Ripped, Repaired, & Rehab
Mr. C's Story

February 9, 2008 through March 5, 2017

To the many fine people who have taken the time to write to me
: I have never met most of you, but you have made a positive difference in my life!  The fact that you took time to write to encourage me or ask a question (as if I'm sort of expert) was pretty cool.  I have tried, and will continue to try, to give the best advice/tips/hope that I can provide.  Also, I'll tell it like it is.  If it hurt like crazy (and it did), I'll tell you that.  But, I'll always end with something positive because that has definitely been my experience with this blessing in disguise.

NO RETREAT...NO SURRENDER!

An injury that I've always dreaded finally came to a knee on me. 
This is my story of the long road back to the racquetball courts...
and, seven years later, eventually accomplishing what I had set out to do--
win the "A" division at the annual Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament (the 37th).

Sat., Feb. 9, 2008: Playing Matt Tarkett (Omaha, NE) in the second round of the "A" division in the 30th annual Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament; midway through the first game, I jumped up to avoid a hard-hit ball blasted directly toward the back of my legs; the ball went under me, but when I landed, my left lower leg bent sharply to my left; I fell down in searing pain and clutched my knee; I knew immediately that this wasn't merely an "average" injury; I had to forfeit the match because I could not walk; the slightest movement of my left leg brought intense pain the rest of the day; I was praying that it was simply a very bad sprain
ACLinjuryNCarolina.jpg (33522 bytes)
Bobby Frasor (NC Tar Heels) tore his ACL on Dec. 27, 2007--out for season (click on picture to see the pain in his face of an ACL victim--that was my face)
Sun., Feb. 10: Actually slept okay thanks to more than one Advil tablet; the intense pain subsided, but the knee was very sore; I could move my knee around just a little bit without wincing with pain; crutches were necessary (2 different friends got me 2 different crutches); I got home and serious icing, elevating of the knee, and resting began
Mon., Feb. 11: Missed school; had appointment at clinic with Dr. Reynen at 9:30; he thought it might've been a bad sprain and no tear; I was thrilled about that news!!; had an X-ray taken that revealed no break; leg was progressing very well-I could limp around without crutches and even did some squats at home in the afternoon without weights
Tues., Feb. 12: Missed school again; flexibility in my knee continued to improve--I really liked the progress I noticed each morning upon waking up; didn't really need crutches-just used them to make my way down the school halls at night to prepare for the substitute
Wed., Feb. 13:  I will finally return to school tomorrow, but I am not pleased with my knee; this is the first day that I didn't feel any improvement over the previous day.  I don't want to get stuck in neutral!  I continue to ice, rest, and elevate.
Thurs., Feb. 14: I finally returned to school and had to limp around--I don't want to use the crutches.  My knee seemed to be slightly more sore today--DARN!  At least I know that it will eventually be fine, though, otherwise I'd go crazy.
Fri., Feb 15: Knee is still sore; have a spot just above the inside of my left ankle that feels bruised--stupid surprise!; flexibility is improving a bit; still don't know if I tore something; I really want to win the "A" division again at Unity next month--I can't give up on that goal
Sat., Feb. 16:  Wade Van Dover checked out my knee at a basketball tournament I attended; he said that "it would be a miracle if nothing was torn"--terrible, terrible news; he gave me exercises to do; when I do them, it feels like my knee fills up with junk and it gets very uncomfortable; he recommended that I use crutches as my right knee is now experiencing pain, too; I hate walking around
Sun., Feb. 17:  Terrible day--getting sick, back aches, and I have come to the realization that Wade Van Dover is probably correct in his prediction--something is torn
Mon., Feb. 18: President's Day--went nowhere; ice, elevate, and rest continue; not noticing any vast improvement
Tues., Feb. 19: Missed school for fourth day due to injury (I have missed 3.5 days in 14 years due to illness up to this point); had my MRI at the Milbank hospital at 11:00 this morning (cost is $1,200 and about 170 pictures are taken); I am dreading the report on my knee; I am sure it's a torn ACL; if it's not torn, I will feel like a Dolphin Super Bowl win just occurred; but, something (maybe the pain and stiffness) tells me to expect the worst and 6-8 months of rehab and agony; I so hope I'm wrong!
Wed., Feb. 20: It's great to be at school again, but...the bad news came about 3:54 in an e-mail from Dr. Reynen--torn ACL--out of action for 6-8 months--RATS!! One bad landing on a jump has cost me dearly; I am eagerly anticipating surgery and rehab and being "normal" again
Thurs., Feb. 21: Dr. Milbank Reynen helped me set up an appointment with Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen (his older brother) for tomorrow in Sioux Falls; I want to get going on this ASAP and, unfortunately, that means missing another day of school; nice to have a doctor with connections!
Fri., Feb. 22: Day 5 of missed school; left for Sioux Falls at 6:45 A.M. to meet Dr. Reynen at Sanford; though I am ready for surgery right now, we set the appointment for the earliest possible date-March 4; appointment was at 10:00 and I was home by 12:30; he checked out my knee and offered solutions (types of grafts); he prefers to use the patellar graft; he informed me of the risks involved (infection, some don't awaken from anesthesia, etc.); I feel that the risks are well worth taking; Dr. Reynen seems trustworthy, confident, and caring--I have no question that he is a very capable surgeon
Sat., Feb. 23: I am so thankful that my injury isn't any worse--CR told me about the Hill City wrestler who was paralyzed in a match last week; my mental approach to this injury is "No retreat, no surrender"!
Sun., Feb. 24: I've been reading blogs and web sites about ACL injuries all of the time; I am learning so much about this injury; what I just read scared me--one athlete said the surgery means intense pain and that sleeping is totally distracted--life isn't enjoyable for at least a couple of weeks; I will try to take the advice of many and make this the best possible experience that I can; this journal may help somebody in the future, too
Things to do BEFORE surgery: clip toe nails short, get movies from friends, know what you're going to do for ice, purchase a cloth tape measure and take measurements of thigh, calf, around knee, and weight--they may be useful later; run all errands downtown, purchase a bottle of Metamucil (sp?); have a plan for elevation (board, blankets, etc.);  I recommend having a small cooler nearby at all times loaded with drinks; don't spend much time at home before your surgery--you will get absolutely sick of it in no time; plan to get your brace directly from the doctor on the day of surgery (you probably want to call his office first to check availability)-I borrowed from friends and found that braces can become quickly outdated--I'd recommend going for the most updated brace possible; get some Activon; hide any questionable materials :)...
Mon., Feb. 25: I am limping at work because my knee hurts--my right one, too, from the extra stress I'm placing on it; improvement is non-existent; I am beginning to have doubts that my knees will ever feel good again; my legs need lots of rest at night, but I have to lift weights, too
Tues., Feb. 26: A week away from surgery--feeling nervous; still hobbling--probably should crutch it up; both knees are sore
Thurs., Feb. 28: Used crutches in school to ensure that I'm not adding to any swelling-- tired of limping; the limping has caused pain in my right knee, as much if not more than in my injured left knee; pain in both knees meant trouble standing still during player introductions at tonight's Milbank-Sioux Valley girls basketball match-up--I had to sit down; long walks are hard on me--make me feel like I'm injuring both of my knees; went to Big Stone Therapies today at 2:30 and went over some strengthening exercises with Heidi Pauli (she is great/very knowledgeable); she predicted that I'll be up and going in 10-12 weeks; she also predicted that I may have torn my cartilage a little bit--I hope she's wrong!; she assured me that it will all go very well and that it's wise for me to keep my appointment for next Thursday (two days after surgery)
Fri., Feb. 29: Grateful for this extra day in February as it means I'll be healed one day earlier in the summer; used crutches at school today and yesterday in order to minimize any swelling and take pressure off of both knees; Matt Mikkelson (tore ACL many months ago) brought me his $475 knee brace from Sioux Falls and told me to use it until I was done
One of my BIGGEST recommendations:  Call the hospital and request that you go home with a Continuous Motion Machine on the day of your surgery--I really believe that I set myself back by not having one!!
Sun., March 2: Walking around without crutches; try to walk normally for my right knee's sake; pain is easy to find on the inside of my left knee if I bend it a certain way; I can jog very lightly for about 8 repetitions; there is NO WAY that I'd want to run on it; feels like it could slip out of place
Mon., March 3: Tomorrow is the BIG day! I am nervous. Of course, I want the surgery to go perfectly--I just don't want them to find any surprises (like torn cartilage, a torn PCL, etc.). I am a bit worried, too, about coming out of anesthesia.  I don't want to come out of that thinking I fully support the New England Patriots.
     Eating and drinking will cease for me at 11:00 tonight.  I am supposed to be at the surgery center (or whatever it's called) at 8:30.  My surgery is scheduled for 10:30.  Fortunately, my mom is going with me and she will drive me home (oh my gosh, I'm worried about that now, too).
     I have a lot of questions about how to handle those first 72 hours after surgery.  I will compile a list of questions for my mom to ask the surgeon after he repairs my knee.
     Current measurements at 11:32 P.M.:
          right knee: 15 1/4" (good knee, extended, directly over knee cap):
          left knee: 15 1/2" (not good knee):
          right calf:  16 3/8"  (thickest part while seated)
          left calf: 16 5/8"   (thickest part while seated)
          weight: 194 (shorts, T-shirt, no shoes)
     Today was the best day of walking for me; my limp wasn't quite as apparent as in weeks and days past.  I did not use crutches and my knee feels okay right now.
What knee is injured? As you look at this picture, it's the one on the right. It has lost some definition. It seems to be slightly swollen.  I hope this doesn't mess up plans for tomorrow morning's surgery.  I am excited to get this surgery going and over with!
Tues., March 4: On a day when I thought I would be the lead story on "SportsCenter," Brett Favre had to steal the show by confirming his retirement--ESPN devoted the day to Favre--oh, well--Mom and I left Milbank at 6:02 A.M.; arrived at 8:16 A.M. inside the Surgical Center in Sioux Falls (yes, I check my watch frequently); was taken to a "pre-surgery" room for my IV and plenty of forms and questioning; around 10:15 a nurse entered, put me in a wheelchair and took me to a surreal, weird-looking level where everyone sported blue outfits and blue caps and then there were other  people who looked to be hating life and/or sleeping while being carted to and from different rooms; about five employees were in my surgery room--a couple of the younger guys were talking to me about racquetball for a few minutes...and then I asked one of the men how long it would be before I was "knocked out"....he replied "about ten seconds" and then asked me if I had any final words....I replied "Go Dolphins"....and I remember nothing after that...
     I woke up feeling groggy, but my stomach felt fine; actually, I felt a whole lot better than I thought I would; as I was slowly returning to my senses, Dr. Reynen was meeting with my mom (I had typed out some questions for her to ask him such as "Was my ACL completely torn?" to which he replied "Yes");  surgery lasted 1.5 hours, but I had no sense of time; I was taken back to the "pre-surgery" room for rest, some toast, and a Sprite; I felt extremely tired; by 2:00 I was feeling better; I wasn't in a whole lot of pain (yet); by 3:00 I was excited to leave; right before leaving, however, I began to feel quite tired/almost faint;  sorry, eighth graders, but I can't report that I vomited--I left without incident and a very sore leg (more and more soreness gradually came)...
      Arrived home about 7:00; using crutches, for sure--I can't imagine the pain that stepping on my leg would bring; I elevated it all evening as I listened, sadly, to the Bulldogs lose their region championship game by four points to Sioux Valley;  I am moving my left foot as much as possible and I am popping the pain pills---can't wait for the next one at 11:00 P.M.!!!
     Dr. Reynen told my mom that it would be best to stay home for the next two weeks, if possible--that would probably kill me---perhaps I'll compromise...
     The high point of my day? Walking into the house to see a balloon and card from my great friends in Watertown---THANKS CR, Ali, & Liam--that was really, really cool!!-I am convinced that I have the best assortment of friends in the world; I love my eighth graders this year, so that has made this experience a whole lot easier on me, too!!...
     Dr. Reynen said that I can expect a full recovery...right before my surgery, he fixed another guy's ACL---took any worries regarding his experience away from me; I know I had the right guy perform this surgery--with the last name Reynen, you can't go wrong!
     Below are a few of my pictures from today...

Not nervous before surgery--flashing the "1-3"

Mar 4 a Pre-surgery.jpg (24705 bytes)

Not a pretty sight; after surgery; dazed--can I blame all of this ugly on the photographer (Mrs. C)?

Mar 4 b Post-surgery.jpg (26862 bytes)

THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THE MANY PRAYERS AND WISHES OF "GOOD LUCK"--I know it helped and I now owe you!!!!!!!!!

No pain, no gain---so there had better be a heckuva lotta GAIN!

Mar 4 f Post-surgeryHome.jpg (34526 bytes)

At home; notice balloon, remote, crutches--all necessities!

Mar 4 h Home elevate.jpg (38463 bytes)

Tues., March 4 (continued from above): ...now the long process of rehab begins; I will attempt to bend my leg tomorrow without a drum roll; I set up an appointment with the physical therapist for this Thursday; I can't wait to ditch the crutches and beat Scotty Mue on the basketball court!!
     Moving my leg tonight has required assistance from my parents; keeping leg in locked, fully-extended leg brace; the pain is building
     GO DOLPHINS!
Wed., March 5:  TERRIBLE FIRST NIGHT!!! Man, this hurts!  I slept for 15 minutes (at the most)--stayed up the entire night watching TV and trying to get comfortable--never happened; everything that I had read on the Internet about pain was accurate; made a "ramp" out of blankets, pillows, and a couch cushion and had help moving my leg onto that ramp in order to elevate--I can't budge my leg--feels as if it weighs 500+  pounds; can make circles with my left ankle, however; for some reason, I overlooked the anti-inflammatory pills all night and morning--I was taking the pain-killing pills; a lady from Sanford called to do some follow-up on me--this made me realize that I had better get all of my pills going and ice and unlock my brace when not standing--feel very lucky (and stupid) that she called...
     The pain has begun to subside a little bit; by late this afternoon, I was able to slide my good leg (right) under my injured leg (left) and prop it up onto the pillow ramp; took a decent nap this afternoon--first decent sleep since night before surgery; the pain has lessened a bit whenever somebody moves my leg; I am eating healthy (normal appetite) and drinking Gatorade regularly; I started to bend my knee early in the evening, but it was such a little bend that it was probably not noticeable to somebody else...
     Advice for others for first day post-surgery:  be mentally prepared for a LOT of pain; have somebody around who can move your leg for you; have plenty of back-up batteries for the remote (if my current batteries die, I will probably die, too); don't take all phone calls; no comfortable position exists for the first 24 hours; have Activon ready for back pain; keep pills in many different areas--no telling where you'll be when it's time to take them; crutches are a must-have!; play your GameBoy to divert your attention away from the pain...I am taking Hydrocodone to help ease the pain...
     I feel like my knee has a LONG way to go--I can't imagine stepping down on it; seems like I should be bending my knee, but pain prevents me from working on it
Thurs., March 6: Finally got some sleep last night after finding a comfortable position (lie on left side with bench straddled over left leg and right let propped up on that bench; pain in leg comes and goes); I had three different sleeping spells last night--first one went for 2 hours; second went about an hour, and third went another couple of hours; awoke to a hurting, aching knee; I was excited to see if I could bend it a little bit more but couldn't; tough to move leg around--easier to have somebody lift it--but I can get it propped up on the ramp for elevation; don't know how icing is benefiting me--how can it get through all of the bandages?...
     Today was almost worse pain-wise; tonight I'm in a world of hurt; what went wrong?; it's 7:20 right now and I am NOT looking forward to the night---don't think I'll sleep...
     Went to the physical therapist today at 2:00--Heidi Pauli knows her stuff; I spent 45 minutes there and, since returning, my knee goes through intense pain spasms that make me violently scream "I hate Kelo-land TV, purple blankets, and ballpoint pens"--these painspells are now frequent and last about 3 minutes each time; Heidi took off all bandages--the knee is HUGE--very swollen--and she applied new bandages; she went over 6 exercises with me--felt like she did all the moving on some of them, but she said she could tell when I was pushing; she had me walk very lightly on the bad leg using crutches--heel-to-toe, but very, very lightly!; she said I hit about 20 or 30 degrees in range...
     Dr. Reynen recommended that I stay home for two weeks--Heidi agrees---school is questionable at best next week; knee is in so much pain now that I don't want to type anymore...
   ...and I didn't type anymore--it's actually Friday now--but I have to stress the high level of pain I went through last evening--I am guessing it had something to do with the physical therapy, not my embarrassing performances on "Dig Dug" (Gameboy game);  honestly, I was just about ready to cry around 9:00 due to overwhelming pain; my leg felt like exploding; I would rate my condition as going from bad to worse
Fri., March 7: Day 3-Rhianna's birthday today (niece who turns 6)--she won't be playing tag with Uncle Geggy tonight--Uncle Geggy hasn't had such a good day; leg feels more swollen than ever--eased the tightness of the Ace bandage around my leg last night and surely didn't take the time to tighten it back up today;  it's 6:05 right now and I've stood up twice today for about 58 seconds each time--both times to go to the bathroom--the blood seems to drain directly back into the leg and I get the possible explosion feeling; needless to say, I hate going to the bathroom; I have learned to scoot around on the floor--work my triceps--when going from room-to-room; the pain in my back is very irritating--my back is very angry with me and wants me to lie on my stomach, but that can't happen; let it go on my record that I've decided to sneak additional pain pills between my actual must-take times; I went into this ordeal as a cellar-dweller in a league of pill takers...but I am now at the professional level...
     I haven't done my exercises today, but I will give them a shot tonight and pray to God that the pain I felt last night doesn't return; I will do two sets of each exercise...
     I talked to 2 people with this type of surgery--both said that the things I'm dealing with are exactly what they dealt with--nice to know I'm in the ballpark; plenty of calls continue to come in--Principal Snaza even called this afternoon and told me to take my time--he is one awesome boss!
     If I had to compare my leg today with yesterday, I would say no improvement has been made; the swelling is not under control; but, hopefully the ironing board (now being used as my ramp instead of the pillows, blankets, and couch cushions) will make a difference--I had my leg at a 45-degree angle from 2:00-5:00...
     I'm going to scoot back into the living room and get ready for supper now...I'll follow up with the results of my exercises later...
     Oh, one more thing...my dad was putting clean socks on my feet in my bedroom yesterday before going to the therapist; he knelt down and crunched his knee and then followed that up with slicing his ear on one of my drawers--he said, "That's a dangerous bedroom and nobody should go into it"--injuries run in the family these days...
     Did some of my exercises around 10:30 tonight (heel slide, book under foot, front leg raises, quad pushes, and ankles rolls--2 sets of 8-10 reps each); minimal pain--very weak--Dad did 97% of work, but I tried; elevated and iced leg most of night in usual spot...
     Been sleeping on the living room floor every night; have yet to shower and my dad verbally and non-verbally lets me know this; leg is as sore as ever; don't see any difference in swelling

3-7-08: Sitting back in the living room--not exactly enjoying life a whole lot; I now have a direct impact on the messiness of the house

Leg resting on ironing board--later that evening, my leg slipped off of the ironing board leading to a leg disaster/unbearable pain and thoughts of inappropriate language
Before going in for surgery, make sure you have purchased your Advil/Aleve, have several pillows available, fresh batteries, towels, and ice ready to be used.  Stockpile some fruit and get a bottle of multi-vitamins.  Don't be shy and ask to borrow some of my old, classic Dolphin games on DVD.
Sat., March 8:  Day 4 after surgery-Slept some (three increments of about 1 hr. and 45 min. each?); woke up same old, same old; after talking to sister-in-law, she thinks I should be up and moving around a little more rather than being on my back and elevating the leg most of the time; so, I started lifting some weights (upper body)--whatever strength I had before surgery is long gone; I'm very weak right now...
     This is Day 4 post-op for me--one guy said he was walking around without crutches on Day 5 (his brace was locked fully extended)-I don't see myself walking until Day 10, if ever, at this point...
     Biggest goal of the day?  Shower!
     5:31 P.M.: still don't know about that shower yet--and then the Duke-NC game will be another reason not to take it; have a pretty lengthy beard going--nieces don't like it at all; I am growing impatient--I thought the surgery went very well, the ride home was fine...and it's been downhill ever since; making matters worse, I am reading a few ACL surgery/rehab blogs and I'm hearing "I was off crutches in five days" and "I was doing front leg raises the second day"--I can't even think about a front leg raise at this point....just another miserable day--did talk to a friend who told me not to worry and that I'm right on track--that helped me until I realized I want to be ahead of schedule in EVERYTHING!  Pain in leg continues to be sporadic...swelling is major...can bend at knee very, very little... Another major question: How come I was able to move my leg around better the first three days compared to the last two days?  
     Later: never did get to the shower--not feeling it--tomorrow sounds better for a shower despite thick facial hair and more on the sides of my head....
     I experienced the WORST pain since the actual injury tonight; with my foot elevated on the ironing board, I briefly lost my focus and allowed my leg to slip left and off of the board--EXCRUCIATING PAIN!!!--but reflexes, I suppose, took over and I yanked my leg back onto the board (it was only my foot that actually went off of the board)--I could feel a sharp pain directly in my left knee and knew that I had to take my leg down immediately (relieves sharp pain to rest it on the floor (level); well, I asked my dad to help take my aching leg down as he had several times before; he is to support my left heel and the back of my left knee; he failed to support the left knee as it was going down and it felt like my leg was going to split into two pieces--he continued to lower it as I screamed loudly until it was about halfway down--at the halfway point, I realized that there wasn't enough room to place my entire leg (wall was too close) and the worst pain ever jolted my knee, I had to scream "Put it back up on the board!!!!"; he did; the pain was terrible; I slid my leg down the board as I backed up with my arms--instantly sweating and miserable--I won't go on anymore about this, but I had my mom put that ironing board away--I never want to see it again; I talked to a friend who was actually leaving a message on the answering machine as my dad tried to lower my leg and he calmed my fears by saying there was no way that my new tendon could've come away from the screws; about two hours after the worst pain ever, I did rehab it--still no front leg raises and my heel slides are pathetic (1/2 inch??); I am going to elevate my leg with a single couch cushion from now on (height: 6")

Saturday, March 8:
My beat-up knee says "Hello."
Can you see the face on my knee?
The yellow on my leg in no way relates
to what the New England Patsies did
in this year's Super Bowl game.

Are you able to tell which knee was operated on? Please keep in mind that I may have doctored one knee by inflating it with helium in an attempt to fake you out. 
     **I don't want to run a mile today. 
Thank you.

Kicking a soccer ball with my injured knee would be one of the most idiotic things I could ever do...so I won't.
Sun., March 9:  Day 5-Best night of sleep so far came last night--I'd estimate 5-6 hours; knee is stiff each morning; try to get ice on it as soon as possible (by the way, I ice my left leg throughout the night on/off); the dam broke at 1:00--a few close friends know what that means (classic story); going to do my rehab exercises shortly; knee movement is still minimal, but I can feel some strength beginning to return; still brings pain to move the knee around, but not as much as 3-4 days ago; can't tell if the swelling has gone down any despite all of the icing, rest, and elevation...again, I continue to take Hydrocodone to help ease the pain..
     Will probably miss entire upcoming week of school unless drastic improvement takes place...
     Uncomfortable evening--is the rehab causing this??; knee throbbed despite taking it easy--just a rotten late afternoon to right now (9:39 P.M.) and I don't know if I can expect any improvement before sleeping; I was feeling great early in the afternoon and was thinking that I was through the very worst of it--WRONG ANSWER!!!  
     Would I do anything differently before my date of surgery?  Absolutely! I will list those things later...I'm finding out that I could've done a lot more to help myself!
     Suck it up, Cantine!  Stay the course!!  No surrender...no retreat!!!
Mon., March 10:  Day 6 (Post-Operation)-If anyone out there ever has an ACL injury, do NOT be like me by surfing the web and reading all of these blogs that contain miraculous recoveries from ACL injuries.  I had been reading things like "I was off of crutches in five days" and "I did front leg raises with my injured leg on the third day after surgery."  Yes, those things might be true, but it AIN'T the norm!! My physical therapist told me that I have to cease surfing the web unless it's about Dolphin football--even then she's a bit hesitant. So, after I had my 4:00 appointment, I returned home with a new "Game on" face.  I am exactly where I need to be, should be.  Worry no more...just work hard and do my best.
     I didn't feel that great most of the day; uncomfortable; I have had it with TV--sick and tired of poor programming--so I just turned it off; tomorrow I'm hitting the movies I've been looking forward to seeing (Thanks, Reidburns!--Gladiator will be movie number one); sore back; can't raise injured leg at all--not even a half inch off the ground for a million dollars; worrying about right leg giving out now--I need to keep exercising it; my overall strength has gone way down; I am like one pathetic loser...who is on his way back, baby!!!  I shall return!
     Awoke from unusual afternoon nap feeling groggy and just plain bad--thoughts of calling off the appointment with the therapist crossed my mind, but...
     Therapy went well--came home with a cooling machine and put the ice packs from the 1940s away---feels good to be in the 21st century and using technology like this cooling machine (wish I had it a week ago); still no need for a cell phone, though; I have not been in too much pain tonight--pretty comfortable, even sitting up; not looking forward to sleeping, though, as I know how that goes; still sleeping on floor, not in bed cuz it's too hard to get the leg up and onto the bed; Heidi told me to go with two pillows for elevation (un-stacked--place under entire leg); no more ironing board, table board, book and blanket stacks--YES!!! Also, she told me to start taking Advil or Aleve (anti-inflammatory) and to tighten up my leg brace even if it brings about lots of pain--the compression is important...
     I want to get back to school so badly!!  It is so boring at home--I want to be somewhere where there's a challenge!  Give me a kid who misbehaves and see if I can figure out what to do!
     Time for another therapy session on my own (10:05 P.M.); perhaps a good workout will make sleeping easier; then it's on to 45 minutes of the wonderful cooling machine...

     I found this interview interesting: http://www.stockton.edu/ospreys/ACL/QuestionsAclKeelan.htm
The fabulous cooling machine that I should asked for immediately...

