I don’t need to see the video of Chicago Bears player Zach Miller in which he dislocated his knee on a touchdown attempt this past Sunday. Surgeons are now trying to save the leg for Zach Miller, whose injury is being described as “gruesome” because it defies the vision of what people expect to happen with the human body.
The video of that injury can wait forever as far as I’m concerned. The fact that Zach Miller needs vascular surgery to keep his leg is making me queasy. I had my own experience with a torn ACL years ago. The entire knee just went discombobulated. That word perfectly describes the awful feeling when tendons just give out. I’d jumped over a player that had fallen down, landed with my left foot and went to turn in the same moment. And things went haywire. It’s awful. Now I know it could have turned out even worse if there has been damage to the point where critical circulatory passages were ruined.
My life in athletics to that point had included years and years of basketball, baseball, soccer, track and field, cross country and many games of pickup football and other sports involving ballistic cuts and turns. Never in my life did I figure the risk of a torn ACL. But time and some weakness that had built up in key support muscles meant the knee was at risk.
I knew that things were changing in my body and had asked my family doctor for permission to do some physical therapy to strengthen my body. So it wasn’t like I didn’t sense some level of risk. But a torn ACL? That still wasn’t imaginable to me.
That night of the injury I came home with a knee swollen and hot. It got bigger then next two days and went back down. I’d’ had plenty of injuries before, but none so profound. Still, would I have known if the leg was at risk?
Probably there are signs when that is the case. As it was, surgery was conducted months later and I worked to get the knee back into functional shape. It lasted two years before I tore it again playing soccer?
Dumb, or just inevitable? The orthopedic surgeon told me that 30% of active athletes do tear their ACL again.
So I feel for Zach Miller. Perhaps he’ll play pro ball again, or perhaps not. The average length of an NFL career is just three years. It takes a lot of work to get there, and just a moment’s bad luck to leave.
Learning about yourself
It wasn’t fun going through knee therapy but I learned a lot about myself. I recall those first pensive runs when the knee was good enough to allow it. I’d run 100 yards and walk again, waiting for signs that it wasn’t a good idea. That’s how it goes on the comeback trail. I don’t wish it on anyone and yet it happens to so many.
Just don’t show me the video of Zach Miller going down for the count. I won’t post a link here, and I won’t go looking for it. I’ve got my own knee issues to worry about, without taking on the fear and loathing of another.