Janelle Rattenbury is a 23-year old from Tasmania, Australia with a passion for AFL (Australian Football League) and cricket.
She has represented her state in cricket, and plays AFL in the Tasmanian State League (TSL). Janelle started playing cricket when she was 13 and fell into it after watching the game and playing cricket often in her backyard with her family. She started playing football when she was 18 years old.
She is currently in her ACL recovery season, but once it is over, her dream is to get back to football and cricket and to win another premiership with her footy girls.
follow her on instagram: @_janellerattenbury
Q&A with Janelle Rattenbury
1) Can you share your ACL story?
My ACL journey started back in 2009 when I was 14 years old. I was a young girl with so many sporting dreams ahead of me. At the time, I was involved with cricket. I played cricket locally and had the opportunity to represent my state right in front of me. However it was not long after that I ruptured my ACL playing a game of touch football for my school.
The doctors were in doubt that this was the extent of the injury due to my age so they kept putting off the MRI scan and the treatment. The surgery was put off for another year as I was still growing, so it wasn’t until a year later, 2 days before I was 15, when I finally had my ACL reconstruction.
8 years later after that ACL injury, is when I began to have lot of success with my sporting abilities. I started to build trust within my body and I got my fitness to the level that I wanted it to be at.
I was heading into another football season (2018) training hard daily and had a really good pre-season with footy. I would have called myself the fittest I had ever been over the years and let’s just say I was ready for the best season yet!
It was just before the footy season was about to commence, that I had a non-sports related knock to my leg and as easy as that, I had ruptured my ACL for the second time, on the same leg, in addition to some really bad bone bruising!
So here I am... ACL reconstruction #2! Currently, I am at 31 weeks post op!
2) What was the hardest part of the recovery experience?
The hardest part of this experience is not just the physical side of things, but also the mental side.
Yes, it’s hard not being able to do the things you enjoy the most, such as playing the sport you love and missing out on opportunities...
But trying to stay ‘mentally tough’ and to constantly remind yourself that you are doing the best you can is a huge challenge.
One of the hardest periods of the recovery was during the football season.My team had such a successful season and ended up winning their first TSL (Tasmanian State League) Grand final! …which is amazing! …and of course I am over the moon and excited for my team.
But there is that bit of heartbreak and sadness deep down, that I wasn’t able to contribute towards this big achievement. But these are the types of things that motivate me and make me want to come back bigger and stronger.
3) How did you stay motivated throughout the recovery?
Since this was my second ACL reconstruction, I must say that knowing what to expect made it a little easier for me and gave me a heads up on what was to come. But in saying that, motivation is one of the hardest part of the recovery!
You have good and bad days, but seeing yourself progress and get better with even just the simple things is one of the biggest motivators for me.
Giving yourself constant pep talks and believing in yourself helps me keep going… which is sometimes easier said than done.
With wanting to get back to football and cricket next season, I use this as my end GOAL - and this is what gets me to work harder and stay 100% committed to my recovery!
4) What advice do you have for other athletes recovering from ACL surgery?
Some advice I’d give to other athletes is not to compare yourself or your progress to other people recovering from ACL surgery.
I found myself getting caught up in what other people were doing and started to question why I could or couldn’t do what they were doing.
At the time my twin sister ruptured her ACL as well and is currently going through her recovery at the same time. We had different grafts taken and we are of course different people. I used the hamstring graft for the first ACL surgery, and the quad tendon graft for the second surgery. My twin had the patellar tendon graft for her ACL surgery. Our recoveries were different due to the different grafts used and different strengths and weaknesses within our bodies. I had to constantly remind myself not to get caught up in what she was doing... and to stop comparing my recovery to other people. Every rehab is different. And I guess we have to remind ourselves that we all respond differently to these procedures.
5) Has this experience changed you in any way? What have you learned from it?
The experience certainly changes you in many ways! It makes you see everything from a different perspective and It makes you see things that you probably haven’t recognized before.
It makes you understand your body and your mental capacity more than you probably ever have.
This whole experience has made me a reasonably strong person for sure. My ‘mental toughness’ is probably the best it has ever been.
Yes, you have good and you have bad days but overall, you start to believe in yourself and start achieving goals - whether big or small.
Thank you Janelle for sharing your story and experience with athletes across the globe recovering from injury!
SPECIAL THANKS TO KEY PLAYERS IN JANELLE’s RECOVERY:
Dr. Stephen hutchinson, surgeon
timothy gough, physiotherapist