Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Senior column: Torn apart

Coping with a severe knee injury at 18
Peyton Kuschmeider
Since November, I’ve been struggling with a severe health complication: losing the ability to walk properly. Dealing with a severe knee injury has hindered me from truly enjoying my last year of high school.

Crutches. Wheelchairs. Countless hospital rooms. 

Since November, this has been my new normal. It happened on one of the best days of my life, surrounded by my closest friends in a new, exciting city across the country — a city that very quickly became frightening and suffocating.

It was a cold night in Boston. The wind was brisk and frigid against my cheeks — wind I wasn’t used to. I remember feeling excited, as if I was on top of the world. My newspaper staff and I had achieved an incredible award: recognition as fifth best student newspaper publication in the entire nation. 

I felt something in my leg as I was walking down the crosswalk in the middle of the street, hand-in-hand with one of my best friends as we made our way toward downtown Boston. My left knee buckled, but I simply thought I misstepped. Perhaps I was walking a little too fast, given my eagerness to celebrate our last night together and eat a victory dinner with my staff.

Another step. 

My left knee buckled, but this time, it was followed by excruciating pain. I couldn’t extend my leg anymore. I couldn’t hold my body’s weight on my own two legs. I couldn’t stand on my own. I wailed in pain, having to sit down on a cement planter with the help of my adviser. Panic set in, which quickly transitioned to fear and then to dread. I remember hearing my mother’s panicked words on the phone and reading my father’s worried texts, praying it wasn’t an ACL injury.

I spent my last night of the trip in a small, cramped emergency room with a throbbing migraine from crying at the sheer pain of my injury. I was forced into isolation while my friends enjoyed Boston one last time.

It has been two months since then. Two months of continuous, debilitating pain. First, the injury was a simple knee sprain. Then, it progressed to an unidentified ligament injury. Now, symptoms of hairline MCL and meniscus tears are appearing in my knee. It feels as though it’s a never-ending battle. One health concern after another, all piling on top of each other. 

I can no longer walk in the grocery store for 10 minutes without wincing in pain. I can no longer wear jeans, simply because the fabric feels too uncomfortable with my knee brace. I can no longer work my nightly shifts and see my work friends – I can’t earn money to save for college anymore, and am unsure when I will be able to.

Instead, my nights and weekends are replaced with countless appointments with my physical therapist and elevating my knee on a pillow with ice in bed. Thousands of dollars of my parents’ money were invested in X-rays and MRIs, weekly doctor appointments and numerous prescribed pain medications that always make me feel queasy. 

It slowly felt as if I was turning into a liability — a medical burden — instead of a person to my family and friends. I feel, at times, useless, helpless and dependent on everything and everyone around me.

My mental health has also rapidly declined, nearly as fast as my knee. 

I can no longer do the things I once loved — hanging out with friends, shopping at the mall and going on walks with my mother in my neighborhood — without constant pain. Sometimes, I feel as if all I can do is sit in my bed, with my knee atop my pillow, rotting in my sheets as my friends and family go on with their lives. On harder days, I wonder if I will ever recover, if my injured knee will be a permanent part of my life. That sentiment terrifies me. 

As I approach pivotal events in my senior year, such as prom and graduation, just a few months away, the same question remains: will I be able to wear heels with my prom dress and dance with my boyfriend? Will I be able to walk across the stage and receive my diploma without strikes of pain shooting up my leg? Will I be able to walk around my new college campus next school year – to enjoy adulthood?

None of those questions have been answered, or are even close to being solved. I am living on a day-by-day basis. One day, my knee will be perfectly fine, and I can walk easily with my brace at school. But other days, I can barely get in the driver’s seat of my car and must take extra Advil in the morning. 

However, during this scary process, my family and friends have been my crutch – pun fully intended. I’ve received countless messages of concern and encouragement from those I least expected. Additional help from friends by carrying my heavy backpack during school or picking up my groceries are common everyday tasks relieved that make my life much easier. It’s a breath of fresh air to notice how many people genuinely care for my well-being, a realization that I needed. 

I am somebody who always puts my struggles and needs on the backburner, putting up a false front of unwavering emotional strength. With my severe knee injury, it has not only humbled me physically, but emotionally. I now realize and understand that it’s OK to ask for help from others, and that struggle is a part of life — no matter how big or small.

My injury has been an unpredictable cycle that may never end. I am, unfortunately, having to come to terms with that. I may have a permanent limp when I walk, or seasonal soreness when the weather grows cold. However, the warmth and reassurance from my family and friends keep me going, motivated and determined to become healthy once more, even when I am feeling torn apart.

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About the Contributors
Madeline Rivera, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Madeline Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief and this is her third year on staff. In her free time, she enjoys watching romantic movies, traveling and hanging out with her friends.
Peyton Kuschmeider, Multimedia Editor
Junior Peyton Kuschmeider is the multimedia editor and this is her second year on staff. In her free time, she loves to take photos, read, write, go on long drives and works at Texas Roadhouse. 

Comments (1)

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  • J

    Juliana MunJan 23, 2024 at 2:22 PM

    madi, this was an amazing piece!! dealing with an injury is so hard and as always, you put the feeling perfectly into words. rooting for you girl.