Tearing and repairing my ACL
A torn ACL is one of the most common knee injuries for sports players, whether they’re professionals or just playing in social leagues. Two years ago, 36-year-old Sports Administrator and basketball enthusiast SAM MACINTOSH knew something was amiss when he crumpled on the court in pain after a rebound gone bad. Here, he shares his long road to recovery.
I tore my ACL playing basketball. I was playing socially at the time, but I was also playing in a few competitive leagues during the rest of the week. I would get down to the park whenever possible to play pick-up games as well. It kept me active, but what I really liked was the competitiveness. I was obsessed with the NBA and NBL. I just loved everything about the game.
I knew something was seriously wrong as soon as it happened. I was playing a pickup game one night and I jumped for a rebound and tried to pivot at the same time. I heard a loud popping sound in my right knee and that was followed by the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. I was screaming in pain, it was that bad. I knew straight away it was serious. I was devastated. I immediately iced it and elevated it, but I knew I had to get it looked at by a doctor right away.
I went straight to the hospital. I had an MRI and the results showed I’d torn my ACL – the ligament that stabilises the knee joint. I was told a knee reconstruction was my best option to get better and back on to the court sooner.
Thankfully I had private health insurance with hospital cover. This meant I could pick my own surgeon and where I would have the operation. It was a much better option for me than joining a long waiting list in the public system. I waited about three weeks for the surgery.
The operation went well. One of my mates had the same injury in the past and could recommend a good surgeon. I spent one night in hospital in my own room. It was great to have my own space. After that night, I got to go home. It took me out of action for a little while, though. Thankfully, the post-operation appointments were all quite straightforward too. The procedure cost about $5000 in total, and I paid about $2000 of that in out of pocket expenses.
I felt really depressed around the time of the operation and just after. I’d gone from being fit and active to not really being able to walk, and I beat myself up mentally about how I could have landed the jump better and avoided all of this. I had definitely been taking my health for granted. I just assumed I’d always be healthy, and it made me very aware of my body’s limits as I was getting older.
My recovery routine was really intensive. There were a lot of visits to the physio, and plenty of Pilates classes and strengthening exercises. The incremental process felt tedious at times, but I had the goal of playing basketball again in my head, which made me committed to stick with the recovery process.
It took about a year to fully recover. It was a long and hard road. It was obviously hard physically, but it took most of its toll on my mental state. It was a real struggle not being able to play the sport I loved, an activity that gave me so much enjoyment. I even had to stop watching professional basketball, it affected me that much. Plus, I wasn’t confident moving in general, constantly fearing I’d hurt my knee again.
I don’t take my health for granted anymore. I’m back playing basketball now but I don’t go as hard as I used to. That feeling of doubt is still there and it’s definitely made me a lot more careful with my knee in my day-to-day life. I’m a total Pilates convert now though, which is a good thing to come from it all.
Remove some of the stress and costs of an unexpected injury with myOwn health insurance. All of our products offer ambulance cover and private hospital care for accidents, and selected covers offer joint reconstructions. Plus, all of our covers let you access AIA Vitality, the personalised, scientifically-backed program that supports you every day to make healthier lifestyle choices with amazing rewards.