My Achilles Tendon – The Injury · 23 January 2009

For an athlete, even for just a wannabe athlete like me, being injured is no fun at all. I have strained muscles, twisted ankles, broken bones, and now I have ruptured a tendon. Lest any of my readers think that I am complaining, I do have some perspective. None of my injuries has been life-threatening or really severe and for that I am thankful and feel very blessed. I suppose that I am merely writing as part of a cathartic therapy. I am just getting it all out. Hopefully, without too much complaining.

The strangest thing about being injured is the feeling of grief. Even minor injuries tend to bring about some sense of dread that part of athletic life is over. At least for me. I remember straining my hamstring by running to first base in a softball game. I ran all out like I always used to do. Like most young people, I thought that I was indestructible and played all out like when I really was young. After what I thought was a lengthy recovery of about six weeks of playing through it and hobbling around the diamond and everywhere else, I figured out that maybe I was not a teenager anymore. I was sad until I figured out that I could still play hard. Just not as hard as I used to be able to do.

When I ruptured my Achilles tendon, I was doing something I love. I will be the first to say that I am not the best basketball player, but I love to play. I play hard to get my two points and two steals per game. Somebody even said that I am a bit crazy just because I dive after loose balls and take charges in a recreational church league. But that is just the way I am. I do what I can do to help my team. I think that is why I am so disappointed that I injured myself in the first game of the season – I do not get to help out and be a part of my team. That disappointment is probably the biggest injury for me. My body will heal, but it seems like I let down my team.

According to the surgeon, my Achilles tendon story was just like most people’s stories (except maybe the timing). I had just gotten into the game during the other team’s free throw. I was not very warm yet and was just preparing to jog down after the free throw was made. As I pushed off, I felt somebody kick my heal really hard. But my heal had not moved and as I looked around to see who might have done it, I saw that I was all alone. Nobody even came close to me. I hobbled off the court with what felt like a wedge under my heal. One of the guys on our team had done the same thing a couple years ago. It was in the first game of the season too. I remember him telling almost the same story. I guess the physical part of the injury is about the same for everybody.

As I sat on the sideline watching our team play and icing my lower leg, I could not help but think of my friend’s other part of the story. His doctor told him that court sports – tennis and basketball – were out of the question for him. As I sat there, I hoped and prayed that I might be able to play basketball again. But I did not have much hope. That loss of hope was worse than the injury itself.

I sit here now with my leg up on the desk typing away about an injury that will heal. I may even be able to play basketball again, albeit with the same or even less skill than before. But it will not be without some risk and lots of trepidation. The surgeon gave me back a little hope and that was worth at least as much as putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I am finally back to work. I know that I will even run and jump and maybe play basketball again. I did not lose a limb or succumb to some life-threatening illness or injury. I am glad that I just ruptured my Achilles tendon. I am thankful for my health. I am thankful that I will play again even if I am just an aging athlete. I am happy that I can write about a painful experience and feel better just because I wrote. And I hope that my writing can help others with painful experiences feel a little better because they know that they are not alone. (And I hope that I did not complain too much.)

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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