After two hours of pushing the morphine button while I lay waiting on that hospital bed, the on-call knee surgeon finally came in to assess the damage. With my knee obviously dislocated, one quick look and Dr. Edgar Vyhmeister spouted out, “Yep, you did a damn good job on this one.”
I thought, “Crap this can’t be good,” and started laughing—mostly because of the morphine. He continued to tell me how he has never seen a knee so bad then busted out his iPhone and started taking pictures to send his buddy.
Two surgeries, three ligaments and 16 months later I was finally able to be active again. My knee was finally strong enough to do normal things like jumping, hiking, running, bowling, skateboarding and, most important to me, wakeboarding.
Before my injury, wakeboarding was my life. Every chance I had I was out on the lake having a blast doing what I loved most with the rest of the Chico State Wakeboard Team. Even if it meant doing just enough homework to get by, not getting a job and running up my student loans. I figured, this is my youth and I better take advantage of it while I still can. The team was my life and I did not want to look back on college and have regrets.
Then my knee injury slapped me in the face. I was told the surgeries would only strengthen my knee back to about 80% of what it was. In short, kiss wakeboarding goodbye and say hello to a knee replacement in about 20 to 30 years.
During the 16 months of recovery, I spent half of the time on crutches and countless hours sitting on the couch, unable to be active or do much of anything. Basic things weren’t so basic anymore: getting to the fridge was a hassle, taking a shower meant sitting on a stool, crutching around was a total pain–although I did MacGyver a drink holster attachment to my crutch to make some tasks easier.
Needless to say it sucked but looking back, I cannot help but think of where I would be if I didn’t blow my knee out that night. It was my first serious injury and it happened a lot easily then i would have expected. I’m not invincible…damn. So it is true, when you get older you can’t take falls like you used to —especially if I go back to being the crazy risk-taking showoff I used to be. In an instant my life flipped around.
So now what? Right before the injury I changed my major from business marketing to graphic design. My interest toward my new major took my mind off of wakeboarding and gave me something new to work for. It actually helped keep me involved with the team when I started designing the team shirts, fliers, a website, posters and whatever else the team needed. Design became my new passion and best of all it allowed me to apply the artist in me toward something more practical.
Instead of spending those endless hours on the couch thinking about how much I wanted to get back on my board, I passed the time learning necessary computer programs, reading up on design theory and working on personal projects. During this time I realized how competitive the design world I am about to enter really is and how important it is for me to absorb as much design as I can while I am still in school. I started feeling the pressure and it hit me. I needed to stop screwing around and it was about time I got serious. I couln’t afford to go through the surgery and recovery process again, financially and physically.
If I just floated through the design program, I would have been screwed entering the design world.
I probably would have graduated as an amazing wakeboarder but most likely had an exponentially harder time finding a job after graduation. Thankfully, and probably more beneficial to me in the long run, that wasn’t the case. So my injury, being the hard hit on me that it was, may have saved my butt, seeing that I still need to pay off all those loans.