Etched in Stone

More than a statistic; dealing with an ACL tear

Tool%27s+knee+brace+and+crutches.+
Tool's knee brace and crutches.

Tool's knee brace and crutches.

Audrey Tool

Audrey Tool

Tool's knee brace and crutches.

Macy Fowler

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There are roughly one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears a year, according to Beaumont Health, and they are becoming one of the most common high school sports injuries. For Karalyn Tool, her second to last year of soccer was left behind on the field simply because of a rough hit.

Karalyn Tool’s life has been changed by tearing two ligaments and cartilage. Tool is used to taking hits playing center defense, but one has changed her life for months. She hadn’t seen the hit, of course, but her goalie told her how it had happened. Tool was running up to get the ball when a player for the other team kicked the side of her knee, causing her to fall down when it all tore. “I heard a pop and I experienced the most pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I was on the ground, in a ball, and I couldn’t move because of how badly it hurt,” she explained. At the time, she just thought her knee had been popped out, completely unaware that her ACL and MCL had torn, along with her meniscus. It wasn’t until they went to an orthopedic surgeon that they figured out what had really happened. Tool said, “I thought I’d just popped out my knee, because I swear I saw it just go opposite directions.” At the time, all she could think about was the pain, saying, “at the time I was kinda covering my face because I didn’t want people to see me. Everyone was surrounding me, and when I looked up I could see a circle of people around me.” Tool was thankful for her teammates, who reminded her to “focus on her breathing” while she was hyperventilating. Tool’s been playing soccer since the age of eight, and has never dealt with anything like this. “I was so frustrated because I’ve never been taken out of a game for an injury. I was tripped earlier in the game, messing up my other knee and spraining a ligament in my shoulder,” the player explained.

Both of Tool’s parents work in the medical field, so she knows a decent amount about the healing process, saying, “tearing your ACL at my age isn’t as bad because I’ll be fine by senior year. The doctors aren’t worried about me tearing it again, since the chance is so low.” With tearing her meniscus, Tool has to wait for the cartilage to heal in order to get the surgery, since she isn’t able to extend her leg yet. Once the surgery is complete, she will be allowed to put weight on her leg, but she has to stay home for about a week, which means working the procedure around school.  After the surgery, Tool’s recovery will last four to nine months, depending on the physical therapy.

Adjusting to crutches for Tool was a challenge; she explained that, “the first few times I used them was so tiring. My palms hurt so much that I had to put towels on the handles.” For the athlete, even lifting her leg was painful. As an independent person, Tool doesn’t enjoy asking people to do things for her that she can do herself, so being on crutches restricted her and left her frustrated. “You kind of end up overthinking everything, like if someone will open the front door for you. I don’t even leave class early because I don’t want people looking at me,” Tool admitted. For the first few days of being on crutches, she had to take breaks while she walked, saying, “I never realized how far the walk was from the drop-off to go into school, and then there to the elevator.” The first few days left Tool frustrated, and she expressed that, “it wasn’t getting better faster, even though it was getting better faster when you think about it.”

The ACL tear didn’t scare away the longtime soccer player, and she wants to continue her season senior year. The avid skier was upset that her soccer season this year would be out of the question. “I think I’ll go back to soccer since I just have a year left, but the fact that I play center defense is always a risk for injury, it’s a very contact position,” Tool said. “I always get in really bad falls, but I’m usually fine. Maybe for my last year I’ll take it a bit easier and won’t use my body as much.” Tool knows the risks of playing soccer, but she’s enjoyed it since she was a little kid. She hopes to make her last year the best and push past her injury once the time comes.

About the Writer
Macy Fowler, Arts Beat Writer

Macy Fowler, a junior, is in her third year of Fossil Ridge High School’s Journalism program. As an reporter for Etched in Stone, she has written across several topics, including arts, opinions, and column pieces. However, her favorite contribution to the newspaper has been the column that she started her sophomore year, B-List Delights, in which she reviews B-list horror movies. She loves Journalism as a whole because it’s a creative field that allows you to “put out your art” in a very different way than people expect.

In her free time, Macy loves to hang out with her friends. She got to “connect a lot more” with them this summer, which she really appreciated. She also enjoys paddle boarding, which she often does in Horsetooth Reservoir, as well as reading, which she is trying to get back into after not having much time to do it over the last few years. Her favorite book is The Catacombs, a horror novel in keeping with her favorite movies. When asked about her favorite kinds of music, she cites mainly the period around the early 2000s, because she grew up with her mom playing music from that time. She explains that, “it’s what I’ve listened to when I was little, so it’s all I listen to now”, and lists bands like OutKast, Sum-41, and Counting Crows among her favorites.

As a junior, Macy has started to consider what she wants to do in the future, and there’s two paths that currently stand out to her. One would be to go into behavioral analysis of some sort, a type of psychology, but she could also see herself “finding a really cool newspaper” to write for. In any case, she would really enjoy going to school in the Pacific Northeast, such as Seattle, where she has family, or somewhere in Oregon. This year, her goals are to procrastinate less and to do more research into colleges and possible majors. If she were to give advice to any future Sabercats, she wants to them to know to, “take a risk, but be careful.”

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More than a statistic; dealing with an ACL tear