My knee popped in training (MCL sprain). It hurts, but it’s manageable. Feels unstable, but I feel that recovery is possible without taking any time off.
It seems that once people start having knee problems of this kind, it has a long lasting effect, not just physically, but psychologically. Confidence in the knee’s stability is lowered, affecting many decisions you make while grappling. I definitely feel it now, but I’m staying positive and taking it all in stride.
With any injury, big or small (though with jiu jitsu my injuries have been all small so far), I seem to go through stages that resemble the stages of grief. For the fun of it, let me try to describe them:
- Shock: The moment an injury happens, the pain is usually most acute. I don’t know how bad it is, but the fact that it could be very bad leaves me in a state of shock where I just remain motionless, trying not to think about anything.
- Anger: Once I get a handle on how bad the injury is, I realize that I can’t train any more at that moment and have to go home. That realization leads to anger at myself, at the world, at the people around me, at everything really. It’s the kind of anger you feel when you stub your toe on something and you yell out a profanity of the creative variety.
- Depression: Anger quickly gives way to zen-like reflection of my place in the world, and how nothing really matters. Somehow, in this case, the result of this reflection is usually a kind of loneliness.
- Recovery Planning: After the nihilistic depression wears out (usually after a nap and a snack), I get very optimistic, and make grandiose detailed plans for recovery. I plan on what I will do if I can’t train. I plan on what I will do if I can only train lightly. And so on…
- Acceptance: I prepare myself mentally for taking time off if the injury does heal without prolonged rest. I imagine myself taking several months off (which kills me to think about). I slowly accept the negative elements of the circumstance, accept the plan of action, and try to focus on the hope that such a plan provides.
- Game Change: During the days and weeks after the injury I experiment with what hurts and how to avoid making the injury worse. Based on that I change my jiu jitsu game.
All that sounds kind of depressing. I don’t exactly go through all those steps, but I do experience parts of each. I just like putting things into a numbered list.
Anyway, hopefully I’m lucky in this case, and will be able to at least continue drilling (and maybe training) as often as I did before, and won’t damage the ligament any further.
There are a bunch of tournaments coming up, next one in 10 days, but I’m trying not to think about the fact that I may have to miss any of them.