Cold spreads rapidly to a large surface area--so easy to use that my mom was able to figure it out!
Tues., March 11:  Day 7 (Post-Operation)-I'm celebrating my one week anniversary of surgery without too much pain; I'm wrapping those straps tightly on the brace for better compression; I think I can finally say that I see a definite difference in swelling--at this rate, I'll be in great shape by this weekend; haven't taken my regular dose of pain pills and it doesn't seem to be affecting me too much...
     But, pain remains when walking; sensation of explosion in my leg has mostly left when standing for a period of time; straight front leg raises still aren't happening without help; heel slides are coming along but flexion is less than 45 degrees...
     Had best sleep in a week last night; two sleeping segments with a 90-minute "break" in between...
     Going to therapy yesterday has been a huge key; it's really gotten me going in the right direction....
     Eating lots of fruit and other healthy stuff--very rare for me, but we'll see if it helps speed the recovery...
     Did therapy this morning-will do it again in about 20 minutes-and then again tonight before sleep; will also be going to school for first time in over a week to do grades, prep for my sub, and much more...
     Later: worked hard during my second workout and then got some quality icing; rested, ate supper, rested, and then all downhill for the rest of the night...
     The roller coaster ride that I'm on took a tremendous dip--My mom drove me up to school so that I could work on grades and plans for the sub and lots of other stuff; in the process of being there, I really, really, really irritated my leg even though I was sitting down; I got home and my leg felt very different (overly sensitive, lots of tingling, quite uncomfortable, etc.); I was unable to do my exercises because of it and, right now, I feel defeated; after carefully examining my knee, I noticed a spot on the inside of my knee that appears to be badly bruised--I then noticed that it continues going to the back of my knee--looks very painful, but the fact that it itches is the greater problem (blood clot? something else not right?);  this worries me
Wed., March 12:  Day 8 (Post-Operation)-bad, bad night of sleep (3 total hours?)--leg bothered me--worrying about the large dark purple spot probably didn't help--I'd just like to know where the heck tha-t came from--maybe I can find out at my 4:00 physical therapy appointment later on today...
     I plan to do my rehab exercises despite the horrible-looking bruise; if there is pain, though, I will stop...
     My leg feels lighter this morning, but a front leg raise is a no-go...
     Plan to take second shower since surgery (YEAH!!) and have a good day--we'll see what the knee says about all of that, though...
     11:00 workout went pretty well--not much pain; then iced knee area for 40 minutes; feels okay right now 1.25 hours later
     Went to therapy appt. at 4:00--another great, relieving session; first, Heidi told me that the bruising/discoloration that I've been so worried about since noticing how bad it was last night (see pictures of bruising below) is perfectly normal--she sees this type of massive bruising frequently after ACL surgery--she said that it's most likely a result from attaching the ligament to the bone--nice to know I won't be losing my leg; Heidi sees progress such as less help with the front leg raises and a decrease in swelling; I was hooked up to the E-STIM machine for 10 minutes; Heidi massaged my knee and slightly moved the knee cap inward; I did a seated heel slide and my flexion was measured at 45-48 degrees--Heidi said she expects me to be at 90 degrees a month after surgery (April 4)--as Curt told me, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION; she would like me to be at 75 degrees by next Friday--these goals will require commitment and pushing through some pain; she warned me that returning to school will bring about some serious pain, mainly because my leg won't be used to the sitting and the standing; I was thrilled to report that I hadn't checked out any ACL blogs since being told to stop it...
     I haven't slept all day, this coming after 3 hours of sleep last night; maybe I'll get through the entire night tonight!!!
     I am going to give my leg some good, long icings and another intense workout tonight.  I can say that it was a positive day--moving forward...especially relieved about the news of my bruised knee...
     Later on...  I did get that workout in--combined it with some upper body stuff as well; had a 35-pound dumbell sitting upright on the floor--where did that have to fall?--yes, on my left knee--OUCH!!!--um, I might want to be more careful; I was totally uncomfortable about a half hour after finishing the workout--leg was throbbing, foot hurt, back of my knee was burning (from the bruise??), back was killing me, etc.---then, my dad hauled my brother's mattress out into the living room; I got on that and it was HEAVEN; I released the brace, began icing, and didn't move...
     Continue to ride the coaster--up, down, up, down, up, down, up; once I think I have it made, another pain puts me back in my place---to be expected--this is called ACL surgery and rehab, baby!!  There's a reason people don't get in big lines on the weekend to purchase a ticket for ACL surgery and rehab.

This is a picture of the discoloration that I was so worried about last night.  Purplish-black-reddish isn't a color that made me feel comfortable...until Heidi explained it to me

A second shot of the area that ruined hopes of a good night's sleep last night.  Now that I know what it is, I kind of like it.
  Thurs., March 13:  Day 9 (Post-Operation)-I am currently missing my 12th day of the school year due to this injury; missing school is a horrible feeling, but I have no choice...next Monday and Tuesday remain up in the air; I have my follow-up meeting with Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen tomorrow morning at 9:30 in SF--he'll tell me what I should and shouldn't be doing; I am excited to hear his opinions--he better not say "Redo"...
     I slept for 5 hours in all last night; pain--more discomfort at this point--wakens me and it's very difficult to get back to sleep; I will have a visitor today who is capable of throwing me over the garage if I dare yawn--that's you, CR...
     I'm going to take another picture of the swelling in my knee--I think it has gone down considerably--the picture will be at the bottom of this entry later...
     3:28 P.M.--had two friends stop by--great way to break up day!!!!  Can best describe leg as agitated, though it is "stable-agitated" for the most part; have taken just one pain pill today--slowly trying to end those; can't do front leg raise today--parents say that I am doing most of the raise, but I have my doubts as I stained as hard as I could to get that leg up a quarter of an inch...my heel slides weren't as good today as they were yesterday...
     Later--I continue to take it easy; went to school for one hour tonight and prepared for tomorrow's sub; used crutches to walk entire way--triceps are toughening up; moved around while at school more easily than I did on Tuesday; I was able to do another workout tonight once I got home...
     Wrote out more questions for tomorrow's visit with Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen-  appt. is at 9:30--Dad will drive me; not entirely sure what the reason for the appointment is...
     I am finding that I can be upright for longer periods of time and, in doing so, my leg remains fairly comfortable...
     Check this site out: http://www.ehealthmd.com/library/acltears/ACL_faq.html

Day 9--left knee has similarities to a small bowling ball

Day 9--backed up camera a little bit; never really realized how ugly my right knee is until now...but it works and I'll take it!
Fri., March 14:  Day 10 (Post-Operation)-CNN BREAKING NEWS--GC does five consecutive straight left leg raises today  Yeah, Baby-I am so psyched about this!  Let the snowballing effect begin!  Since I can now do these leg raises without help, I can now elevate my leg on my own, also.  Elevation will speed up swelling reduction....swelling reduction gets me doing other exercises...doing other exercises gets me ready for the racquetball courts--I raised my left leg alone at 3:54 P.M.--I was amazed when that thing went up...thrilled/totally elated/relieved!!  Mark today down as a good day!  I felt so close to this accomplishment yesterday, but I couldn't quite get past the 1" mark on my own...oh, well--day 10 ain't too bad...
     My heel slides were a little better today; tonight, my quad pushes seemed to result in some flexing of my quad--hadn't noticed movement in it before...
     I didn't sleep much last night (3-4 hours?); showered early; Dad and I were on the road to Sioux Falls for my first post-op appointment by 7:15; sat down in waiting room 15 min. early for appt.; nurse removed sutures and cleaned up blood for first time; she said I don't need to use the ACE bandage anymore--GREAT--and that I would be given a cut-off sock that would fit around my knee area--I'll keep that on for one week (it's a 5" sock) and then I'll go to the 4" sock next Friday (unless the 5" becomes too loose earlier than that)...
     Dr. Reynen has a man who's training with him (Ryan) and Ryan first met with me and answered some of my questions for about 5 minutes.  Then, Dr. Reynen visited with me; I did not feel that he was rushed--he seemed happy to answer any/all questions; he stayed for about 8 minutes before leaving; he was replaced by a physical therapist, a girl who had torn her ACL back in eighth grade--she was very helpful--stayed about 15 minutes; the entire appointment lasted about 40 minutes; the ride home was pretty uncomfortable but made bearable by my iPod--even played a little Debbie Gibson, Ali!
     Top 13 things that I took out of my appointment today:
          1) Dr. Reynen wasn't sure if he used titanium or stainless steel screws in my knee
          2) I tore my ACL completely; I was shown a picture of the butt end of my ligament--it had been ripped from the bone
          3) They completely remove the ruptured ACL to make room for new tendon--the old ACL get chopped up and goes down the drain
          4) My progress looks to be normal--not ahead, not behind; I'll take it!
          5) I told Dr. R about the experience with my leg slipping off of the ironing board and behind in total pain; he said that the only way to tell if something's come undone is to open up the knee and peek
          6) If my range of motion doesn't get to 90 degrees within a couple of weeks, they could possibly put me to sleep before they crank on it
          7) Dr. Reynen had me set another appointment for Fri., Mar 28
          8) I can begin to shower without covering up the left leg--just can't spray the water directly at the cuts
          9) Swelling enemy #1 right now--a main cause for lack of range--the sleeve will hopefully reduce that quickly
          10) The leg brace must remain on when weight-bearing--at least another 3 weeks; must continue to use crutches
          11) The bad bruising in my leg is a result of drilling into my bones; the liquid has no place to go so it sits around the "drilled" area
          12) Doctor gave me a 10-day supply of Celebrex (not to be confused with Cialis); Celebrex should help with the swelling-no more Advil or Aleve
          13) Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen is an impressive surgeon and I'd recommend him to anybody
     I did two workouts today, one in the afternoon and one in the late evening--I know I'm making progress...and I better be because it's a very uncomfortable process...
     My back is causing me most of my irritation; I'd say that my back is the #1 reason I can't sleep much--wish I had a way to counter this...
     There was another surgeon in Fargo (Dr. Askew) who was highly recommended to me, also.  After a phone call to his office, I learned that today, March 14, was the first opening he had just to meet with me....and who knows when surgery would've been.  I feel so fortunate to have surgery and that awful pain afterwards behind me. 


Day 10-came home from Sioux Falls with the white sleeve-purpose is for compression/reduce swelling-feels fairly tight-don't care for it, but it's part of the ACL surgery package deal!

Sat., March 15:  Day 11 (Post-Operation)-5.5 hours of sleep last night-wake up with high amount of discomfort--stems from 5" sleeve I have on my leg--it's not very tight, but it adds a definite pressure (feels like something is cutting into my skin); the front leg raises came as a great surprise for me yesterday, but I still have a long, long way to go--I just want to feel better consistently...
     Drive a car? If I was alone and absolutely had to, I could probably make it work; getting in and out of the car would be the big challenge...
     If we had school today, could I go?  Yes, but I would be miserable and scream violently at my students...
     If I tore my ACL in my right knee today, would I have this same procedure done again?  Hmmmmm, I would wait a long time before doing it, but I probably would do it again; the problem is that, for me, the pain stinks but the toll this is taking on me mentally is not good; time will hopefully heal me...
     I am hoping for a lot of progress today--I will rehab, ice, rest, elevate, and eat healthy foods.  I want to see the swelling leave!
     2:02 P.M.: Overall pain in knee/leg is leaving; swelling is decreasing; can turn to lie on either side now without much pain at all; got on stomach last night--felt good initially but then pain started to come; still taking a few pain pills here and there; really pushing myself on this rehab--doesn't feel good, but I've read how important it is to be aggressive; I can't wait to free myself from these chains--I like watching basketball but I am sick of TV--fortunately, I have some videos from friends to keep me sane...
     Later: Had a great workout tonight--little pain...range of motion seems to be improving, but very slowly...I am beginning to worry that my ROM should be a whole lot better than it is now that I'm Day 11; took sleeve off tonight as it makes me feel miserable at times (it's tight)...will sleep with it off...
Sun., March 16:  Day 12 (Post-Op)-Sense of urgency has picked up; I have to spend every second of today thinking about moving my knee or icing or elevating or whatever else is needed to get it going....I feel like I'm not doing enough--I should have a better range of motion by now--this isn't the 1970s for crying out loud!
     Had my best night of sleep yet--close to 7 hours--but had the sleeve off-don't know whether that's okay or not; will do at least three full knee workouts today (calf pumps, quad pushes, heel slides, towel prop, and front leg raises) and I will add many simple movements just to keep it loose all day...
     I can't imagine going to work tomorrow--just too much discomfort--but will try to make it for parent-teacher conferences from 4-6:30 tomorrow evening...
     4:19 P.M.: Getting stronger; finally saw good quad movement while doing quad pushes; can do many front leg raises alone; my next BIG goal=flexion of 90 degrees--I think I'm just over 50 right now...I know these are really boring entries, but there's no new news to report...
     Later: Went to school tonight-left my leg aching--no school all day tomorrow, not even parent-teacher conferences in the evening-brings about too much discomfort to be out and about; did not do any more exercises tonight for fear of increasing swelling; I have got to get that swelling down!  If I do that, I am really hoping that my flexion will see a large improvement...talked to a friend who went through ACL surgery several months ago--he said I'm right where I should be--he took 2 months off of work and did nothing but rest it and ice it--he said that was more time than he needed off, but it definitely helped him--I've seen him play racquetball since his surgery and you would never know he tore his ACL...
     A web site I found interesting: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/basketball/309644_nban30.html


Day 12-Had knee cleaned up in Sioux Falls (Friday); swelling going down a bit-sleeve is probably helping but I like
it about as much as the bank sending me an envelope to inform me that my checking account is overdrawn

Mon., March 17:  Day 13 (Post-Op)-Ain't no happy St. Patrick's Day for me--no bagpipes goin' off--no shamrocks to be found--this isn't a great day for me; worry sets in again--there's no way I could go to school today, not even worth a half second of consideration; I can't imagine being at school right now-the throbbing pain that my blood-filled knee would be experiencing isn't worth proving to myself that I could do it; in fact, I don't think I will be returning to school at all this week, partly because it's only a three-day week due to Easter...
     I haven't worked out all day--just like last night, I don't want to increase the swelling; I have a 4:00 appointment with the therapist (first appt. in 5 days) and we'll see what Heidi says; will she notice any improvement?; there is no doubt in the world that my swelling has gone down, but how much in the past four days?---it's hard to see progress when you look at your knee every 3-4 minutes morning, noon, and night; I wonder if she'll tell me to exercise even if it brings about swelling; will she say that I'm about where I should be? (that seems to be my number one question for the last 9 days); I am taking pain meds three times per day, one Celebrex per day (anti-inflammatory), and 2-3 Tylenol on top of the resting and the icing--anything I do, such as keying this entry, is done while I lie down on my back; I just don't know if it's making any difference on the swelling...
     I received an e-mail this morning and I was told that I might want to go in for a doctor's appointment in Milbank--this person feels that something might be wrong with my knee-that I should be better by now; this person is trying to be helpful, I'm sure, but if she was trying to pick up my worry tempo, she succeeded...I'll see what Heidi says in an hour....
     Oh, and one more thing before I go...I HATE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...
     7:53 P.M.: I went in for therapy from 4-5; the first thing Heidi (therapist) said was, "Let's go over to the bike."....I thought, "Oh, God, no." and instantly felt sick--off came the sweatshirt as sweat instantly beaded up on my reflective head--no lie;  But, I could tell that passing on the bike was not an option; I could barely get my foot on the pedal at first--I was extremely cautious and braced for the pain to hit; my range was was pathetic-pedal movement almost immeasurable; however, as I got warmed up and somewhat comfortable on the seat, I was able to pedal a little bit backward (with my good leg) and that forced my bad leg forward--not much, of course--a full, or even half, turn is a long way off; movement got better and better during the 20 minutes on the bike; I couldn't make the bad leg go backward much at all-forward was much better; Heidi measured my flexion at 47 last Wednesday-today found it to be at 61--getting to 90 is still my number one goal right now...
     Heidi wants me to worry less about the swelling and get the range of motion going, even if it brings about swelling; she'd like me to work out my leg 3-4 times per day and, if I had a stationary bike, to do that as much as I can throughout the day; I don't have a bike, so I will sit in a rocker and go back and forth--I can already see the improvement; so, if I could do the last three days over again, I would be sitting on our rocker going back and forth-a trip to Unity Square to get on a bike might've even been a possibility, but the crowds over there discourage me from going there; she said it's good to just sit on the couch with the leg bent, too; I am feeling some pain tonight, probably due to the good workout with the therapist; I'll give the knee a good icing before going to sleep....
     A key thing: I can be as cheap as a billlionaire who won't buys the small blizzard instead of the large at Dairy Queen because he wants to save a few cents, but I will say this--Don't worry about the cost of rehab--if you have the right therapist, it is SO worth whatever the bill becomes--I'd like to think I know best, but I am humbled every time I show up...and I leave there with hope, confidence, and relief...and then later that night, the pain comes, too...
     I'm watching some show on ABC ("Dancing with the Stars"???) and one of my favorite all-time Miami Dolphins just finished up--he didn't get my mind off of the pain as much as his partner did--as far as I'm concerned, JT can leave leave the show and go buff up his Dolphin helmet...but his partner MUST remain on the show--SHE SEEMS TO BE THE IDEAL PAIN KILLER!
     St. Patrick, if you can, do a little something to heal my knee, please.  If you have me playing racquetball by next Saturday, I promise to wear green (Dolphin green) on at least one article of my clothing every March 17 for the rest of my life.
 Thank you for your prompt response and, if you can't do that, maybe you can do something to enable Texas to win the NCAA tourney so that I can win the pool.
Tues., March 18:  Day 14 (Post-Op)-Hmmmmm, I've been at school teach exactly one (1) day in the month of March (March 3), and payday arrives in two days-that does not bring about any complaining from me so, I suppose, that can be regarded as good news...but I do not enjoy preparing for a substitute and staying home all day--two major strikes there...
     No sooner did I have that thought about payday this morning when....BOOM!...OH NO, AGAIN!!!  How can this happen? It was time to lock my brace as I've been doing many times a day for the past two weeks; as I'm moving a little knob to the "locked" groove, I see something shoot up out of the corner of my eye; I look down at the knob...and it's no longer there...the little plastic knob broke off, went right through my fingers and shot into the air...instant panic set in...now what do I do??? If I can't lock my brace, how do I get around?--how do I do my rehab?  To make a long story short, I made many, many phone calls before I got the idea of calling Kirchbergs...Cole Kirchberg tore his ACL and must've had a brace similar to mine...a few more phone calls resulted in Cole's dad bringing his brace to me within an hour of the time that the knob broke;  TOTAL RELIEF!!!  But, this brace is smaller than the last one, and I'm not sure if it's going to do the job...I will seek the therapist's opinion tomorrow at my final appointment for the week...
     Curt, if your brace fails in any way next fall, call me and we'll quickly find you a brace--I have a list of people who have torn their ACLs and they will come through--it's a community of people who know what kind of heck this injury involves and they are happy to help...
     Not a good night of sleep...I want to bend my leg so badly...lack of sleep is due to discomfort, not necessarily any pain...
     Today I'm sitting in the rocker going back and forth with my knee, icing, resting, and praying to God that nothing else happens that might set me back...
     The rocker is helping quite a bit with my range of motion--I should've been doing this a week ago (rocking back and forth-bringing the foot closer and closer to the chair-rock very slowly, hold--I'm guessing that I've added 15-20 degrees in range since yesterday...
     Time to remember my battle cry--NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER...game on...bring it...no pain, no gain...and the Giants beat the Patriots...things are looking up right now...

Some pictures were added above, too...

Day 14-See the middle of the brace--there are two Miami Dolphin colored triangle knobs that I use to adjust the brace (flexion and extension--the top one popped off on the other side this morning--even though one side is okay, the brace isn't stable--but thank God for Kirchbergs-I am now using Cole's brace

 


Day 14-Bruising on the back of
the knee is diminishing--compare to pictures on March 12

 
Day 14-shot #2

Day 14-My flexion has really improved in the past 24 hours-notice my good leg in the background at 90 degrees
Wed., March 19:  Day 15 (Post-Op)-I think I slept for 4 straight hours last night-how I fell asleep with my bad back amazes me-can't wait for the night when I sleep 7-8 hours; 7:26 A.M. right now--just spent 25 minutes on the rocker--hoping for a 90-degree bend today!; have a 4:00 physical therapy appointment-last one of the week so I had better get a lot out of it...
     1:08 P.M.-I can feel it coming-I feel like I could almost put the crutches down and peg leg it-I'm just nervous that something might give out, though, especially with this brace made for somebody 5'8" or shorter...I can put some pretty good weight on the injured leg, so we'll see what the therapist thinks in less than 3 hours--I can't wait!
     7:44 P.M.- I'm hurting-most likely from physical therapy today-can't bend at the knee very much---is it a result of more swelling?--Heidi (therapist) wasn't there, so Lori Batchelor took control--she had some different exercises/slightly different insight; she recommended I get a new brace that fits me, so I will call Sanford tomorrow; sounds like I'll be paying around $1300 for once it's all said and done regardless if I borrow a brace from somebody or use Dr. Reynen's prescription to get one; Lori said that I'm right where I should be as far as progress (flexion, pain, pedaling on bike, etc.);  I'm going to concentrate on my flexion and putting full weight on my injured leg whenever stepping down; new goal=lose the crutches by Saturday morning...
     Here's a web site to check out: http://www.orthoassociates.com/ACL_Rehab_protocol.htm#Protocol
Thurs., March 20:  Day 16 (Post-Op)-Still not sleeping at night-brace/hot knee/uncomfortable knee/sore back should all be given credit for my unending nights--to me, this is not normal...
     Called my nurse at Sanford and she's looking into the possibility of my brother picking up a brace that fits me; also, I need to find out whether or not I should be leaving the brace on at night (I have been loosening it so much that, in a way, it wouldn't count as being on--if wearing it at night is just a preventative thing, I will risk it and take it off in hopes for more sleep-I don't twist and turn that much...
     1:43 P.M.: Knee isn't behaving well today-sore and swollen and throbbing and weak..what to do? Well, my plan is to exercise the heck out of it and deal with the swelling later (like Heidi said)...
     9:46 P.M.: NCAA tournament helps get my mind off of my knee--a game like Belmont vs. Duke that went to the final buzzer had me pumping my fist and shaking my knee was an aftershock; actually, after a negative report earlier in the day, things have turned around nicely-I could almost say that I had 90-degree flexion (don't know if I was cheating by throwing my left hip backwards...writing this a half hour later and, yes, I must've been cheating--just tried it again and it's at about 80-84 degrees); my swelling appears to be better than yesterday--I put a tighter sleeve on my knee; I'm really feeling good about my goal of being off crutches by Saturday (Day 18); if anybody asks me when things start to turn around, I'm going to say it's right around the 16th day...I can't wait to see what the knee is like tomorrow...
     Here is a link that I found today--has some good info on rehab: http://www.sportsdoc.umn.edu/Patients_Folder/Knee/aclreconpat/aclreconpat2.htm
     I took measurements tonight--first measurement is from Mon., March 3, the night before surgery and the one after the parentheses is from tonight...
          right knee: 15 1/4" (good knee, extended, directly over knee cap)---14 1/2" (what?????)
          left knee: 15 1/2" (not good knee)---15 5/8" (swelling has gone down considerably, but still 1/8" larger)
          right calf:  16 3/8"  (thickest part while seated)---15 1/2 (a loss of 1 1/8"--no explanation for this)
          left calf: 16 5/8"   (thickest part while seated)---15 1/4" (a loss of 1 3/8")
          weight: 194 (shorts, T-shirt, no shoes)---188 (a loss of six pounds despite hog-like eating)
          Now for the most telling measurement: right thigh: 19"; left thigh: 16 3/4" (quite a difference--left thigh looks extremely weak/grossly mistreated
Fri., March 21:  Day 17 (Post-Op)-Had my best night of sleep-as my knee heals, I have more possible sleeping positions-that has to help; leg is stiff in the morning-feels like progress the previous day was all for not, but I am confident that the afternoon will bring good things; trying to get my brother to get my brace picked up in Sioux Falls at the right place with the correct insurance numbers is a major challenge; will be doing my own therapy until Monday morning...
     10:15 P.M.: Because I didn't get the brace in the hospital during surgery, my newest brace isn't allowed to go along with my ACL surgery--I may have to eat this ($475 for a new brace give or take 50 cents); I have learned that the last thing anybody should do is to try and save his or her insurance company any costs--don't use somebody's leftover brace that is probably outdated; two and a half hours worth of phone calls and frustration has resulted in my brother Scott finally picking one up that may or may not fit--and I won't mention how much time he wasted today driving around Sioux Falls to help me out; my back, for whatever reason, is killing me right now--I fear trying to sleep tonight--leg is throbbing, too-have I worked it too hard today or is it just being stupid??; I've watched part of an episode of Jerry Springer about three times in my life--there was a show about a man who cut off both of his legs for a reason I don't recall--but I almost feel like joining him tonight...I think I'm about five minutes from taking three (3) pain pills-I haven't taken any today...maybe it's catching up with me; I don't think my flexion improved one iota today...maybe took a step backward..okay, I can't take it anymore--pain meds, here I come-I'm going to inhale three of you godly substances...
Sat., March 22:  Day 18 (Post-Op)-Took the pain meds, had my back engulfed in Tough Actin' Tinactin (I can't say enough about this stuff--superior stuff), and had the best night of sleep yet--only woke up once and remained awake for a mere 30 minutes checking the 15 channels that worked--by the way, TCI has to be the worst cable company to hit America...service sometimes goes out, lips don't match the sound, certain channels are scrambled for day, etc., etc....go with MidContinent!!!!!; so, needless to say, I was happy with my sleep last night after dreading it, but thoroughly disappointed with TCI...
     I decided that today was my day to return to Unity Square---and hopefully see nobody I knew-just jump on an air bike and go....but, that didn't work.  As I was walking into the cardio room, out walked a couple of buddies I haven't seen in a long time...one asked, "What are the crutches for?"...I replied, "ACL surgery."...He pointed to his knee and said, "Same thing. Had surgery in November."  Thus began a long conversation; turns out that the same surgeon performed surgery on him.  He made me feel like I was way ahead of schedule--reminded me that everyone recovers differently and at a different pace; he told me that I shouldn't have any worries--it will get better; he showed me an exercise that he claims has made all the difference in the world for him (hands behind you on a chair-legs bent out in front of you-do dips while gradually bringing your feet in closer to you); he's going to send his walker to me and also his knee brace (this will be my fourth brace as my brother brought home the brace from Sioux Falls and it is too short); it pays to have friends in low places!!!...
     After talking to him for a half hour, I rode the bike...did half pedals--no way I could do a full turn; I continue to do my heel slides, front leg raises, quad pushes, hamstring pulls with heel on floor, and sit in the rocking chair; I had a goal of walking without crutches by today--I am SO close; I'm going to test it as soon as I quit typing here...here I go...
     Later: I haven't accomplished my goal of losing the crutches-still quite hesitant, a tad weak--maybe I need somebody to get the big whip out and then I could be crutch-free; didn't feel improvement throughout the rest of the day; went to Shenanigan's with a friend and my bro and the leg eventually became pretty uncomfortable; Mrs. Popowskit was there--her son, Dan, had ACL surgery twice--just before my surgery date, Mrs. Popowski was in my classroom as an aide and heard me tell my students "I'll be gone tomorrow to have knee surgery, but I'll be back next week"--she didn't say a thing at that time, but at Shenanigan's, she told me that she kept silent for a reason--she knew my return was unrealistic and she knew that I was going to go through terrible pain--but she told me that she didn't want to tell me anything differently because of what it would've done to me mentally--looking back, I am SO glad that she kept silent--it only would've prolonged the agony; I'm still not at 90-degree flexion--can't get it past this 84 mark; wish I had a brace that worked perfectly-tying a shoelace around the center to keep it locked out is time-consuming, looks girly, and cannot be trusted...
Sun., March 23:  Day 19 (EASTER SUNDAY): To think somebody is sending me prayers from Sin City is an unbelievable feeling--and I didn't even have to gamble too much to gain her friendship--thanks, Char, for being so great!!; today being the most important Christian event of the year, I still find myself selfishly thinking of my knee 98.37% of the time-everything revolves around it--shower?--nah, takes too long--get something to drink?--ahh, can wait 'til Mom comes back upstairs--ice my knee?--well, probably shouldn't as I just did that 5 minutes ago...every thought relates to my knee...kind of like the Miami Dolphins did before I ever hurt the dang thing...
     I think my flexion has improved today (3:02) to as close to 90-degrees as possible if it's not at that right now--ALLELUIA!!!; every hundredth of a sixteenth of an inch in improving flexion is a battle--this has to be where self-motivation plays large--I could easily see somebody saying, "Forget it...the flexion will return by itself whenever it wants to."--I am a more desperate man than that--I need to return to physical activity ASAP so that I feel like I have a life...I also know that Curt S. will be trying to kick my butt with his rehab in the fall--I need to prove to him that I can bring some serious, serious game when it comes to rehab...
     4:46 P.M.:  I WALKED!  I WALKED! WITHOUT CRUTCHES!! I only covered about five feet, but I did it! I was even able to watch myself in the mirror--AWESOME, bay-bayy!!! Raise the roof and pump up the volume!! So, no bull whip needed...let the snowballing effect of progress begin...
     CR, here are a few dedication lines to you:
         
Believe it or not,
        I'm walking on air.
        I never thought I could feel so free-.
        Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
        Who could it be?
        Believe it or not it's just me.
    
