I was talking to a friend of mine at work today when the conversation inevitably turned to my knee surgery and my quest to become athletic once again. He asked me if I would “ever be 100% again”, and I had a sudden realization: I’ve been playing hurt for so long that I don’t even know what 100% feels like anymore. That’s not being melodramatic, either. I haven’t been fully healthy for about 7 years now, and I just got used to playing that way. I think it’s stupid to try to assign a seemingly arbitrary percentage to your health, but I’m going to anyway. If I had to ballpark it, I would guess that over the past 7 years I’ve played at anywhere from 80-90% of my full capacity. Which is strange, because I never really thought about it at the time. To me, it’s going to feel like I’m coming back at about 110% because I’m so used to playing with injuries. Now I’m really excited to finish up the rehab process so that I can see what’s it’s like to be fully healthy again instead of feeling like Jake Taylor every time I take the field.
I had kind of a similar conversation with my surgeon during a pre-op visit a few months ago. He told me he could fix both my ACL and my PCL, but that PCL grafts are usually only about 80% as good as the original (again, a seemingly arbitrary number). I told him that would be a huge upgrade from my current PCL, which was residing somewhere in the neighborhood of 0%, so he shouldn’t worry too much about it.
As far as rehab goes, I’m still doing the same exercises that I’ve been doing since day 1: quad sets, short arc quad extensions, and straight leg lifts. If you watch those videos, you can see that they’re just about the most basic leg exercises you can do. Quad sets, for example, consist of flexing your quadriceps for 5 seconds and then relaxing. But they’re still pretty difficult to do when your leg has atrophied like this:
My once-powerful right leg has essentially been reduced to the strength level of an infant. All its muscles have just shriveled up since my surgery, and my hamstrings and calf muscles are continuing their downward spiral into nonexistence since I can’t do any exercises for them yet. I’m pretty much confined to just doing basic quad exercises for the foreseeable future. As a guy whose leg strength used to allow him to dominate team dunk contests before indoor baseball practices*, this just drives me crazy.
*There were never any “official” winners of these contests, but I crowned myself the unofficial winner on several occasions. Also, we were dunking baseballs, not basketballs. But they were thunderous baseball dunks.