Four things you should never say to an ACL patient
It happened again on Saturday night. A bunch of well-intentioned friends at a party congratulated me on being able to walk.
I understand that most of them don’t know that I started walking four days after ACL surgery, or that as of today, I’ve been walking for more than a month. It’s such a minor accomplishment, not worthy of commentary, that I wasn’t sure how to respond. It would be like congratulating a dog for swimming after you toss him into the lake. It didn’t require any feat of skill or strength; it’s just something I just started doing.
If I think about it, there are a lot of things ACL patients don’t really want to hear. At the risk of offending some well-meaning people, here are four of them:
1. YOU LOOK GREAT! Nice try. I’m pretty sure you can see the limp. Saying this just reminds the ACL patient of how they don’t look good.
2. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? Ugh! I really hated this ubiquitous – if heartfelt – question because it put the burden back on me. I’m already feeling incredibly vulnerable and now I have to admit to more vulnerability by asking for help?! The best friends just did something. The more mundane the better, because those were the things that added up. Want to be really helpful? Clean out the ACL patient’s fridge, replace her light bulbs, unpot her dead plants, change her oil.
3. DID YOU TRY THAT MANGO COLONIC I RECOMMENDED? I was stunned by the number of friends and strangers alike who inundated me with tips for miracle tonics, electromagnetic machines, or Swedish visualization exercises. Even worse, the recommenders followed up! Most ACL patients are getting great care from their doctor and PT and are doing their own research on the side as to what works and doesn’t work. If they want to try an alternative medical solution, they will.
4. EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY. I think I’ve lost the most hair over this one. Even if this chirpy feel-goodism allays your fears, it does nothing for the ACL patient. You haven’t seen the MRI. Statistics say a certain percentage of people will NOT be okay. The simple truth is, unless you’re a medical professional, please resist playing Nostradamus.