 Can you name that tune?  Of course! 1981!!! My walk is nothing like walking on air right now, but I'll take it...
     6:56 P.M.:  Another first--The Battleship (the '85 Pontiac 6000 that I love so much) was moved for the first time since Surgery Eve...should've moved it two days ago when the snow dumped on us because it got buried...and then the snowplow came...and all that shone through were a few of the rust spots; well, I got ticketed and fined for not moving the Six Grand for the snowplow...all part of the "Deluxe ACL Surgery Package Deal" that I ordered, I guess...so why didn't I have somebody move it when the keys are already in there, it's never locked, and it's always ready to be stolen??? It's because nobody I know can get inside of my car (except CR) due to broken handles and doors that don't open anymore...it requires careful technique to open the driver's door without busting off the handle which would result in making the Six G "non-enterable"...so, it's now sitting in our driveway and the fine will happily be paid tomorrow...should I explain the situation to the officers?  No, it's the price I must pay for having my prized, one-of-a-kind, single windshield wiping, rust-laced automobile...
     10:19 P.M.: Knee is definitely sore--been pushing it today; will do a few more exercises, ice, and call it a day; haven't taken a single pain pill today...but won't hesitate to pound some if my knee starts barkin' in the night; I want to wake up tomorrow morning, take a look the crutches, and ask myself "What in the Sam heck are those things for?"...now that would truly be an Easter miracle...
Mon., March 24:  Day 20 (Post-op): No school--it's called Easter Monday...woke up a couple of times with hot knee syndrome, but otherwise slept okay-sounds like this is normal three weeks post-surgery...
     2:59 P.M.: Returned from Unity-got on air bike--had pretty good range--feel like I'm a couple days from making a full circle when pedaling if I keep working on the air bike--I give it a lot of credit for my improvement--again, should've started on this long ago; up here at school and leg isn't hurting--will continue to exercise it and return to physical therapy on Wednesday...
     10:21 P.M.: Non-eventful afternoon/evening--worked at school and am totally ready to go--kids won't know what hit 'em--work, though, absolutely wiped me out; if I don't sleep well tonight, something is seriously wrong; movement of my knee causes me pain tonight--after such a great workout at Unity today, I thought it was clear sailing--there I go thinking idiotically again; can't believe my vacation is over with--just hope to survive the day without too much pain and little access to ice; maybe my students will see first-hand what a teacher who took a lil' more than the recommended dose can do in front of the classroom...
Tues., March 25:  Day 21 (Post-op): The three-week anniversary of surgery has arrived and I am not happy with the progress; I returned to school today and the kids couldn't have been any better--sure feels great to be back--love the feeling of accomplishing something-love the models on "The Price is Right" but I didn't miss them at all today...wonder if the show went on without me...
     Seems like I've lost all movement in my knee-have to keep it locked out/fully extended in case I need to move from place to place in the classroom; I tried to bend at the knee around an hour ago at noon--couldn't have been any more discouraging--DOH!!!!! No sharp pain in the knee, just a slow, nagging, defeating discomfort (analogy: your favorite NFL team is trailing 23-10 in the fourth quarter to a hated division rival and that rival has forgotten about passing--they are running the ball right up the gut for chunks of yards on your defense as the clock goes from 12:48 remaining to 5:10 in no time...as you watch, you turn your cap around, move from the La-Z-Boy to the couch, and even say a little prayer like "Dear God, please help that running back trip"...all to no avail...the rival kicks a FG with 2:34 left in the game for a 26-10 lead----yep, this is based on a gosh darn true story)...
     4:34 P.M.: Home now--ICE, ICE BABY!!! I will NOT fall asleep so that I will sleep well tonight; I'm going to lie down and rest...
     5:46 P.M.: Couldn't resist closing my eyes--and, of course, that has resulted in a 40-minute nap (CRAP!!!!); guess I can look forward to another night of watching infomercials...have to get to Unity in a hurry and jump on the air bike while it's quiet up there...if I can avoid people, it will be a small victory for Greg Cantine...
     7:58 P.M.: Got back from an overly-crowded Unity about an hour ago; my God, I've never seen so many people up there--actually, was lucky to get on an unused bike; I regained any movement I had lost today as I really pushed my knee to bend--spent just over 30 minutes doing nothing but slowly going back and forth...we'll see if the therapist is impressed with my progress at rehab tomorrow; have to get to my exercises now even though, for the first time, I'm beginning to tire of them...
Wed., March 26:  Day 22 (Post-op): First of all, Mrs. Hagen, I received your mail today--you have helped me more than what you could ever imagine--I really look up to you and I know that I wouldn't have had the teaching career I'm having had you not shown me how to do it--THANK YOU!!
     Day two at school wasn't as comfortable as the first day--slightly more discomfort--could also be a result of my 4 hours of sleep last night--a longtime stomach sleeper, I still can't get comfortable on my back--I lie awake hoping with all of my might that the morning will come, yet time crawls...finally, shortly before 6:00 a.m., I fall into a deep, deep sleep that makes me hate that 7:10 alarm more than ever...
     By noon today, my knee was bloated, soft, and squishy...tough to ice it and elevate it...
     I find it interesting that there hasn't been a single middle school student who has asked about the shoelace I have wrapped around one side of my brace to keep it together...on the other hand, walking down a high school hallway twice today brought many questions about the purpose of the shoelace from many different high school students; the shoelace looks rather redneckish but, hey, it helps to prevent my knee from splitting into two pieces...
     7:04 P.M.: Had physical therapy appt. at 4:00...Heidi told me to expect small gains of flexion each week but that I'd see larger jumps in improvement as the weeks go by; I rode the bike and then did front leg arcs (while seated, bend at the knee and raise the toe)--I can't come close to doing just one repetition alone--had to apologize to the therapist for making her do all of the work; Heidi said that I can begin walking around on just one crutch a couple of times a day--reason to go and celebrate with a six-pack of Root Beer?; therapists said again that I'm right where I should be as far as rehab, but I'm beginning to think if they didn't say things like that, a customer might be tempted to jump ship--then how are they going to make their $$$?; I want to be told just how incapable, wimpy, and sad I really am!
Thurs., March 27:  Day 23 (Post-op): 3:51 P.M.: Three days of school down already--today felt better than yesterday and much like two days ago--tough to elevate and exercise my knee during the school day; I am going to Unity shortly to jump on the air bike and then do a few upper body exercises; I have my second post-surgery visit tomorrow with the surgeon--I'm going to ask him if I can keep the brace off at night and whether or not I can unlock the brace while walking with crutches--I also want his honest opinion on my progress (am I ahead, behind a little bit, really behind, etc.); will be back at school tonight to prepare for the substitute teacher; go Dolphins...
     9:57 P.M.: Went to Unity and rode air bike for 35 minutes--saw improvement; did exercises before coming up here to school--front leg arcs absolutely kill my knee--probably should ask the surgeon about that exercise tomorrow morning in Sioux Falls (will miss my 17th day of school tomorrow due to this injury); what will the surgeon think tomorrow?????; had best night of sleep last night since Surgery Eve and hope to follow that up with another stunning performance tonight...
Fri., March 28:  Day 24 (Post-op): 3 weeks & 3 days after surgery...had appointment at 10:00 in Sioux Falls with Dr. Reynen; I had a few questions for him, but the main one I wanted answered was "Where am I at?"--I wanted to know if I was ahead of schedule (I knew that wasn't the case), about where I should be, or behind schedule...and, very honestly, he told me that I am "behind a little bit"...the main reason? my quad muscle...it is NOT firing like it should be--it's very weak--it's sore...
     Although I didn't want to hear that I was behind, it was like a good kick in the butt--he wrote out a prescription for an E-STIM machine (which I didn't think Milbank would have)...to my surprise, Big Stone Therapy was able to come through--I picked it up and got going right away; Dr. Reynen wants me off crutches VERY soon!--he said I need to start putting more and more weight on the leg--it will get stronger that way; he was satisfied with my range of motion, but I could tell that he wasn't overly impressed; he doesn't want me to do the front leg arcs, the exercise that the therapists here began doing with me on Wednesday--those were painful anyway, so I'm glad to hear that I should discontinue those...
     Dr. Reynen feels that my therapists are being conservative with my rehab--he wants it to be more aggressive--he said he'd call them and discuss my direction...and he did...Heidi told me that we'd get going on new exercises next week...
     I have to say this...meeting with Dr. Reynen and having him be critical has been the best thing for me today--my intensity has already increased...
     I can't unlock the brace when walking until my quad strengthens; I don't need to keep the brace on while sleeping (but it would be a pain to put on if I had to get up in the middle of the night)...
     Something of interest...when I went to pick up the E-STIM machine, I asked one therapist if it would be good to ride the air bike as much as I could each day--I asked if three or four hours would be too much--"No" he said--"Do it as much as you want"...after he left, I asked a different therapist about the air bike--she said "no longer than 20-30 minutes each day"...hmmmmmmmm...guess it's my call...
Sat., March 29:  Day 25 (Post-op): I'm bringin' the rehab heat today!!! Entire day was dedicated to my left knee--E-STIM machine (3 times; 30 min. each); icing, one-crutch walking; using a walker; 35 minutes of air biking; upper body lifting (to promote full body circulation); healthy eating and vitamin taking; prayer and positive thinking---that's right, the pressure is on and to think I'm behind in my rehab is driving me crazy...
     I can finally make my quad muscle move--I like that; on a cold, windy, stinky, boring day, the highlight will be recorded as "had quad activation"...couldn't even make it to the retirement party for Kenny Hermans at The Lantern...
     So far, I can't say enough about the E-STIM machine--I crank up the power and it makes all muscles on the top of my leg twitch--looks like progress to me...

Mar 30 E STIM machine.jpg (46156 bytes)
Day 25-E-STIM machine--place four sticky white pads to my upper front leg, crank up the juice using the buttons on white control box sitting on my knee--I do quad pushes while the "zapping" occurs (it's about 10 seconds on and then 10 seconds off for 30 minutes)

Sun., March 30:  Day 26 (Post-op): 8:00 A.M.: Not a good night of sleep-leg apparently didn't like the workout I gave it yesterday--feels sore and inflated--but, I will show it no mercy--I'm getting the E-STIM machine on my leg in about 5 minutes--I will shock the heck out of it and grit my teeth for the 30-minute session...
     I want to drive to Watertown for the semi-finals and finals of this year's last racquetball tournament so badly that you don't even know; last year, I played what may have been my best racquetball ever and won the tourney along with a nice chunk of cash--I want to return to the scene and think what could've been--I also need to return the crutches that Mr. Barnebi got for me the day my I ripped my ACL from the bone; the finals begin about 10:30 and I know many great players are there; I may need to do this to maintain some decent level of mental health...
     Later: I made it to Watertown--felt absolutely great to see all of the racquetball players again...I have to get back to that sport next fall--can't wait!!!
     I can move around without crutches despite knee feeling awkward; can get around on one crutch very easily...
     Continued with the rehab exercises, the bike, the elevation, and the icing until the day ended; I am concerned with the amount of pain directly in the knee with certain movements--I expect severe tightness, but the pain???
     Hoping for no school tomorrow with all of my might so that I can rest and rehab--heavy snow warning is in effect for our area...
Mon., March 31:  Day 27 (Post-op): 7:43 A.M.: NO SCHOOL IN MILBANK!! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!! LOVE IT!!! No doubt about it, I need days off for the good of my knee; with a good day of rehab today, it's possible that I can move around the classroom without crutches tomorrow--but I'll still use them for covering longer distances...
     I really wonder whether I'm one of the 5-10% who will never fully recover from this--I feel arthritic-type pain and I am also experiencing popping in my knee--normal, I hope, but I have my doubts that it is...
     7:09 P.M.: Heidi took a crutch away from me--had to leave one at the hospital; did some lie-down squats and some standing knee pushbacks at 3:00 appointment; skin/tissue is really tight around knee so massaging as much as possible is recommended; will continue with E-STIM machine; today seemed to be the most productive day of all--felt like I made good use of my time there; Heidi assured me that I will eventually be fine--I need to hear that to help combat my doubts...

Mar 31 No School in Milbank.jpg (24446 bytes)
Worth taking a picture!

Tues., April 1:  Day 28 (4 Weeks Since Surgery): I can't believe it!  I woke up this morning and felt like I could get by without my single crutch.  So, I spent the entire day walking around without the assistance of a crutch.  Feeling confident, I did a deep knee squat.  Surprisingly, it didn't hurt, so I did about 7 more.  With my confidence now up, I decided it was time to get rid of the brace and....
     ...Okay, I'm sure everyone has caught on by now...it's April Fool's Day...and nothing in the paragraph above is even halfway true...
     School was an hour late today, so I decided to go to Unity Square before school and get some time in on the air bike; it went well--good range--hoped it would keep me loose throughout the day or until I got to my rehab after school--I think it worked...
     The big news of my day came tonight--I finally did a full turn on the air bike and once I got going I couldn't stop (now that I've arrived home, though, my knee is tight/doesn't want to bend to a "simple" 90 degrees---can you say FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!); I will rehab it again in a little bit before going to sleep...
     On the way out of school today, I visited with Stacey Gonzenbach; her son, 22-year old Derek, had ACL surgery exactly one week ago; she proceeded to tell me that he has already been on the bike (my first day came on the 13th day post-surgery) and his flexion is 110 degrees (I don't even know if I'm at 105 degree yet on this, my fourth week); she told me that he was put on the Continuous Motion Machine immediately--the more I think about it, the more angry I get--I SHOULD'VE BEEN PUT ON THAT MACHINE!!--if I am ever to give advice to anyone who will be undergoing ACL surgery (Curt), the FIRST thing I will say is to request the Continuous Motion Machine; Derek's knee was bending minutes after surgery, while my knee didn't bend much at all for the first 4-5 days...I think I got the shaft, and I'll have to fight back that much harder; now, I realize that Derek is 15 years younger than I am, but geez, 110 degrees of flexion after one week???  Makes me feel like I'm looking into the purchase of a record player that plays two speeds instead of just one while Derek is checking out a 180 gigabyte iPod that will also tie his shoes for him...
     To put it mildly, I am ticked off at my knee...
     Check out this Youtube video--it offers a great animation of what the surgeon actually does to a knee during ACL surgery: http://youtube.com/watch?v=q96M0jRqn7k 
     Another Youtube video of a guy exactly one month after ACL surgery (It'll be one month for me in three days...but you won't see me doing what this guy is doing): http://youtube.com/watch?v=pw_mXgtelWg 
Wed., April 2:  Day 29 (4 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): Okay, the progress has picked up recently and I like it a lot; combine this progress with a pep talk I received via e-mail today in which I was ordered to stop comparing myself to the recovery of others and one could say that I am now in a positive mental state--hope it lasts for at least the next 5-10 minutes...
     My flexion seems to be growing each day; I move my leg throughout the school day; my knee cap is showing more and more movement (it became very stiff); I've been trying to move around without any crutches when nobody is looking--looking for the misplaced remote control seems to  be the main source of motivation; for a second consecutive day, I was able to do a complete circle on the air bike--if I should lose that ability in the next few days, turn on CNN because I'll end up taking hostages somewhere--it won't be a very pretty situation...
     Since this site is all about ratings (whatever), I will leaving anybody reading this out there with this so that ya'll come back tomorrow: I should've died about 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to tearing my ACL, no doubt about it...I'll explain the small miracle in a sentence or two tomorrow...
     Before I go, I want you to do this right now...gently hug each of your knees and tell each of them you love them equally.   I will do that someday, too.
Thurs., April 3:  Day 30 (4 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): 10:23 A.M.: Woke up with a stiff knee-can hardly bend it; how long before my knee "remembers" how loose it was the night before?; here's a positive thought: I am one month into this and I have come a long way from that first week; here's a negative thought: I wonder if my knee will always have this stiff, tight feeling; I've been unlocking the brace while walking around--it's a very slow walk, but I'm hoping that the pressure placed upon my leg strengthens it...
     Now for the near-death experience just before the big tear...  My double partner, Ryan Waterfall, and I had just left a south-side McDonald's in Sioux Falls; I was behind the wheel of the Fin-mobile as we were listening to music (can't remember if the volume was on "High" or on "Shatter Your Windows High"; driving like an irresponsible eight grader, I drove right through a red light and into the middle of an intersection where cars zip by at a high rate of speed; almost coming to a complete stop in the middle of the intersection, both of our eyes tripled in size as we looked up to see a red light...and then realizing where we were only increased the terror; one "Oh my God" later, I stomped on the gas pedal to get out of the intersection, an intersection that sees quite a few 18-wheelers zooming by; we were sitting ducks and we knew just how lucky we were; death, paralysis, two missing legs--those were all possibilities...but, as lucky as I am, 1 hour and 15 minutes later, all I did was pull my ACL right out of the bone, shredding it;  how fortunate I am; as for Ryan, he somehow managed to use his "Get Out of Jail Free" card and escaped the day without a scrape; lesson I learned today: teach eighth graders, don't mimic their driving styles...
     Later:  went to Unity and got on bike--had the knee moving very well; got brave and cranked on it a few times--it really bent; left Unity thinking that I'm definitely going to fully recover with rehab like this...
Fri., April 4:  Day 31 (4 Weeks & 3 Days Post-op): My one-month, left-knee, surgery anniversary!  That has a good ring to it.  Exactly one month ago, I was just coming out of surgery and, not knowing the intense levels of pain and discomfort that was to come in the next 7-8 days, I was feeling pretty good...
     Now for today: sitting down, my knee feels tight; there is quite a bit of pain in the knee if I put certain types of pressure on it (eg. sitting down and trying to raise my lower leg at the knee); sleeping has really improved; been off pain meds for at least a week and a half; swelling has greatly reduced but is still easy to see; can get knee loose through a few minutes of exercise, but it can stiffen up and be difficult to move shortly after, too; flexion is at about 120 degrees--can't wait for the day when I can touch my foot to my butt again; started showering without brace on Tuesday; can't wait to see where I'm at one month from today--will my progress begin to level off?...or will it pick up as I increase strength and begin walking without the brace?...
     9:24 P.M.: I am hearing more and more that the knee will get really tight, even 15 minutes after feeling like there's pretty good movement; the therapist claimed today that my progress will eventually begin to grow more and more each day--can't wait for that day...
     In closing, I just have to say a few words about how amazing the human body is.  It's hard for me to believe how the body can recover from such an injury.  Why doesn't the body just quit?  Why even try to repair anything?   Why keep working during the overnight hours when the mind is sleeping?  How can it figure out what needs to be done?  ...I find it hard to put the questions I have in my mind onto this page.  I guess I'm just extremely grateful that the human body can fight back--it keeps on trying no matter what.  Little by little, the body responds to proper and dedicated rehab.  I am beginning to have no doubt that anyone who suffers an ACL tear can eventually return to do the things he/she did before the injury; it takes a qualified surgeon, a knowledgeable therapist, and a patient committed to improvement.
Sat., April 5:  Day 32 (4 Weeks & 4 Days Post-op): All I think about is my knee.  Obsessive compulsive--that's me.  If I work harder and crank on that knee and suck up the pain, maybe I can return to the things I love in August rather than waiting until September or October.  I don't want the entire summer to be competition-free. 
     I haven't been noticing a reduction in swelling--the knee remains quite "blobby"; continue to take Aleve, ice, do my quad pushes, use E-STIM, rub the knee, go to Unity to ride the air bike and stretch, and pray.  I feel like my flexion is improving everyday; still need the one crutch to help me around in the morning or until my knee wakes up; can't wait for my next appointment with the surgeon on the 14th...
     I love TV Land's 20-Year Reunion!
Sun., April 6:  Day 33 (4 Weeks & 5 Days Post-op): 8:36 A.M.: Leaving for a three-day technology conference in Sioux Falls in 24 minutes; I will be the worst dressed human in attendance...but I could really care less; blowing out an ACL should entitle a person to dress as comfortable as possible for as long as needed--I will take full advantage of this; I have slipped on the sweatpants that I will be wearing for the next three days; I should probably shower at some point while there, but there are no guarantees...
     Later: Didn't rehab it--lack of time and too tired; definitely needed ice tonight--CR retrieved some for me here in the Sleep Inn; perhaps a day off after many consecutive days of rehab is what my knee needed--I'll find out tomorrow...
Mon., April 7:  Day 34 (4 Weeks & 6 Days Post-op): 5:52 P.M.: Finding out that attending a conference infuriates my knee; it wants to be iced, rested, and worked out instead of having me ignore it and tell it to suck it up; I've been trying to crank on it and am about 10-11 inches from touching my heel to my butt when sitting down; can't wait to get to home and go through a "normal" day...
     I'm going to throw the E-STIM on the leg and then CR and I will head to some establishment to watch the NCAA BB championship game...and eat...
     Several people have asked me what happened...and I hear from them in return that they tore an ACL or have had a knee replaced or... Lost of people have an issue with a knee sooner or later--I am one of them.  No sympathy.  Like the great Curt S. told me, failure is not an option...
     Number of the day: 33,000.  That's the number of dollars I've found that the average person pays for ACL surgery.  Once the surgeon, the hospital, the anesthesiologist, the therapists, and anybody else who shows up for work that day gets paid, many a dollar have left my insurance company.  How somebody gets by without insurance, I do not know.
Tues., April 8:  Day 35 (5 Weeks Post-op): 9:34 P.M.: Been trying to bend the knee at TIE all three days--slight improvement; knee feels warm to the touch--it's unhappy with me--want tender, loving care and it ain't gonna get it; really looking forward to what the therapist says at rehab appt. tomorrow; appt. with surgeon is coming on Monday, April 14--will he put me to sleep and put my knee in a vice and crank?? I hope not.  Beginning to show signs that I will be able to kick a football with my left leg--right now, the football would barely leave the tee, but it's coming...
Wed., April 9:  Day 36 (5 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): Today is the first day that I really feel like I don't need crutches--my leg is feeling stronger; Heidi (therapist) said the dip I had just above my knee is being filled in by muscle--again, credit the E-STIM; feel like I'm almost ready to remove the brace--hope the surgeon feels the same way on Monday...
     Winter storm warning is in effect for Thursday through Friday--almost think that the snow has a mind of its own and it's trying to bring about a slip that will send me back to "Start"...
     The season finale of TV Land's "20 Year Reunion" just began so I'm out...
Thurs., April 10:  Day 37 (5 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): 12:41 P.M.: Knee is bothering me--feels tight/bloated/sore--really wish I could ice it and elevate it right now...
     Later: For some reason, my knee is more uncomfortable tonight than it has been in a long time--it was annoying me at school, but it hasn't improved tonight--am I pushing it too hard?  Hoping for no school tomorrow so I can give some attention to my knee in the morning rather than waiting for late afternoon...
Fri., April 11:  Day 38 (5 Weeks & 3 Days Post-op): 7:53 A.M.: No school in Milbank and many other area schools due to heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions--GREAT!!! I'll rehab the knee all day long--want it to be as ready to go as possible for Monday's appointment in Sioux Falls...
     12:30 P.M.: I'm taking new measurements right now--first measurement is from  March 3, the night before surgery. That is followed by the one on March 20.  The third measurement is from today, April 11:
          right knee: 15 1/4" (good knee, extended, directly over knee cap)---14 1/2"---15"
          left knee: 15 1/2" (not good knee)---15 5/8"---15 3/4"
          right calf:  16 3/8"  (thickest part while seated)---15 1/2---15 1/4"
          left calf: 16 5/8"   (thickest part while seated)---15 1/4"---15"
          weight: 194 (shorts, T-shirt, no shoes)---188---193
          One more measurement not taken on March 3: right thigh: 19"; left thigh: 16 3/4"----right thigh: 19"; left thigh: 17 3/4"
         
