A year ago today, memorial day weekend Sunday, about this time in the morning... The boring background... Never much of a motorcycle rider. But most everyone in the family has had them and ridden them. Before 1999 my total motorcycle time was 2 laps around the block on my fathers street bikes and one down the street and back on a dirt bike. Then in 1999 I was out in the real world making my own living, paying my own bills and came into a dilemma. I needed a new daily driver to get to work. The trusty stead was mortally wounded at just over 200k miles. So I went and bought a new KLR650. Learned how to ride it. For the most part daily driver for 2 years. Still have it for nice days and is just shy of 50k on the clock. All of it on the street. The other part of my transportation was a '69 Bronco that was my toy. Street legal and used for things the bike could not do. As I progressed I got other means of daily transportation as well until I had what looked like a low grade used car lot in front of my house. Somewhere in this mess I picked up an observed trials bike. Things degraded until I was never having any fun. Everything was broken or needed some sort of work. I finally had one of those "enough" moments. Sorted through my transportation (and other hobbies) and took a good assessment at what I had, what worked, what didn't, what it was worth, how much fun I was having with each (when I could actually use them) and made a plan. Sold off most of the used car lot, bought a good multi purpose daily driver. Kept the boat (whole different story). Kept the KLR swearing I will make it turn 50k then sell it. Kept the trials bike and started using it a lot more. I am not that good at riding off-road but I enjoy it and am getting a lot better at it. I started as a total beginner. About the only thing I had going for me was I knew where the gas, brake and clutch were and had some idea how to work them. Any off-road riding techniques were totally new to me. After a few years I got to the point that the old trials bike was a hindrance and picked up a nice new 2012 Sherco. I had that 2 months and was just getting settled with the new bike when... The injury... Memorial day '12 weekend was a memorial weekend indeed. Just as memorial as it was in '87 when I watched my neighbors truck roll into the lake, but no one was injured in that. Mine was a trials bike injury. It was in Northern AZ not far from Flagstaff. Few of us went and strung a little ribbon and made a few sections. I struggled at the sections, fell down a few times. A few weeks before I was riding in the same place and went down and used my knee to keep the new bike from hitting the ground too hard. I got some nice knee pads to keep from hurting it again. Thought I was doing the smart thing. Made it to the section I set up for myself. I made it fairly easy on myself. I don't remember the whole line, but the part I remember is a little wash I had to cross. Going one way it was down a 30° slope with a 6" ledge a couple feet from the bottom. A 30° slope up. Slight turn. Fairly easy novice line. In order to get the most out of setting up the sections we ran them both directions. First time through was dropping off the ledge and was OK. Second time was the reversed track. When transitioning up the grade I couldn't get the front wheel unloaded and stuffed it into that little ledge. Stuffed it quick enough I didn't grab enough clutch in time and stalled it. It was just right where the bike was sitting level, from wheel on the up slope, rear on the down slope. This put me way off the ground. The grass was deceiving as the solid ground was way under the top of the grass. I fell over and stuck my leg out to catch myself as anyone would normally do. But the altitude resulted in the leg hitting the ground hard. And the left leg was fully extended. It went down, there were a few popping sounds and a whole bunch of pain. The bike was picked off of me. I sat upright grasping my left knee in pain. Nothing else was hurting, if it was the pain of the knee overwhelmed everything else. No juices running out, good. Leg still looks straight, bone isn't sheared completely. OK, lets try to move. Go to stand on it and it collapses out from under me. Try again very carefully, hear another pop or two. Hurts like hell but I can move on it. I am not doing well but I am back to moving again. The group of friends are concerned but I am looking like I am shaking it off. Off to the next section, maybe 100 yards away. I will probably just sit this one out while things calm down. I go to climb on the bike and this is where reality sets in. I may have started the bike before throwing the leg over it, maybe not. I don't remember. What I do know is when I threw the leg over the bike the knee came apart and it was like someone took a baseball bat and took my knee out from under me. Down again. At this point I know something is REALLY wrong. My friends return, pick the bike off me, again. Pain levels are fully spiked now. I get a little tunnel vision. I am done riding for the day. Thankfully I got injured with friends. Also it was in an area