Talia Schwartz is 32 year old gym rat, health nut, and baller from New York City. She managed to stay relatively injury-free playing basketball throughout high school, college, and afterwards in recreational leagues until the fall of 2017. After tearing her ACL, she consulted the orthopaedic team at the hospital where she works (as a speech pathologist) and underwent surgery. One year later, she is now rehabbed and better than ever!
1) Can you share your ACL story?
I tore my ACL playing basketball! I play in a league with mostly men and drove to the basket against a big dude- who didn't budge! I bounced off of him and twisted my knee- and there you have it. But I am now 1 year post-surgery and 100% back to my usual antics: playing ball again obviously!, squatting heavy, lifting all the weights, doing HIIT style workouts, etc. Aside from a little pain when fully bending my knee, I am as good as new! It took me about 6 months to feel like myself again, and about 9 months to really get good strength return in my right leg.
2) What was the first thing that went through your mind when you heard the pop?
Felt the pop, but didn't think much of it! My knee was throbbing after so I sat out that game. It was stiff for about 2 weeks... then I thought the worst was over- and started playing again! However, whenever I fully extended my knee I felt shooting pain. After about a month of ignoring this, I finally took myself to a doctor- who thought perhaps I had a small meniscus tear.
3) What were your initial thoughts when you were told you had a torn ACL?
I could not believe it (and frankly neither could the doctor). I had such good compensatory leg strength and knee stability that I was walking around just fine without one! I actually deliberated really hard for a month about whether or not to even get surgery. I consulted so many people and almost everyone said because of how active I am, it was a must! Otherwise I might be looking at a total knee replacement down the road. So I had a total ACL reconstruction using my own patellar tendon at the end of October 2017.
4) How did you stay motivated during the recovery?
Being on the sideline stinks! I wanted to get back out there! Years of athletics, fitness programs, and marathon training has taught me to just put your head down and get to work! I was religious with doing all of my exercises and was 100% compliant with everything my physical therapist told me to do. I was back to work after 3 weeks!. Aside from feeling awful for 5 days post-op (and the pain with bending the knee to prevent scar tissue formation), the physical challenge of knee rehabilitation wasn't so bad. The mental challenge of having to be patient and not do too much too quick was more frustrating! "Trust the process" they all said!
5) Do you think this injury has changed you in any way?
Yes - it taught me patience! It made me feel even more confident about my ability to overcome! It gave me a bit more empathy for my patients with limitations and/or in pain! (I work in a hospital). It showed me the world of orthopaedic surgery and physical therapy! and lastly... it made my upper body REALLY strong because that's all I could lift for 6 months!! :)
Thank you Talia for sharing your story and experience with the XCLevation community!