Mental Health, Injury, and Advocacy (Part 2)
Updated: May 12
This week we continue the second part in our newest blog series with Kerry Morris! We take a look this week and the mental health aspect of an injury and how we can turn our fears into empowerment!
Missed part 1? Check it out here!
The Mental Roadblocks
One of the constant thoughts I had throughout my injury and recovery was a resounding, “WHY ME!” I am an organized person and I had my life planned out on the perfect path, and nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE in that plan, was “tear my ACL.” I never thought I would have knee issues. The diagnosis was devastating and the idea of surgery was worse.
The problem was that no one in my family or social circle had knee issues and therefore, I couldn’t find an outlet to normalize the emotions I felt of frustration and anxiety.
Will I ever walk again? Will I always be in pain? What does your knee feel like after surgery?
I found I had all of these questions in regards to my physical and emotional state and I was left to suffer in silence.
Why Google Isn’t the Answer
Any type of knee injury is impactful, in that, you lose your mobility, and with a loss of mobility, is a loss of self. I wanted to know if anyone felt like I did. The first action that I took was to start a significant search on google on my injury, surgery procedures and recovery time in physical therapy. I found some articles on WebMD, Healio, Health magazine, blogs etc. However, the research provided some great information as much as some scary information. Blogs were filled with folks who had the best or the worst experiences in the operating room and thereafter. When you are innocently searching for information, you sometimes start to believe everything you read when you are trying to make sense of it. I received the same type of feedback if I asked anyone about their surgical experience, it was always filled with stories of pain and horror. At times, it felt like people wanted to scare me.
It took me a month or so but I began to realize that my research and conversations were more of a detriment to my psyche than anything else. I also realized that everyone’s pain tolerance is different, and so what may feel painful to one person may not register as that same threshold to me. I also recognized that everyone's genetic makeup and medical history is different than mine, so experiences would be different as well.
Once I had this epiphany, I was able to compartmentalize any further unsolicited information that would, for all intensive purposes in the past, darken my door.
Overcoming the Mental Roadblocks
I then realized that I needed factual information. I wanted to know the entire process from A-to-Z and in order for me to do that I needed to solicit information from the industry professionals.
I started by:
WRITING questions down for my surgeon, physical therapy etc. appointments so I wouldn’t forget in the moment.
I also EVALUATED what I felt and why
Realizing ACL surgery was a CHOICE. Therefore, no matter how many sleepless nights I incurred, crying in a depths of despair, I was making the choice to have surgery. I focused on my goals and journaled how I felt about THE CHOICE that I was making.
Once I organized my thoughts on the matter, it became less burdensome to think about surgery because I had a list of reasons as to why I wanted it. I wanted to come to grips with the facts. From there I had the power over my injury and my recovery.
TEN TIPS To Get Past The Mental Roadblocks
The unknown is a scary place to be
Immobility can feel detrimental to your sense of self
Patience is needed with the process
You do not need to accept every opinion from others as TRUTH
You do not need to listen to anyone’s opinion that isn’t a professional
It’s perfectly fine to get a second opinion from a orthopedic professional
Be your own advocate
If you don’t vibe with your Physical therapist, surgeon, etc, find another, do not be timid
Ask questions for FACTUAL answers
Check out Part 3 Here!
Interested in more?
You can check out her site here: https://linktr.ee/Lifeisajourknee
Or her IG here: @lifeisajourknee
And she will be speaking at ACL Study Day 2020 and can be heard in person or on livestream
KERRY MORRIS, BS, MPA, is a former patient of ACL surgery and Massachusetts native. She tore her ACL in May of 2018 and underwent surgery in June of 2018. As a non athlete, she found herself with an infamous sports injury in the world of orthopedics. Her world was turned upside down. Through pain and persistence she learned that the mental and emotional health was just as paramount as the recovery process. After months of physical therapy; ignorance was no longer bliss. Throughout her recovery, it became a profound goal of hers to help others through the use of her Instagram handle @lifeisajourknee. Through this digital avenue, she has reached out to thousands of knee surgery patients from all over the world. She believes that it is not enough to suggest that physical therapy and "at-home" rehab will cure the invisible scars that are left as a heavy burden on the minds of patients. Her goal is to support igniting the change that is needed to respect mental health therapy in the same way physical therapy is regarded for recovery.
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