LoveLifeSurf - Montauk surfing

Have you ever fallen so hard some for something that all you want to do is dive in head first and immerse yourself in it? Like fully immerse yourself that you can’t breathe? That makes you courageous and willing to try things you never thought you would?

For me, that’s what it felt like when I found surfing two years ago. It made me grin stupid grins – grins that I couldn’t wipe off my face. It helped me find pure joy. It was like finding this bright light that helped me see things differently and gave me perspective. It helped me move forward in areas where I was stuck. I mean, I started this blog because of surfing.

I know that it sounds dramatic – silly even – to describe a sport like this. After all, I’m a beginner at best but I can’t help it. When I think about surfing, something just bubbles up inside me.

So when I walked out of my doctors office last week with the door half closed on the possibility of surfing again? I left with a nervous laugh and a twisted knot in my stomach.

CY ocean

In general, almost a year after my surgery, my knee looks fine. It’s more a matter of how my ligament has healed and the nature of the sport of surfing.

My ligament is looser than my doctor would like it to be, which means that anything that requires a lot of lateral stabilization may place my knee at risk whereas things like running, cycling and swimming are fine. And surfing not only requires a lot of lateral stabilization, but also takes place in an unpredictable environment (moving water, currents and tides) that can be pretty powerful.

If my doctor didn’t know me (he’s good friends with my sister), he probably would have given me a firm answer – No. But he didn’t want to close the door on something that I enjoy doing.

“That is why we decided to do the surgery in the first place – so that you can continue to do the things that you want to do. We can always fix is again.”

But the thing is, I don’t really want to go through that again. I don’t want to go through surgery and recovery and to claw my way back. I’m not sure if I have it in me.

Surfing Nosara Costa Rica

As I left his office, all I could think was, “It’s not fair.” I felt like my kids, repeating those words over and over and over again until they became white noise in the background, except that I was repeating them to myself in my head. I felt robbed that I found surfing later in life, robbed that I only had a chance to enjoy it for less than a year before hurting myself.

I tried my hardest to focus on being grateful instead of the “not fairs.”

  • I’m grateful to have discovered surfing.
  • I’m grateful for having learned a new sport.
  • I’m grateful for the lessons that it taught me.
  • I’m grateful for the presence of mind it has given me.
  • I’m grateful for the renewed connection to the ocean.
  • I’m grateful for that feeling of pure bliss of riding a wave.
  • I’m grateful for two amazing weeks in Costa Rica.
  • I’m grateful for the friends that I’ve made through surfing.

Even as I recited this list, I still felt the tears forming behind my eyes and I sought solace on my yoga mat – to breathe and immerse myself in a moving mediation. I needed to not think for an hour and a half.

While it’s not a definite no, in the end, it’s my decision to be smart/conservative or to continue to do something that I really really really enjoy. And I’m not sure what my decision will be.

In other news, I did a forearm stand in yoga class. So there’s that.




  1. says

    I’m sorry that you had to get that kind of news! It can be so heartbreaking to know that the thing you love, can literally break you. I know how much you love surfing and I’ve always admired your bravery in going out into the water and riding a wave, something I could probably never do. I really, really hope that you will be happy with whatever decision you make in the end. Congrats on the forearm stand!

    • admin says

      Thanks Sylvia so much. That means a lot. It does kind of suck but I also know it’s not something that I have to make a decision about right now. I’m hoping that there’s a way I can “test” it out. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up on it yet. And yeah, I think that the Universe was trying to throw me a bone with the forearm stand :-)

  2. says

    You are allowed to be sad about this for a very long time – forever, even – because when we lose ANYTHING that brings us job, we are allowed to grieve. You’re not acting like one of your sons. you’re grieving. The gratitude will help you get through the grieving – but still allow yourself that. Sending you a big hug. xo
    ilene recently posted..Bring on the NoiseMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thank you Ilene. I know. That’s how I felt when I left his office – like I was grieving but I felt silly for grieving something like surfing when I’m not that good and I haven’t been doing it very long and there are so many other, more serious things that I should be thinking about. But it hurts my heart. I’m giving myself a few days to be grumpy and cranky (sorry hubs) and I know that I don’t have to make a decision right now. I

    • admin says

      Thanks Erica. I guess there’s a part of me that feels like since I’m the adult and a mom now that I’m not allowed to wallow and mope. But I am sad and while it’s not a definitely decision yet, it does hurt. I’m allowing myself to grieve for a few days and then try to move forward in some way.