Summary: weight has returned---lifting weights (upper body) at Unity is probably helping...left thigh has grown an inch in less than a month (E-STIM gets credit)...and, above all, I have proven that I can't measure worth a crap
     Should probably add that I've been walking without a brace around the house, but I do depend on a crutch when I do this--I'm so sick of dealing with the brace that I'd rather limp around without it--maybe it's helping to strengthen my leg, too...
     One thing is for sure, I would sacrifice two first half touchdowns by the Dolphins' first opponent in the 2008-9 season to be able to take that brace and turn it into 50 different Christmas tree ornaments--I HATE IT worse than NCLB (No Child Left Behind)...
Sat., April 12:  Day 39 (5 Weeks & 4 Days Post-op): 3:39 P.M.: Nothing new--knee still attached to body; biggest news of day? Racquetballer Rick Hermans took a racquet just below the eye and is at the hospital receiving stitches as I type this--lots of blood/very gruesome...but he won't need surgery and he won't need 6-8 months of rehab; with his wife's permission, he'll someday be back on the courts...
     Later: Went to Mr. Tostenson's wedding reception tonight with no crutch and the brace unlocked; it didn't bother me, but I moved slowly; had to keep an eye open for an intoxicated Laramie bumping into me...I left the Lantern unscathed...
Sun., April 13:  Day 40 (5 Weeks & 5 Days Post-op): 4:09 P.M.: 40 Days & 40 Nights--of hell; I've officially reached the 40 days and 40 nights milestone...and, um, that doesn't really mean anything...
     Troy Kastrup needs to be on the next "Stupid Human Tricks" segment on David Letterman; in 1984, a year when some of the best-ever music was created, Troy blew out his ACL and PCL just after kicking the football through the uprights--a player from Lennox rolled into his leg and Troy never had anything surgically repaired; now, he can make this movement in his knee that is simply extraordinary--I was thoroughly impressed (if that's the right word) when he made his knee appear to pop out--Letterman would say "Wow" and the audience would be in awe...
     I woke up this morning and my leg felt as strong as ever; I did my first front leg raise without a brace at precisely 10:07 this morning--yes, a very big moment in my life; before this, I wouldn't have the strength to keep my lower leg extended--should've taken a picture of it, gosh darnit...
     Later: ACL site of the day (lots of great info): http://www.myorthodoc.com/RehabACL.htm; can't wait to hit the road tomorrow morning--really, really curious as to what the surgeon will say--if he says what he said two weeks ago, he'll say I'm behind schedule....but I kind of think he might be happy with the progress since then....only one way to find out--GO!!!!!
Mon., April 14:  Day 41 (5 Weeks & 6 Days Post-op): At one point or another, I'm sure everyone has thought, "I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't gone there or done that?"  For some people, "gone there" or "done that" may have resulted in marriage (examples: If I hadn't gone to that concert that night, I may have never met my future husband; if I hadn't gone to meet with Mr. Whoever that afternoon, we never would've gotten the house we're living in right now.)  Of course, for me, meeting a future wife or buying a house simply hasn't presented itself in my 37 years of existence (not even close, I might say)...but I did have one of those "What would've happened if I hadn't..." moments this afternoon.  My moment came after meeting Bill...don't get the wrong idea.  Bill is a physical therapist with Sanford in Sioux Falls and Dr. Reynen asked if I had time to stay in Sioux Falls until mid-afternoon to meet Bill.  I decided to stay and see if had any suggestions for me.  He and I discussed the rehab I've been doing here in Milbank.  Long story short>>>>THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT EXERCISES I SHOULD BE DOING...and probably should've been doing.  It's not to say anything negative about the therapists here--it's just that they've taken a very conservative approach with me.  My knee aches right now because of the new, strenuous exercises I did under Bill's guidance today. I'm extremely fired up about these exercises--he said he deals with many, many people who have torn their ACLs and his experience has led to lots o' knowledge.  These new exercises, I believe, will lead to a quicker recovery (August rather than September???).
     First, I met with Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen--he likes the way my graft feels (able to say this just by manipulating my knee for 5-10 seconds); he likes my range of motion; he is still concerned about the strength of my quad, but he did notice good improvement; though I'm a day short of six full weeks, he said I'm approximately in week four (meaning, yes, that I am still 2 weeks behind due to the weak quad); I don't have to drive to Sioux Falls and almost run out of gas (thank God for the Flying J!!!!!!!!!) for another month to meet with him.  Curt, I'll tell you right now--be prepared---those surgeon's assistants at Sanford are good-looking---especially the ones that bring in the Bregs neoprene sleeves--if my sleeve tears tonight, I may drive back tomorrow morning---and who knows---that could lead to a "What if I hadn't torn my neoprene sleeve on Monday night and decided to drive to Sanford on Tuesday morning and one of those assistants brought me a new sleeve and..."  ...time to stop dreaming and get back to correcting these literature quizzes...
Tues., April 15:  Day 42 (6 Weeks Post-op): My leg is already showing results from the new exercises I picked up yesterday; my leg is somewhat sore, but that's to be expected when you push it; went to Unity late last night to get on the bike and do my monster walk and hip abduction walk on the track; I can see some growth in my left thigh; knee is still sore when I sit and do slow kick-ups; when I look back to two weeks ago, I've had great progress--I just hope I can say that two weeks from now...
     Without a doubt, the worst part of the day was attempting to walk outside--yesterday, the therapist demanded that I stand up straight and walk with everything aligned--no allowing the knee to cave in or limp, etc.--well, I can say that the wind literally almost pushed me over twice in the parking lot this morning--my knee is still that weak--and I was leaning and limping and doing everything else that's probably wrong just to keep myself upright; the ice never put me on my back, but the wind is giving me its best shot...
     If I had been driving to Sioux Falls today instead of yesterday, I never would've made it to the Flying J with this 40 MPH wind--some things just have a way of working out...here's another example--The phone number 432-NERD will hook you up with the parents of one of the biggest nerds I've ever met in my life (just kidding, Darin Dahle...kind of)...
Wed., April 16:  Day 43 (6 Weeks  & 1 Day Post-op): I am finding out that there's not enough time in the day to get everything done--I make time for rehab the best I can, but I am running out of energy; went to rehab today at Big Stone Therapies--Heidi had me doing some new exercises--dig in with heel while sitting on chair with wheels and move and a walk with not-to-deep lunges to name a few; knee still feels tight and "junky"--hope to God it goes away someday; Heidi got my foot the closest to my butt that it's been post-surgery; looking forward to the day that I can jog again; nothing new to report--just tired and want to go to bed....
Thurs., April 17:  Day 44 (6 Weeks  & 2 Days Post-op): Heidi (therapist) faxed me four sheets of exercises and diagrams this morning--very helpful and very much appreciated--she does great work; there are so many exercises to do that I am picking as many as I can, making sure my leg/knee becomes exhausted, and then giving it some recovery time before doing more work...
     I just decided to look back at my log exactly one month ago (March 17) to see where I was at--this is a quote from my opening lines:
Ain't no happy St. Patrick's Day for me--no bagpipes goin' off--no shamrocks to be found--this isn't a great day for me; worry sets in again--there's no way I could go to school today, not even worth a half second of consideration; I can't imagine being at school right now-the throbbing pain that my blood-filled knee would be experiencing isn't worth proving to myself that I could do it...
     Gull darnit, I'm glad that's all behind me!  In a month, I want to be able to look back at today, read the following words, and say again, "Gull darnit, I'm glad that's all behind me": My knee can bend, though it feels very stiff, very tight, and pretty uncomfortable when I'm bending it...I have to think about each step as I take it because one little movement can send a short blast of pain to my knee...there is still noticeable swelling...thinking of even the slowest jog brings thoughts of pain to my mind...stepping down a curb or step requires me to s-l-o-w down...getting pushed from behind seems like it could cause my knee to blow out...knee doesn't want to bend very well in the morning...wonder whether this will get any better despite the improvements I have made in one month...
Fri., April 18:  Day 45 (6 Weeks  & 3 Days Post-op): I rehabbed this morning, prepared to leave for Sioux Falls (class at Augustana), and then hit the road at 1:30...class was good, but I couldn't move my leg around too much--made it tough to walk...if I had nothing else to do besides rehab, I really believe that I'd be much further along---but, there always seems to be one thing or another that results in little time to rehab; still walking pretty slowly, especially after sitting down for any period of time; calves are still quite sore from toe raises, so maybe easing on the rehab is good for me...
Sat., April 19:  Day 46 (6 Weeks  & 4 Days Post-op): Again, very little time to rehab...until I got home from Sioux Falls at 5:45; I did a wide variety of exercises; perhaps the rest I've been giving my knee will pay dividends, but I plan to push it like crazy tomorrow--hopefully by Sunday night my left knee hates my guts...then I'll wake up Monday morning feeling the good results; still difficult to sit down and raise my foot so that my leg is straight (painful and leg shakes from being weak)--I hope to be doing this easily by Tuesday, April 22; Dolphins draft is one week away--can't wait for that--won't be jumping up and down once they draft that future hall of famer...
Sun., April 20:  Day 47 (6 Weeks  & 5 Days Post-op): 12:03 P.M.: Haven't done my best rehab over the last two days, but I woke up with a leg that felt better than it has on most mornings; went to church and kneeling was a challenge; did exercises in my classroom and in the gym before walking in the halls of MHS--felt really good--almost a normal gait; I am going to Unity this afternoon to put my knee through a workout like never before--time to suck it up...no surrender, no retreat...
     8:33 P.M.: My leg felt very loose, very comfortable just after giving it a heavy workout at Unity following the high school play (awesome play!!)...but, as usual, sitting down and eating supper seemed to take away all of the progress--I do know that the great feeling that I have in my knee will eventually stick permanently; I will give the knee another good workout at home in about an hour...
Mon., April 21:  Day 48 (6 Weeks  & 6 Days Post-op): Two main things: (1) Finally got on the racquetball and hit a few balls--that felt so gosh darn good that I can't even begin to describe it! I hit some serves and that was about it--I wanted to smash that ball through the wall, but my leg won't allow me to move that quickly yet.  (2) For the very first time in my life, I have noticed an "expanded stomach region."  Perfectly honest, I am putting on some fat and it's going to explode if I don't start running SOON! I can't afford to be fat--my face allows for no errors on other parts of my body...my lack of hair adds 13 years onto my actual age...the fat has to go; I'm going to try something that a lot of people don't do who are trying to lose weight these days--eat less and exercise more.
     As for the knee, after I warm it up, I am beginning to walk like I did prior to ungracefully ripping my ACL right out of my bone---a week ago I was limping around Sioux Falls without a brace for the first time...I have added some muscle in the quad but still have a long way to go.  Analogy of where I'm at with my knee injury: if my destination was Minneapolis, I'm right outside of Big Stone right now...and I'm driving my old 1985 Pontiac Six Grand...a LONG way to go, but there is a chance I'll eventually make it...
Tues., April 22:  Day 49 (7 Weeks Post-op): 12:41 P.M.: Nothing to say at this point--knee is stiff--feels like some screws and bolts are loose...
     8:29 P.M.: Took bike to the bike fixer--with gas as high as it is, it's time to give the Six G a break--I will start riding that all over the place; went to Unity and got on the stair glider and rode it for 10 minutes--the left leg is fatiguing...which hopefully leads to increased strength the next day...

     It's official--today, the
Miami Dolphins announced that they will select Michigan tackle Jake Long as the number one pick in the 2008 draft this Saturday--Mr. Hadorn's e-mail came through at 12:06 C.S.T. to inform me of the big news--I'm thrilled with the choice of Long and can't wait to see him lead Ronnie Brown into the end zone--TOUCHDOWN, DOLPHINS!!!
Wed., April 23:  Day 50 (7 Weeks  & 1 Day Post-op): Heidi said that the final few centimeters of flexibility will be the toughest to come by--I have noticed that my progress in that area has slowed way down; sometimes I feel like I'm walking normally, while other times it feels as if I have a gangsta strut--very confusing to me and probably others as well; I feel like I could jog, but then I think about it some more and it scares me/frightens me/terrifies me--definitely not mentally ready for that yet...
     Painting jobs are flying in like crazy--hard to know what to tell everyone--I don't want to be on the ladder 30 feet high and experience a spasm in my leg that forces me to take the fast way down---the last time I took the fast way down resulted in a broken right fibula--much better than a torn ACL, but not something I'm currently pursuing...
Thurs., April 24:  Day 51 (7 Weeks  & 2 Days Post-op): Continue to work out my knee after school and then again in the evening at Unity--progress seems to be very, very, very minimal right now...
Fri., April 25:  Day 52 (7 Weeks  & 3 Days Post-op): A sudden shutdown blizzard appeared and school dismissed at 1:00--Mr. Winter is just trying to get me to slip and tear everything up in my knee again--I shall fight back, walk slowly, and prevail because I am from the class of '89; at my therapy appointment today, Heidi said that the pool would be great for me--I will be getting that going immediately (no flutter kicks); she said that the swelling is beginning to be replaced by muscle--YES!!; she had me do some small jumps--very nervous at first because the last time I jumped (on Feb. 9) resulted in SEVERE pain--but the quarter-inch high jumps felt good!
Sat., April 26:  Day 53 (7 Weeks  & 4 Days Post-op): Worked the knee in the morning--got on the treadmill at Unity and walked backwards to build up the quad; iced my knee for first time in awhile; decided to give it a bit of a rest to see if it would help...
Sun., April 27:  Day 54 (7 Weeks  & 5 Days Post-op): I think the rest helped--leg felt a little better today; almost got my foot to my butt--just an inch or so away; can walk down steps a little bit easier, but I still experience some pain; I am beginning to believe that it's best to look for progress every two to three days (progress is so small right now that it's tough to tell from day-to-day what has improved...
Mon., April 28:  Day 55 (7 Weeks  & 6 Days Post-op): Still walking with a limp, though I fight it--try to tell my left leg to do what my right leg does all the time; leg stiffens up after sitting; still feels like I have junk sitting in my knee; Heidi has me doing little bunny hops; standing on one leg and balancing fatigues my foot, calf, and other leg muscles quickly; today, Heidi told me that I'll be doing some light jogging within two weeks--I can't wait to do that--I need to burn a little bit o' fat off my stomach/speed up that metabolism...
Tues., April 29:  Day 56 (8 Weeks Post-op): Some people probably wonder why I walk fine sometimes and, at other times, I walk as if I'm chemically dependant---I don't know the reason...I have no answers;  sometimes my knee feels loose as I enter the high school in the morning...the next day, it can feel tight and "off balance"; I did not do anything for therapy today as I worked a track meet; the knee felt uncomfortable if I didn't move it; simply bending it every once in awhile helped to temporarily relieve any discomfort...
     I've reached the eight-week point--can't wait to start the slow jog!
Wed., April 30:  Day 57 (8 Weeks  & 1 Day Post-op): "Uncommonly boring!"  "Puts me to sleep in six seconds."  "How dull can a journal entry be?"  ...these are just a few of the reviews I am getting in regard to my journal entries over the past month...from some very close friends.  I understand.  Please allow me to apologize.  I'm sorry.  Please don't visit this site anymore.  Thank you.
     But I'm still going to type stuff!  ...like this:  My knee is on.  My knee is getting better.  My knee is still puffy.  My knee has come a long way.  I hope that I don't hurt my knee again.
     In closing, I would like to say that my favorite football team is the Miami Dolphins.  Really.
Thurs., May 1: Day 58 (8 Weeks  & 2 Days Post-op): Heard a great story this morning (according to another teacher, it was all over the news yesterday) about a women's college softball player who tore her ACL during a recent game...I'm not sure if she tore it while batting or running, but she blasted the ball out of the park for a home run before the tear...well, a few members from the opposing team picked up the player in severe pain and took her around the bases to enable her powerful hit to count...what a show of character!   ...okay, I just did a search and found the story--hit this link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?id=3372631
     I am walking faster.  I am headed toward a FULL recovery.  I will not be denied.  Amen.
Fri., May 2: Day 59 (8 Weeks  & 3 Days Post-op): Rehab on my own--no therapy appointment; do slow lunges and slow basketball slides and monster walks and faster walks on track at Unity...
Sat., May 3: Day 60 (8 Weeks  & 4 Days Post-op): I'm noticing that the leg gets looser/moves easier in fewer steps after sitting down for a period of time--just continue to be very thankful that I can walk around...
Sun., May 4: Day 61 (8 Weeks  & 5 Days Post-op): Got my repaired bike back today and I plan to ride it all over the place; still trying to walk down steps without pain--I can feel the weakness in my leg when I do that--until I'm able to strengthen those leg muscles, it will continue to hurt...
Mon., May 5: Day 62 (8 Weeks  & 6 Days Post-op): Had my appointment with Heidi at 4:00--I was on my stomach as Heidi pushed my leg forward; after lots of pushing/stretching, my left foot hit my butt (not much, but it hit); Heidi told me that I might be playing tennis sometime in June--I am really fired up and optimistic!  I feel like my recovery is definitely on the right track--I hope to get the go-ahead to start doing some light jogging next week; also, I have my next appointment with Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen--always interesting to see what the surgeon says...
     I walked a mile on the track this evening--beautiful outside!  I'm doing things I never would've done had I not torn my ACL.  It felt SO good just to be walking into a slight breeze with no bugs around.  I've been passing on things like these walks the last 14 years--I used to go on walks/runs with friends at college.  It's very therapeutic!
     Before surgery, I read some logs from people that actually said that they'd like to tear the ACL of the other knee so that it could be fixed...they said that the repaired knee felt better than the other one; well, I don't know how serious they were, but I'm beginning to see that it might have some truth...I am one lucky guy!
Tues., May 6: Day 63 (9 Weeks Post-op): My entire leg feels better today than it has before this injury thing ever happened.  I think it has a lot to do with my walk around the track last night.  I continue to lift weights and it's paying off in my upper body.  Am I missing racquetball?  Not as much as I thought I would!  I have found that a person finds other things to do when physical activities aren't the thing to do.
Wed., May 7: Day 64 (9 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): I ran...or at least simulated running.  Heidi had me do a very slow, slight jog.  It felt weird.  Now, the next stage begins. 
Thurs., May 8: Day 65 (9 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): The stiffness in my knee after sitting for more than 10 minutes is beginning to dissipate; I can get up and move quite freely--did I just type the words quite freely?; anyway, I am really liking how this is going...I have an appointment with my surgeon on Monday and I am really interested in knowing if he has a feeling about my long-term outcome.
Fri., May 9: Day 66 (9 Weeks & 3 Days Post-op): Working on walking down steps without pain--seems to be getting better and better--been giving the leg/knee a good workout daily--don't know if eating all the sugar I do is good or bad...but I won't stop that anytime soon...
Sat., May 10: Day 67 (9 Weeks & 4 Days Post-op): I have big plans for rehab today...we'll see what develops...it is what is is...just have to try and do my best...and all those other stupid cliches...
     Later:  Had a great knee workout...but was it too much?  My knee felt sore throughout the evening and my walk wasn't very good...we'll see what a night's rest does to it...
Sun., May 11: Day 68 (9 Weeks & 5 Days Post-op): After thinking about it, it doesn't seem like I've made much, if any, progress over the past few days...I know there will be times like this, but it's frustrating nonetheless; I'll give the knee another couple of good workouts today and see what the surgeon thinks of everything tomorrow (I will be missing my 20th day of school due to this knee injury)...
     Later (as in 10:57 P.M.): I gave my knee a good workout on the track this afternoon--I think I hit it pretty well as it swelled up quite a bit afterwards...I iced it after that and again tonight; I will leave for Sioux Falls around 7:45 tomorrow morning; I will get the surgeon to tell me how he really feels!
Mon., May 12: Day 69 (9 Weeks  & 6 Days Post-op): Appointment was scheduled for 10:15 this morning--I was there at 9:55; they called my into the room at 10:00; I was surprised when the surgeon entered the room early at 10:07; Dr. Sioux Falls Reynen answered every question I threw at him--didn't seem hurried at all; I asked him to be brutally honest in regard to the progression of my knee--he looked at me and said that my knee "looks really supple compared to last time."  Alleluia!!!!!!!!!!! That felt so good to hear after the time I've spent doing the rehab! By 10:22 I was out the door, into the Fin-mobile, and on my way back to the 'Bank.
     Dr. Reynen said that working out in the pool would now be good for me.  He suggested that I use the stair-stepper instead of walking if possible.  He said the stair-stepper would work the quad and while putting less strain on my knee.  When he told me that patients are usually good to go if everything is holding up two months after surgery, I was relieved beyond belief.  Patience is the key right now, and I have a lot of it.  I am doing things I enjoy other than racquetball and tennis.  Teaching is a challenge that I love--to motivate many of these eighth graders almost requires supernatural powers.  I don't have those, so I have to find other methods--I don't have time to think about my knee most of the time...
Tues., May 13: Day 70 (10 Weeks): I rode a little bike--otherwise, no rehab.  Dr. Reynen said that it's fine to take it easy once in a while.  I took him up on that and made graduation cards instead.
Wed., May 14: Day 71 (10 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): School is probably going to go with a different insurance company beginning on June 1 (two weeks from now).  The good news?  I won't lose a bit of coverage--no worries!  Thank God for good insurance--I hardly had to pay anything.  The $600 government check will come in and then I'll really be in fine shape.
Wed., May 21: Day 78 (11 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): The last day of the 2007-8 school year!  Wow, talk about mixed emotions.  On one hand, this has been one of my favorite classes ever--so many great kids.  On the other hand, the Fins finished 1-15 and my knee finished me.  But, I want no sympathy.  This injury has opened up my mind to some different things.  I've learned how to train and stay focused.  Adversity builds character.  Before this knee injury took place, I would've thought it'd be devastating to me.  Actually, it has gone very well minus the discomfort over the first couple of weeks.
Thurs., May 29: Day 86 (12 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): I've been having some recent soreness.  I haven't really been working out my knee for several days as I've been waiting for the soreness to subside.  I have heard many times that taking one's time with a knee injury pays dividends later.  Why rush?  I have no reason to rush.  It's not like I miss tennis or racquetball or whatever.  I have found different things in my life to enjoy just as much.  When I can play tennis and racquetball again, I'll have trouble fitting all of the things I enjoy into a day.
     I had an appointment with Heidi today.  Most of the soreness, she says, stems from scar tissue issues.  I need to keep massaging and stretching the area.  Also, if pain arises, I should back down to stretching my leg.  There is always something I can do to improve.  Yes, I wish my knee was "normal," but it ain't half as bad as one might think.
Mon., June 2, 2008: Day 90 (12 Weeks & 6 Days Post-op): I gave Morgan Dorsett a call yesterday.  He had ACL surgery on January 11 of this year.  I wanted to how he felt three months after his surgery and he remembered well that there was quite a bit of soreness and walking down stairs was a problem.  Now, he said he is "zipping down steps without a problem."  One thing that really helped him was time on the stationary bike doing intervals--two minutes medium, one minute hard, two minutes medium, on minute hard, and so on for a total of 15 minutes.  I tried it today at Unity and found myself sucking some serious air.  Visiting with Morgan was very encouraging.  I feel like I am exactly where I should be.
     The biggest news of the day was that President Bill Clinton visited Milbank this morning...not that I went for a two-mile jog...because I didn't.
Wed., June 4, 2008: Day 90 (13 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): This is my three-month anniversary of my date with the operating table--no flowers, please. I am walking around pretty well-sometimes a limp here or an ache there, but not bad.  There hasn't been any jogging--feels too weak to put that much pressure on it...and my knee doesn't appreciate impact yet.  
     I had an appointment with Heidi this morning at 8:00...business as usual.  She seems confident that it's coming around and has no major concerns.  She will see what the surgeon has to say on Monday, June 9, when I meet with him...but I'm not sure I'll see him if it's a nice day--I need to be staining or I will really fall behind.  CR and I stained last Wednesday and that's been it; the rain and general sogginess doesn't allow for work right now.
     I feel as if I had better be able to jog within a couple of weeks.  I need to continue my squats and other leg exercises.  Slacking only prolongs the recovery process.  Again, no surrender--no retreat!
   