where a truck could be driven right up to me. My bike was loaded up. I was given a shoulder to lean on. The truck driven to pick me up happen to be my own. Strip off the riding gear and see what is going on. Looking at both knees there isn't any visible signs of trauma. In fact there wasn't a scratch or a bruise at all. The knee pads worked great, no external injuries, they were all internal. At this point we are way behind in riding. I was in fact done. So we go back to the parking area and have lunch. The fact I drove myself down was a bit amazing. The left knee is the same one I use for the clutch pedal as the truck is a stick shift. So we sit around and eat lunch and discuss various options for seeing a doctor about the knee. Flagstaff is about half an hour away, Phoenix (which is a lot closer to home) is another 3 hours. So an hour of discussion and eating and the knee is still hurting bad. But it is stable. If it started swelling quickly or anything bad I would have been calling 911 quick. But I was doing good enough to assess that I was stable and decided to drive back to Phoenix. Everyone else concurred and off I went, and they went back to riding without me. The drive home wasn't too bad. I did need gas. It is such a good thing they have pay at the pump. I am old enough to remember before such a thing existed. On the way home I remember Matt, a friend/co-worker married a lady who worked in an orthopedic surgeon's office. I had actually been to the office once about 5 years prior. That was just a checkup on the knees as they made horrid crunchy noises but didn't hurt. I liked the office, the doctors, I had plenty of stories from my office about there office. So I called Matt up as I knew his holiday plans were to stay home with the new kids. I caught them and told them what was going on. Came to the conclusion that urgent care or ER would be nothing more then a long wait, an X-ray that the orthopedic surgeon won't use anyway, probably a prescription for some stronger pain pills and telling me to see a specialist along with a big bill. So I skipped the whole hospital thing and went home. I pulled the whole rig into the side yard, picked up a few essentials out of the truck and went into the house. Found that as long as I kept the knee bent it was stable. I had to walk in a squatted position. If I extended the knee straight there was no telling which way it would go. Monday... I live alone, my uncle lived nearby but I knew he was out for the holiday weekend as well. So Monday late morning when I knew he would be heading home I asked him to stop by and give me a hand. He thought I needed a hand hanging a gate I was building. What he didn't know was I needed him to unload the truck for me. Lots of research via Google. Tuesday... I didn't make it to work. I was calling the doctor's office every 5 minutes starting about half an hour before they opened until they answered the phone 45 minutes later. "we can make an appointment in 2 weeks":eek1. After pointing out that I can't walk, I am willing to come in and wait for a no-show. They manage to work me in 90 minutes later. I drove in, got a couple X-rays, knees pulled and twisted on the exam table. Verdict... Torn ACL They fitted me with and excessively expensive slip on knee brace and discussed options. The knee brace was great! I could walk upright again! Now what should I do? I was presented with plenty of options ranging from live with it to various surgery options. Start with the "live with it option". Surgery will be the same weather I did it that day or 5 years later, no rush. Back to work. I find out how many people have had torn ACLs. A LOT! Can I live without getting it fixed? By the end of the week I am doing well without the brace. But there is so much I am limited at. I call the doc back and ask to get the ball rolling on the rebuild. Get the authorization for an MRI, that takes a week. Find out I am getting an MRI the same day my sister-in-law is getting one for breast cancer. The results come back. Completely torn ACL, no other collateral damage. By the end of June the knee is a known unstable quantity. Having a buckle moment randomly about once a day. This will not do, surgery time. Go to work, talk with the bosses about the summer work load. Discuss recovery time with a lot of people. I am thinking I will be out for 2 weeks from all the other people who had it done. (how wrong I would be) Early July looks like a soft spot in the work load. This is looking good as I go to Vegas for SEMA every year at the end of October. I should be recovered enough to still attend that. July 2nd was picked as a surgery date. I didn't like the cadaver graft idea so much. Patella graft was chosen. My cousin who is a bit more medically knowledgeable came with me. Hated the no food or drink before surgery. No drink in AZ in July for an afternoon surgery isn't good. But it went through without any snags. I don't remember the surgery, which is a good thing. I do remember them handing me a set of crutches to get out to the car. Too bad I have never used a set before in my life. So I am learning to use crutches