    • admin says

      Hmmm, not sure if I would say I’m wise just yet since my decision may be to say screw it and jump back in the ocean :-)

  3. says

    I cannot even imagine the pain of knowing that you will risk so much to do something you love, something that you should be able to do without thinking twice. So, hugs. I know that whatever decision you make, it’d be the right one for you.
    Alison recently posted..Motherhood Has Taken MeMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thanks Alison. I think that’s the hardest part for me – that I have to think twice and second-guess things, even things like changing direction when I’m walking or running after the boys. I’m SO conscious of my movements.

  4. says

    A long, long time ago I found myself in the situation as you after a second knee surgery. I had to hang up my soccer cleats and I was ANGRY! It took a while for me to find a new passion and I wasn’t always pleasant to be around, but I finally found running.

    You’ll find a way to get through this, but until then, it’s ok to be mad.
    AmyC recently posted..TrainingTruths: No excuses.My Profile

    • admin says

      It’s frustrating, isn’t it?? I’m sorry that you had to hang up your soccer cleats but so so happy that you found running. I will say that since I’ve been able to run again, I have appreciated it so much more.

    • admin says

      I am SO SO happy that James is rebuilding and getting stronger. That’s what it is – it hurts my heart more than anything I think which feels silly since I haven’t really been doing it for very long, you know? But I am thankful. I’m not rushing to decisions either :-)

    • admin says

      Thanks Maureen. I’m trying not to rush to any decision either way but it’s also hard feeling like I’m in limbo!

  5. says

    You’re right, Christine. It’s not fair!! Let yourself be upset before you switch into gratitude mode. :) I’m so disappointed for you, too… but as you said, it might not be an all or nothing. Maybe there is a smart way to do less without it hurting your knees?
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Accentuate the PositiveMy Profile

    • admin says

      You’re right – it might not be all or nothing and I don’t need to jump to a decision right now. I’m hoping that there’s a middle ground that I can find. I’m letting myself be upset for now :-)

    • admin says

      Thank you Heather. Sometimes I feel like I can’t have a temper tantrum since I’m supposed to be the grown-up and all. I’m letting myself be sad and grumpy and then you’re right – pick myself up and move forward and figure out what’s right for me. It’s not all or nothing and who knows, right?? 😉

  6. says

    I hear you loud and clear my friend. I had such a similar reaction when I went to the ortho just a few weeks ago. I still haven’t really come to terms with it but I know that through support of friends like you (and the amazing blogging community) that we will both find a way to do what we want while keeping our bodies and minds healthy.

    I’m looking forward to taking a yoga class together in a few weeks and then maybe drowning our joint sorrows in some good wine or beer. What do you say?

    Melissa Burton recently posted..Keeping Kids With Food Allergies Safe – AllerMatesMy Profile

    • admin says

      Oh I know that you get this Melissa tho’ I wish that you didn’t. It stinks but you’re right – we’ll find a way around. and most definitely – yoga and wine sounds fantastic!

  7. says

    Oh Christine! I’m bummed for you. I know the feeling. That’s exactly my situation with volleyball. Every time I pick up a ball, I find a happy place that no other activity can provide. But I know that my back, which is terrible as a result from years of volleyball, can’t handle the type of play I find satisfaction in. I haven’t played in years. I think about weekly and have told myself that part of what I want to do after baby girl is born is find a way to play some. I think I’m going to need that outlet too. As much as I know I’m putting myself at great risk of another back complication and possible surgery, for me, it’s worth it.

    Hang in there.
    Katie @momslrb recently posted..This is What 36 Weeks Looks Like..My Profile

    • admin says

      Thank you Katie. While I really and truly didn’t wish that you have back issues, I’m glad that there’s someone who understands this. I hope that you can find some way to play after Nuunie is born and that you are able to find that joy. It’s hard to weigh the options but I totally know what you mean – it IS worth it to me to get back out on the water and be on the board and maybe just catche one wave :-)

    • admin says

      Thanks Angela. I’m trying not to jump to dire conclusions and keep an open mind. Fingers crossed for sure.

