Understanding Why Andrew Luck Retired

Andrew Luck shocked the entire world on Saturday and retired from the National Football League, leaving the league at a the age of 29.

One of the responses from Luck during his press conference really stuck out to me.

“I didn’t wake up this morning and [decide]. A week and a half to two weeks. It’s been a little bit fast and furious and the lack of progress on my ankle. I’m in pain. I’m still in pain. I’ve been in this cycle. It’s been four years of this injury-pain cycle. For me to move forward in my life the way I want to, it didn’t involve football.”

Obviously we have seen a lot of support come out for him from fellow NFL players but we have seen a lot of backlash including fans booing him off the field.

I will take this to my personal journey over the last few months.

On the eve of June 2nd, I had woke up in some serious pain, we went to church and I just felt this stabbing pain in my leg. After a couple of days of the pain not going away, I decided to take a trip to my primary care doctor. I went their and she said it might be a blood clot, I rushed over to the Emergency Room and they did an ultra-sound of my leg and the results came back fine.

So after another visit with my Primary Care Doctor, they sent me for an MRI on my knee. After insurance approved the MRI (two weeks later), I got it done and found out I had a Meniscus tear that they requested I have surgery.

So after another 3 weeks of waiting for Insurance company to approve my surgery, I finally had the surgery.

Now mind you, I never have had surgery before, and any time in the prior years of playing football or professional wrestling, if I got injury, I listen for a day or two and was back doing what I shouldn’t have been. So mentally I wasn’t prepared for what was to happen next.

I had the surgery, after coming out I had this HUGE bandage on my leg. They basically told me they fixed what was needed, stay off it until Monday and see the Psychical Therapist and they will get you started on the road to recovery.

So here I sit, thinking “okay, I should be out a few weeks. I’ll be back to work and on top of things again soon”, well I couldn’t be more wrong.

I arrived at PT on Monday and was informed that I had not only torn my Meniscus but I also tore my LCL and they cleaned up some “junk” in my leg too. They fixed it but healing would be a little longer and I would need to go to PT 3 days a week. When they un-wrapped my leg, and got me over to PT just mere minutes after finding out about this, my conversation with the Psychical Therapist went like this.

PT: Have you been doing some exercises on your leg since your surgery?
ME: No, the Doctors said stay off it completely until I got here.
PT: Well that’s wrong, you should have been on it and working with it.

For the remainder of my PT appointment that day I really wanted to just cry because the amount of pain I was in.

Again, mind you I have been working steadily 40+ hour a week for close to 15 years, so here I sat at my house unable to really do anything at all. I couldn’t help my wife around the house, I couldn’t do a whole lot to get the kids prepped and ready to go. At this point, in my head I really felt useless and this had only just begun.

So as the weeks progressed, PT was helping in ways but mentally I was still rough. I was stuck to my bed, and basically unable to do things around the house, so I felt trapped and again useless.

I would at times hinder my advancement to fulfill my mental health. I was to be on 50% weight bearing on my leg, instead I would just walk around the house in an effort to just feel normal. I would have to be reminded daily from my wife that she wanted me around for the long term. It made sense, but it didn’t help mentally because I would be grounded again.

About 4-5 weeks had gone by and the leg pain that initially made me want to get checked out really hadn’t resolved itself. I was still feeling a lot of pain in that area, they tried different medications and tried variety of things during PT to improve but nothing would help. I again was at a point of frustration because here I was at 5 weeks and still feeling the initial pain in which started this entire process. I wanted to be done with this entire process, I wanted to quit going to PT, I wanted to be “normal” again.

So after conversation, they think it was some nerve pain, so they finally ordered for me to go get a Nerve test on my leg.

I went and got the Nerve test and it didn’t go well but the Doctor thought that this stemmed from my back and not from my leg, so he ordered for me to get an MRI on my lower back. Again the never ending process continued.

I go for my MRI this past Monday and as I awaited my results, I went back to my PT doctors for my “release” back to work. In my head, I am thinking you know what “let’s do this, I can go back” until I get my results back from the MRI.

I walked into my visit this morning and walked out defeated. My Doctor wouldn’t release me for work full-time, and also said I needed to continue PT because my knee is still not near 100%. I won’t lie, this destroyed me. Mentally, I still am struggle as I type this and trying to wrap my head around it.

I called my wife and she is and always has been my number one fan, but she will also tell me like it is. She said “You’re not better babe and I think you know you’re not but hearing the doctor say it, made it real. But I think you set your expectations really high because you’re over it and want to be back to normal.”

Rehabbing is hard, mentally at times it has overcome me and my journey has only been over 3 months. Andrew Luck has been dealing with this over 4 years. She is 100% right (hopefully she doesn’t read that, she’ll frame it), but as I try to wrap my head around this process, I can fully understand why Andrew Luck walked away from the game that he once loved so much. It’s his wife, it’s my wife, it’s his kids, it’s my kids.

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