for the first time as they are trying to get me out of the office so they can go home for the night. Chris, thank you for getting me home that night and staying with me. It was a lot worse then what I thought it would be. Those ice filled knee chillers are the greatest things invented. I could tell when the ice was melted as the knee would start hurting a lot more. Vicaden and Percocet were the pain pills. Big bottle for big pain, little bottle for little pain. Started with the big bottle. For the next couple days it was a simple pattern. Every 4 hours a little food, new pills, fresh ice in the cooler, back to sleep. The home ice maker got a huge workout and couldn't even come close to making enough ice. My uncle was bringing a few of the big bags of ice a day. Matt and Steve from work brought a huge cooler full of ice from the cafeteria at work a couple of times. I didn't even get to unwrap the bandages for a week. Getting around the house was difficult. First couple of showers I thought I was going to rip the shower walls down hanging onto them like I was. Just taking a shower was exhausting and would wipe me out for an hour. For 10 days I never went outside. First time out was for the doctor's office visit. All was good, start physical therapy. So much for the 2 weeks out, I was way more messed up then I thought I was going to be. But I was recovering nicely. Got my handicap parking placard and started twice a week physical therapy. Therapy came nicely. At 2½ weeks since surgery I left the knee brace off as I left therapy and never put it back on. I was getting my flexibility back fast. Apparently I am way more flexible then most people. But I have never had strength. At the 3 week doctor office follow up I was without the knee brace. It was right after lunch and the doc was running late. I knew that from Matt's wife who worked in the office. I was in the exam room, sitting in a chair, legs crossed, playing on the phone when he came in the room. He just about broke out in laughter, totally amazed I could comfortably bend my leg that much, that soon after surgery. It did cause a few problems actually. Therapy was wanting to bring forward my exercise program, adding some impact exercises. The doc did not like this. Wait until the bone graft is fully set before putting impact exercises in the plan. A full month after surgery I finally went back to work. I still had 6 weeks of therapy while working. For the first week it was exhausting to make it to the end of the day. I could do everything I needed to do, but I was slower at it and had to plan carefully what steps to take to do it. Come October I did go to Vegas and walk around for 3 days at SEMA with nothing more then taking plenty of Advil. The recovery has been tapering off. I still can't kneel on the left knee. But I can do about half weight on it now. As for riding, I was told 4 months before starting again. So a few of the CAT rides I simply checked. At 3 months I cheated a little and rode the loop helping set sections but still only checked. At 4 months and 2 days I entered the November ride. Rode 1 of 3 loops and quit. Knee was hurting too much. New goal, finish 3 loops. So December I rode non-trophy beginner class just to get some peg time. Finished all 3 loops! Back up to my senior novice class. I had just stepped into senior Novice just before all this started. Now a full year later I am almost back to where I was riding before the injury. My left patella is only 18mm, for a normal person it should be 30mm. I have a custom made CITI brace for that knee. Knee brace is completely different then a knee pad. Since insurance will only pay for a brace on the injured knee the right knee was up to me. I don't have the pockets for a custom brace on the un-injured knee so a $250 off the shelf Astrik Cyto cell is used over there. I have a very nice set of knee pads, I might use them someday when laying tile. I can live with the current state of the knee. It does still tell me I f'ed it up from time to time. Back off, take a few Advil, continue with life. In total it has taken a year of my life. That year isn't just bike riding, it is everything. The boat rebuild is a year behind. Getting back into diving is a year behind. Landscaping the back yard is a year behind. Everything is a year behind. The cost of all this? ~$50k But I do have good insurance so out of pocket was only a few thousand. All the incidentals that don't add in very well as well. Financially I am a year behind as well. I did find out that the 2 screws in the knee are not enough to set off airport metal detectors. The scars are healing up nicely. Exercise (that I don't do enough of, I know) really does help. I am back to my riding goal of not being in last place in my class by the end of (this) year. I was only 4 points away on the last ride, it is possible! Life has pretty much returned to normal. The 10-14 month total recovery window is now upon me. I have not seen any doctors about the knee since the end of last year. I hope to avoid any more incidents like this, it wasn't pleasant. Life has returned to as normal as I can expect.