Along with all the Emotional Turmoil, We Had to Decide About Surgery

September 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Posted in ACL recovery, attitudes, Move to Park City Utah, Self Esteem | Leave a comment
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Along with all the emotional turmoil we were going through we also had to decide which doctor to do the surgery and even if Jamie wanted to do surgery again. We are now living in a mecca of ACL surgeons. All of whom are thought to be excellent, the best, none better. We went to a couple with the same result. Just what we knew anyway- Surgery with six months of physical therapy before going back to sport. And no better than an 80% success rate- with extreme athletes it lowers to almost 50%.

This was dismal to Jamie (and me for that matter.) Not only how would she stand it, but how could I, as her mother, watch her just hang around another winter.

So here’s the thing. When Jamie first tore her ACL last Dec she told me about a synthetic ligament. I was totally dubious, and guided her to the tried and all American method of using human grafts, either autograft or allograft. Autograft is the fancy term for using something from your own body. Allograft is the fancy, polite term of using something from a cadaver. And cadaver is the fancy, polite term for a dead body. The term for getting the tendon is called harvesting the tendon.

Anyway, Jamie harvested one of her hamstring tendons already.
So we were looking at using an allograft.

She began to study in earnest the synthetic ligament. There were some drawbacks. First, it wasn’t FDA approved. This could be serious or it could be all the red tape it takes to get anything FDA approved. This leads to the second drawback. It wouldn’t be covered by insurance. So it would certainly be costly! The third drawback would be having to travel for the surgery. The fourth drawback would be the fear and emotional chaos of trying something not well known to those around us or us. And the fifth drawback is the fact that this technique is only 15 years old.

Of course there would be perks and advantages of using the synthetic ligament. First, it would be stronger than a human graft- either autograft or allograft. As a matter of fact, it would be lots stronger! Second, the recovery time would be cut in half. Thus meaning that Jamie would potentially be able to ski this winter- possibly even competing. Third, the rerupture rate is almost nonexistent. Fourth, Jamie knew people who have this synthetic ligament and are truly thrilled with their recovery.

I started to really investigate this possibility. I scoured the Internet; read every article, blog post, and blurb I could find; watched YouTube videos by athletes who had had the surgery.

I was set. I had my ideas confirmed as well. Using the synthetic ligament with an allograft was the perfect answer.

We contacted coordinator of the Canadian doctors to discuss Jamie’s case.

Still I needed more. Many consider me a leader, but in my heart I want to be a follower just like everyone else.

So I contacted, vie email, blog, Facebook, and twitter, every athlete I had heard of with the synthetic ligament. And low and behold I heard back from some. They had only positive things to say about the whole process of going to Canada, the man who coordinates everything, the doctor who does the surgery, the physical therapy, and the strength and stability after words.

The only thing no one could talk about was the longevity, because no one had been longer than two or three years.

Then we heard back from the dr. He would do the surgery, but instead of the allograft he wanted to do another autograft using a piece of her quad tendon.

Now came decision time. I was torn. Would this harvesting of a tendon affect her strength or stability? Once again I sought out athletes who had had this exact operation. Most of these athletes had already had at least one ACL reconstruction.

Everyone agreed 100% to go ahead. I even had a mom contact me; she was very supportive of the results for her daughter.

So yes- I wired the money for the surgery today, bought our airline tickets, and we head off to Canada Oct 4.

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We Weren’t All Happy, We Weren’t All Satisfied, BUT We Were Determined

September 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Posted in ACL recovery, attitudes, Move to Park City Utah, Self Esteem | Leave a comment
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Saturday brought one new complication. Jeanee had a ramp competition in the afternoon, which Jamie had been planning on entering as well. Jamie was past hating her sister. But I really didn’t know if she was ready to face the place where she had her injury or watch the other athletes have so much fun in the competition; I knew she was able to support her sister.

I took Jeanee for precomp training and went back to the house. I announced very clearly and strongly. “I am going to watch Jeanee in the comp this afternoon. You can come with me or stay here. I WILL be going to see Jeanee no matter what you decide.”

Jamie didn’t answer with anything other than mumbled words. Of course it was a tough decision, and I knew why. But rather than voicing these, I left it for Jamie to sort out.

Fifteen minutes before it was time for me to go I went up to Jamie’s room. “I’m leaving in 15 minutes. You can come or stay it is up to you.”
“I don’t know if I can go.”
“Then stay here. I am leaving in 15 minutes.”

I left the room.

