I came out of retirement from competitive rugby to give it another go this season with Santa Monica Rugby Club. I was playing some really good (by my standards) footy and really enjoying myself as the games went on. It all came to a halt, when against OMBAC, the #1 seated team in our division and certainly a contender for top national rankings, I hurt my knee. We were in a maul driving down the field with solid pace that I got tangled up in the soup and someone crashed into my knee from the outside and I came screaming to the ground. Talk about a wounded animal. Holy Smokes! I not sure I’ve ever cried out like that before, but it hurt. Bad. I had a bit of trouble catching my breath for a few moments and and when I did, the entire indecent seemed to blur. My friends helped me off the field and my girl came over to see how I was and the trainer began the assessment. Through a few structural tests (beding the leg in various ways) she determined that I had either torn or severely sprained my MLC. The MLC is the ligament on the inside of the knee that helps to keep your leg straight and not buckling inward. An appointment with an orthopedic and an MRI later, her determinations were confirmed. I would be 3-6 weeks, at best, and probably more like 3-6 months before I would return to playing at the level I was, if I so chose.
The fall out would come shortly there after.
I was sequestered to my bed and couch for days on top of days. Even the simplest of tasks (ie – taking a shower, getting out of bed, putting on socks) loomed large and nearly impossible without help. Working out was out of the question and even thoughI drive an automatic, getting in the car took 10 minutes as I would contorsion the rest of my body to accommodate my immobilized pole of a leg.
It was difficult to sleep in light of the acute pain and the medication helped to make everything a bit grey. My temper soared and my tolerance dwindled. From the stress and lack of exercise, I then developed a cold. Headaches, a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, and generally feeling like cold poo would take over my waking hours.
Of course, during all of this time, I have been responsible to work and a small collection of commitments I previously made (organizing buying blazers for my rugby team, helping friends find a new place to live, etc.).
Now, I realize that I had what many might consider to be a relatively minor injury in the grand scheme of things, but man was I rain cloud. Three weeks into it and I now beginning to hobble around pretty good without crutches and the acute pain has morphed into a sort of slow ache. I can sleep and the cold has lifted.
What did I learn?
- My health is my #1 priority – Being able to get a solid sleep is an absolute must. Eating clean and healthy food is crucial. Filling my mind with uplifting content is paramount.
- My ability to reason and remain rational in the face of adversity while wounded is extremely difficult – I had blow outs with several of those closest to me during this time over what I see in retrospect as being relatively minor
- I must ask for help – I’m an independent guy and like to do for myself. However, when I am having trouble even walking I need to swallow my pride and ask for help from those I know love and care for me so much.
- I must limit, as best I can, the number of important decisions I make – Having a skewed perspective on the world + really powerful pain meds + lack of sleep + generally feeling like shit = really crummy decision making.
- I must find the light – It is a fact that I had quite a few strikes against me, but I must remember to see the light and positive in my world around me, even if I am currently at the proverbial bottom.
- I must break a sweat – Even if its only by sitting there and clapping my hands, the endorphins and chemicals that get released when doing such, make me feel better. Always.
- Sometimes I need to stop – I have struggled with telling folks no when they ask something of me. When down and out, I must find the courage to say no to more commitments. In fact, when I find myself circling toward the caldron, I must let go of the obligation sand bags if I plan to rise again before a total blow out.
I might be able to identify a few more lessons, but that’ll do it for now.
Rugby has now been reduced to cheering (heckling) from the sidelines and my schedule is quite a bit leaner as a result of my trimming the non-mandatories. My breath is deep again and I hope to begin practicing yoga in the next week. Things are looking up.
This injury has been a learning experience and I have grown from it.
Onward and upward!