Old injuries come back to haunt

I had an epiphany this week while lying on the floor in my living room watching the Blue Jays game on television.
The first question that undoubtedly springing to everyone’s mind is: what was I doing on the floor?
Well, I prefer the floor to the couch because the couch is actually more of a loveseat. In fact, I’m convinced that one day I’m going to cram myself onto that thing, fall asleep, pinch a nerve in my neck due to the funny angle, and be paralyzed.
So, it’s the floor for me.
Second question: what was the epiphany?
The answer to that question is simple—I realized my body is officially old.
Now before anyone over the age of 30 throws a fit because I’m younger than they are, hear me out. You need to understand how this moment of clarity came about.
Late in the ball game, I decided I might like a glass of juice from the fridge. From my spot on the living room floor, I rolled onto my stomach, pushed up, got my legs underneath me, and promptly collapsed in agony.
My left knee was locked at a roughly 45-degree angle and I couldn’t put any weight on the leg without feeling like I was going to be sick to my stomach.
I wasn’t too terribly concerned, though, as this wasn’t the first time I’d had the problem.
The injury stems from a tackle I took playing rugby at Trent University in the late 1990s. I was running with the ball, took a hit from the side, and torn some cartilage in my knee.
Normally, if I lie really still for about 10 minutes, the knee relaxes, my range of motion improves, and I can almost walk without a limp.
However, this particular episode in my living room was not normal. Despite my best efforts to remain still, the knee was not relaxing.
Still unable to walk the following morning, I decided to pay a visit to the emergency room at the beautifully-renovated La Verendrye Hospital here. The doctor on call examined me, and I was told a piece of the torn cartilage had slipped into the joint and mucked up the works.
I also was told there was nothing they could do to fix the problem. Instead, I’d have to wait for the cartilage to work its way loose and then have the surgery I need to clean up the joint.
In the meantime, the doctor recommended I purchase a pair of crutches and use them to help me get around.
It took almost three days but my knee eventually loosened up and I now can move around relatively normally.
This latest injury joins a long list of sports-related injuries suffered when I was younger. At 13, I tore cartilage in the same knee I’m currently having problems with while playing football in Ottawa.
I had my first-ever surgery in Grade 8 to repair that problem.
Football wasn’t a particularly good sport for me. In addition to the knee injury, I also dislocated my shoulder on numerous occasions.
During my first year of university, I had to have fairly major surgery to put the joint back together as my shoulder was flopping out of the socket on a regular basis.
Then last fall, I sprained my ankle pretty seriously while playing rugby.
Maybe it was a sign of maturity, but I actually went to the hospital and let a doctor have a look at it.
The ankle itself wasn’t too badly injured but X-rays taken showed early indications of arthritis is both ankles—most likely the result of multiple untreated sprains earlier on in life.
Basically, I’m falling apart.
I’m not writing any of this down looking for personal attention and I’m definitely not looking for people to feel sorry for me. I made the decisions growing up to play hurt when I probably should have stayed off the field and let things heal properly.
No, the reason I’m writing this column is as a warning to the kids playing sports throughout the district right now. