Monday, November 24, 2008

Time, and time again.

The date and time are set, the countdown reset.

December 15th, 8:30 am.

Saw Dr. K on Friday, he confirmed it is a complete ACL tear, and is just as baffled as I am as to the lack of swelling. He mentioned that sometimes it's the result of chronic ACL wear, but he saw no indication of that. Guess I'll just count my blessings I didn't have to go through the whole swelling-reduction program prior to surgery!

No indication of Meniscus damage, and signs of an MCL sprain which will resolve itself without surgical intervention.

As I head for my repeat, it's a reminder of all the things I had to do last time. Pre-op physical. PT appointments. Follow-up appointments. Work scheduling. Short-term disability. Allograft decision.


And On.

And yes, I will be watching surgery again. That was cool the first time, gotta catch the sequel!

I will pack and gift wrap my uniforms and equipment this weekend. It was a ritual I used before, and one worth repeating. It symbolizes the pain of putting away my Karate for a while, with the promise of rebirth, restoration, and renewal in 27 weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Really Weird.

I want to thank everyone who commented for your support. It may be a few words on a blog, but I'm glad to know I'm not taking the trip (again) alone!

Friday night's screening was really cool. I'm sure the 5 people from my school will fly on to the final exam with no problems! Lots of people were asking about me, whether what they'd heard was true.

I hadn't the assistant instructor from that night since the injury, and he took time to step off the mat and check in with me. Mr. Fab was, ironically, the only one present for both ACL ruptures.

Most impressive, however, was our 5th degree in charge of Black Belt screenings. Mr. War took a moment--right in the middle of screening--to give me his personal condolences. He himself has had both ACL's re-constructed, and stated "There is more after all this..."

So on to the "Really Weird" bit.

This time, my ACL tear emitted a 'pop' as one would expect. However, there was no swelling whatsoever! Now, I've no idea how that's even possible, unless some unusual situation--perhaps a bit of bone on the end--managed to immediately close off the blood vessels that typically run through the ACL. Normally these suckers swell like a balloon almost immediately from the hemmorhage, but not this time.

Weird, huh?

While Dr. W stated the MRI did confirm a torn ACL, I forgot to ask if it was partial or complete tear in his opinion. Hopefully Friday's visit with Dr. K will shed light on that particular mystery.

So tell me: Anyone reading this experience a partial tear only, or some level of injury where no swelling occured???

Friday, November 14, 2008


For the creatively challenged trying to read last Tuesday's post, here's what happened on Election Night:

1. Obama won the Presidency.
2. Hack Shaft lost another ACL.

Oy. Well, it's been shocking to so many in my extended Karate community to hear the news, and everyone is surprised at how well I'm taking it.

Should I take it some other way?

Wednesday night I did some power-grieving with a few beers and a surprisingly large quantity of Jack Daniels. Understand, folks, I'm not a heavy drinker and don't recommend my blatantly juvenile, childish, alcohol-fueled reaction--but that night the reality of being out until June again hit me hard.

Why June? Primarily financial reasons. Like last time, I plan to use pre-tax money from an FSA at work to pay for surgery expenses, and the new funds aren't available until January 1st. The medical services have to occur in the same year as the FSA funds.

Then again, I may forgo the tax benefit if I can get surgery scheduled in early December. Guess I'll know more Friday after my visit with Dr. K.

Primary considerations are scheduling--such as carpools, time off from work, holiday parties--but maybe, just maybe, I can trim a month off the process...

Well, 'nuff for tonight. I'm heading out to support 5 friends from my school at their final Black Belt screening session.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Folks, I am sorry to report that I'll be re-setting the clock at the top of my blog shortly.

Saturday I got the call from my doc, the MRI confirms I've torn the ACL in my left knee now as the result of a bad landing from a tornado kick on Election night.

At this point, looking at the second week of January for surgery for a variety of reasons, some financial, some just plain timing.

I mentioned to the staff at the clinic that I really didn't intend to make this an annual visit, and I'm not looking forward to the look on Dr. K's face next week.

On the plus side, it's almost time to plan for flexible spending accounts again, so I can set aside pre-tax money again for the next round. I also have all the specialty stuff, like an exercise bike and the all-important cryo-cuff.

And so another round begins.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two Words.

Tuesday night.

Tornado kick.

Planted foot.

Left Knee.

Lachmann test.

Suspected rupture.

(Not again?!?!?)

Hurts bad.

No swelling...

Noon MRI.

Results Saturday.

Feeling hopeful!

Positive thoughts...

Pretty please?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fighting Fatigue

Good piece of advice: Don't Fight Fatigued!!!

October's tournament was a tough one for me this year. 13 guys in my division doing open hand form, and just as many fighting, too. On top of it all, my band had its CD release party the night before, and I ended up getting about 3 hours sleep. Not exactly a good set-up for competing in the top-ranked national tournament of the year!

I achieved Finalist status in open hand form, which means I was in the top 8, and I'm satisfied with that. At this belt level my school's open hand form is not as complex or difficult as some I've seen. The winner was from a Tang Soo Do school, and had an incredible form; very powerful and clean presentation, and most deserving of a top placing.

Going into fighting, I pretty much knew I'd be out after the first round. New rules extended fighting to 2 minutes or first to 7 points. While I lost 4-7 to the fighter who ended up in 2nd place, I did have one bright moment.

Forgetting that I fight best reactively, the first two clashes went to my opponent as I tried to take off from the line. 3rd clash I began moving around and finally popped in some points. We went back and forth trading punches, and while I landed a solid kick to his chest right in front of the center judge, neither corner judge saw it well enough to award me that particular point.

The last blow I delivered came as a complete surprise, and ended up being the most revealing and valuable lesson of the tournament.

I have this habit of turning away from my opponent. Bad idea, I know, but in this particular case I turned while pulling my head back out of range of his fist. 1/3rd of the way through turning, I thought to deliver a back fist with my left hand, which missed my opponent's head. However, my right hand, seemingly of its own accord, delivered a beautiful follow-through that delivered a solid blow to his chin! That moment is awfully fun to watch on video...

What exactly did that moment reveal??? Simple. I need to return to fighting conventional stance vs. southpaw.

See, my right (operative) leg is really good at delivering repeated, jabbing side kicks. However, when it comes to follow-up with my hands, my left fist is really slow. Sure, my right hand in front is fine for back fist work, but there's just not much else to back it up!

I began fighting southpaw when I returned, mostly because I wanted to guard my operative leg from too much sideways motion. Conventional stance put a lot of pressure on the knee, either taking off forward, or if I was retreating. Since that time, however, my knee has toughened up significantly, so it's now time to reconsider my stance to take advantage of my strong side.

I'm right-handed, and my right leg is the stronger one these days. My first sparring class back I forced myself back to a conventional stance, and it was weird...but very effective! At first it felt like I was exposed, but now I realize the true feeling: freedom. Suddenly I felt like my hands truly did have something to contribute to the party, and it's really liberating.

Two Monday's ago we did something unusual that forced fighters to keep constantly on the move; we fought 2-on-1. This forced me as a defender to constantly try to position myself so one opponent was between me and the other opponent, effectively blocking the second attacker.

It was nuts. It was insane. It was a blur of motion. It was exhausting.

It was...A BLAST!!!

Next opportunity for tournament fighting in 2 weeks. Hope to have better results to report afterwards.