  8. says

    It’s difficult to deal with, but keep in mind you can surf at all ages! My uncle is in his 50’s and is still going strong. He heads down to Costa Rica every few months for a surf trip, and when he’s not surfing there, he’s catching local waves in southern Florida. And surfing is so dependent on the weather! My husband hasn’t surfed in quite some time because there have been any decent, clean waves, and he doesn’t have knee issues.

    It’s a matter of perspective, and it’s good to know that you’ve found many things to be grateful for in your ‘surfing practice.’ It’s like me at 33 years old thinking I can still attempt 180’s off of table tops….. not going to happen. But I will go hard on our ski trip to Italy next month, whoop!
    Danielle @ I Eat Therefore I Run recently posted..33 things I’ve learned in my 33 yearsMy Profile

    • admin says

      I want to be your Uncle!! The door definitely isn’t close and you’re right – you never know. I more felt like I had to get this off my chest and be sad and frustrated and angry for a little bit. I am really grateful for having found surfing – but I’m also greedy in that I want more :-)

      Can I come skiing with you???

    • admin says

      You’re absolutely right that I never know and I’m trying to keep that in mind. I’m trying not to jump to the absolute worst conclusion because things may change.

  9. says

    As I’ve probably told you I’ve got back issues and had firm ‘no’s’ on surfing and snowboarding etc. I grew up by the beach and couldn’t fathom no. So I go out occasionally and am pretty conservative. Im never going to be a pro, but I can still have fun. I wanted to learn to snow board despite the ‘no’ and I’ve been a handful of times and just been careful.

    I figure I’m probably at a higher risk for injury but I’m much more aware of my body and what I can and can’t do.

    And body surfing, diving, body boarding etc whilst not the same are still fun and good options if you want to get out but your knee is troubling you that day.

    It’s hard to find a balance!
    Jess recently posted..Date and Cashew BallsMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thanks Jess – I know that you get this too. It’s hard!! I’m not saying not for sure. I still want to wait and see and really, I just want to go out and have fun. I guess the frustrating part is feeling like I had surgery in part so that I wouldn’t have to think about my knee but I do all.the.time. I do plan on playing around other ways when we’re out at the beach.

  10. surfmama101 says

    Dear Christine, you will find a way to find your own stoke wether it is soon are later in your life. You are a young lady who will find the way to keep on living her dreams.
    You can explore alternative stoke like bodysurfing in order to stay close to Mother Ocean. I know you will focus on the positive and patiently wait for the right moment to come back to surfing.
    Big hugs,

    • admin says

      Thank you so much. I know it’s not a definite no and that there is a chance that I will get back out there and it will be fine. And I don’t need to make a definitely decision right now. Just means that I have to get my kids surfing so I can live vicariously through them :-)

  11. says

    I hate to hear news like this. Remember the waves, they come in and they go back out. You are a wave expert, don’t forget that… in the ocean and in life, you are a surfer. Hang in there beautiful girl! PS. LOVE seeing the photos of you surfing, it makes me smile big too.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Pain does not define meMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thank you Lisa, so much. You’re right – things move and change and I don’t know what will happen. Part of me feels like I’m being selfish for wanting to go back out there because what if something happens? Anyhow, I also realize that I don’t need to rush to make a decision but felt like I needed to get this out there. xoxo

    • admin says

      Thanks Debbie. Maybe I’m making more of it than it really needs to be – a decision yes or no. I hoping that there’s a middle ground somewhere there!!

  12. says

    I am so sorry to hear about this diagnosis, Christine. I can only imagine how disappointing it was. I look forward to hearing what you decide… you always write so eloquently about these kinds of things.
    Jen recently posted..NYC Half 2013 PlaylistMy Profile

    • admin says

      Awww, thanks Jen. I’m glad that this sounds eloquent vs. grumpy/cranky/frustrated/sad which is how I was afraid it was going to come across!! I so appreciate your support.

