In April of 2000 we were working on two on one sparring during the noon class. I was the target, while two of my friends and fellow students were the attackers. A low kick hit my knee from the side and within seconds on was lying on the mat with incredible pain in my knee. Within a week I was recovering from surgery for a torn ACL.
The surgery really wasn’t that bad. I was up and walking around, ditching the crutches within the first few days. I started physical therapy immediately, and felt pretty good about my progress.
Then, while I was doing one of the PT exercises at the therapy center, I felt a strong sharp pain in my quadracepts. A therapist was walking by, and I told him I thought I had torn my quad. “Nah, you couldn’t have done that” he said. So I did some more reps of the exercise and finished up my session.
The pain continued, but none of the therapists seemed concerned. But a few days later, I had the first muscle spasm in my leg. Wow that hurt. And then there was another. And another. Until I was experiencing debilitating leg was spasms periodically during the day and the night. The Doc told me that he wasn’t sure what the problem was, but that I could not have torn my quad. He told me to lay off the exercises, and to do massage and stretching during my sessions instead. I did. The spasms continued.
By now, over two months had gone by, and I couldn’t walk, sit, or lay down without muscle spasms in my leg. I went back to the Doc, and he told me he really didn’t know what to do for me, so he was going to have me try Muscular Dystrophy medicine.
As I left his office, I dropped the prescription in to the trash.
One of my student’s parents was an orthopedic surgeon at University of Arkansas Medical Science. That evening at the school, I told him what was going on. He called his office and got me an appointment to see him the next day. Several tests later, the results were in. I had indeed torn my quad. But the tear was in an unusual place, the “mushy” muscle beside the tendon. Essentially, my quad was unraveling, and we were dealing with a very rare injury. First move was to put me in a full leg cast from the ankle to the groin to immobilize the leg. In the month of July. In Arkansas. I was not a happy camper. I slept in the recliner for the entire month, it was just too difficult to try to sleep in bed. Driving my F-150 truck was a challenge, but I became pretty adept at braking with my left foot. My right foot stayed by the gas pedal since it was impossible to move my right leg.
A month later, the leg cast came off. Within a week the spasms were back. I can’t begin to describe how discouraged I was.
Did I mention that I had just bought the school? I had so much to do, so much to learn, and I was dealing with constant pain and frustration. I had been working out at least an hour or two a day, and now it was everything I could do to walk from my car to the house.
My Doc didn’t want to do surgery, he would have to cut open the muscle, and the tear was in the part of the muscle that would not respond well to stitching. Mushy like the part of the chicken breast next to the tendon was the way he described it. So the advice was…do nothing. Don’t exercise, don’t stretch, try to let it heal. I asked how long this was going to take, and he said he didn’t know.
It took two years. No martial arts, no running, no biking. No exercise at all. Every time I would venture out on the mats to try to work out, the leg would start aching and hurting in the vulnerable area. If I pushed it, the spasms started again.
The saga continues …next week.