I knew it was bad. I knew it was bad the split-second before it happened. It was the last ultimate frisbee game of the season and the disc floated forever, faithfully drifting towards the sidelines. I changed direction and zoomed towards it, trying to haul that sucker in before it went out of bounds. It kept floating. I leapt with both arms outstretched, determined not to drop it this time. At the apex of my jump, I snagged the frisbee, prepared to turn downfield for the next throw. But as I fell back to earth, the ground didn’t arrive. In that extremely brief moment, I knew it was bad. Before I hit the ground, my leg was fully extended, wondering why it hadn’t landed yet. A hole. Something. I never really checked.
All that momentum had to go somewhere. When I hit, my knee buckled sideways and something popped or tore. I still don’t know if I heard it or felt it, but it was bad. I don’t remember collapsing. All I recall is stabbing pain. My face buried in the ground, teeth clenched on blades of grass. My first thoughts turned to the new catastrophic insurance policy with the gigantic deductible. I had to quit my job… A girl on my team called for an ambulance. “No ambulance,” I grunted. I can’t afford it. Dr. Rich, an orthopedic surgeon from the next field over checked me out – gave me the Lachman test. He asked me, “Have you ever torn your ACL?” “Nope.” “You have now.” I nodded and thanked him, accepting the sudden blow of fate.
After driving home and gimping up my stairs, my anxiety grew. I knew there was a decent chance that I would have to scrap all my plans for this fall. Were I to need immediate surgery, the chances of completing this book would be zero. While the physical pain was frustrating, it was of little concern compared to my future hanging in the balance. A doctor was procured. MRIs were taken. Appointments were scheduled. Every day felt like a week because every bit of new information carried such significance.
I received a call from my doctor’s assistant laden with mixed messages. “Andrew, we need you to get in here as quickly as possible because there’s a lot going on with your knee. You’ve got a ruptured ACL and cartilage damage at the least.” “Do I need immediate surgery???” “You’re going to have to meet with the doctor and he’ll decide.” An uneasy 24 hours later, I had my appointment. There are at least the two problems mentioned above and possibly more. I won’t know for sure until after the surgery. “Can we wait until I get back?” “We can wait, but you’ve got to start physical therapy now and keep it going up through the surgery.” Cue dramatic sigh of relief.
After three days, PT has done wonders. I can walk all right, with minimal pain. I’m off crutches and working on eliminating my limp. The only major problems occur when I forget when I’m injured and bend my knee too far too fast – usually in my sleep. Those moments are excruciating and take about five minutes to recover from. They’re like a leg cramp, but way more painful and debilitating.
This is an unfortunate episode featuring extremely unfortunate timing. But it’s not going to stop me from moving ahead. This book is going to happen, and I’m going to see this great nation of ours – up close and personal. The first game is less than two weeks away and I can’t wait. Sure I’m hobbled and certain things are going to take me longer than they should, but fate has allowed me to continue. It remains bad. A challenge for me to overcome. But the road continues. I’ll be seeing you soon.
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