I took to the blue mat just like I had a million times before. Confidently, I began my run into my tumbling pass and threw my body into a full mid air twist. I landed solidly and at that exact moment, I knew something horrible had happened. The pain ripped through my knee and up my leg and I fell to the ground. I knew my life was about to change.
Ever since. I was three years old, I was in a gym tumbling and flipping around. This was my happy place. First as a competitive gymnast, and later as a competitive cheerleader, my life revolved around that blue mat. I spent countless hours, days, weeks, months, and years throwing my body through the air. To me there was no greater feeling than soaring through the air to the cheers from those around me. I always thought my next logical step would be cheering in college.
That fateful day, October 5, 2014, my hopes and dreams were shattered. My ACL was completely torn. My meniscus was destroyed and so was my heart. The only answer to this disaster was major surgical repair. Recovery was going to be a long and hard road ahead of me. The doctor explained the two options of surgery; I could use my own ligament with a three-inch scar but a greater chance of regaining full athletic ability, or I could use a cadaver ligament and have minimum scarring but not have the possibility of fully returning to the cheerleader I used to be. I chose the three-inch scar. We scheduled surgery for two weeks later.
I awoke from surgery and could not believe the excruciating pain I was in. This could not be possible. This was not happening to me. But it was. My leg was bandaged and braced from hip to ankle with strict instructions to not bear any weight for one whole month. Less than 24 hours after my surgery, I began my physical therapy. Never in my life did I imagine the pain I would endure. I cried, I vomited, I screamed, and I wanted to quit. That was just the first day. Three times a week, I showed up for my torture session. With lots of encouragement, and some yelling, my therapists became my best friends and biggest supporters, helping me fight through the pain and negative attitude I had brought with me. By the end of week two, I knew my only choice was to bring back my positive attitude and push forward to get where I needed to be. I’d be lying if I said it got any easier. If anything, those sessions became more difficult and challenging. The weeks went by and my strength slowly returned, along with my smile. The time had finally come for me to walk, and I had never been so scared. As I took that first step, all I could think was, “I can do this”. And I did. I took one step, and then another, and then another. Two weeks later, I was able to slowly jog. I had put my mind over matter and my mind had won.
Not a single day goes by that I am not reminded of what happened. My scar, although faded, is still there. Pain still radiates through my leg, but ten months after my injury, I was able to step back onto the blue mat. This accident taught me that perseverance and a positive attitude could push me forward to continually reach my goals. I may never pursue my dreams and cheer in college, but I will definitely be in the stands cheering as loud as I can.
There are obstacles that can knock you down in life, but it’s the way you overcome them that determines the outcome. I chose to not let this keep me down. I came out fighting and will continue to carry this attitude with me no matter what gets thrown my way.