In the eleventh minute of the first game in her thirteenth season as a professional soccer player, Washington Spirit midfielder and defender Joanna Lohman felt her season come to an end with a knee-buckling play.
#TBT to the moment I joined the @theaclclub – my greatest challenge EVER! My podcast is LIVE on the @theaclclub website taking you through the injury, surgery and recovery process. We shall overcome!! #aclclub #rainbowwarrior #RoadToRecovery #comeback #ineedashower #newknee #downbutnotout #washingtonspirit
Although she didn’t know the extent of her injury immediately during the game in April, it didn’t take long before Lohman found out that her season-ending injury was an ACL tear. A “heartbreaking loss” at the end of the 2016 season had propelled the 34-year-old Lohman to work harder during the off season and come into the first game ready to compete.
“I was coming into the season feeling so good,” she said. “My heart was in pieces because I couldn’t contribute [after the injury].”
From the depths of despair, we RISE. Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so loved – it is the most powerful force in the universe and with it, I will CRUSH this recovery and come back stronger. Nothing will ever steal the fire from my eyes or the passion from my soul. 🔥❤ #ACLsAreOverrated #WeGotThis #GreatHeights #onedayatatime #rainbowwarrior #johawk #weshallovercome #onelessligament #lifted
Once she found out the severity of what happened to her body on the field, she knew the process that would follow: surgery, pain, rehab and recovery. She also knew that it would require a lot of patience in herself as she healed and got stronger.
“I have to admit the brutal fact of my reality, which is yeah, my leg hurts and my life isn’t what i thought it was going to be,” Lohman said. “There’s so much to be learned every day when I wake up. You have to kind of [find] your identity again.”
Lohman said she knew rehab would be a “long, arduous process,” but “the first week coming back from surgery was honestly the hardest week of my life.”
This time two weeks ago, I was pushed out of surgery in a wheel chair. Today, I walk under my own power into the arms I love. Thank you to my army of supporters, near and far, who have encouraged me every step of the way. Each of you have picked up a piece of my broken heart and held it close to yours. You have helped me more than you'll ever fully know. We FIGHT ON!! 💖🌈💙✊🏻 @mdsoccerplex @meggiedh @akleiner @dmatheson8 @audball_00 @havana_solaun @kmewis19 @torihuster @cmace34 @capricedydasco @kelseywys @theaclclub @estellejohnson24 @shelinaz @stephlabbe1 @agnew_lindsay @arielleship @camcastleberry @egnunan @ordegafrancisca17 @c_thomas_go @gloriadouglas7 @pierresoubrier @spiritsquadron #onestepcloser #roadtorecovery #aclclub #comeback #phoenixrising #rainbowwarrior
“You’re pushing yourself to points of pain that I never knew existed,” Lohman said. “You’re doing it rep after rep, hour after hour, day after day. It was just so hard and there were some nights where i just cried … it was really hard mentally to get through that.
Lohman has documented her rehabilitation process openly on social media, sharing the struggles and details of her physical and emotional recovery with her fans.
“I’ve been sharing videos of what i’ve been doing and celebrating those little victories because that’s what life is all about,” she said. “This is so important for me now that I show this strength of character, because it’s so easy to be happy when things are going well.”
Lohman, who came out during college, has also been very open with her sexuality and vocal on social media about equality and LGBTQ rights, often using the hashtag #rainbowwarrior on her Instagram pictures. She said that she’s found a lot of acceptance on her team and amongst her fans since she “kind of came flying out of the closet” in her early 20s.
“I’m very open about it, so I never wanted to hide it because I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” she said. “I don’t like living with secrets.”
Keeping in the spirit of being open, Lohman said wants her fans to journey with her through her recovery process to see the positives and the negatives about suffering from an injury and how to move forward in overcoming any obstacles.
“Those feelings, those dark moments, they will pass,” she said. “You never let those dark moments really overshadow the light.”
Follow along with Joanna’s recovery process as we accompany her on this journey. Stay tuned for more “Road to Recovery” posts in the coming weeks.