Which one of these pictures was taken on March 3, 2008...and which one was taken today on June 4, 2008?  Hint: The one on the left wasn't taken on March 3, 2008.
Wed., June 11, 2008: Day 97 (14 Weeks & 1 Day Post-op): Can't work today due to rain--good for my knee...again, I say, if ever there was a year to tear up my year, this one was the BEST one--this spring was cold, windy and snowy--the days to be outside were few--this summer is the wettest I've experienced in my 12 years of summer painting (I've been able to paint only 3 days so far); financially, it was great to have this injury in February as I've been able to keep my insurance costs to a bare minimum (actually, I may make a profit off of this injury--I'll have to explain that later); a "new" deductible begins on January 1 and I won't have to be paying that, nor other costs for going into the next calendar year...
     One cost neither my insurance company nor I will have to worry about is a brace--I refuse to wear any kind of brace due to evidence that says they don't do any good;  actually, if anything, a brace can restrict certain movements/muscles and result in injury...by not wearing a brace, I will not have the constant reminder that I was hurt; NO opponent will ever hear that I tore my ACL (I will refuse to make excuses for a loss--never have and never will); if I lose a racquetball match, my opponent will hear the same thing I've always said-"You played better than I did--nice job"...by the way, I will never lose to anybody in singles in Milbank ever again--I will be returning with a vengeance---if you are a Milbank racquetball player who is reading this, don't play me if you can't take losing--you'll have to play somebody else to win...
     How does my knee feel after three months and a few days? It still has soreness and front leg kicks/raises are tough.  I am not jogging, though I haven't really tried in some time. Walking down stairs causes pain.  I do feel like my entire quad is gaining strength slowly.  I hope to see my surgeon NEXT Wednesday and get his thoughts!
     Oh, this is why I'm not working today:
June 11 c Rain.jpg (30298 bytes)  This is the South Park.  It is wet.
June 11 g Rain.jpg (41171 bytes)
Tues., June 17, 2008: Day 103 (15 Weeks): I walked down stairs yesterday for the first time with very little to no pain.  However, tonight was not the same.  It's up and down.  I tried to jog and some thick soft grass this evening, but the pain is too great directly in the middle-left part of my knee.
     I know it's all about patience.  It will eventually come around.  There is hardly any doubt that I will fully recover.  I have an appointment with my surgeon this Thursday, but I don't think there's too much that he can tell me.  I may cancel it--it's simply a matter of time.  I continue to ride bike, do squats, toe raises, and more to strengthen muscles.  No worries.  I'm making mucho money by painting and don't have time to worry.
Thurs., June 19, 2008: Day 105  (Three Months & 2 Weeks or 15 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): As I was leaving the Sanford Orthopedic Center today, I ran into Mr. Les Bloem (knee) and Mr. Gary Armstrong (shoulder).  Three Milbank guys meet unexpectedly and there to see the Dr. Paul Reynen, a surgeon known for his excellence with shoulders and knees.
     The big story floating around Reynen's offices this morning was that of Tiger Woods. It was just announced yesterday that he tore his ACL in his left knee and will soon have surgery.  He will miss the remainder of the 2008 golf season.  I'm looking forward to following this story; I don't think it will take much effort to catch updates on his progress.  His doctors do expect him to fully recover.
     Dr. Reynen told me the same things I've heard in my last two appointments--Patience is necessary....walking and riding an airbike aren't good ways to rehab...front leg kicks is a shearing action that can be harmful...a stair-stepper is the way to go...for every 1 day down, you have 3 days to get it back (meaning my quad was slow to respond at first so it will take a bit longer to get to jogging)...my graft feels good...I will be fine...no worries!
     I have another appointment set for the middle of July (15th), but I doubt that I will make that one--too much painting to do and I know that, no matter where I'm at, I will eventually be fine.  I will be playing racquetball in October and I like that thought.
Fri., July 4, 2008: Day 120 (Four Months or 17 Weeks & 3 Days Post-op): 10:27 P.M. from Las Vegas, Nevada: I am disappointed in my knee.  It's been hurting all day...slow moving.  Pain is in all sides of knee.  Upper quad feels weak and sore.  Difficult to walk up and down steps--must hold onto railing.  Yes, this worries me.  Leg is a constant worry...I just don't feel like it's been improving at all lately.  Was Disneyland too tough on my leg?  Last Friday night I got to the point where I couldn't take another step due to the pain.
     I continue to rehab it.  It's getting more of a workout here in Vegas than it did in Milbank...perhaps that's the reason for the soreness.  I look forward to another appointment with Heidi to see what she thinks.  I feel like I need some different exercises to get my quad stronger--it's hard to hit it.
     There was an article on Ronnie Brown's progress yesterday on the Sun Sentinel web site.  What I am trying to keep in mind is that everybody heals at a different rate.  I will probably be fine in a few months.  It's just going to take time.  Easier said than done.
     This is the link to the story on Ronnie Brown: http://www.miamiherald.com/616/story/590340.html 
Sun., July 13, 2008: Day 129 (Four Months & 1 Week or 18 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op):  Still not jogging--walking down steps feels great one minute and hurts the next--probably not rehabbing the way I should be so I have scheduled an appointment with Heidi Pauli (PT) for this coming Tuesday--hope she has some words of wisdom--entire left leg still feels very weak--because I'm unable to run and burn some calories, I weighed a personal most last night (207 pounds)--I'll be able to cut that off easily as soon as I'm able to jog again...thinking about it, I still feel like it's early (only 4 months), but I would definitely like to be a lot further along than I am right now!
Sun., July 27, 2008: Day 143 (Four Months & 2 Weeks or 20 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): Here comes the jog! It's a light and slow jog, a very short jog, but I am jogging nonetheless...I saw Heidi twice last week--she gave me a 7.5 lb. ankle weight and that has helped.  Also, I ran into Kyle Kubousek at Unity yesterday; he is a certified trainer who knows his stuff.  He gave me four new exercises to do and I must say that I'm sore in both legs for the first time since beginning rehab (due to the exercises he had me do).  I am very excited about using these to add strength.  Deep down, I know that I will be fine--it's just going to take a little bit longer than I had hoped.
      Curt, if you are reading this, I have to hand it to you--you did a great job on the mound last night.  I would go so far as to call you a Pitching Stud.  Despite your torn ACL, you obviously block out the pain and are able to lead your team to wins.  After your surgery, you return to amazing shape and you are expected to pitch at least another eight years.  Very inspiring!
Sun., August 17, 2008: Day 164 (Five Months & 2 Weeks or 23 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): The knee is improving and, because I haven't been to Big Stone Therapies in quite awhile, I have to give credit where credit is due: Kyle Kubousek.  The four exercises that he suggested to me (leg extensions with a dumbell, leg curls with a dumbell, lunges using the rack, one-legged squats using the ball against the wall) have taken me to a new level. A light jog is coming...my entire leg is beginning to feel looser and looser--I love it!  I need to continue to work hard.  
     I am traveling to Sioux Falls to visit with Dr. Reynen on Tuesday.  I want to know where he thinks I'm at.  I want to know if cutting is in my near future.  I want answers to several other questions.  No surrender...no retreat!!!
Sun., August 24, 2008: Day 171 (Five Months & 4 Weeks or 25 Weeks & 2 Days Post-op): I traveled to Sioux Falls this past Tuesday (19th) to visit with Dr. Reynen.  He is not concerned; he told me to throw out the time table--"it will be ready when it feels ready"; he answered all of my questions and I've made the conclusion that I'm in good shape--maybe a bit behind, but it will get better as time passes.  I got a new brace--it will be worn minimally.  The physical therapist that fitted my brace told me to use the treadmill, gradually increasing the speed so that I'm eventually jogging--no need to walk Kevin's hills.
     I know it's getting better. Last night, I was on the field in officiating clothes for Milbank's football scrimmage.  I didn't move too much, but I know I'm on the verge of being capable.  I don't know if I should officiate the Tiospa Zina vs. Tri State game next Friday--have to wait and see.  My knee is getting a daily workout...loosening up more and more quickly.
     There are pro football players in their tenth month of ACL surgery and some of them continue to struggle.  I'm fine with being patient as long as it fully heals.  I believe it will do just that and that everyone on Milbank racquetball courts will feel my wrath.
Thurs., September 4, 2008: Day 182 (Six Months Post-op): Six-month anniversary of the ACL surgery...still not running, but the improvement I've had since beginning my new exercises 5 days ago has me really fired up...in fact, yesterday I could actually feel the pain in my knee begin to subside...I visited Brett Hudson (Sanford rehab/physical therapist) last Friday and he set up some pretty tough exercises that I've been using...also, he STRONGLY recommended that I start using the pool--I've had three pool sessions since---and I know it's making a big difference.  Lately, I've also noticed that my leg isn't as stiff when I get up after sitting for any length of time...I asked Brett if I should be doing leg extensions--his reply was absolutely not--he said that he doesn't have people with ACL tears do extensions for at least the first year--he said that those extensions may have been a reason for some the pain in my knee.
     I know I will be 100% in a few months--I continue my motto of "No retreat, no surrender."  In the end, this injury will only make me stronger.  I totally believe that to be true...even though I wouldn't choose to go through this all over again with my other knee.
Sat., September 6, 2008: Day 184 (Six Months & 2 Days Post-op): I officiated football (referee position) last night for the second straight week (Florence/Henry @ Grant-Deuel).  I felt a whole lot better than the prior week in Tiospa Zina.  I was curious to see how my knee would react today, the day after, a full football game. There is soreness/stiffness, but it isn't too bad.  The game went very well; I was able to move and never came close to a collision.  Actually, I'm beginning to think I like the white cap position, but that's beside the point.  What matters most is my return to normalcy and I feel like I'm on the way there.
     I was unable to work out my knee yesterday (besides working the game), but I gave it heck today.  It's very fatigued and will have to recover while asleep tonight.  Tomorrow will bring another intense workout...after the Fins take out the rotten Jets tomorrow in the season opener.  GO FINS!
Sat., September 27, 2008: Day 205 (Six Months, 3 weeks, & 2 Days Post-op): I officiated football (referee position) last night for the fifth straight week (Deuel @ Sisseton).  I felt a whole lot better than the prior week in White (Deubrook).  I was curious to see how my knee would react today, the day after, a full football game. Blah, blah, blah....same as three weeks ago except for a change of scenery (see my last entry).
     I will say that things have improved.  I am so close to running.  I visited with Heidi Pauli and she said that a shot of cortisone may be in my future, but I'll wait for that as long as possible.  She says that the fact that I can jog in the pool is a very good sign.  I feel good about my walking.  I feel like the limp is almost non-existant and I can go for about as long as I want to without pain.  My upper leg (quad region) does feel weak/sore, but I gave it a heck of a workout this morning at Unity.  The muscle will grow as I sleep tonight.
     Despite the wonderfully delicious Dolphin triumph over the hated Patsies a week ago, this month has gone on forever.  Is that bad?  NO WAY!  I would rather have time slow way down so that my leg will be ready to go in the middle of November.  I plan to be soundly beating some of the softer racquetball competition by the middle of December.  I feel like my progress will fly as soon as I'm able to start playing. 
     I'll say it again, this injury isn't as hard to deal with (mentally) as I thought it would be.  I am able to think of so many different things so differently.  I love challenges...and this has been one of my greatest challenges.  No, I wouldn't want to do it all over again, but it certainly hasn't been the worst thing to happen to me.
 Sat., October 4, 2008: Day 212 (Seven Months Post-op): Exactly seven months ago, I had my knee cut open and repaired by a highly-qualified surgeon.  My knee is still in the process of recovering with one more major hurdle: getting rid of the pain just below my kneecap.  Once that happens, I will be home-free.  It makes me wonder whether or not I would've been better off with a cadaver's graft.
     I've been finding time to exercise. I've been getting in the pool twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and hitting the weights every other day on a consistent basis. Once middle school football ends (less than two weeks), I will have much more time to dedicate toward my recovery.
     I am not in a panic.  Like Dr. Reynen told me, it makes no sense to put a time-table on this.  I'll be ready when I'm ready.  Playing some racquetball in the middle of November is a goal of mine, but it doesn't matter too much either way.
     Enough typing---time to head to Unity and get busy.  Love it!
 Sat., October 11, 2008: Day 219 (Seven Months & 1 Week Post-op): I officiated on a cold Castlewood field last night...jogged in pain...don't think it feels any better than the second week of officiating...leg is becoming stronger (judging by my partial step-down exercise) but the pain below my kneecap lingers...will be seeing Dr. Reynen on Monday (Columbus Day) and Brett Hudson (Physical Therapist) right after that...hoping to gain some insight from them but will probably hear the "It take time" line...I can't doubt my efforts, though, as I have put a lot of time into my rehab...I've worked it hard...for example, this morning I was not at all kind to my left leg and it has ached all day...but I have also given it time to rest....everybody out there has advice for me...Ronnie Brown continues to inspire me--he is initiating contact while scoring touchdowns....soon, I know, I will be running...and I'm hoping that my goal of playing racquetball in mid-November works out
Mon., October 13, 2008: Day 221 (Seven Months, 1 Week, & 1 Day Post-op): Mr. Bloem and I made the drive to Dr. Reynen in Sioux Falls today. We received similar news--we need time and we need more strength.  Dr. Reynen seemed a little surprised that I'm not much better.  He is concerned about the strength of my quad.  According to him, there are many possible explanations for the pain below my kneecap.  He brought up the thought that he may need to remove the screws...or it could be that the tissue simply needs more time to heal...or there's a low chance that it could be a nerve that was affected.  He did have X-rays taken of my knee.
     Dr. Reynen gave me the green light to return to the racquetball courts.  He'd like me to begin going through some of my racquetball moves--nothing too stressful but enough to work the muscles.  More time on the treadmill and track and in the pool is needed.  I don't have to do any exercise that brings about pain.
     I also spoke with Brett Hudson (Sanford physical therapist) on the phone this morning.  He is confident that the pain will subside in relation to the strength I am able to add to my leg.  He'd like to see me in late November if possible.
     Overall, I know I will be fine...but it's easy to become negative.  I'm going to fight any and all negativity for that gives me no chance.  It's time to resort back to my battlecry--NO RETREAT...NO SURRENDER!
Sat., October 18, 2008: Day 226 (Seven Months, 2 Weeks, & 1 Day Post-op): Today is the first day that I've been able to run half-decently on grass--I am thrilled with this recent progress!  I have stepped it up on the treadmill (longer intervals).  I'm not feeling any pain until the quad fatigues.  Now, I am hoping that the pain below the kneecap will begin to rapidly leave.  
     I hit racquetballs with good pace on Wednesday.  That was my first time since suffering the injury.  I can't really move side-to-side and get the ball, but I have a good start.  I feel like I can still beat people, including people my same age.  Yah, I'm talking some trash...but it's true.
     I have a feeling that my progress is going to begin to snowball.  My strengthened quads will reduce the pain in my knee....and the reduced pain in my knee will lead to greater strengthening.  Love it, love it, love it.  
Fri., October 31, 2008: Day 239 (Seven Months, 3 Weeks, & 6 Days Post-op): Today is a landmark day for me--I played competitive racquetball (doubles--partner was Rick Hermans and we played Bill Buttke and Mike Bogenrief one game to 11).  We won easily, 11-3, but the left knee was my main concern.  I have power when balanced and set, but getting into position is another challenge.  No doubt, it's getting easier, but there's still a ways to go.  I lack confidence in moving quickly, but my leg strength has been taking off, I feel.  There is no reason to rush anything; I don't feel like I'm desperate to play.  I want to be patient and do things right.
     I'll continue to run, stretch, and do squats.  I haven't been in the pool in quite some time, but that may change tomorrow morning.  No retreat...no surrender.
     Tom Brady has been in the news often.  He is battling an infection in his surgically-repaired knee.  Reports I've read say that he had the same type of graft that I did (patellar tendon).  However, he may have to have the screws removed if the antibiotics don't help---then he'd be in for a real mess.  A total redo.  I couldn't handle that.  I eagerly anticipate the next news on his progress.  Until then, I'm going to keep fighting and improving.
Sat., Nov. 8, 2008: Day 247 (Eight Months & 4 Days Post-op): Now here's a major sign of progress---the 4th day of the month came and went without me realizing it was another anniversary date of my surgery (March 4, 2008)....so, here I am four days late talking about my left knee, a knee that is coming around.  I have been working it hard--treadmills, elliptical machines, some jogging, squatting, leg curls, purple balance, step-ups and step-downs, lunges, monster walks, stretching, etc.  I've also been working out in the racquetball courts--I concentrate on staying low--great workout for both of my legs.  I feel like I'm hitting the ball extremely well, but I know that when I play a match it's quite a bit different.  One week from now is a goal that I've set to begin playing a simple singles match--not a whole lot of running, but some.
     I continue to see college and pro football players end their seasons as a result of tearing their ACLs.  Today, fortunately, it can be fixed as good as new (or even better)...it's just that it takes a few months away from you.  Now in my eighth month and looking back, the time has gone by quite quickly....though it seemed to crawl by at times.  All I know is that my recent progress has provided me lots of hope that I will soon return to the top of my game.
     By the way, here is some GREAT news: racquetball will be televised this morning at 11:00 on ESPN Classic...and again tonight!!  Going to a freezing cold SDSU game this afternoon and the Dolphins will pound the Seattle Seahawks tomorrow en route to a 5-4 record.  Life is wonderful!
Wed., Nov. 12, 2008: Day 251 (Eight Months, 1 Week & 1 Day Post-op): One day before another year in my life ends...in the new year, I'm looking forward to a full recovery with my knee...the Fins are already taking care of business (5-4), so the knee is the priority...might be February before I'm 100%, but it will come...patience--for whatever reason, I have an abundance of it...actually, I'm going to back off on the rehab for a bit--it can't hurt and I'm in no hurry...hoping no other serious injury occurs in my "new" year.
Tues., Nov. 18, 2008: Day 257 (Eight Months & 2 Weeks): My leg is improving all of the time.  I am noticing little things that, at one time, were near impossible or painful--an example would be the duckwalk--at one time I thought I'd never be able to do that again, but I am now able.  I'm moving around in the racquetball courts better and better, though I am in no hurry at all.  Actually, my arm has felt better than it ever has; the rest it has been given from not playing has been a tremendous blessing. I'm hitting the ball as hard or harder than I ever have.
     It's kind of a big day for me in that I will be officiating my first basketball game tonight. It's a seventh grade game, and the exercise will be great while making some pretty decent money.  If my leg wasn't ready for it, I would've declined the offer.
     I have said it before and I'll say it again: this injury hasn't been half as hard on me as I thought it would be.  You learn a lot about yourself....and, as I've felt since day one of this injury, there are a whole lot of people hurting much worse than what I am.  The day that I'll be dominating on the racquetball courts is near.  And, yes, if you are a racquetball player reading this right now, you best be scared for it will take a freak accident for you to score a point off of me.
Thurs., Nov. 20, 2008: Day 259 (Eight Months, 2 Weeks, & 2 Days): Well, perhaps the main reason I kept this journal going is finally coming to fruition.  Curt, a stellar athlete and friend of mine, tore his ACL a month earlier than I tore mine.  He postponed his surgery so that he could play baseball over the summer and tomorrow is his big day.  It's my hope that my experience will result in reduced recovery time for him (if I ever tear an ACL again, I'll be able to proofread all of my entries as I read again every update I listed).  Anyway, Curt is making the right decision.  Trying to get by without surgery can only set a person up for a much more serious injury.  Curt, you're going to go through some pain and inconvenience, but those are necessary obstacles in order to return as the elite athlete you've been.  Best wishes---and let me know if I can be of any help.  Please scroll up and read directly under the February 24 entry and the February 29 entry for some last-second reminders!  In a few months, you will be fine!!!
Thurs., Dec. 4, 2008: Day 273 (Nine Months): Now is the time to really make my move, to push my knee further than I have since before the injury, to get back on the racquetball court, to meet pain halfway and then overcome the rest.  I ran on the treadmill longer and faster than I have prior to the tear--it hurt today, but I have a feeling that it will feel really good tomorrow despite the extremely cold temps.  
     Nine months ago wasn't a very good time in my life.  Now I know that my time with this pain in the knee is coming to a close.  I am squatting, doing leg curls, lunges, step ups, wall sits, and more running on the treadmill.  I have been hitting the racquetball pretty well, too.  Movement, including back-pedaling, is becoming easier.  Once all is said and done, my legs will be stronger than they were in the first place.
     One main movement that I'm trying to improve is my step-downs.  That brings about a stiff pain...but it is easing as my muscles get stronger.
     Greg Camarillo (Dolphins wide receiver) went down with an ACL tear in his left knee two weeks ago.  Greg C, I can't wait to see you back on the field in nine months. Just like Curt S, you'll be tearing up secondaries all over the nation.
Mon., Dec. 29, 2008: Day 298 (Nine Months, 3 Weeks, & 4 Days): THE MIAMI DOLPHINS HAVE DONE IT!  AFC EASTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS!!  I LOVE IT!!!  One thing that I love so much about this is the inspiration they have given me during my long recovery from ACL surgery.  Guys like Ronnie Brown, Renaldo Hill, and Yeremiah Bell, three Fins who suffered serious, serious injuries last year (2 ACLs and 1 Achilles tendon), came back with a vengeance.  They didn't simply compete--they competed and SUCCEEDED!!!  It makes me want to work my knee--and all other parts of my body--to become the very best that I can be.  I know that I will return just as they did and clobber people...and their inspiration makes it a whole lot easier to keep on fighting back.  I love those MIAMI DOLPHINS!!!
Sun., Jan. 4, 2009: Day 304 (Ten Months): Yep, it's been exactly ten months since my surgery.  It's been an up-and-down road, but I feel like I am headed in the right direction.  Simply, I need to strengthen my quad.  When getting into athletic position, there is discomfort.  Also, there is pain that lingers in my knee.  I know that all pain will eventually be gone, but until then, I need to continue to work out my knee.  One of my resolutions is to work it until exhaustion at least once every day.
     I have been greatly inspired to work my butt off by the Miami Dolphins.  Though their season ended today against Baltimore in the AFC Wild Card game, many of the players have remarkable stories that lead me to believe that I, too, can overcome a serious injury.  Ronnie Brown, Renaldo Hill, and Yeremiah Bell are just three Dolphins who overcame serious, serious injuries last year....and then helped elevate their team's performance to a divisional title this year. 
     Bring on 2009!  I will be back in the winning saddle before too much longer!
Sun., Jan. 25, 2009: Day 325 (Ten Months & 3 Weeks): A few things to say... (1) Thanks, Curt, for providing a reason for me to create this site, this log of entries...for if you hadn't torn your ACL, I probably wouldn't have kept this going.  Also, thanks to several select eighth graders of 2007-8 who cared enough to want to know my status when I was missing school; if you hadn't asked me to enter my status (day-to-day early on), I'm almost certain that my entries would've been few and far between.  As selfish as I am, this site was actually more for others than for me...but now I'm very, very, very glad I did it.  Who knows who will tear his or her ACL in the future?  It might be me again! This resource will remain. (2) I have many people to thank.  I just heard a Tom Brady interview; he is in the process of recovering from his torn ACL.  He mentioned how many great people he has met as a result of his injury and he discovered how many people cared.  I, too, have met many first-rate human beings who have helped me through this.  From Dr. Milbank Reynen to Mr. Wade Vandover to Dr. Surgeon Reynen to the ladies at Sanford to my therapists in Milbank...also, the many people who came up to me who I had never spoken to before who shared their stories of their knee injuries and gave me hope...to my friends who sent balloons, messages, mail, and more and to those who brought me DVDs to catch up on classics I had never seen..to all of these people I am most grateful and will be there when you need me.  (3)  I truly feel like I am good to go.  There is still some slight pain on certain movements, but I move around like I did before.  My leg/knee area is gaining strength all of the time.  I am noticing improvements every few days.  I have been working hard and can't say I've had any setbacks.  I beat the legend Arnie Kirch and Ryan the Lion in racquetball cut-throat on Friday, January 16.  That gave me the knowledge that I am back...but I am being careful.  What is the rush?  There is none.  I have plenty of time.  I feel like I could start going all-out, but I'd rather play the safe card.  I'm going to get stronger legs than I've ever had.  All of this rehab has told me just how weak my legs were in the first place.  (4)  That's it for now.  I'm very happy and can't wait for a little tennis this summer.  Dave Pete vs. Yours Truly.  It's gonna be a war!!!!
Wed., Feb. 4, 2009: Day 335 (Eleven Months): Last year at this time, the Giants had just handed the New England Cheatin' Pastries a wonderfully glorious loss.  I was thrilled.  The '72 Dolphins remained as the one, the only, the best ever!  I was on cloud number nine; everything was wonderful.  Then, on February 9, I jumped in the air during a racquetball tournament and landed awkwardly.  The result? A tear. Now, exactly eleven months post-surgery, I am feeling great again.  I have everything going for me and truly feel blessed.  I am better than I was one month ago....and I will be better on my one-year surgery anniversary next month. 
     I played five games of singles on Super Bowl Sunday and won four of them.  My serve is on, but I'm not moving sideways very well just yet.  I hesitate on the change of direction, but I realize that I could do it if I absolutely have to.
     There were times when I doubted a full recovery.  I was worried.  But I now realize that that's just a standard part of ACL surgery and the recovery stage.  They say it's a 6-12 month process. I'm right on the mark and have no complaints.  We'll see where I'm at in one more month--MARCH 4!!!!!
 
Sun., Feb. 8, 2009: Day 339 (Eleven Months & 4 Days): Today I returned to the scene of the "crime."  I couldn't miss the Men's Pro Finals of the 31st annual Lewis Drug racquetball tournament (#2 Huczek beat #1 Carson in 5 games for the title).  It was at this tournament a year ago that the injury-bug blindsided my knee.  To return to the scene was very, very cool.  The racquetball nation is like a family--we have our "reunion" there once a year.  Many great people.  The pros visit with no arrogance.  The worst player can sit alongside the number one player in the world and have a slice of pizza as they await their next matches.  My eighth grade team of teachers consists of some of my favorite people...and the racquetball players who attend the Lewis tourney each year rank right up there.
     Anyway, needless to say, I'm in much better shape
this Sunday night than I was on last year's Sunday night at this time.  I am ready to add some more muscle to my leg this week and some more quality play.  I'm hoping to be ready for the Spring Fling in Watertown in March.
Wed., Mar. 4, 2009: Day 363 (ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!): Short of ten minutes and exactly one year ago, I was quite groggy after waking up.  Surgery had been completed and I was ready for some Sprite and toast.  The misery began that night.  It's been an interesting road back--without being creative, I'd have to compare it to a rollercoaster ride.  I've had my share of hopes and dreams.  Just when I thought I'd never improve, progress would suddenly occur.  And, just when I thought I had everything under control, I'd get punched in the face.
     One thing is for sure: I'm a much more appreciative person.  Something as simple as walking into my classroom brings happiness.  I still feel some tightness in my knee and I'm not sure I can trust it yet.  I'm getting small, subtle signs, however, that it's pretty much ready to go.
     Here's another thing that's for sure: My heated rivalry with Dave Peterson will finally continue on the tennis court this spring and summer.  We'll be playing a best-of-5 set match under the lights.  That will be awesome!!!
     Another workout awaits me at Unity after school.  I won't quit until my leg is stronger than it ever was in the first place.  NO RETREAT...NO SURRENDER!!!
     Life is good.
Sat., Mar. 7, 2009: Day 366 (One year & 3 Days): Was just watching CNN and saw a story on a surgeon who repairs the knees of some of the most elite athletes in the world--he was one of the first people to push braces instead of casts--he believes that many athletes who suffer knee injuries eventually perform better than they did prior to the injuries...and this is why... http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/03/hargreaves.injury/index.html
     If this link should break, I copied and pasted the text below:

The doctor who saved Owen Hargreaves' career

March 3, 2009 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
By Mark Tutton
For CNN

LONDON, England (CNN) -- It only takes one injury to end an athlete's career. Anything that impairs an athlete's performance could mean they're no longer good enough for the top flight -- that's why the best athletes need the best treatment if they're to recover from injury.  Manchester United star and England international footballer Owen Hargreaves is known for his versatility and exceptional work rate, but in 2008 his season was cut short by tendonitis. Hargreaves, 27, was told he would need surgery on both knees to save his career. That's when he decided to travel to the small mountain ski village of Vail, Colorado, to meet the "knee whisperer" -- Dr Richard Steadman. Steadman became fascinated with the way the knee functions and how it can be injured during his university days playing American football. Now known as "Doctor Steady," Steadman is knee specialist to the stars, counting Real Madrid ace Ruud van Nistelrooy, American football sensation Bruce Smith, and even the King of Spain among his clients.  "I just think he understands the athletes, the significance of the injuries and he's able to deal with the personalities that go along with these injuries," Hargreaves told CNN.

