JP Herrera is currently a pilot. Before getting into aviation, he spent 5 years as an army lientenant. He has been playing soccer since the age of 3.
1) Can you share your ACL story?
I was playing soccer (on a turf field) - I just had a good and successful season (league promotion, cup trophy) and during my first post-season match I hyper-extended my left knee trying to cut a pass. The ER doctor told me it was just a patella subluxation and that I would be back in 30 days. It actually took me 90 days, and the first turn I took, I heard the pop and experienced the worst pain in my entire life. It's like a whole movie of your sports life starts going through your mind, and you see it all going away from you. It can be scary for people whose life is vastly based on playing sports.
2) What was the hardest part of the experience?
The period between the ACL injury and the surgery - the uncertainty of when/if I was getting the surgery, and being sent back and forth to general physicians and orthopedic doctors. The first week post-operation was tough; relying on other people (regardless of how much they love you) to help with the most basic hygiene tasks can be totally dejecting and depressing.
3) How did you stay motivated throughout the process?
Perceiving the whole process as just another challenge in life that several people have overcome, rather than the one limitation that would forever change everything my life was built upon (sports).
4) What tips/advice would you share with other athletes on the road to recovery?
- Do not dwell on the problem or injury
- Choose to focus only on what you have control over, which is the recovery
- Ensure your metabolism is working at its highest capacity
- Make sure you provide your body with every tool required to heal the graft as soon as possible
- Steadily push your rehab up to discomfort, but never to the pain limit.
5) Do you think these experiences have changed you as a person?
Absolutely. It implacably reminds us of how fragile our bodies, lifestyles and confidence are. And every time our parameters are lowered, we tend to feel blessed with the little things in life. It puts things in a whole new perspective.