  13. says

    Oh man, Christine. I am so sorry. The concept of “never again” is tough to deal with. I had a hard enough time when I was told by my chiro during pregnancy that I might night be able to run again during pregnancy (I only had 10 weeks left). THAT was tough for me to come to terms with (I did manage to run about 4 weeks later but the whole time was SO tough for me). I hope the decision comes to you as easily as possible…thinking of you. xoxo
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..NYC Half Race RecapMy Profile

    • admin says

      I’ve decided to slip all of this under the rug and pretend it’s not happening – at least not yet. I know that the door isn’t totally closed and I don’t need to rush to make a decision right now. I’m hoping that I can find some sort of middle ground because the thought of not being able to do it again makes me ridiculously sad. But then there’s the other part of me – the mom side – that feels like I would be so selfish to knowingly put myself at risk. Ugh. Anyhow, thank YOU for your support and kind words. Means a ton.

  14. says

    Christine, this post brought tears to me eyes. I know my situation is soso different because I know I will eventually get better and be able to run again, but in the place I’m in right now, it totally speaks to me, and reminds me to quit being a brat because there are people going through much more serious injury challenges. I know I’m no doctor, but I can’t help but believe you will be able to surf again. I can’t let go of that hope for you. Maybe you won’t be able to do it often, or in the way that you want, but I just have to believe this isn’t the end for you. I’m sending you so much freaking positive and healing energy. Keep doing research to see what you can do to stabilize that ligament–there must be things you can do right?? Also, I just want to give you a big hug right now!

    • admin says

      Thank YOU Ari. Your kind words and support means so much. I’m choosing to believe that it’s not the end for me and that there will be some middle ground or a “safer” way for me to get out there. I hope that you are feeling OK and getting better.

  15. says

    Ouch. I remember crying when I realized I’d torn my ACL – maybe that’s the closest I’ve been to feeling what you’re going through. That said, you _already_ went alpine skiing with that knee. I’m betting you’ll surf again; you totally have the strength to go through rehab again, if it gets to that. Hang in there. Hang ten. :)

    MAN I want to learn to surf! Maybe I’ll try that surf school, in the next year.
    Arah recently posted..Nearly-Equinox MealMy Profile

    • admin says

      That’s true – I did go skiing but for some reason I didn’t feel like that was as dangerous? Maybe because I’m so much more comfortable and knowledgeable about skiing and because it’s not an unpredictable environment like the ocean? I don’t know what it is but you’re right – just as dangerous and just as much lateral movement. And you should learn to surf!! It’s so much fun!

  16. says

    I hate hearing this reading this! I understand your pain when I was told I should never run because of a herniated disc, but sometimes your body can surprise you and after rest and proper recovery you might be back on a board in no time. You just have to remind yourself that this isn’t the end and always keep the idea in your head that you’ll be back to doing what you love soon.

    Congrats on the forearm stand! Heck yea.
    Taylor @ LiftingRevolution recently posted..3rd Largest 10K Race In The US: Cooper River Bridge Run History, Fun Facts & Tips For Race Day SuccessMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thank YOU! I needed that reminder and perspective. I definitely don’t believe it’s the end. I just have to find a way around, right?

  17. says

    You worked so hard to get back up to surfing strength too! I guess never say never, but I love that you’re trying focus on what you have now because of that first love. I, for one, remain inspired by your outlook and all that you do – outside of the surfing. And I never would have “met” you if you hadn’t found surfing and hadn’t started this blog. Hang in there – you had no idea all this was on your horizon, so who knows what’s next for you. Might be surfing, might be fulltime yoga instructor.
    Amy @ Mommy Rodeo recently posted..The day my son got sent home from one year old school…My Profile

    • admin says

      Thank you Amy for this amazing comment. Truly. You’re so right – who knows what’s on the horizon, right? And I am so incredibly thankful that surfing did lead me to start this blog and has connected me to you and so many others.

  18. kat says

    a very positive outlook for you – I recovered from a really bad knee injury with broken bones and multiple ligament reconstructions and my ortho told me that i shouldn’t snowboard nor surf but that i can always try it….. i have been snowboarding and surfing for years since my surgery without any re-injury.
    you sound in amazing shape and i’m sure that you will have NO problems surfing ! i always wear a knee brace – a small one under my wetsuit and a larger, more stabilizing one with boardshorts and i feel that gives me a lot of stability. i am though a very ‘conservative’ surfer and don’t even envision myself doing any weird maneuvers on the waves but the knee is holding up fine so far…. just to put things in perspective – i have never been able to run again and won’t in the future b/c the doc couldn’t fix the knee so that it regained its former stability.
    btw: i love your interview with RU from Surf Simply. that’s how i came across your blog. i just returned from a week in Nosara with Surf Simply.
    good luck for this summer ! i’m sure you’ll have a great time out in Rockaway and Montauk. start out on smaller waves and you’ll see how easy it will all come back and you won’t think much about your knee.
    good luck !

