Exclusive Calum Woods PNE column
It is more than four months since I damaged my knee in the friendly game at Oldham and the recovery is going well.
At the moment I’m doing a lot of hard work in the gym, it’s been a tough few months but I’m seeing signs of progress.
It was both the cruciate and medial ligaments which I damaged in my right knee.
That is one ligament less than my team-mate Stevie May did but the timescale for getting back is similar because of the amount of damage done.
I knew it was a bad one as soon as I did it – I’d never had a long-term injury before but straight away I realised all was not well.
Our physio Matt Jackson suspected immediately what it was – before I even went for the scan, he told me that he thought it would be ligament damage.
I was devastated to hear that but right away I got in the mind-set of wanting to get back even fitter and stronger than I had been beforehand.
The fact it happened in a pre-season friendly did make it more frustrating than if I had been injured playing in the Championship.
I was looking forward to the campaign after playing a lot of football last season and really enjoying it.
Back in July, I couldn’t wait for the season to begin, so to then get such a bad injury before it had even started was disappointing to say the least.
I think I have written this season off, although you never say never.
The surgeon and Jacko have said that the longer you leave it, the more chance you have of coming back stronger than it was.
I have to see how it goes, do the work, take advice and go from there.
I had the operation done in London, the surgeon being a guy called Andy Williams who is one of the best.
He did Stevie’s operation earlier in the year too. Mr Williams seems to be the surgeon who a lot of players go to see when they have this sort of injury.
When I had the operation, there were six or seven other players in the hospital – at the minute, it seems to be quite a common injury.
When I was first injured, I was told that I might have to wait three months to have the operation in order to let the knee calm down.
But in the end they did it almost straight away which meant I started the recovery quickly.
I have three big scars on my knee, one down the inside, one down the outside and the other right down the middle.
Being honest, I hadn’t really known what to expect and when I came round from the operation I was a bit shocked at what I saw – it was a bit of a sight with all the stitches.
This phase of the recovery is about doing cardio work and building up the muscles in my leg – after the operation, I lost a lot of the quad muscle.
Hopefully soon I can start some running on the Alter-G machine, then progress on to the grass.
A recovery like that is done is phases– you set yourself different goals.
I’ve got through various stages already – having the operation, getting rid of the crutches, learning how to walk properly again.
The next big thing for me is running again.
At the moment I’m on the bike and rower in the gym. The rowing is hard work and keeps your fitness levels high.
Being able to get on to the Alter-G machine will be a big step forward.
That machine allows you to run but it takes some of your body weight and pressure off the knee.
Others who have had this injury reckon it is about two months on that before you get outside on the pitch to run.
During my time out, I’ve had company in the gym and treatment room, because a few lads have been out injured at various times.
John Welsh has been out for a few weeks and now Paul Gallagher is with us.
Our former player Will Hayhurst has been here getting fit too.
Will had has had the same kind of knee injury and it’s been good working with him.
He’s a great lad and we have been pushing each other on, doing the hard gym work.
Jacko works with us, so does Lewis Hiney who is on the sports’ science staff.
I’m getting to the home games now, which is a relief.
Like most players, I’m a frustrated spectator because I just want to be playing.
However, that is better than when I was on crutches and just sat at home. Earlier in the season, I would be checking my phone every two minutes during games to see if we had scored.
The lads have done well this season – it was similar to last year in that we had a slow start and then picked up.
We have come into it now and are looking good – on our day I think we can beat anyone in this league. One thing I’m allowed to do now is drive. For the first few weeks I couldn’t drive and had to rely on Welshy and Eoin Doyle chauffeuring me. I’m back as a driver in the car school now, something I’m sure the other lads are really pleased about.
There is a lot of hard work ahead of me and it is a case of putting in the graft to get back to where I was. Each small step is a step closer to playing.