Steadman works with a team of 75 doctors who have together repaired some 16,000 knees. He has developed pioneering knee treatments, including "micro-fracturing," which involves making a small hole in a patient's bone to draw out marrow blood, allowing the patient's own stem cells and growth factors to make new cartilage. Dr. Steadman says the secret to healing athletes is letting them do what they do best. "I became convinced early in my career that mobility was important and immobility was a bad thing. "I was one of the first ones to say, 'I don't think we'll use casts, we'll work on braces, we'll try to get motion back'," he told CNN.

Owen Hargreaves has about a month left of rehab in Vail. His days follow a strict routine: Wake up, rehab, eat lunch, rehab, eat dinner and rest. "It's been frustrating at times," says Hargreaves. "I don't really watch our games because as an athlete, and being so competitive, it's hard to watch when you normally would be out there." Steadman says Hargreaves will return to football next season better than ever, adding that athletes often build inner strength from overcoming what could be a career-ending injuries.  Hargreaves shares that view. "I'm going to come back stronger and hopefully add a couple of years onto my career," he said.

For others the road to recovery can be slower. British middleweight boxer Michael Watson almost died after collapsing at the end of his 1991 title fight with Chris Eubank. "I took a punch, everything went blank and I woke up in a bed. I thought I was dreaming," Watson told CNN. Watson spent the next 40 days in a coma and had to undergo six brain operations. Neurosurgeon Peter Hamlyn, who operated on Watson, told CNN, "He was as close to death as I think it's possible to go, and survive. And he stayed there for longer than anyone I've ever known." It was thought that Watson would never walk again, but after years of slow recovery, he was able to enter the 2003 London Marathon, completing it over six days. "His [recovery] is by far the most remarkable I've ever seen," said Hamlyn. There's now a close bond between Hamlyn and Watson, and Steadman's patients are similarly grateful for their recoveries. The hallway of Steadman's clinic is lined with the signed shirts of his former patients; the number 10 Manchester United shirt signed by Ruud van Nistelrooy reads simply "Thank you for giving back my dream."

Tues., Mar. 31, 2009: Day 393 (One year, 3 weeks, & 6 days): I'M CLOSING OUT THIS MONTH LIKE A LION! My knee hasn't felt any better.  I was shooting baskets at the high school tonight without my neoprene knee brace and it felt great.  Sure, there's a little pain here and there, but there is not doubt that my leg is as strong as it's been in a long, long time.  I took advantage of our fifth blizzard day of the school year today and went to Unity to work out this morning--hitting racquetballs felt good.  I worked out my leg after that and did some upper body work, too.  This is after an intense workout yesterday of racquetball versus Lion the Ryan and then some leg work on the dance floor--having him in there pushed me to work harder.
I'm so thankful that I've had people around me who have continually giving me hope.  I have rid my life of the doubters--no time for them.  It's all positive because, like anything else, positivity and persistence will eventually conquer all.  And, like Curt says, failure is not an option. 
     Tomorrow we bring on April.  Tennis.  Track for others.  The NFL Draft and the NFL schedule.  These are good times.  And, the fact that I will remain in eighth grade---it can't get any better!!!

  Go Dolphins!
Sat., April 4, 2009: Day 397 (One year & one month): Picking up the intensity of my rehab has helped immensely--jumping rope, squats, sprints, lunges, basketball slides, jogging, stretching, etc. has elevated me to 83%.  I need to improve my acceleration--I think it may be more of a mind thing at this point--but more strengthening will give me the confidence to let loose.  I know that, at this pace, I will be 100% by May 31 and should be 106-112% of what I was by the middle of the summer.  I vow to become stronger and faster than what I was---and if another injury hits me, I shall do it all over again.  I could play tennis...if the weather cooperated.  The consistently cold weather hasn't allowed for much exercise yet, but I'll soon be able to run on grass.  Dave and I will be running football routes on the turf of A.B. Campbell Stadium...after we play three sets of tennis...and after running some sprints and jogging a lap or two around the track.
Thurs., April 30, 2009: Day 422 (One year, one month, & 26 days): The final day of April has me elated/thrilled but not satisfied.  There is more work to be done--more rehab.  I'm not stopping until my legs (plural) are significantly stronger than they were prior to the mishap.  But, I'm definitely on my way.  I played racquetball last evening and felt almost as good as I ever have.  The intensity has picked up; my urgency level has increased.  Now, it's a matter of playing.  What has changed in the last three weeks is this:  a few people could beat me three weeks ago, whereas nobody could beat me now.  I hope to travel to Watertown this summer and play their up-and-coming star (J. Hemiller).  So, I'm closing out on a high note.  Sure, I had my doubts as to whether I'd ever fully recover---but now I know that I'm not too far away from the top of the world!!!
Mon., May 4, 2009: Day 426 (One year & 2 months): Now, I just need to "close the deal."  My knee is almost where it needs to be, but I'm several intense workouts away from being 100%.  I have been working it out regularly, and that's been paying dividends.  I think about my knee just as much as I have anytime in the last three weeks--constantly think about working it out in different ways.  I also push myself more than I ordinarily would prior to the injury; I remember being unable to walk, it makes me appreciative, and that makes me work harder.  The part of the knee that is numb probably is misinterpreted at times as being hurt, but that's something I need to continue to push through.  I'm looking forward to a summer of racquetball, tennis, one-on-one basketball, and throwing the football around.  Only 13.5 school days remain--I must push as hard as I can both in the classroom and wherever I happen to be when working out!
Sat., June 6, 2009: Day 459 (One year, 3 months, 1 week & 2 days): This is the first time I've skipped writing on my "Fourth of the Month Anniversary," so I guess that's all part of the recovery process.  My knee is holding up well despite low levels of rehab.  I haven't been putting much extra time into my rehab--no lifting, running, jumping, etc.  Instead, I'm making a good living off of painting.  There is a ton of money to be made in that business, but I'll get off of that for now.  More importantly, I'm playing any sport that I want to.  The only thing I'm missing is the inital burst--the first few steps of acceleration.  But, I have no doubt that that will return with some rehab.  I have no complaints--this summer is already a whole lot better than last year's!
Tues., June 16, 2009: Day 469 (One year, 3 months, 1 week, & 12 days): The MIAMI DOLPHINS--they inspire me to no end.  The team, the history, the individual players.  One of my favorite all-time players, despite his current brief tenure with the team, fell victim to the ACL tear last season.  His name is Greg Camarillo.  And, by the sound of it coming out of his offseason training, he will be MORE than ready to go for this upcoming season.   
     This is a recent article taken from the Sun-Sentinel (June 12, 2009): 

Dolphins receiver Greg Camarillo ready to take on heavier load

Sat., July 4, 2009: Day 487 (One year & 4 months):  Last year on July 4 I was in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I wasn't too pleased about my knee and its progress--it was hard to walk up and down steps.  One year later, I feel pretty darn good.  I know what I have to do--my quad must be strengthened.  However, despite the weaker leg, I am competing in everything I did prior to the injury.  The South Dakota Closed Tennis Tournament in Brookings is two weeks away.  I'll be playing both doubles and singles--LOTS OF FUN TO COME!
     I need to start running more.  Time seems to be the biggest problem.  Making lots of cash in the painting business is a definite hobby of mine---even better is working with the people I've chosen to be on the crew.  It is a great crew!
     That's all for now.  It's Mom and Dad's 45th wedding anniversary today...and Dad is feeling better.  That's the most important thing!!
Sun., September 6, 2009: Day 551 (One year, 6 months, & 2 days): I've been chipping away at things and I am now confident that I can get the leg as strong as I want it to be.  I have my times when I give it almost too much rest, but there's no doubt that I am still headed in the right direction.  I am really enjoying officiating on Friday nights; it was so hard to run last year, while this year it's a blast to run down the field.  I think that if I hunker down and give it a consistent, three-week workout, I'll be good to go.  I can sprint at full speed without worry.  There is some pain in and around the knee, but it is very manageable and it's getting to be less and less.
     I haven't hit the racquetball around for quite awhile, but I'm excited to return because I know it's going to feel a whole lot better.  I know that I'll actually be able to take off quickly whenever I need to--I had been pretty hesitant.
     Helping inspire me a great deal has been GC83--Miami Dolphin Greg Camarillo, number 83.  He is playing great football nine months after his surgery.  Here is yet another article on him that I found on the Sun-Sentinel web site on 8-29-09:

Miami Dolphin Greg Camarillo shows injury no concern
By Omar Kelly South Florida Sun-Sentinel
August 29, 2009
Sometimes getting past season-ending injuries has more to do with the mind than the area of the body that was hurt.  That is the challenge for Dolphins receiver Greg Camarillo, who is 10 months into rehabilitating the left knee he injured in a Nov. 23 loss to the Patriots Camarillo has pushed the surgically repaired knee to its limit to get back onto the field, where he's working to regain his starting spot.  In one play during Thursday night's 10-6 exhibition victory over Tampa Bay, he showed off his toughness by turning an 8-yard out route into a 52-yard gain in the fourth quarter.  The run-after-catch moves proved to the former Stanford walk-on he's still in possession of the limited speed he did have, which helped him have 55 receptions for 613 yards and two touchdowns in 11 starts last season.
"It's been a long time since I'd been in the open field," Camarillo said. "It's been a long road back, and I'm still not there. But I'm getting there."
Camarillo said he didn't think about heading for sideline after making the catch. He has made a name for himself by turning those types of passes inside, going up field and fighting for extra yards.
"My knee is not an excuse. The way I play is the way I play," Camarillo said. "The game of football I play is a representation of me 100 percent, and I won't make any excuses or back down."
Even though the Dolphins are built to be a ball-control offense, coach Tony Sparano knows big plays such as Camarillo's and the 54-yarder by rookie receiver
Brian Hartline are needed.
"It can't take us 15 plays to score every touchdown," Sparano said. "We have to be able to get some chunk yards."
Quarterback
Chad Pennington, who missed a large portion of two seasons because of shoulder problems, admits the mental challenge is the toughest part of a comeback.  Pennington said in the early stages of his comebacks, every time he made certain throws, or got hit a certain way, he found himself subconsciously making sure "my shoulder stayed on my body."  That's why Pennington is confident Camarillo's big play will be good for his psyche.
"You could tell in his eyes when he was coming off the field he was pumped up about it, excited about it," Pennington said. "When you are going through a major injury, and in the recovery [stage], you've got to have plays like that to assure yourself, build the confidence. You know you can do it but your body has to prove itself to you that I can still do it."
These days all Camarillo is focused on is proving he deserves to remain a starter, holding off Davone Bess, who replaced his last season, and Hartline, who started his second consecutive exhibition game.  But Camarillo says the worst thing he could do is worry about the competition because it'll hinder his focus. He's aware the same can be said about the knee.

