Thursday, June 24, 2010

Go Out There and Break a Leg.

The climax of ‘Inside Playing Games’ came on a Saturday evening a week into the two week stint of my mom’s Great Britain trip. Abby was over six months old then and was growing stronger and faster by the day. When it came to chasing games, the tides were clearly moving in her favor so I had to do something to gain an edge. First, was the direction I chose to go around the indoor loop which was in a clockwise fashion (living room to foyer to den to breakfast room to dining room and back to living room). When Abby ran through the den and gained a good head of steam, she had to slow down quite a bit when she approached the breakfast room since the floors in both rooms are hardwoods. Had I ran the other way, the turns would have been on carpeted areas, and she wouldn’t have to slow down much at all. I had to slow down going from the den to breakfast room transition too, but not as much as Abby had to.

Something else I had to do was to cut the corners as hard as I could, and that is where I would pay the price. On the last indoor chasing game I had with Abby, I was having a wonderful time with her, and she seemed very pleased and excited herself. As I mentioned to earlier, Abby was getting faster. These games were getting shorter and shorter because she caught me so fast. I was going pretty quickly through the den, zipped through the breakfast room and rounded into the dining room with Abby close behind. I cut the corner hard, my body leaning further than it should have. Something had to give. Had I been on my other foot, my left foot, my left ankle would have given and I would have collapsed. I have sprained this ankle a dozen times at least. Like a doctor told me one time, spraining your ankle is like biting your lip. Once you do it, it makes it easier for it to happen again. I’ve had three ‘knockdowns’ with this ankle, where I could hear the ankle snap and my body collapsed right on the spot. The other times, the ankle rolled, sometimes snapping, sometimes not, but I did not fall on the remaining occasions.

But I was on my right ankle, the ‘good one’, the strong one. As I said before, I was leaning too much and something had to give. It wasn’t going to be the laws of physics. It wasn’t going to be my right ankle. It held up just fine. My footing slipped on the carpet, and down I went. My forward momentum carried me into the living room where my knees hit the floor and my shoulder hit a chair. From point of departure to point of contact, I went over six feet forward and down two steps on my way below. I heard something snap, but I didn’t know what. My shoulder? My knee? I didn’t feel much pain. (I may have had a couple of beers that night.) Abby ran down the steps and leapt on my back. She was so happy because she clearly won the game. I rolled on my back and she started licking me and wagging her tail. After her post-game celebration was over, I stood up and hobbled to the recliner and sat down.

The next day, I found out what was injured—my right knee. It was literally black and blue. Also, my knee was quite swollen, so much so that I could feel the fluid jiggle around whenever I took an oh-so-painful step on it. I limped to the kitchen, put some ice in a bag and iced my knee intermittently with heating in between all while keeping it elevated and a took a few doses of Excedrin. My biggest concern was making it to teaching labs the next day (I did). The swelling subsided considerably the next day, but my knee was stiff for a few weeks after that and I had to stop running for a month or so. The only way that I can tell I had injured that knee is the fact that it pops from time to time while the other knee does not.

Fast forward 10 years. I’m in a sports medicine physician’s office because of my compartment syndrome. One of the ways compartment syndrome is caused is a broken bone, which is why the doctor ordered X-rays on both lower legs. The doctor came in and said that even though it appeared that I broke my leg at some time in my life, the old injury didn’t appear to be the cause of my compartment syndrome.

I was so enmeshed in the compartment syndrome that I didn’t bother asking the doctor which leg had been broken and where. Was it the time I was playing with Abby? Was it the time I wrecked my cousin’s minibike the same year I injured my leg playing with Abby? It may have been another injury from my childhood, but I suspect the two injuries mentioned above are the most likely culprits in my old, previously unknown leg-break. I never knew because I never went to the doctor to have these injuries checked out.

That weekend marked an end to a series of games Abby and I played inside. We never played an indoor chasing game after that. She was too fast; I was too slow and it was too dangerous. I’m sure by this point, there are some motherly types reacting to my running around the house and getting injured and thinking “I told you so.”

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