Ten minutes later I went back and told Jamie I was leaving.
“OK, I’ll go. I want to support Jeanee. I want to see her do some sick tricks! And besides if I stay here I may just hurt myself”

I told Jamie that I thought it was braver to go than to stay home.
“How can it be braver. If I stay here I may do something terrible.”
“Anyone can hurt themselves in private. It’s going out in public, to the place where you long to be, seeing people do exactly what you wish you could be doing that takes much more strength.
“You’re crazy. But I’m going anyway.”

When we arrived at the Utah Olympic Park Jamie had real second thoughts. But we were exactly on time for the comp. There was no going back. I wasn’t going to miss Jeanee to take Jamie home because she chickened out.

I told Jamie, “You can get out of the car now, or wait in the car. The choice is yours.”

She got out of the car. We got ourselves on the some grass near the athletes. I held Jamie’s leg up to keep the swelling down. Lots of people came over to say hi. After Jeanee’s first jump- which was great by the way- Jamie had to go to the bathroom. She decided to go on deck, where the athletes were.

I knew at that moment Jamie had passed from the depressed, desolate, injured athlete to the injured, coming back, dynamic Jamie that finds the way to do whatever comes in her path with energy, style, gusto, and as full of life as there is to live.

She spent the next hour talking with athletes and coaches, all smiles.

Jeanee came in second for her age group. We left a different family.

We weren’t all happy, we weren’t all satisfied with the turn of events, but we were determined to get past this, to make the best of it, and most importantly love and support each other no matter what circumstances got in the way.

The Worst Moment was seeing the Love and Devotion Being Torn Apart

September 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Posted in ACL recovery, attitudes, Move to Park City Utah, Self Esteem | Leave a comment
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That evening when I picked up Jeanee after ramping, she was all excited about what she had accomplished that day. It was great to see her so excited and bubbly. And it reaffirmed to me that her interest and involvement in freeskiing was pure, just as Jeanee is with everything she does.

Still I wanted to warn her about Jamie. I just had this feeling that if I could have a moment of hating Jeanee, then Jamie might have an uncontrolled outburst of hating Jeanee. And her hatred would be just the same as mine- Not at Jeanee- It would be 100% misplaced anger with Jeanee getting the brunt of it.

Jeanee understood how Jamie might be mad at her, even though she had nothing to do with Jamie’s injury. I told her this might come up in the next week or so. I told her about my feeling the day before. And how it was really displaced anger.

And that great and wonderful kid smiled and told me she would probably have done the same. “It’s OK mama- I know you are just confused and upset- It’s not me you are angry at. And you can’t be angry at Jamie. And if you got mad a Jilly- Well, that would just be terrible with her temper.”

We walked in the house and Jeanee went upstairs to say hi to Jamie. Who screamed, “Get out of my room. I hate you. You took everything from me and now I have nothing.”

Jeanee left the room, which incidentally the girls actually share so it was as much Jeanee’s room as it was Jamie’s.

This was the worst moment for me, seeing the love and devotion that those two girls had for each other be torn apart. I couldn’t blame Jamie for her anger, disappointment, and even hatred. And even though I had told Jeanee about this possibility, how would she really take it? Could she let it roll off her? Could she really understand from her heart what was going on? Not just from her head- we can often understand from our head what our hearts have no idea how to handle.

I could do nothing while this was going on- but hope and pray that somehow Jeanee would be OK and Jamie would get over this.

For dinner Jamie stormed down the stairs (and with crutches this makes quite a scene!) and hollered at Jeanee once again.
“Get out of here. I HATE you. If you don’t go someplace I will hurt you.”

Jeanee quietly went upstairs. Jamie sat at the table with horrible, negative, dark energy swirling around her. She ranted for a few minutes about how much she hated Jeanee. I told her I could understand her feelings. I understood why and how she hated Jeanee.

As tough as it was, I never negated Jamie’s feelings. I allowed them. I didn’t encourage them though. I just let them be.

It was my instinct, and it was right. After only five minutes of this ranting Jamie started to cry.

“I can’t hate my little sister. She didn’t cause my accident. She is so sweet and wonderful. I love my little sister. I love Jeanee!”

Jeanee came back down and dinner went on- Yes we were quiet, not our usual talking bouncing all over the place conversations. But what we had was unspeakable. It was deep love and respect.

Later I told Jeanee that I guess I was right on target about Jamie, only I didn’t think it would happen so soon. I asked her if it helped that I had warned her.

“Oh yes- I’m not sure how I would have handled it if I didn’t have your warning.”
The rest of the evening- and late into the night we watched funny movies.

Things were getting better for sure.

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