Sun., October 4, 2009: Day 579 (One year, 7 months): The Miami Dolphins, led largely by ACL victims Ronnie Brown and Greg Camarillo (and first-time starter Chad Henne), beat the daylights--I said "DAYLIGHTS"--out of Buffalo today for their first win of the season.  It was FANTASTIC--38-10!!!  Following Fin wins, I find myself with an extra high level of motivation to work hard/push forward.  This will be a good week of gaining strength and getting better.  If I allow my leg to rest for too long, it becomes weak; this motivates me to consistently work out...even when I don't necessarily feel like it. 
     Life is soooooooo good.  I'm coming off one of the best times of my life---a weekend of 20-year high school reunion activities.  It was a pair of late nights and was worth every bit of the exhaustion I currently feel.  But, tomorrow night, it will be time once again to hit the weights and treadmill.  I can't wait.
Fri., December 4, 2009: Day 640 (One year, 9 months): Yes, I have soreness in my knee.  The degree and type of pain varies from day-to-day.  Also, my right knee has been a concern--I think I'm favoring that knee and the extra stress I'm putting on it is catching up with me a bit.  I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT I NEED TO ADD STRENGTH TO MY REPAIRED KNEE.  Until I dedicate myself to adding strength WITH WEIGHTLIFTING, I can expect the current soreness.  I did play football this past Tuesday night and then followed that up with racquetball on Wednesday night.  All in all, I have no reason to complain about anything.  I'm pretty healthy.  My upper body strength is increasing.  The most important part, however, is that this knee injury has me living a much healthier lifestyle.  I'm constantly aware of the need to exercise and improve myself.  I sleep very well at night.  Time to get back to work...and I wouldn't want it any other way............................................
Mon., January 4, 2010: Day 661 (One year, 10 months): I I have four main leg exercises that I'm going to hit hard and heavy throughout the remainder of this winter...I can already feel the strength improving...now, because nobody else reads this, I can write this: I have a whole lot in common with Patriots' QB Tom Brady and now Patriots' WR Wes Welker...Brady, also an ACL victim, just reminded Welker (who tore his ACL yesterday) that he will have a new appreciation for the game--it changes things in a positive way; I totally agree with Brady--I used to hate to run....but now I enjoy it, especially when it's totally pain-free (this happens after I've warmed up properly)...I admire people who have had major injuries but battle back to be better than before....I want to be one of those people.  So, as I've said many times, I am very glad that I've gone through all of this for MANY different reasons (at the time I never would've said this).  And, if it should happen again, I'll be ready to take on the challenge once again.  No surrender...no retreat!
Mon., January 14, 2010: Day 671 (One year, 10 months, 10 days): I My first racquetball tournament since The Injury happened took place on Saturday, January 9, in Watertown.  I had a blast.  I did not lose any single matches and won all but one doubles match.  I couldn't have asked for a better return to tournament action.  I played a total of six matches and my body held up very well.  Now, I'm even more motivated to work out and get stronger than I was prior to the injury.  Though not yet 100%, I fully realize that I am one lucky guy--to be able to play a sport I love after a major knee injury is a blessing.
Sun., January 24, 2010: Day 691 (One year, 10 months, 20 days): I I'm fired up!  I am headed back to participate in my first Lewis Drug racquetball tournament since 2008 (when I was injured)!  The top pros in the world will be there--I love watching them.  It's always a blast--one of the best tournaments in the nation due to the combination of Troy Stallings (a pro in Sioux Falls and a guy who is a good friend to all of the best players in the world) and Mark Griffith (owner of the Lewis Drug chain who is a decent player with a large amount of $$$$$ for the winners).  My plan is to go and have fun (a given) and avoid any injuries (not a given...but if it happens, it happens--I know I can recover once again and come back and play at a high level again).  So, it's a time to practice, watch video, eat healthy, lift, and do other exercises.  Basically, it's a time to get healthier and, really, that's what it's all about.  I'm 39--younger than Brett Favre.  No excuses.  Work hard.  Be in shape.  Have fun.
Sun., January 31, 2010: Day 698 (One year, 10 months, 27 days): I I'm fired up!  I am back from the Lewis Drug racquetball tournament and tied for my best finish ever.  Though my goal has always been to win the "A" division, I finished as the runner-up in a very winnable match.  I gave my legs/knees everything they could handle as I played eight matches in three days.  It was a blast!!  All of the time and effort it has taken to get back to the LONGEST RUNNING RACQUETBALL TOURNAMENT IN THE NATION (32 years) was worth it.  To anybody who doubts the return of an ACL victim, think again.  I am sky-high and feel luck the luckiest guy in the world!
Thurs., Feb. 4, 2010: Day 702 (23 Months): My knees continue to recover from this past weekend--the stress and strain on my body was definitely worth it--I look forward to hitting the weights again, probably this Saturday--I'm going to put the pedal to the metal as we close out these last four months of school--in the classroom, in the weight room, and on the racquetball court, there will be no holding back--all-out--I can relax a bit in the summer--I entered a writing on this very date a year ago--in looking back, I have come a long way--I look forward to seeing where I'm at physically at this point one year from now!
Thurs., March 4, 2010: Day 730 (24 Months): Knees--achy and weak.  Haven't played a game of racquetball since the Lewis tournament on January 31.  Think I may have torn or stretched something in my "good" knee.  Frustrated...yet I know it's most likely for the best.  Today is my two-year surgery anniversary--two years ago at this time I was under the knife and Brett Favre was announcing on ESPN that he was done playing football.  I'm just happy to be healthy and loving my job and sleeping without pain and.....here come the the eighth graders...time to DO WORK!
     Later (8:51 P.M.): The Bulldogs BBB team just held off a game Tiospa Zina club, 59-58, to win the district championship--a great win for a great group of guys.  Two years ago on this date the Dawgs fell to Sioux Valley in the region championship on SDSU's floor...but that was the LEAST of my worries.
Sun., May 23, 2010: Day 810 (Two years, 2 months, 19 days): I don't think I've ever been closer to forgetting about this knee incident.  I've been strength-training fairly regularly this spring, and that has resulted in minimal warm-up time to feel good.  I can run on the treadmill as long as I like without pain--it's my lungs that have the problem.  School is out and I know I'm set for an extremely enjoyable summer.  Last year, I didn't purchase Mr. Hadorn's scooter for $1,300 so that I would force myself to bike everywhere (build leg strength).  Well, since things have been going so well combined with the fact that Mr. Hadorn dropped his offer several hundred dollars, I went for it.  I'll be cruising around on the Zuma and my bike all summer.  Life is great!
Tues., July 6, 2010: Day 854 (Two years, 4 months, 2 days): Improvement continues.  I continue to work it with weights and other exercises.  Sure, there is some pain in  both knees, but there was pain before anything ever happened to me.  It's all part of getting out there, competing, and staying in shape!  I'll keep on striving to improve...in all areas.  The Fins will soon open camp and that will inspire me even more.  Right now, I'm focusing on improvement in tennis so I'm ready to win with DP in Sioux Falls.
Tues., July 31, 2010: Day 879 (Two years, 4 months, 27 days): DP was unable to make this tournament (in South Bend, Indiana), so I ended up playing with Matt Kurtz.  We lost last Saturday in a match that could've gone either way.  A bye was followed by another bye in the consolation round.  That put us in the consolation final against a father/son team on a sunny, muggy Sunday afternoon.  We played as horrific as tennis could be played and lost set #1, 6-0. Giving up wasn't an option.  We returned the favor and won, 6-1, in a set that saw us play almost every point perfectly.  We owned the match-breaker, 10-6, and took home the blue towel.  A fun win!
All of this tennis, I hope, is getting me ready for movement on the racquetball court.  Although my right heel is bothering me, I'll be set to go this fall.  I'm able to run without stopping due to pain in the left leg--a great sign.  The Fins began camp yesterday and the road to the Super Bowl is on.  More inspiration!  And it's still only July!!
Sun., October 24, 2010: Day 964 (Two years, 7 months, 20 days): Actually, I have more concern about my right knee, the knee that wasn't surgically repaired, than my left knee.  Of course, I'd love to proclaim the possession of two perfect knees, but I'll gladly settle for a knee that has undergone major surgery and now is less of an issue than my "healthy" knee.  My left knee does have some aches and pains, but it's hard to say whether it's a result of the surgery or the result of age (normal wear and tear).  For all of the doubters, sorry that I can't pass along bad news, news that would prove you right.  I am excited about the beginning of racquetball season and all of the ups and downs that go with it.  My doubles partner from Watertown, Wade H., motivates me even more--we'll have a blast together as we hit tournaments and play at a high level.  Bring it!!!
Tues., December 28, 2010: Day 1,029 (Two years, 9 months, 24 days): My knees are feeling better and better and I can't wait to start the tournament season in 2011.  The Lewis Drug tourney in Sioux Falls is less than one month away. I'm going to continue training--shoulders are great/need endurance work/etc.  I'll be drilling with forehands, backhands, pinches, splats, and overheads...and I'm going to enjoy every bit of it.  It's easy to say, but I definitely mean it, when I say that I appreciate this sport more than I ever have.  My shots have returned; I still need to see some of my anticipation instincts return, but that will come with the more shots I face.  The best part of it is this: more and more days go by when I don't even think of the once-injured knee.  I'm ready to go all-out and, if it should ever happen again, that's the way it goes.  At least I'm doing something with my life--playing a sport I love!
Thurs., January 27, 2011: Day 1,059 (Two years, 10 months, 23 days): The Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament kicks off tomorrow and I absolutely can't wait!  I've been stretching and playing and lifting and thinking and I feel like I'm ready to roll.  As an added bonus this year, I get to play doubles with Wade Heiser (Watertown), a hard-working, determined player.  I think we've got a nice chance to win and a perfect chance to have fun.  This is really the first tournament after my injury that I'm going in without much thinking about the knee.  It's more about having fun, seeing many friends, getting in better shape, and keeping score than thinking about possibly re-injuring myself.  And, if it should happen (injury), I'm willing to deal with the consequences.  I don't want to sit at home and do nothing; I want to compete.  I want to fight mediocrity.  I want to represent self.
  I'm entering this tourney as the number two seed, simply a result of a great tournament last year.  If the chips fall correctly, I might end up in the final again.  With a draw of 28, including last year's "A" champion, I've got my work cut out for me.  I wouldn't want it any other way!!!
Sun., January 30, 2011: Day 1,062  (Two years, 10 months, 26 days): The Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament has come and gone and I'm thrilled to be home in one healthy piece.  I also returned with the "A" consolation title....but nothing near my biggest goal of winning the "A" division.  I got second place last year, but I dropped my first match this year.  Simply put, I ran out of juice in that first match.  Losing the tie-breaker was disappointing, but that's the way the chips fall sometimes.  I'll be back.  I just want to thank the good Lord for allowing me to return to that tourney and have so much fun.  The people are absolutely great and the racquetball is a large bonus. 
     I'll be working out tomorrow--making my baby steps to next year's tournament.  My backhand needs strength as well as both legs.  I feel like I'm almost there!
Wed., February 9, 2011: Day 1,072  (Two years, 11 months, 5 days): Exactly three ago today, I experienced a wonderful setback!  I tore my ACL playing a sport I absolutely LOVE!  And, now, I can honestly say that I'm glad it happened.  I appreciate things so much more...and this appreciation has taken my racquetball game to a higher level.  The game seems easy...I'm having a blast with it...and I love it much more than I did a few years ago!  The comeback run taught me things: I found out who my real friends are (one "friend" seemed, um, happy about it--I can't figure that out, but it hardly matters--good riddance).  It taught me what hard work is all about, what it means to sacrifice (I hated the stair climbers and the treadmills...but I did them religiously...and it all paid off).  Also, I used to take racquetball for granted (if that makes sense).  These days, I truly look forward to every single time I'll be able to step onto a court and compete.  I don't let hunger or tiredness or life's other stresses to interfere with my enjoyment of the game.  And I'm even more thankful when I leave the court without bump, bruise, or other.
  In short, I've got it made.  I know it....and I appreciate it. I thank the good Lord for all of His blessings.
Mon., March 20, 2011: Day 1,111 (Three years and 16 days): Just over three years ago, I went through major surgery.  Now, three years and 16 days later, I can say that I am playing racquetball with a major amount of confidence.  I'm winning...and that's not the most important thing.  The most important things are this: I am having a blast AND I'm doing something healthy for me.  I played in the March Madness Racquetball Tournament this weekend, won $50 for my efforts, and have returned to Milbank in better health than when I left for Watertown.  This next statement is important: to people who have never torn an ACL and had surgery, I don't wish it upon you...but if it does happen, the positive consequences far outweigh any negative experiences. 
     It's CR's birthday today.  It's the first day of spring.  I rode my scooter for the first time today (to school this evening).  We have 40 days or so of school remaining.  Yes, I've got it good.  Really good!!
Thurs., March 31, 2011: Day 1,122  (Three years and 27 days): The last time I won the "A" division in Milbank, SD, was in 2007, for long years ago...until today.  In a sense, it's the other bookend to cap off the "injury phase" of life.  It took me two relatively easy games to regain the title that evaded me after the knee issue.  I didn't compete in the "A" division tournament in 2008 and 2009, and then I made a brief and painful appearance last year (2010)--my right knee was ailing due to the 2010 Lewis Tournament.  So, yes, I feel really, really, really good about where I'm at.  Winning a fairly meaningless "A" tourney in Milbank isn't a big deal, but it is a sign of health and that, when all is said and done, is what I cherish the most.  Winning is a sign of being healthy.
  I'm very much looking forward to entering the summer in great shape.  Jet-skis.  Fun.  Can't wait!
Thurs., August 4, 2011: Day 1,248  (Three years and 5 months): A grrrrrrrreat summer!  Don't really think about ACL too often. Of course, I've got pain on the right knee and then the left knee and back to the right knee and on and on....but, to me, that's to be expected as long as I remain quite active.  There won't be any sitting around to "save" myself.  Maybe the pain will increase, maybe it won't.  If it does, I'll go in and get it figured out.  Live hard---no regrets on deathbed.  No thinking "I wish I had been more active."  Tennis has gone pretty well.  I feel like I could be fairly salty if I committed to it.  My racquetball game, I know, will be fine.  And I'm looking forward to battling some eighth grade teams in 2-on-2 football this fall.  Some basketball would be great, too.
     School will be starting soon and I embrace that.  It's fun to be back in the grind, working hard, and making progress.  It's football season, too.  These are the days to be grateful for!
Fri., October 14, 2011: Day 1,319  (Three years, 7 months, and 10 days): At random... (1) I'll be officiating football tonight. The ACL injury required me to become the referee (the head official) for many games due to my mobility and safety issues.  There was a time when I never thought I perform adequately in that position (mainly due to nervousness regarding the importance of the position).  But, after being "forced" out of my comfort zone, I have come to realize that the referee position is one of my favorite things to do in life.  Tonight in Webster, though, I'll be the back judge--plenty of running...but I love it, too! (2) Sure, there are aches in my knees, but I'm 40.  I've been very active. It's to be expected.  Fortunately, once I get my legs warmed up, the aches can be forgotten about. (3) As the temps begin to go on the decline, my thoughts turn to racquetball.  I've been hitting the ball very well; in fact, I believe my form has improved. (4) I appreciate being able to move around!  I think of this about everyday.  They say grateful people typically live longer and are more healthy...well, that is true.  I feel like I'm proof of that.  I thank the good Lord often for the gift of my health and being able to walk and run around.  (5) If the 0-4 Dolphins can beat the hated Wets this coming Monday night, I will have it made!
Wed., December 7, 2011: Day 1,373 (Three years, 10 months, and 3 days): At random... (1) 70 years ago today.  Tragic.  September 11th-like.  Cannot be forgotten.  (2) 1,242 days ago.  ACL surgery.  Not too big of a deal.  Still working on it.  (3) I have found that walking backward at an incline on the treadmill combined with jogging/jogging is really good for me right now.  I haven't played a game of racquetball since October (Lion) only because I've been concentrating on other aspects of physical health--I'm as good as I have been in a long time.  (4)  Absolutely fired up for the racquetball season--the Lewis Tourney is remaining the same--top pros from the world journey to Sioux Falls, SD.  Hanging out with see-a-few-times-a-year buddies is pretty much a dream weekend...while playing an event that I truly love.  (5)  What a wonderful time of the year!
Wed., February 22, 2012: Day 1,450  (Three years, 11 months, and 21 days): Ash Wednesday--the beginning of a very meaningful season.  I'm as excited as I've ever been.  I'm in the midst of my most committed time period to getting into great shape since prior to my ACL injury four years ago.  I'm playing racquetball and basketball, I'm lifting, I'm stretching, and I'm hitting the treadmill.  I'm also taking a supplement this is supposed to promote good health in the joints; so far, I have every reason to believe that there are benefits (even it is merely psychological).  There are two racquetball tournaments remaining (Fargo and Watertown) and I have every intention of representing myself very well.  My racquets have just been upgraded (two of the same now) and that has been quite the motivational lift.  It's simple: I have to continue to push myself even when I don't feel like working out a whole lot.  The time is now.  Summer is coming and that's another reason to be in top physical condition.  But, before that happens, I have much to accomplish.  No surrender, no retreat.  Praise the GOOD Lord!
Mon., March 26, 2012: Day 1,483 (Four years, 3 weeks, and 1 day): Praise the GOOD Lord, indeed!!  I returned home from my third and final out-of-town racquetball tournament since January.  Healthy and in fine physical condition.  Playing solid racquetball.  I played in the top division in Watertown this past weekend and held my own.  Last year I won the consolation championship, while this year I came close.  I lost 11-8 in a tie-breaker against a very good player.  Am I trying to pump myself up?  No.  I'm writing this for any future ACL "victim"--you, too, can go on to enjoy great competition if you have the courage to get back out there.  I don't remember thinking about the health of my knee (or knees) or the possibility of getting hurt even once.  I DID think about winning and, on Saturday night, I had one of my favorite comeback victories of all.    I'm heading into summer healthy and that is a true blessing. 
Fewer than 40 days of school remain and the weather has been unusually nice.  Easter break looms.  Pedal to metal.  No time to take it easy.  That comes later in the middle of a lake on a FIN-ski.  Can't wait!!!!
Sat., September 15, 2012: Day 1,656 (Four years, 6 months, 1 week, and 4 days): Everytime I see somebody go down with an ACL tear, I feel for them.  Yet, I know that it can be a huge positive in life with the right attitude.  You need a large amount of intrinsic motivation.  Others can't keep you going--you need to rise to the occasion on your own.  You need to turn off the TV, get off the couch, and train.  And believe.  I've said it a million times: I didn't like it when this happened to me...but now I love that this happened to me.  I found out a lot about myself--what I am capable of, who my true friends are, how I can't take my physical health for granted, and on and on and on.  Adrian Peterson tore his ACL last season and ready to dominate once again.  I'm a big fan of him as I know he trained his buttocks off to get where he is.  Now it's time for me to begin thinking racquetball.  I want to be better.  I want to dominate.  Training is necessary.  Sweat. Blood. And a few tears.  Love it!
Thurs., November 22, 2012: Day 1,724 (Four years, 8 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day): Today is Thanksgiving Day! And I have so much to be thankful for!  I just finished a morning workout and I feel great. Knowing that I now have room for three pieces of pumpkin pie with the whipped cream piled high only makes it better.  Since returning from Miami last Friday, I've been on a mission to better myself.  More sweat, more pain, more determination.  All of that will equate to a physically and mentally stronger self.  There is no other option.  I realize I have arthritis in my knees.  Who doesn't have some at the age of 42?  My plan is to strengthen both legs to keep any discomfort at a minimum.  So far, so good.  I did some lunges this morning without any pain...and I'm truly thankful for that!
     Speaking of gratitude, I am so very thankful for the family I have.  I have healthy parents, two awesome brothers who have two terrific wives, two unique uncles, two nice nieces, and a nifty nephew.  My true friends have to be considered the best in the world--so very thankful for them.  I am employed by the Milbank School District, the place where I love to go to work.  My eighth graders are fantastic and I've been able to find my groove in middle school after teaching fourth grade for nine years.  Through this job, I've had many opportunities to stretch myself or to leave my comfort zone...and that has improved my quality of life.  For whatever reason, I was chosen to support the most beautiful, tradition-rich team in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins.  Living in South Dakota is such a blessing; I love the seasons and the type of people we have.  I could go on and on, but I am ready for some Thanksgiving festivities.  Last year I was in Dallas, Texas, with four fantastic friends watching the Dolphins play the Cowboys, so it's nice to be home for this holiday.  Over to Kevin's I go after a good shower and a glance at some NFL pregame.  Thank you, dear Lord, for all that YOU have blessed me with...including a torn ACL!
Sun., January 13, 2013: Day 1,776 (Four years, 9 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day): Lucky 13s...and that's how I'm feeling.  Lucky to be alive and well.  I feel so fortunate.  Just ending a weekend that found me playing LOTS of racquetball in Watertown yesterday in the one-day AVALANCHE tournament.  I stressed out every muscle in the body and today is a necessary day off.  This is the kind of preparation I need for the Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament which begins in less than two weeks.  Very excited about that!
     I am not sure how long I'll be able to keep this page up and running but, if it lasts for the rest of my life, I want to be able to look back and read this one thing: I AM 42 YEARS OLD AND GIVING IT MY ALL!!!  I shall have no regrets.  I'm giving it my best shot and yesterday is proof.  I won the singles consolation championship (disappointing....where years ago this would've been a mighty fine accomplishment), while Wade and I battled hard and came away with the runner-up position in the doubles portion of the tourney.  It was back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back racquetball.  No time for feeling sorry for self.  No time for feeling complacent.  No time for thinking "Well, it's not really worth it."  No time to think, "Ah, I'll take a match off or forfeit and play later."  None of that. By the way, extra inspiration has been provided by Adrian Peterson.  ACL surgery and rehab was immediately followed by threatening a season rushing record that has stood since 1984.  WOW!! 
     So, it's back to training.  Eating correctly.  Stretching.  Drilling.  Playing.  Thinking.  Sleeping.  Recovering.  Watching improvement videos.  Paying attention to the "small" details.  And then comes the Lewis.  I can't wait.  No regrets!!!
Sun., January 27, 2013: Day 1,790 (Four years, 10 months, 1 week, and 5 days): The 35th Annual Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament ended today and it included one of the best finals I've seen there--#2 Rocky Carson beat #5 Chris Crowther in the best-of-5 series.  That was a highlight.  It was also neat to see the young J. Barth squeak by the longtime great Rueben Gonzalez.  Personally, I had some nice moments, but inconsistency this weekend was also present.  I won more than I lost (3-2) in two different divisions ("A" and 30/40+ "A").  The body is sore, but I'll be ready to work out tomorrow.  Need strength and endurance.  I also need to regain my confidence in my backhand and footwork.  Hard work lies ahead and I'm ready to take it on.  I love the challenge!
     Most importantly, I returned to Milbank with no injuries and no illness.  God is so good and that's the number one thing to remember.
Mon., February 19, 2013: Day 1,813 (Four years, 11 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day): FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I don't mean to come off as selfish, but this entry is only for me.  I'd rather not have anybody else read this as it's simply going to serve as a reference point for me.  With that said...
     I won my first racquetball singles championship since my ACL surgery!! That happened yesterday in Grand Forks and the satisfaction I have in my heart today is worth all of the effort, the time, the money, the pain.  Entering the tourney with a questionable right leg, there was no doubt that it would take my best racquetball effort to do well against stiff competition, much less win the tournament.  I was the second-seeded player in the "A" division and, somewhat unfortunately, received a bye in the first round.  That meant that I was to play all of my singles matches on Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.  I played three singles matches on Saturday and won all three, the first one going to a tie-breaker.  My right leg felt fine and I played better with each passing match.  Sunday's championship match meant a shot at the title against the number one seed (K. Larson).  I overcame a deficit in taking game one.  Again, in the second game, I was down (5-10 at one point).  Keith took a 12-10 lead and I knew I did not want to go to a tie-breaker.  My serve got hot and I rolled off five straight points for a 15-12 win...and the title.  Felt SO good.  Along with that, I played doubles with Milbank's newest racquetball sensation, J. Ebsen.  We won both matches on Saturday.  Those two wins put us in the semi-finals played on Sunday morning at 8:00 AM.  We took control of the early morning match and earned a berth in the "A" doubles championship.  Underdogs on paper, Jacob and I both played very good racquetball and earned the upset.  J. "Hit Him With Your Groin" Ebsen became a champ in his first-ever tournament.  WOW!
     So, that meant eight matches in two days...and my knees and back and wrist and shoulder all hung tough.  To be clear, it's not about winning championships; rather, it's all about BEING ABLE to compete at a high level, accomplish goals, enjoy the social aspect (racquetball people are some of the BEST people in the world), and leave the court injury-free and with a sense of pride.  I had it all this weekend, one of the best racquetball weekend's in my life.
     I feel motivated to keep on training to become even better.  There will  be pain and there will be setbacks, but perseverance pays off.  There will be more weekends like this one and I can't wait.  FINALLY a champion...and sharing it with Jacob in a 25-million dollar facility in North Dakota was priceless.
     Two more tournaments remain--one in Watertown and one in Fargo.  There is a lot more fun to be had!  Thank you, dear Lord.
Mon., March 4, 2013: Day 1,825 (Five years): FIVE BIG ONES!!!!!  On this very date five years ago I had surgery performed on my left ACL.  A lot has changed since that time, too many things to list and 99% of those things being for the positive.  Tearing my ACL, recovering, and returning with a vengeance has all gone into making me who I am.  No doubt, I have been blessed.
  There was a time when I worried whether or not I could ever play racquetball again.  As proven two weekends ago, I can play and I can win.  And, to make things even better, I'm filled with a new level of appreciation.
  I know of one person who was happy to hear that something "bad" finally happened to me upon tearing my ACL.  I wonder what he thinks about the many ways in which I've grown and benefited from that injury.  Then, I find myself praying that he'll pull himself out of the depths of despair.  Perhaps he needs to tear his ACL. :)
  I'm going to continue to play hard and, like I've said before, if I encounter another "bad" injury, I'll reap the benefits and return better in one way or another!
Sun., March 24, 2013: Day 1,845 (Five years & 20 days): My road racquetball tournament season came to an end yesterday in Watertown at the Spring Fling.  It went like this:
Round One: Beat Dave G (15-4, 15-4)
Round Two: Beat Dean C (15-8, 15-2)
Round Three: Beat Wade H (15-9, 15-1)
     My serve heated up the more the one-day tournament went on.  Also, my knees felt better and better as the tourney progressed.  I also had a couple of doubles matches (I teamed with Wade), so there was plenty of wear-and-tear on both knees. 
     It always feels good to win, though I probably should've gone to Fargo (March Madness) for better competition.  Live and learn.
     I am planning on getting my knees checked out.  I am tired of going through the warm-up period before everything feels good to go.  I'm extremely hopeful that doing some "cleaning up" will leaves my knees feeling brand new.  That process should take place this summer!
Sun., August 25, 2013: Day 2,000 (EXACTLY 2,000 DAYS!!!!! or 5 years, 5, months, & 21 days):: The road to greatness and feeling strong continues! I visited with Wade Van Dover at the Bulldog scrimmage yesterday morning about my knees.  I'd love to get rid of every possible bit of pain.  He had me raise my shorts to check my quads; he instantly noticed the lack of quad development I have.  So, Wade went over some strengthening exercises and threw out lots of advice.  At random.... I shouldn't exercise with pain...if pain, adjust the exercise....do leg presses....do hamstring curls.....do leg extensions....do isometric exercises by using a 10- to 20-pound ankle weight and holding knee in three different positions for at least 45 seconds (until fatigue)...the pain will subside as my strength grows.  I went to Unity yesterday for workout number one.  I am 42 years old and plan to make this the most successful year of racquetball I've had.  The optimism I have right now is at a peak; psychologically, I can't be in a better state of mind.  School is going extremely well (four days done), the Dolphins have just one preseason game remaining, and the weather will be changing to my favorite time of the year.  YESSSSSSSSS!!!!
Thurs., November 27, 2013: Day 2,095 (5 years, 8 months, & 24 days)::Thanksgiving Day and I have so much to be thankful for. Of course, I'm thankful that I have two functioning knees that allow me to live an active everyday life, but there are so many more blessings.  Family, football, fun, and food top out my list today.  So very fortunate!
The racquetball season is beginning to heat up.  I've been playing LaVoi a little bit and will depend on him to help keep me in shape this year.  Arnie will be out for quite some time (knee issues).  Driving to Watertown to play and hang out with many good people will also be vital to any success I might have.  Racquetball is so much fun and these are the days to be playing.
I am finding that weight-lifting makes a positive difference in the feeling of my knees.  Hip sled, leg presses, leg curls, step-ups, leg extensions, lunges, toe raises, the treadmill, and anything else that comes to mind combine to lessen any pain or weakness I might feel.  I am completely motivated right now.  I'm about ready to turn up the intensity a notch and cruise into December in decent shape.  By mid-December, my goal is to be in good shape and have a solid foundation for an all-out January.  I'm hoping to get Jacob to play in the Lewis tourney and, if things go really well, the Grand Forks tournament.
These are exciting times.  A day of thanks.  And lots of optimism for a successful future!  God bless all!!!
Mon., January 27, 2014: Day 2,155 (5 years, 10 months, & 23 days)::Fifty-nine days ago was Thanksgiving Day.  More importantly, the 36th annual Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament ended yesterday.  Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 player in the world, beat Alvaro Beltran in three games to take the title.  They played the final at Family Wellness, the first time the Lewis tourney played matches at that facility.  I was able to sit in the front row and watch Kane's dominating performance.  His anticipation is amazing and is power can't be matched.  He has all the shots and, despite that, Alavaro took him to a 15-13 score in game three.  After that match, I watched a little bit of the doubles final before hitting the road.  I drove through blinding conditions as a blizzard made driving nearly impossible at times.  I followed a white vehicle for much of the way from Brookings to Watertown.  The wind gusts up to 65 MPH brought us to a complete stop several times.  It was an amazing feeling to finally exit the Interstate and head over to the Reidburns for safety.  I drove home this morning as school was two hours late due to extremely low wind chill temperatures.
Anyway, my results at the Lewis Tourney were much like last year's: I played in two divisions--"A" doubles and "40+A" doubles.  There was no singles offered due to the high number of pros that participated and the limited court space (the old "Y" no longer has Courts 3 & 4).  I played "A" with Dennis T. and "40+A" with Jim P., both Sioux Falls inhabitants.  I approached the tournament nervously as I had struggled in doubles a week earlier while playing with Dennis and Jim at the "Y."  However, I came out with guns a' blazin' in the tourney.  Dennis and I faced a match point in the tie-breaker of our first match on Friday night.  My serve heated up and I ran off four straight points with unreturnable serves to give us an 11-10 win in the breaker.  NICE!!!  Jim and I then played an extremely hard-hitting open player paired with a solid "A" player.  Another tie-breaker was needed, but it was a less dramatic 11-2  victory.   I felt completely happy as I drove to Scott's and Sara's for the night.  Oh, what a feeling!!
I woke up Saturday and played another great match; perhaps the stretching, the drinking of water, the lifting, the running, and the playing of racquetball all paid off.  Dennis and I took out the #1 seed of Bill W. and Jim P. to earn a semi-final berth.  We lost in the semis--never a good feeling to lose--but we both felt dang good about our play.  Dennis and I didn't fare so well in our second match, losing 15-3 and 15-7.  But, the 3-2 finish exceeded my expectations.  You better believe I'll expect more next year as I feel like my game is still on the up.  I do know this: playing better competition on a regular basis would improve my game by quite a bit.  Easier said than done.
Overall, I am so thankful that I can play this game of racquetball.  The people are fantastic.  I'm already missing the camaraderie of the tournament.  Watertown had to cancel their tournament two weeks ago due to low numbers, but plans are to have a one-day tournament this weekend.  Time to train.  Bring it.  As the Lion says, "Heat it up!"
Sat., February 1, 2014: Day 2,160 (5 years, 10 months, & 28 days)::Mr. D. Greenman set up a Pre-Super Bowl Racquetball Tournament in Watertown today.  It went from 12:15-3:50.  We had 12 people playing doubles with partners assigned randomly.  Games were played to 11 and then a new predetermined partner was assigned.  It resulted in a tremendous workout and a total blast!  Each player played eight games and total points earned in each game were tracked.  At the end, the player with the most points was the winner of $50 and pride.  Because of some solid play by both my partners and me, I was able to squeak by for the title.  Yes, that makes it even more fun.  My serve was tough and my knees felt fine; I live for Saturdays like this one.  M. Johnson and I teamed up for my first match of the day--we played pitifully and lost 11-7.  I did not lose for the rest of the day.  After the tourney, I played singles against W Heiser and then 1-on-1-on-1 with Heiser and Dave V.  I did not lose.  In fact, I got in a great groove and coasted.  I am getting better.
One never knows when his last title will be.  This feels great...even though it'd be considered "small time."  It is nice to know that I played well, did not get injured, and had some time to spend with many great Watertown people.  We all went out to Foxy's afterwards and that could be an every weekend thing for me!
I've got to keep working out--I feel great on the court and no bug/virus is allowed to invade my body while I'm in shape.  Stay motivated---Charles Clay style!
Sun., February 23, 2014: Day 2,182 (5 years, 11 months, & 19 days)::I returned home about 45 minutes ago from a weekend racquetball tournament in St. Cloud.  No injuries.  Safe driving.  Good food.  Great entertainment (Jordan B. won it and lots of other talented players).  Nice people.  Ortonville Terry.  But...a 2-4 record has me feeling the blues a bit.  I want to win.  I want to go out there, rip my serve, get in a zone, and experience the great feelings of success.  I did play the in the Open division and was able to hang tough, but my serve was nowhere to be found.  I could've won a match or two in singles had the serve shown up.  I'm curious to see whether or not I can bring it back during the week here in Milbank.
I did go the entire week without working out (due to a rare cold).  That is no way to enter a tourney, so I was relieved to feel okay during my two matches on Friday, two on Saturday, and one today (we won a doubles match by forfeit today).  Now, I need to get completely healthy and give it my best shot in Fargo next weekend.
This note is for me and my eyes only (someday I'll look back and read this): I am 43.  I won't be getting any younger.  It's time to make hay.  Of course, too many people my age have called it quits--they've put on weight and found other things to do--and I don't want to be one of them.  It's okay for them, but it's not okay for me.  I shouldn't have any regrets that I didn't try this or didn't try that.  I have two good ankles, two good knees, two good shoulders, two good arms, etc.  I'm getting the most out of them.  Continuing to be active is high on my priority list. Game on.
Sun., March 2, 2014: Day 2,189 (5 years, 11 months, & 26 days)::I don't know if it's good or bad; we'll have to wait and see.  Well, I suffered my first significant racquetball injury in six years yesterday in Fargo.  A popped left calf muscle (at least I hope that's what it is) came in my "A" semi-final match.  A couple of hours earlier, I served my way to a spot in the tough 35+ division final.  I hadn't lost all weekend--5-0 on Friday night and 1-0 on Saturday.  My game was on fire and I was having the time of my life.  I love the camaraderie with the players, I love the Courts Plus courts, I love the tournament set-up, I love everything about playing in the March Madness tournaments.  But, a calf injury that has me on crutches stopped everything.  Instead of hanging out with Fernando on a Saturday night with feelings of success and hope in my heart, I drove home to Milbank to begin the rehab process.  Watertown has their March Madness tournament in two weeks and I'm hoping for a miracle to play.  I think I know what I'm up against as I suffered this same injury at the City Aud about 16 years ago.  It hurts. Walking normally is impossible.
So, as disappointing as it is, maybe this injury is a blessing in disguise.  My right shoulder has been an issue for two or three weeks; resting that won't hurt.  Perhaps I can work my upper body more.  Maybe this will lead to an unexpected surprise.  And, who knows, maybe I would've blown my Achilles tendon had I moved on and played today.
  I'll just have to keep this saying in mind: I don't know if it's good or bad; we'll have to wait and see.
Tues., March 4, 2014: Day 2,191 (6 year anniversary)::Six years ago on this date I was returning from ACL surgery in Sioux Falls.  I remember being worried that I might not be able to play racquetball again.  Well, I did end up playing and at a high level.  And I didn't worry that I'd tear another ACL while playing--it was all-out.  Ironically, I am unable to play right now due to the calf injury (left calf) I suffered on Saturday night.  But, I'm already walking around and the pain is beginning to subside.  I feel so fortunate!
Anyway, back to six years ago, I remember being unable to sleep.  The pain.  The nights that seemed to go on forever.  The rehab.  The wondering. The hoping.  The setbacks.  Ahhhhhhhh, it is so good to be where I'm at today--enjoying life as much as I ever have, on the verge of being healthy again, and putting the finishing touches on my twentieth year of my teaching career.

Mon., March 31, 2014: Day 2,218 (6 years, 27 days)::We are closing out March with a blizzard--school tomorrow?  I went through the ice and 40 MPH wind gusts to work out at Unity and it was well worth it.  I did several minutes of jogging and a good amount of toe raises for the first time since the calf injury 30 days ago.  I do not want to rush things in fear of re-aggravating it and having to start over.  I missed the last racquetball tournament of the season in Watertown this past weekend, but I would not have wanted to play anyway--Saturday was the day we celebrated dear Aunt Ramona's funeral Mass.
I remember how March came in.  I was in Fargo playing in March Madness and challenged my next opponent at midnight.  He took the challenge and I won in a tiebreaker.  I got back to the hotel around 2:00 in the morning and felt awesome.  Then, the following day, I went to Minnie's funeral, only to return to Fargo to win another match before suffering the injury.  Needless to say, it's been an unfavorable month, but I'm happy to be alive and well.  Just have to get my right shoulder healthy and continue to work on the calf and I'll be fine.  (((Update: did some light hitting on the evening of Tues., April 1, and it went well--didn't really feel anything except for my sore shoulder--don't want to push off too hard on the right calf muscle for fear of reinjuring it, but definitely have some positives signs that a complete recovery is very near--can't wait for my next big racquetball match!!)))

Fri., October 10, 2014: Day 2,411 (6 years, 7 months, 6 days)::Has it really been that long since my "minor" ACL tear and surgery?  I still find myself figuring things out--the latest being that doing squats results in pain for several days, however, the pain begins to reside once a certain amount of strength is gained.  The secret is to keep that strength....and add to it when time permits.  Do my knees ache?  Yes, at times they do.  Yet, I know that stems from my own lack of commitment.  I am 43 years old and in better physical condition than most people my age, but I have to admit that I do get lazy.
I want this winter to be my best year of racquetball yet.  I had some great success in Fargo's last big tournament and I'm hungry for more.  With drilling and making trips to Watertown and working out like I should be, I am set to upset some of the "greater" people in racquetball.
Again, I say, my ACL tear turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Wed., December 25, 2014: Day 2,488 (6 years, 9 months, 22 days): The Lewis Drug tournament is about one month away.  Saying I can't wait would be the understatement of this Christmas Day!  This could very well be final Lewis tournament without Alex SuperNephew C as my doubles partner.  I'm hoping to get him into playing some tourneys with me--he'd be good at it with some effort.  My body is pretty good, not great.  I have a little issue with my left buttock/hip, but I'm thinking my soreness will dissipate over time.  My knees are doing fine after a thorough warm-up.  No problem with the shoulder after a little chiropractic care this summer (got a great shoulder/back exercise that I believe made all shoulder soreness leave me).  I do know this: I am 44 and there's always going to be some bumps in the road...and that's what makes this even more fun--the challenge of it all.  Finding a way to dodge "bullets" and get myself ready is part of the thrill and the payoff is even better.  Remembering back to my final racquetball tournament in Fargo last year, it was an incredible feeling to play like I knew I was capable of.  It's all about paying dues, some fair and some unfair.
Before I had this minor buttock/hip issue, I had been working my knees and legs out pretty well.  I know that it did some good and I'm still feeling the positive effects.  I want to get back to doing some squats, toe raises, hamstring curls, etc. and add a good amount of stretching.  Also, a better diet would really be beneficial.
I'll be at Unity tomorrow morning and I look forward to the heart pump and sweat.  Now is not a time to be content; I want to improve and I want to play at a high level.  No time for laziness.
Back to the house for family time--I'm so very blessed and couldn't be happier.  God is GOOD!

Tues., January 20, 2015: Day 2,514 (6 years, 10 months, 17 days): We are inside a week to the best racquetball tournament of all--the 37th Annual Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament!  I hadn't been playing very fast or very inspired or very good racquetball...until last night.  A trip to Sioux Falls a couple of weeks ago to play Craig VB didn't produce any wins.  A trip to Watertown for quite a bit of doubles with Wade H. resulted in a couple of games won but several more games lost.  Ryan the Lion beat me a game in singles last week.  And, this past Saturday I returned to Watertown for another attempt...and had very similar results.  But, last evening against the Lion, it all changed.  I picked up the pace and returned to some of my antics of a year ago.  I was playing with plenty of confidence last year...until I went to Sioux Falls a week before the Lewis to play doubles and got spanked.  One thing I need to remember is that I've played some of my worst racquetball just before some of my most successful racquetball weekends.  After last night's performance in which I outscored the Lion by a 45-6 margin, I'm hoping this tournament finds me continuing to do the little things.
I will play again tonight and possibly travel to Watertown on Wednesday night.  Thursday will be a light hitting day and Friday is the day that the FUN really begins!  Staying healthy is my number one goal.  I know that the fun will take care of itself.  (Note: played Dan Milkman tonight--four hard games--a ton o' fun!!!)

