My finals week began with knee surgery

We should all take some time for a little R&R

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Lucie Drahozal is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

I tore my ACL and a small portion of my meniscus at a club volleyball tournament in September. I immediately knew something was wrong, but I was not in the excruciating pain and anguish that many describe detailing their own ACL horror stories. My experience was actually pretty lame — all I felt was a simple pop and then unsteadiness when I put pressure on the affected leg. 

The unsteadiness subsided after about two weeks, and I was back to walking normally and doing typical everyday activities before Halloween. Other than club volleyball, not much was different for me — except for a constant fear that I was going to further injure myself. My surgeon warned if my meniscus did not repair itself before my surgery I was looking at six to eight weeks on crutches, rather than one to two if only my ACL needed fixing.

Needless to say, I was pretty cautious the rest of the semester which, to my friends, translated to pretty lame. My fears were understandable but definitely held me back. 

My surgery was Dec. 7 and if you can think back to before the traumatic two weeks of exams, Dec. 7 was the Friday before finals began. I thought that I could take a few pain meds, rest for a day or two and get back into the grind of studying as soon as Monday came around. Little did I know, knee surgery takes a lot out of you — you sleep a lot, ice, readjust your position on the couch every few minutes, walk and crutch around to prevent blood clots and elevate your leg whenever lying down. There is a lot to keep track of on top of needing to study for finals. 

To say the least, finals were rough. I studied when I could, but I definitely should have spent some more time hitting the books. However, I don’t regret taking that time for myself and limiting my time studying. Most people, I imagine, can understand that. Though that got me thinking — recovery periods shouldn’t just be for surgery. 

This whole semester took a lot out of me — ACL-wise and just because of life. Stress usually motivates me, but finals week showed me that sometimes it really is too much. I was so overwhelmed by pain, fear, nervousness and just relief for finally being in my own home — post surgery and just for the semester — that I didn’t mind spending the time to rest post-op rather than studying. I just wish I took some time to rest and recover during the semester. 

Recovery and taking time for yourself is not emphasized enough in college. I get secondhand stress from my friends around me cramming for tests or working on projects. I’ll get stressed out from taking a nap because I didn’t use that time to get ahead on readings or homework. That kind of stressful and overwhelming lifestyle is considered normal, and to some extent, that lifestyle defines college. After being academically, socially and mentally focused for so many hours of the day, rest and recovery is necessary to retain some mental capacity. 

I have learned patience in this whole ACL experience, but taking designated time to recover mentally and emotionally is even more important than just accepting a long physical recovery period. Recovering doesn’t just have to be for hangovers or for surgery — it can be applied to everyday life. Everyone needs R&R, and recovering from the exhausting environment that college fosters requires making an active choice to focus on yourself rather than on your workload. 

Surgery and finals weren’t the best combination, but I loved this designated recovery period and really believe that when school gets incredibly overwhelming, I am going to think back to this restful period and choose to take time for myself. If you’ve never had surgery and have made it through this whole column, you know enough about my experience to understand how restful this recovery period has been. So basically, everyone needs to relax. 

Lucie Drahozal is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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