James Flynn’s Injury story so far

James Flynn

Ruptured ACL & MCL

Medial meniscus tear

Tibial rim fracture

My injury story so far

         I haven decided to write the following to tell the tale of my current injury situation, all that is involved and the trials and tribulations that come with such an injury in professional sport.

        To those who are not familiar with what it is like to be involved in a rugby team. It is just like having a very large extended family! You do as much as you can for your team mates on and off the field. Coming into training every day brings a smile to your face as you know you are going to improve yourself and to do that with your friends with plenty of laughter along the way sounds like a dream come true to me.

Winding back the clock to Friday 6th April 2018 – Sale Sharks v Wasps

          We are narrowly behind on the score board and I get the call that I’m going on. Every time I get onto the pitch all I want to do is make a difference to the game and show the coaches what I can do. My first involvement in the game is a scrum deep in our right hand corner, notoriously difficult to exit from due to its position so I know this scrum is extra important. I had a go at the opposition tighthead and we got quick, clean ball back. Somehow I managed to get free from the rest of the front row and was in position to carry the ball on the second phase which really I shouldn’t have been able to get there. Adrenaline was high and I wanted to make this carry a big one as I was fresh legged and wanting to make a difference. Little did I know, that carry would change my whole year and in many ways, my life.

         After getting my leg caught in a rather compromised position when going to ground, I instantly knew something wasn’t right. I managed to peel myself up off the floor and told myself I could run off whatever had just happened. Echoing what I said previously, you want to do everything you can for your team mates. Not wanting to let my team down, I somehow managed to get myself back into the defensive line. My knee was moving violently forwards, backwards and side to side every stride along the way. A few tackles later, my game was over and I made my way off the pitch. After a quick examination I was told that I had damaged my knee ligament. I found this news very upsetting, mostly as I felt I had let my team mates down and had not done my job that night. That brief examination was only the beginning of what was to come.

Monday 9th April

        After a very long, painful weekend, D Day as I saw it had arrived. Being involved in professional sport has many benefits, one of which being healthcare. I was booked in for the first appointment of the day at the Alexandra Hospital where I would have my MRI scan of the knee. Later on that night I received a call from Nav, the head physiotherapist at Sale who is taking lead on my treatment. As soon as I answered the phone and from the tone and manner of his voice I knew the news was not what I was hoping for.

        The messages I had received from all of my friends and team mates over the course of the weekend were very humbling. The amount of support I received was amazing. This is what it means to be part of such a team!

Tuesday 10th April

        This was my first appointment with the knee specialist, Rob Gilbert at The Spire Hospital Manchester. During his examination he asked me to walk only with one crutch. This was probably the most nervous I had ever been as I knew I wasn’t able to do it but I had to in order for him to fully access the current strength of my knee. Safe to say I failed that walking test. I swore to myself I would remember what I had just felt and use it as motivation to get me through the course of this injury.

Tuesday 1st May

        After a few weeks of hard training in the gym and moving back home due to the inability to drive, I have my second appointment with the specialist. I walk into the consultation room without crutches and only my knee brace on as support. The appointment was short and sweet and in his words it was the best recovery so far he had ever seen! My surgery was to be booked in straight away.

Tuesday 8th May

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        The most important day so far had arrived. It was time for my surgery. The facilities at the spire hospital are state of the art, I had my dad with me before I went into theatre, he managed to ease my nerves a little, as you can imagine they were sky high! I cannot express the importance of having good people around you. Post surgery I was told it was a huge success. Stitches were put into my medial meniscus, meaning that I was on crutches for a further six weeks with 50% weight bearing. They require you to pass urine and have something to eat before you are allowed to leave. After the side effects of the drugs wore off, I was raring to get going and I took my first few steps. It felt so unnatural and laboured but I knew it was only going to get easier from then.

        I was given two weeks to recover from the surgery. Strict instructions were to do nothing. As easy as this may sound, it was far from it. To date this was the hardest thing I had to do. Unable to drive, walk, shower and sleep properly. Menial tasks such as going to get a drink are made ten times harder. I was so excited to get back into the gym and make myself better and get back into the routine that I like so much.

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Tuesday 19th June

        Pre season officially started yesterday and all the boys have come back in good shape. I went outside to watch the fitness testing take place. As much as they will all think I was loving it stood there just watching, I would have given anything to be doing it with them.

        I am now six weeks post op and it is time for me to be rid of these crutches. I was getting to the end of my tether with them and was conjuring up many different ways in which I could cut them in half ! For the last couple of days I had been getting a strange clicking from my knee and this was worrying me as I was so close to being able to walk unaided and didn’t want anything to halt my progress. My fears were unwarranted. Another short and sweet appointment with rob at the hospital and I was finally free of the sticks. I was so happy and it finally felt like I was really cracking on.

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There are many things I have learnt so far and many things I have learnt that I need to change about myself.

The importance of family is paramount. For two and a half months I was able to stay back at home. I was helped with my meals, driven to wherever I needed to get to and everything else in-between. I strongly believe I would not have recovered to the level I have done so far without the support of my family and friends.

Keeping your mind occupied. You will have a lot of spare time to begin with in the early stages of such an injury. There will be days when you feel down and it can be very easy to be negative but there is no point in negativity as that will definitely not help. It is a testament to your strength to overcome dark days by combatting with optimism.

Strong work ethic. I can say that this is the hardest I have ever trained. Every session you partake in is an opportunity to better yourself. Grasp that opportunity with both hands and give it everything you’ve got and the rewards should come.

Nutrition. I am far from an expert in this field. Being a front rower I am partial to the odd treat here andthere hahahah! Whenyou aren’t as active as you usually are it is crucial to keep on eye on what you eat. I did a lot of research into what foods can aid my recovery and have fully bought into planning my meals. Every little effort contributes to the main goal you are striving to achieve.

I hope you have enjoyed getting an insight into what it has been like for me so far. I will check in again in a with an update on the next period of my rehab.

The real work starts now

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