Sun., January 25, 2015: Day 2,547 (6 years, 10 months, 22 days): As my younger brother Scott and I walked into 6:00 Mass in Sioux Falls this evening, he said that he heard people should get inspired every day, kind of like one cleanses the body on a daily basis.  Maybe reading about a Holocaust survivor, watching a program about somebody who made a difference in the world, or searching Youtube for something motivational will do the job for some people.  For me, one small thing might be reading this page of personal entries.  On my way home from Sioux Falls tonight, I thought, perhaps, that it might be time to put the final entry on this page once and for all.  And then I thought again.  This is my page and, though it is it intended to give other people a small amount of help or hope, I know it is good for me.  So, it's a no-brainer that I keep it going.  I'll read my thoughts below and know that good things are to come with  a goal, persistence, determination and, oh, a little bit of luck...
Two days prior and one day prior to the start of the 37th annual Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament, I felt rotten.  I left school and went directly home to sleep as much as I possibly could until the beginning of school the following day.  There was no going to Unity for some last-minute drilling.  No lifting to keep the muscles going.  And that induced some feelings of doubt as I headed into the tourney.  I played my first singles match at Family Wellness and was able to hit my serve pretty well.  The 15-3, 15-0 victory gave me hope that I could keep my cold symptoms at bay.  The next win took place at the same place and on the same court the next day (Saturday) around 3:30.  That win was 15-2, 15-5.  That meant a final scheduled for 1:30 today (Sunday).  I played a feisty PR for the championship.  Though my serve to the forehand side was on, he was was able to get his racquet on the ball and muster decent returns.  His backhand proved deadlier than mine.  But, I took the first game, 15-5, before losing a back-and-forth second game.  PR sent it to a tiebreaker with a 15-13 win.  Three good serves gave me an early 3-0 lead, but then PR decided to make it tough on me.  Some tight pinches and long passes allowed him to take an 8-6 lead going only to 11 in the tiebreaker.  I took a time out and followed that with a side out.  My serve tied things up.  I was able to think of my match with Dan M at Unity on Tuesday night, a match that might've broken down my body badly enough to invite the bad cold.  I thought about keeping my butt down throughout the service motion.  And I thought of playing with a strong desire to win...just like I had when I played him.  I also thought about Lil' Mack and how he'd prefer to have an uncle that wins tough matches.  I really believe that those two thoughts going through my mind made a difference.  I was able to get a good serve at 10-8 and that set up the winning rally.  Match over.  "A" title mine.  The very thing that I was attempting to do--win the "A"--seven years ago became reality!  And I'm totally fired up just thinking about it!  It was an item on my Bucket List that I've shared with my eighth graders for many years.  DONE!
This entry can now serve as a reminder that good things come to those who wait. 
As for doubles, I was fortunate enough to be able to play with Wade H, a great player and guy.  Though we lost a tiebreaker on Friday night and got to Scott's place at 1:30 AM, we got to...or had to...play a tough tandem of PR and Dennis T at 8:20 AM.  They killed us in the first game, 11-4.  We forced the tiebreaker with an 11-10 win that featured saving SEVEN match points.  We then cruised in the tiebreaker, 11-2, as Wade left no doubt that he was the number one playmaker on the that court.  We won our next match by forfeit and had to forfeit the consolation finals ourselves as Wade had to pick up his son back home.
What a great weekend!  I am super excited to move on and keep getting better.  Really, it's not about winning titles and boosting one's own ego; rather, it's about the many great relationships made at the Lewis Tournament.  So many great, great people...and I can't wait for the 38th!
By the way, #2 Kane beat #1 Rocky in three games.  This was the first year with the new courts--two of the courts have 80 feet of glass side walls.  Extremely cool!

Sun., February 22, 2015: Day 2,519 (6 years, 11 months, 19 days): I competed in a racquetball tournament this weekend in St. Cloud (second straight year).  I played a total of six matches, three in singles and three with Terry L in doubles.  And I am sore.  My back, my knees, my right shoulder, my hips and other areas are in need of rest.  No, I didn't win any titles, but I'm always grateful to return in good health.  Why wouldn't somebody want to spend a weekend of enjoyable exercise and entertainment?  Is there something better to do?  Perhaps for some people...but not for me.
I went 1-2 in singles (won my first match in a tiebreaker, lost to Jordan B, and then took Dan S to a tiebreaker last night and lost).  Terry and I lost soundly in our first round match, won soundly in our first consolation match, and then lost a tiebreaker this morning to Greg and Paige (11-9).  Sure, it's nice to win but, again, it's a feeling of victory to drive home in good health.
I met a few players with knee issues--always easy conversation.  One player who, like me, graduated in '89 has bone-on-bone in his knee.  His doctor recommends Aleve three days before and three days following tournament play.  He wears a knee brace.  Also, there are the players who simply have pain in that area.  They deal with it.  Playing racquetball is worth any pain--it's that much fun!
I know I can continue to improve---in my play and my knees.  It takes sacrifice and work.  And it isn't up to anybody else; it's all on me!
I'm convinced that each of us has our own unique way to improve.  There is no single recipe.  For some, taking ibuprofin helps; for others, it's ineffective.  For some, using the hip sled brings about strength; for others, it causes more pain.  It's all about being open to new ideas--your own and that of others--and finding out what your body reacts to the best.  Do not settle for pain and/or inactivity for the rest of your life!

Sat., February 28, 2015: Day 2,526 (6 years, 11 months, 26 days): There was a doubles round robin racquetball tournament last year on February 1. Each of the 12 or so entrants kept track of his own score while playing with a different partner each game.   I was fortunate enough to win it and had a blast in doing so.  We went to Foxy's and put down some appetizers and beverages (I love my Mountain Dew).  A couple of months later, one of the most enjoyable players shockingly passed away.  His name was Pat T and he was as welcoming as anybody.
Today we held the tournament in his name.  Mike Johnson printed up so sweet long-sleeved shirt for the event.  We had 10 players including Lion the Ryan Water.  We played a total of eight games up to 15, each time with a different partner against different opponents.  I went 6-2, dropping one game by a point and the other by three.  Ryan was 7-0 headed into his final battle and needed 12 points to win.  Well, he partnered up with Mike Johnson and got only nine against Wade H and Joel B.  And, so, I was fortunate enough to defend my title.  We went to Foxy's again and talked about Pat.  He was not forgotten on this 25-degree day.  Again, it was a total blast.  Like Mike said at the table, we've got to remember our friends--not take them for granted.  We've got to call them, text them, and visit them.  We know not the day nor the hour when things will change.
I played only twice this past week and was curious as to how my body would respond today.  I felt much better than anticipated.  The tourney began at 10:00 and lasted until around 3:30.  I know I'll be ready for next weekend's tournament in Fargo--can't wait!!
I am so very lucky to have such great people in Watertown who play the world's best sport!  I live for days like this.  And I was so happy for Ryan the Lion, a guy who stepped in and almost stole the show.  We donated all of our winnings to pay off the food and drink and next year's T-shirts.  Praise the Lord!

Sun., March 8, 2015: Day 2,526 (7 years and 5 days): I returned about five hours ago from Fargo after an almost-perfect weekend of racquetball.  My body and knees felt pretty good as I took the Elite/A championship by winning my fourth match today.  When my knees feel warm and my serve is on, my chances of winning go sky-high.  In fact, in my semi-final match last night, I believe I served 14 consecutive serves that were either aces or winners.  I won the game, 15-0, to advance to the championship against Brad J this morning.  Again, my serve set things up.  It was a relatively easy walk through the Elite/A division (earned $125 Scheel's gift card); from now on, I'm hoping to play the Open until my level of play falls off.  I still have plenty of room for improvement.
As for Open doubles, I played with Evan, a Canadian.  We had never played together, but we made it work.  We were beaten by the number one seeded team on Friday night; I couldn't get out of the way of the ball.  However, we had another try yesterday and managed to win a tie-breaker over two heavy hitters.  My lob serve to the forehand side was on!  Today we lost in the consolation championship in a tiebreaker to Curt H (a guy I've always looked up to and enjoyed watching) and Kent O.  It was the final match of the tournament, and we had our chances to close with a win.  But, we just couldn't get it done and lost 11-6 in the breaker. 
Despite losing that last match, it feels great to have success like I did this weekend.  I popped a calf muscle last year at this tournament and felt I lost out on a ton of fun.  There are so many great guys at this tourney.  I feel like I'm at home.  So, this year I was able to do what I wanted to happen last year and the weekend couldn't have been much more enjoyable.  I was able to stay at Fernando's both nights.  I was able to take Fernando and Hannah to Ruby Ts for supper last night.  A great time, indeed!
Now, one final tournament remains--the Spring Fling at Watertown in two weeks.  I can't wait!!

Sun., March 22, 2015: Day 2,540 (7 years and 19 days): I've got a friend who is fighting for his life.  Blood clot near brain.  Has been in a coma since Friday, March 13.  Needed emergency surgery tonight on abdomen.  Praying and hoping and praying.  An ACL injury is so very minor compared to this life-and-death situation.  I offer up all of the disappointments, frustrations, and pains I might experience this coming week for Tim.
There was no Spring Fling Tournament in Watertown this year for the first time in many, many years.  Not enough entrants.  I am looking at it as a positive.  My back, still tired from tournament play, can stand the rest.  Also, there are other parts of my body that need strengthening before highly competitive play.  I need to better build up my body for next year's tournaments.  I know there's a lot more I can do.  And I will.
But for now, it's all about Tim.  Get well, buddy!  You have so many who need you and love you.

Mon., November 9, 2015: Day 2,807 (7 years, 8 months and 6 days):  The racquetball season is quickly approaching!  I am hurting.  Second toe on left foot is very sore.  Knees ache.  Right side of groin is a bother.  Right hip having some issues.  Sore behind left knee.  Yes, I've got some things to fight through, but there is no doubt that my commitment to improve will pay off.  I have been and will be working on these areas.  This is a tune-up time of life for me and I'll be taking full advantage of these beautiful November days to improve.  I am coming off one of my most successful years in racquetball and I have high goals.  I want to continue to elevate my game.  I've got to represent ACL victims.  It's a good thing.  No excuses.  The cards I've been dealt will work.  Embrace the pain...and hit 'em with the groin!!

Thurs., November 26, 2015: Day 2,824 (7 years, 8 months and 23 days):  Thanksgiving Day! So much to be thankful for besides my ACL tear over seven years ago--two healthy parents, two awesome brothers, two great nieces, two fun nephews, two great jobs (teaching and painting), many cool friends, and a place (the high school) to work out at on the Thanksgiving morning!  I've been stretching and working out my legs more than I have at any point in the last seven years.  My excitement is building for the racquetball season--just a groin and a toe to totally heal.  Yes, things are good here in Milbank, SD, and I owe it all to the blessings of the Good Lord! 
Time to hit the gym...and then return to the house for food and football.  Lots of family throughout the weekend.  Blessed and thankful!!

Sun., February 7, 2016: Day 2,897 (7 years, 11 months and 4 days):  Super Bowl Sunday.  Play some racquetball.  Watch the game. Forget about the 2015 season.  Move on.  Maybe the Dolphins will be in it next year.
The 38th ANNUAL Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament ended two weeks ago.  Talk about an event to remember!  Because I've been dealing with various ailments since August--groin, toe, knees, hip--I felt that playing doubles was in my best interest.  So, when Kevin K asked to play in two divisions, I went for it.  We played in 30+ doubles and ran into a couple of pros in the first round.  The score wasn't pretty,  but it was cool to see what did and what didn't work.  Due to a bye in the first round of consolation, we went directly to the consolation championship.  An 11-0, 11-9 loss was fitting, though it would've been fun to play a tiebreaker had we pulled out that second game.  In the "A" doubles division, we ran into Kurt R and Tom J, a duo that won a US Open division together about four years ago.  Kevin and I just couldn't find a way to put a good run together and lost in two.  We have come through the consolation round and our consolation championship match is still pending.  We hope to play it next Saturday.
Watching the pros play was another treat.  It's still hard for me to believe that such unbelievable talent comes to cold Sioux Falls, SD.  Of course, money attracts.
The plan for the rest of this racquetball season is to return to great form, stay healthy, not lose in Milbank, play the Pat Towle in Watertown, play March Madness in Fargo, and then get even healthier.  I've got hope that things will come together.  And I must say that I'm already looking forward to the 2017 racquetball season.  I will be better!

Sat., February 27, 2016: Day 2,917 (7 years, 11 months and 24 days): Today,  at the WCRC, the SECOND ANNUAL PAT T ROUND ROBIN DOUBLES TOURNAMENT  was held.  Pat passed away two years ago and his spirit is kept alive with this funfest.  Ten players competed in doubles matches to 15, most playing to 15 in each game.  Despite the 60-degree weather outside, nobody complained about being inside from 10:00-3:00.   I played eight matches and won seven of them, two of them in grand fashion at 15-14.  The one loss was 15-12 decision.  That was good enough to win the tournament for the third straight year and it felt great!  Sure, I got tired and my feet felt the effects, but racquetball makes it so worth it.  And, to play with the Watertown guys that show up (Loren/Mr. Radio Voice/Sioux Falls played this year), it makes it a great experience.  I edged out the team of Wade H/Mark S by four points.  Wade had to leave for a son's basketball tourney, so Marc came in and the lefty performed admirably.  We hit Foxy's afterwards, and the ketch-up was flowing.
This win comes two days after Bob H and I took the Milbank Doubles Championship.  We defeated the team of Arnie K/Jim B to finish at 3-0.  Terry L and Jerry B teamed up while Dan M and Rick H filled out the entry list.  I felt great--arm, knees, everything.  That fire lasted into today.  And, I hope it continues in Fargo next weekend.  
Let me make this clear: racquetball is so much fun and the people that I find to play are pure gold.  It's such a great workout and it requires plenty of thinking.  I hope to play the world's best sport for many, many years!

Sun., March 6, 2016: Day 2,925 (8 year, 3 days): Another March Madness Tournament in Fargo is in the books and it was a great one!  Despite numbers being down (25 total participants), the players in the higher divisions made it a point to attend.  That made for lots of great competition!  I had a blast competing, winning four of my seven matches, and hanging out with Fernando and Hannah for two nights (yes, we hit Ruby Ts last night).  I am so blessed and I praise the GOOD Lord for every single one of His rich blessings.  I came home refreshed, confident, sore, happy, and stronger.  And the 65-degree weather only made for a better return!
I entered two divisions: 35+ and the Open.  I played my first match at 10:00 on Saturday morning, a tough one against a Fargo resident with a unique game.  It was back-and-forth all the way...and he got me in a tiebreaker (11-9).  I was completely exhausted by the end of that one, and Justin J, who ended up getting second in the Open, awaited me.  I could hardly move.  I was dizzy.  And I fell quickly.  Justin had too much power and shot-making ability for me.  So, onto consolation brackets for me...
It should be noted that the consolation brackets provided no easy matches.  Everything had to be earned.  I recovered and won my next two matches (one in each division) to finish my Saturday at 2-2.  Oh, was I tired.  And the plantar fasciitis on my right heel was killing...and still is.  I awoke this morning with the thought of playing Keith L.  He's always a gamer and being a lefty always makes for an extra challenge.  I led 10-4 in the first game when, suddenly, his serve caught fire.  He ran off 11 unanswered points to claim game one.  In the second, I had an 8-4 lead at one point.  Again, Keith rallied and took a lead of 14-10.  My serve proceeded to get me some easy ones and I found a way to get that fifteenth point.  I jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but he continued to apply the pressure and winners.  I took a 10-9 lead and got the sideout.  I needed one crackout.  I served hard to his backhand side and the return nailed me.  My fault--bad serve.  So, I made a quick decision.  I decided to dry serve to his forehand...and it was an easy ace.  Game over.  YES!!!!!!!!!  That felt SO good!!!!!!
The next match was for the Open Consolation Final.  My body was hurting.  I didn't feel like moving.  After dropping the first game 15-6, I'm sure it was quite clear to everyone above that this one would end quickly.  Enter my serve and some confidence and desire.  I battled my way into the lead and soon realized that I was in position to steal the second game against a young college kid who absolutely pasted the ball.  I took game two by a score of 15-14.  I had chances to win the tiebreaker, but his power was too much to handle.  A rally that was credited to some tough drive serves fell short, and I fell 11-9 in the tiebreaker.  After that match, my body was spent.  The blister on my small right toe had popped and left my sock bloody.  My feet hurt.  My hips hurt.  My butt hurt.  And my knees killed.  But, there was one more match and I was pretty sure that Kurt R would walk all over me.  I could hardly move while warming up.  Thoughts of forfeiting crossed my mind.  The show went on, though, and I was able to play my way into things.  Kurt got out to leads in both games, but my serve led to key runs.  The match ended in my favor with the second game being a breeze.  I could hardly believe it!!!  Kurt and I haven't crossed paths in tournaments in such a long time, and it finally happened today.  I have tons of respect for him and how he plays the game.  To beat him was a very special treat.
I don't feel like doing much for a while.  My body needs to rest.  My knees don't want to bend.  But, I must say that this weekend was every bit worth the pain.  I am truly thankful to play such an awesome sport and a pretty good level!  I can't wait for next year's Fargo tourney...but we need participants!!

Sun., March 20, 2016: Day 2,939 (8 years, 17 days): Happy Birthday to the funny, funny man, CR!!  I got to see you a day before 42 and the day in which I played some really good racquetball.  For years, I have wondered when my last racquetball title will happen...and they just keep on coming!  My success in Watertown continued yesterday for the one-day Spring Fling tourney.  For whatever reason, I was the number one seed, while Craig VB was listed at number two in the eight-man field.  Things seemed to go my way in the first round as I played Loren M (SF).  My lob serve was on (15-5, 15-5).  The second round brought Steve B (Wat) and, again, my lob serve seemed to find the back corners consistently.  This win (15-3, 15-8) put me in the championship against Craig (SF).  A fast 5-0 lead helped spur me to a 15-11 win.  Craig came out firing in game two and took a 2-0 lead.  He maintained that lead for most of the game, but I was able to keep it close.  Finally, late in the game, my serve worked to perfection and I took the game by a 15-13 score.  Yes!!!  That felt great!  My knees felt okay and my feet (very sore right heel) came through for me.  Mike J (Wat) and I teamed up in the doubles that followed.  We found ourselves on the losing end in our first-round match (15-3), but we found a way to take game two (15-11).  The tiebreaker went our way (11-3) and we were on to the championship.  Another slow start versus Craig and Bill W (SF) became embarrassing.  We lost the first game, 15-1.  I asked Mike if we wanted to win this thing after our pitiful first game.  He responded, "Yes."  We responded with a close win to send it to a tiebreaker.  We lost (11-8), but it felt pretty good to make a match of it after the way we looked in that first game.  I was definitely hurting afterwards.  My right heel was screaming bloody murder.
Now it is time to heel.  I can say that racquetball in 2016 was a success...and I feel like I can get quite a bit better.  My drive to improve is still there.  I have to get my legs stronger, my groin/hip under control, and this foot issue rectified.  Last year, my back was an issue (beginning in St. Cloud).  Next year, God willing, I'll be feeling great and experience my best year yet!

Tues., November 1, 2016: Day 3,165 (8 years,  7 months, 29 days): I haven't gone to Unity since the later part of September.  Busy, busy, busy.  Working outside.  Leaves.  Whatever.  I have preferred to get other things done, and I'm hoping I gave my body a good break.  I just looked back to my entry about one year ago; I found that I was hurting in many areas.  Yet, I chose to fight back, embrace it, and I came away with a great racquetball season!  As this month goes on, I'll begin to play more and more.  I'll begin with some light hitting and take it from there.  The ultimate goal is to be ready for singles at the Lewis Drug Racquetball Tournament in January.  I can't wait to dig in--get the legs stronger, improve flexibility, and continue to make people wonder if I ever get tired.  My plan is to make this my best year of racquetball yet.  LOVE IT!!!

Sat., January 7, 2017: Day 3,231 (8 years,  10 months, 3 days): My intentions were to hit throughout November and December so that I'd be ready for the 39th Lewis Racquetball Tourney, but that hasn't happened for one reason or another.  Severe cold, a new nephew named SAMUEL GREGORY, trips to Sioux Falls, the greatness of the Dolphins this season and, yes, a lack of intrinsic motivation have all combined to limit my trips to the Square.  Today, however, I am feeling the urgency and will be making my way for some biking, stretching, lifting and hitting.  The tourney begins in 12 days.  Will I be ready?  Of course.  Things work out for the best, no doubt about it.  The excitement and love I have for the game of racquetball along with the great people who are around for that tournament will carry me through.
I have had a little ache on the right side of my leg, more toward the hip, since yesterday.  Not quite sure what that is.  The plantar fasciitis that irritated me a year ago is on my mind, but it hasn't caused me any pain since the cortisone shot on June 23 of 2016.  I am wondering about my groin--why no pain/snaps/irritation in the last month--but I can't focus on it.  I've taken a great deal of time off, so I think it's got to be healed or, at the very least, in the process of healing.
The Miami Dolphins inspire me.  They faced great adversity in the early part of the season, yet they continued to believe and push themselves.  Now, they have an opportunity to win a playoff game at Pittsburgh tomorrow.  I AM FIRED UP!!!  So, I've got a lot on my plate and two of the many things are the Dolphins and racquetball--two great hobbies that add spice to life!
Time to get a bit more done at school, then hit Unity, and make my way home after that.  Gotta settle in for some Wild Card football.  YAHOOOOO!!
UPDATE (Tues., Jan.10, 2017): I officially began "training" for the Lewis on Sat., Jan. 7, with a quality workout at Unity consisting of biking, stretching, lifting and hitting balls.  That was followed on Sunday with a long walk, shooting baskets, stretching and lifting.  Yesterday, before the Clemson vs Alabama game, I was able to do some biking, lifting and hitting.  With our early release coming at noon today (blowing snow), I'll be able to continue preparations.  I have a match scheduled with Wade H in Watertown on Thursday.  I'll have to make note of the results and whether two weeks of prep is enough
.

Sun., January 22, 2017: Day 3,246 (8 years,  10 months, 18 days): I returned from the Lewis tournament without injury.  Sure, I'm stiff and sore, but returning without any significant injury makes the tourney a success.  I played in the highest level I've ever played at at the Lewis--Elite.  Despite some serious cramming (I played Dan M, Wade H, Bill W, and Ryan W once each prior to this tournament), I chose the Elite division because I've won an "A" and I wanted to be placed where I'd do most good for the division.  I made the eighth registrant, and I ended up playing Craig VB in the first round on Friday night at the Augie courts.  I was 2-0 against him in tourney play going into this 7:30 start (scheduled for 6:30),  but he got me in two, 15-14 and 15-9.  Many watching said I shafted myself on a call that would've given me the first game.  Oh, well....I should've won that first game regardless.  I entered the match without my main racquet, with sore outside toes, with a sore top of my right foot, and without much conditioning.  I did not play on Saturday.  This morning I played Shane from Bozeman, MT, at 11:30.  An 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 win helped me feel a bit better.  I then dropped two games to Logan S (Fargo) quite handily (6-11, 4-11).  It was one of the last matches of the weekend and it left me disappointed and sore.  My back on the right side is quite sore, and I've got other areas that are barking.  But, some Advil tonight and some stretching tomorrow will have me on a quick mend.  I am excited to play more often and get ready for one or two more tournaments.  This weekend was a great wake-up call.  If I'm going to compete in the Lewis like I want to, I need to begin training/playing in November.  This year I began on Wednesday, January 11.  Not good enough!
I need stronger legs, a stronger core, more overall strength, and matches, matches, matches.  I can play so much better!  Of course, I'm thankful that I got through the weekend unscathed and I had a ton of fun playing and visiting with many pals that I see once a year!

Sun., March 5, 2017: Day 3,288 (9 years,  1 day): Back home from March Madness and feeling AWESOME!!!  With surgery being nine years ago almost to the date, it makes me wonder if I truly ever thought whether this kind of racquetball goodness would ever find me again or not.  Well, it has and I am so very grateful to the GOOD Lord.  You bet, I've prayed about protection, success and fun...and that's exactly what I've been blessed with.  True, true, true.  With only 19 entrants, Wayne held the tournament for two singles divisions (Open and "A") and one doubles division (Open/A).  It was a blast!  It is always so good to see the guys that participate...and Frogger, though not playing, showed up today while I was reffing the Open Final between Johnson and Knowles (Johnson won in a tiebreaker).  Gosh, I love that Courts Plus.  It's a place where I've experienced some March Madness Magic and this year was no different.
I traveled to Sioux Falls a couple of times and hit Watertown twice last week to help train.  Ryan the Lion has given me a couple of workouts while Jake E. and I played one night, too.  I tried to make an effort to get some good stretching and biking in prior to this weekend's tournament.  The one thing I didn't get done was lifting.  That is something I'd like to add to next year's training.  Oh, and I should begin playing in November, not 10 days before the Lewis.
Anyway, I entered two divisions this weekend.  I played Open singles and Open/A doubles.  In singles, I lost my opening match yesterday morning at 9:30 to a guy I had yet to lose to, Keith L.  He always brings game.  I lost 15-8, 15-13.  I had chances and wasn't hitting on all cylinders.  Disappointing.  But, it gave me a chance to play a hard-hitting collegiate...and I got him in two games, 15-8 and 15-11.  That put me in the consolation championship against Craig VB at 9:30 this morning.  I got there an hour early to get on a climber, do some stretching, and get some hitting in.  It all paid off.  I came out guns a' blazin'.  I won the first game very easily, 15-2.  I had a sizeable lead in game two (10-3?) before Craig turned it on.  He eventually took the lead at 13-12, but my serve came through when I needed it.  I cracked out a serve to get to 14 and then hit a good serve to end it.  YES!!!  I had lost to Craig at the Lewis and a couple of other times at Family Wellness, so this felt especially good!
As for doubles, it was "Bucket List" stuff to get to play with Kurt R.  His usual partner (Tom) had a hip replaced and isn't quite ready.  We beat Craig and Evan (Winnipeg) in a tiebreaker yesterday in round one (15-6, 11-15, 11-9).  That put us up against the number one-seeded team of Knowles and Johnson last evening.  We lost 15-3 and 15-7, but we made them earn it.  It took a bit to get used to the speed and then, after that, there were some long points.  So, the loss put us in the third place match against Terry D. and Dan F. around 11:00 this morning.  We took it in two, 15-11 and 15-5.  That felt great--and I realized that Kurt and I do make a pretty salty combo.  He's keeps stuff alive, while I bring the kill shot.
So, yes, it was a FUN and successful tournament--finished 4-2 overall.  I've left Courts Plus feeling fantastic so many times, and this is another year of that.  It makes the drive home pretty sweet.
Scott, Sara, Mack, and Sam made the trip as did Kevin's family.  I stayed at Fernando's the first night and then found myself at the C'mon Inn the second night (yes, I was able to treat Fernando and Hannah at Ruby T's last night, this time alongside Kevin's family).  Rhianna played very well in her tennis tournament--fun to watch her.  She is very much improved over a year ago!!  Very proud of her!!  It was a dream weekend--even the temps were nice with it hitting 60+ today.  I must remember that this is one of my favorite times of the year.  There is racquetball and the temps seem to climb and March Madness is in full swing.  And it all goes back to the GOOD Lord.  I am so blessed!!

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