by Barbara Rybacki

There are many obstacles in life that no one person is immune to facing.

The obstacles that are thrown into our paths could be as little as traffic on your usual route to work, or they could be a little bigger, such as a surgery that leaves you benched for a sports season.

Back in 2007, I experienced my first serious injury while playing my favorite sport in the world.

My basketball team and I were in the first round of the playoffs versus our rival team when I collided knee to knee with an opponent, sending me into a fit of pain.

I was used to bumps, bruises, and floor burns — but this injury felt a little different.

My knee instantly swelled up and I couldn’t walk without a limp. I tried to hold back the tears but the fear of not knowing what was wrong with my knee made those tears flow faster than my teammates could get me off the court.

I’ve always been headstrong and a little in denial when it came to injuries. Whenever I got hurt, I would always tell my coach I was fine because I didn’t want to lose playing time. I would please my parents by “resting” my knee which would involve using the crutches only when they were around and I’d give myself a week before I was asking to play again.

This is exactly what happened when I realized my swollen knee was more than just a little sprain.

My team’s next game was a week after my first knee mishap and the limp was gone, I could straighten my knee and felt good walking on it.

So I decided to play.

My coach, an extremely wary man who thought it was best I sit out this game too, finally gave in and put me in the game.

Not even five minutes into my playing time, my knee buckled after trying to take a shot and I found myself on the gym floor thinking what on earth I did to deserve this.

Fast forward a few weeks later, after my first ever MRI and third visit to the orthopedist surgeon, I lay prepped for surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in my right knee.

In your knee, there are two pieces of cartilage called “menisci” that support the weight and movements of your everyday life.

According to WebMD, the lateral meniscus is on the outer part and a tear to this cartilage is more likely to heal on its own because of the adequate blood flow there. The medial meniscus, the only I was so lucky to tear, isn’t so likely to heal on its own and requires surgical repair.

At first, hearing the words “tear,” and “surgery,” leave my doctor’s mouth after my MRI, I pinched myself to see if it were a dream.

How could a healthy 12-year-old require surgery? I couldn’t wrap my head around it nor could I wrap my head around the fact that I wouldn’t be able to play for at least six months.

Fast forward years later, after my first surgery, a second and more severe ACL reconstruction surgery in my left knee, and currently facing the possibility of a third knee surgery, I’ve come to the conclusion that these things will simply happen.

Not saying that every person’s obstacle will be a knee surgery, but life gives you obstacles to make you a stronger person. These problems test your emotions, your patience, and your ability to bounce back with a stronger attitude.

Regardless of the obstacle, like not having any coffee in the morning, going through a bad breakup, or having a surgery, it’s not about how these issues affect you but how you bounce back from them.

I hope that whatever obstacle is in your path right now, small or large, you bounce back stronger than ever.