball for my school which was great but I wasn’t able to be active playing other sports that I would usually play. I fell into some depression and developed an eating disorder, as a way to control the way I was feeling. Anyways, once I had surgery I got back to volleyball 4 months post-op and started playing netball again a year after. Last year (aged 20), I played my first year of Australian rules football and I truly fell in love with the game! I’ve grown up watching it, my brother was named after a player but as a girl I never got to play. In my preliminary final last year, I collapsed, the exact same way I did with my first incident. I knew instantly that I had torn my ACL again and walked myself off to the bench. I luckily got myself private health insurance at the start of the year in case anything like this was to happen again! I had surgery 2 weeks later, I am now 9 months post op to the day! I have struggled from time to time with this knee but have gone back to volleyball for the season and will get back to football next year.
2) What was the hardest part of the experience?
I think the hardest part was not being able to play sports that you love, that allow you to have an outlet and also then not having the same connection with all the friends you play with socially it is hard too!
3) How did you stay motivated throughout the process?
I have kept thinking about how good it’s going to be to get back out on the field and play again. I’ve also kept motivated by knowing that I’m making myself stronger both mentally and physically with every day I keep moving forwards
4) What advice would you give to other athletes on the road to recovery?
Positivity is 100% the key, you will have good days and bad and on the bad ones you need to be around people who can create positivity when you are struggling. I have an amazing family that looked after me when I struggled and I try and create as much positivity around a crappy situation, I try and use it as an incentive to improve myself beyond what I was before my injury!
5) Do you think these experiences changed you as a person?
I really do, my injuries have broken my heart but they have helped me become more resilient and have shaped my life. Although these experiences have been really tough, I believe that they have helped define who I am today. I am a much more resilient person and I am also studying to be an exercise physiologist where I hope to one day set up my own rehab centre to help those with knee and all injuries have a positive space to heal! It’s been a rollercoaster! Although it has sucked in many ways I am grateful for the experience!