I went out to St. Louis last week to visit Dr. Richard Lehman, the surgeon who operated on my knee and came away with some great news about my progress.
He said everything is going great, that I’m moving right along and gave me the go ahead to bump up my workouts in therapy, which was really exciting. I’m that much closer to being back on the track.
This was a big hurdle for me to clear. Throughout the whole process, I’ve had a lot of things going on and it just seemed like it was taking forever. I’d heard that it could take six months to heal and that scared me because I felt like the whole point of having surgery was to speed up the healing process.
I was also a little nervous going into the appointment because the inside part of my knee where he did a lot of the work has been sore a lot. So I didn’t know what that was about. I kept thinking something was wrong because of the pain I was in during some of the therapy exercises I do.
I check in with Dr. Lehman about once a week and he said the pain was normal. He kept telling me not too worry because in order for me to mess it up I would’ve had to twist it or something. But every time I feel pain, I get worried.
So he had me come out to St. Louis to check it out. He did some x-rays so he could see what it looks like in there and how it’s healing. Then he moved it around and worked with it. His report was that it was healing great and there was no swelling or anything.
I was obviously glad to hear that. It gave me a lot of confidence and made me excited to get back to LA and keep going with therapy. I love working out. It’s a part of my every day life and when I’m not doing it, I miss it.
We just have to keep playing it by ear. Dr. Lehman works very close with my physical therapist and they communicate a lot. There were a couple of things he specifically wanted me to boost up so that I keep strengthening the muscles around the knee like my quad. So we’ve pushed some things a little more and I do full body workouts now.
After coming back and working out, I feel really good. This is the first step toward getting back in the groove of things. I’m ready to hit it hard in therapy. I feel like now I can get my mindset back into working out and get back into the flow of things with that lifestyle.
This is the most I’ve been able to workout since USAs in June, which makes me feel good about the progress. We’re focused on working very specific parts of the body, but the therapist is good about changing it up with different workouts so it’s not just getting the same work every day. They surprise me daily with what they have me doing. They bump up the reps every day and I surprise myself by being able to do it and go through it without pain. I’m doing a lot more things than I even thought I would be doing at this point.
Any time anyone gets hurt, there’s always a fear of pushing the envelope and doing anything. But the things I’ve done since this visit to Dr. Lehman already have shown me that I can trust in my knee and do these movements.
Prior to this, I hadn’t done lateral movements, squatting and things of that nature. I worked with a different group of physical therapists to start off and everything I did there was sitting down. But they got me going in a pretty good direction so that I was ready to go on to the next level of being more active. Now I can take that next step with confidence.
Since we bumped up the workouts, I’ve started doing some squats on it in all different directions to put all my weight on it in a bent position, instead of the straight leg exercises I had been doing. I’m also doing a lot of calf raises and things of that nature that will stabilize the knee, work the quad and fire my glutes.
Each workout is longer, has more work and more weight, and each day I’m sweating bullets. I can finally feel my quad working and my glutes working. They are buckling and I could feel the burn. I haven’t felt that in a long time. Some of the exercises can be painful afterwards, so I just have to make sure I’m still icing because I don’t want it to swell up.
I had also been a little worried about my cardio because I wasn’t able to do much. I didn’t start therapy until the third week out of surgery because I had to keep the knee immobilized. After that, I was doing some work on the bike and in the pool on my own, but for the most part I had to just sit back and let the knee heal.
Now I can totally feel the difference from when I first had surgery and even the first couple weeks of therapy. I’m feeling a little more stamina and definitely more of a burn now. It’s how I’m used to feeling after a good workout. Eventually, I want to work up to running on the Alter-G machine, which should help with conditioning.
The doctor said that if I have another good 6-8 weeks, I can get back on the track. I’m in a bit of a rush just because I’d like to be back out there as soon as possible. That’s the goal that I pray about. But I have to be realistic.
Because of the way this 2014 outdoor season is structured, with no World Championships and no Summer Olympics, there’s no real rush to get on the track. I want to be healthy for these next four years.
So we’ll see where I am after 6-8 weeks working with the therapist and go from there. He’s so knowledgeable that it’s almost like talking to a doctor sometimes and since he’s in constant contact with Dr. Lehman, he’ll be able to tell me when I can run.
As my therapy ramps up, I’m still enjoying my life and my time off. We’re in Mexico for vacation this weekend and I’ll be going to the USC vs. Notre Dame game later this month, but it’s all working around my therapy schedule.
This news has me even more excited for the next four years. When I tweeted out the news, I got a lot of support from people saying good things and best of luck. I’m thankful for that. When all this is done, I hope that people will still be in my corner and look out for me. I’m planning to some amazing things, so keep believing in me.