It was at the top of a mountain that it happened. My skis went careening to the right, my body was falling to the left and my left knee was the unhappy fulcrum. Something had to give. So only a couple of days shy of a new year, it was my left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that took one for the team. I'd like to tell you that I blew it out while it was shredding it on a totally gnarly run down a double black diamond, but no. It was just good entertainment for the liftie as I fumbled off to go down a green.
|the scene of the crime- almost the very spot|
So life went on and we got back home and appointments were made and an MRI was scheduled and then read and- low and behold- it was just as I thought. My doctor explained that I had significant contusions on my lateral tibia and femur and my ACL was indeed torn. He explained my options (sort of like Miranda rights for the injured) and gave me some time to think about
how elderly he made my 35 years out to be whether or not I wanted to have it repaired. The discovery of a hernia threw another medical variable in the mix, delaying the repair significantly so that I could have one surgery date instead of two, but May 10th was finally decided upon by both my general surgeon and my orthopedic one. I would have the ACL-hernia repair combo, please, with a side of Percocet.
Meanwhile, I had been progressively improving. I was running short distances and following a fairly normal workout routine. I knew my friend Kathy was praying and praying and praying for my knee- she really didn't want me to have to have the surgery. My worry-prone husband Jack was constantly requesting prayer for my knee and surgery and he was praying, too. I was praying for wisdom in navigating the medical decisions but wasn't too worried about it all- ever. There was some sort of peace that I had about the whole thing from the beginning and I knew that Jack had the worry department covered. Come to find out, he really had the prayer department covered, too.
So May 10th came and to the surgery center we went and I woke up to some strong pain and some good news:
No ACL repair needed.
What happened? It took me a week before I could get back to see the orthopedist for the full story, but that was my question for him yesterday.
Here was his answer:
The MRI results did indicate a tear, but the bone contusions and swelling may have clouded the view of a very small part of my ACL still holding. There is a stress-strain curve that ligaments like the ACL follow to the point of failure. Mine may have been at the top of that curve- almost to the point of failure but not at the point of complete rupture. That was his theory.
But even if that was how it happened, he explains, it is very unusual to have had it heal like it did. "We don't usually see this," he said. The picture below (IMG_006) is an arthroscopic view of my ACL. The fibers are white with a blood supply running from the bottom left to the top right. It is a beautiful and strong ligament and I don't know about you, but it looks like it was never even close to torn to me.
He further explained that after I was under anesthesia, he checked my knee manually and scratched his head so to speak- it seemed so much more stable. He usually takes the hamstring graft first (this is how it was going to be repaired- a piece of my hamstring would be taken to use to repair the ACL), but he held off on harvesting the tendon and instead made two incisions on either side of my knee for the scope. Of course he saw my healed and whole ACL but he was able to smooth the back side of my patella which was torn up and rough, so the procedure had served a good and necessary purpose without a hard recovery.
I don't know if Jack prayed for all of this specifically, but it seems like the best outcome possible- good and necessary procedures without a difficult recovery with some divine healing thrown in there.
Psalm 29:2 exhorts us to "ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name." Having kept an online and public web log for seven years, I share a good bit of my life, but medical information is generally something I don't. However, when you have people pray like that and the Lord moves like that, it just seems wrong to keep it to myself. I must ascribe the glory to Him for this, my ligament miracle.
Of course, God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He gives and He takes away because He knows the beginning and the end. He could have answered our prayers in a number of different ways but I think that maybe this is His kindness in action or maybe He just has plans for me and this flesh and bone vessel He has given me for now and I need to be strong and whole for what's ahead. I don't know.
All I know is that I'm grateful to be almost 100% again.
So thank you, Lord, for Your hand on me through all of this. Thank you for my friends and family and especially my husband who was so faithful to pray. And lead and guide me and use me for what's next.