Carl Valentine - looking up - ring of honour

I didn’t think my latest update would take so long after my first, but after some unforeseen circumstances, I’m now ready to share some of the challenges I’ve been going through.

Before I do that, though, I’d like to sincerely thank everybody for their support and kind words. I can honestly say that your messages have helped me through this process. 

OK, let’s start with the time I was wheeled into the operation area.

As you know, this was my first major surgery and I purposely made sure I knew little about what was about to happen to my knees. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. At the same time, I couldn’t help but look around the room at some scary-looking instruments that they were going to use on my knees. Luckily enough, I was asleep before I could freak out too much.

Coming out of the surgery was actually quite pleasant – I didn’t feel much pain or sickness and I had time to reflect on the rehab I had in front of me. The next day was my first test: I had to take my first steps using the walker. It was very surreal. I felt good taking those few steps and felt well on my way to a full recovery.

It wasn’t easy though.

A few days into my rehab, a nurse asked me if this was harder than I anticipated. My answer was yes. Even though I progressed quickly from walker to crutches, I didn’t realize how immobile I would be. I couldn’t even lift or move my legs without help when I was lying down. Getting in and out of bed was actually the biggest challenge.

Six days in the hospital and I was ready to go home – provided I passed some tests. The big one was being able to climb a small set of stairs. I passed everything and was given the green light to go home.

But I only lasted one day out of the hospital.

Instead, I ended up in the Vancouver emergency with a high fever and a lot of pain. After a few days and tests to make sure there was no infection, I was diagnosed with internal bleeding in my right calf. So just like that I was back on the mend again.

This was a very tough time for me. Fortunately, I had a number of kicks up the behind when I began to feel sorry for myself. I was literally in bed for another four days before getting out. It was killing me. I knew I was falling behind on my rehab, which I should have been doing vigorously every day.

Eventually, I ventured to physio but I was in for a big shock.

When I left UBC six days after the surgery, my range of motion was 63 degrees on both knees. My right knee had responded quite well but my left knee had dropped down to 30 degrees. So I started doing physio twice a week, and then eventually increased to every day, as a good friend and player I coached, Nico Berg, took on the task of helping me play catch up – especially with my left knee.

I won’t lie, it’s been a tough process with a lot of ups and downs.

The next couple of weeks are critical, as there is still hope to get my left knee to the required range. If not, I will have to be put under again and have the knee manipulated, which means they will force it to bend to the required range. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Anyways, while all has not gone to plan, I’m still excited at the end goal of walking normally again and getting back to work. I also feel very grateful that I’m getting proper care and receiving so much support from so many different people.

The journey continues – I just don’t know what path I’m taking yet. 

Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour inductee Carl Valentine is the club's all-time leader in appearances and fourth all-time in goals scored. Currently, Valentine serves as a club ambassador and U-16 Residency assistant coach.