This past summer marked my third knee surgery (ACL/meniscus) in only three years.
I am not a professional athlete. I do not have a team of experts who "ooh" and "ahh" over me on a daily basis. I definitely do not have a city full of people counting on my return in order to help bring back spirit and solace in the form of winning games.
Derrick Rose, however, is in a slightly different boat with his second consecutive meniscus tear.
Comparing knee injuries, the duration of recovery time and the “what happened” stories are apples and oranges in the exclusive-yet-undesired club of torn ligaments.
It is the constant swell and deflation of hope and despair that equally takes its toll when recovering from knee surgery -- especially if it is not the first one.
Rose reportedly has high spirits, despite a lackluster Chicago Bulls team that blames their non-defensive performances on the crushing news about his busted knee.
While my own injury and journey cannot be seen as parallel to Rose's, the process does give me some leeway to pass advice along to the many fans and viewers hanging on to the timeline of the athlete's return (or lack thereof) to the NBA.
While so many of our sports heroes seem to exist as personal relationships because of our investment in them, it is important to remember support can often be held in the form of silence.
Of course, we want to know where Rose's progress stands. We want to be able to gauge his return, hold out hope or come to terms with the unthinkable. On the other side of that antsy curiosity, however, is an athlete who wants all of the same things.
I ran a marathon once, and I stopped at mile 16 to grab some Gatorade. In my head, I was like, “I've already run more than half of the race and feel like I can knock this sh*t out of the park. Go me!”
Then, the guy handing out the Dixie cups interrupted my internal praise for myself to say, “Okay, just over 10 miles to go!”
Eff you! That seriously crushed my mental game.
It's the same thing when recovering from knee surgery. You don't want to hear a prognosis or unwarranted, uneducated and underhanded cheers from the proverbial Dixie cup handlers.
You want your surgeon and your physical therapist to give it to you straight — that's it.
Our duty as fans is to allow our non-jailed, non-drugged, hard-working athletes to take care of themselves during tough times.
Knee surgery sucks; it is not the end of the world, but it is a roller coaster of great and confusing moments. It means not being able to put on your own socks one minute and celebrating getting through a full pedal stroke on a stationary bike the next.
It is painful, yet misleading; it is promising, yet scary. It's unpredictable.
Derrick Rose is a professional athlete. He gets paid to play a sport so many of us enjoy watching. A huge part of that job description is being able to take care of the injuries — from a sprained finger to a torn meniscus.
That process is much tougher with the opinions and questions from a thousand different directions.
Of course, Rose will recover; we just don't know what that means in terms of his tenure with the Bulls, or the NBA, in general. That's scary for us, but it's scarier for him.
As fans, we throw our athletes in this invincible category where we want them to prevail at an accelerated pace so we can enjoy our sporting events. Honestly, this isn't unwarranted.
I, too, cringe when my teams lose steam due to injuries.
However, I advise Derrick Rose fans to allow him to gain momentum as privately as possible for a professional basketball player. I dare you to wonder about it without feeding the frenzy of the push and pull of his return.
Coming out of major injuries is less about the physical pain, and much more about the mental stabilization. The best thing fans can do for Rose is allow him that service.
Root for him, feel for him and think about him. Know he is mindlessly and tirelessly flexing his quads, having knuckles dug into his thighs and enduring the pressure of returning, all while trying to figure out what is best for himself.
Sympathize a little bit, but keep in mind that isn't what he needs; the tabloids feel sorry enough.
And then wait.
Watch the Bulls and the array of other franchises that struggle in the NBA, and surely, the imminent future for Derrick Rose will reveal itself when it's time. He deserves to be on his own during this process.
And, remember: Never, ever, tell marathon runners they only have 10 miles to go.