    • says

      Thank you so much Kat. Your comment just put the biggest smile on my face and I think that I just let out a huge sigh! I am very much a beginner surfer and conservative and know that I won’t be doing anything crazy out there but I so want to get back out on the water. Can I ask you what knee brace(s) you have?

      I’m jealous that you just returned from Nosara. Ru and the crew down there are fantastic and I hope that I get visit again soon. I always look at the pictures they post on Facebook with envy! Again, thanks so much.
      Christine recently posted..Friday Round-Up: What defines you?My Profile

      • kat says

        for snowboarding i wear a large don joy metal brace which i received after my surgery and had to wear to the gym for the first year. but that is more b/c i’m afraid of re-injuring the knee than anything else…
        for surfing i don’t wear much of a brace – underneath my wetsuit i wear a neoprene sleeve (which i know is useless theoretically) but it FEELS like it stabilizes my knee more and in the summer i wear a Mc David Ligament Knee support
        i buy most of them online at the “brace shop”. http://www.bracshop.com
        my ortho suggested various of the Bauerfeind Genutrain. the one he gave me is too bulky for surfing – for me, but they are good for other sports outside the water. i particularly like this one:
        i hope all this helps.
        i had subsequent meniscus surgery on my other knee and the doc told me i could go back to surfing after 6 weeks. if you want a second opinion, go and see him. he’s very nice, and a real “sports ortho” who understands that people want to go back into sports. he’s affiliated with Joint Disease/ NYU Langone – dr. andrew rokito.
        good luck with all – maybe i’ll see you out there sometime. i surf in long beach….

        • says

          Awesome. Thank you so much for the info on the braces and your doctor. I’m running a race next weekend and going to see how it goes before figuring out whether or not I need another MRI. Will definitely keep your doc in mind for a second opinion. And yes! Hope to see you out there!
          Christine recently posted..Friday Round-Up: What defines you?My Profile

  19. says

    I totally understand this “fallen so hard some for something that all you want to do is dive in head first and immerse yourself in it?”

    Surfing certainly has that effect. Although I started when I was 16 it was also only later in life that I discovered it and now I am determined to become the best surfer that I can be. This really leaves me feeling that life is short and that I missed out on so much by not taking it more seriously – or not having the right know-how – in my formative years. But I too am truly grateful that I have rediscovered it and we will continue to pursue this dream lifestyle.

    I can’t begin to imagine how frustrating your injury must have been but can only say that I wish you a speedy recovery and believe and hope that you will be back in the water before you know it!

    • says

      Thank you so much Grant for your kind words. It has been a frustrating year for sure and I have my fingers and toes triple crossed that I will be back in the water this summer. It does make me wish that I had discovered surfing at a younger age but am so grateful that I did even at an older age. Now, I’m determined to get my two young boys on a board as soon as possible!!

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Wish you the best and surf lots for me!!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Learning OpportunitiesMy Profile

  20. says

    Well that’s the next best thing. I’ve been getting my two boys in the water recently. Watching the 9 year old stand and ride a wave for the first time was almost as gratifying as surfing itself. If you can’t surf yourself, teach someone else how to :)

    That’s one of the reasons I wrote a book on learning to surf (http:www.how2surf.co).

    Your blog is great, keep writing. Hopefully soon you’ll be surfing.

  21. Jason Peterson says

    Came across this post while looking for a knee brace for surfing. All cartilege removed from knee 30 years ago and been active ever since with just a neoprene sleeve.

    The great thing about surfing is you can make it as challenging or as leisurely as you want. If you go out in 1-2 foot waves during mid-high tide, you will be easier on your knee. You can paddle a mile every session to keep in paddling shape and even flatwater SUP to keep your balance and core strong. Give it another shot.

    • says

      Thanks Jason! I do appreciate hearing from folks who have been through something similar and who’ve come back from injury to continue to be active. I have started to surf again and so glad that I have because I love being out on the water. So far so good!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Recovery Yoga for RunnersMy Profile


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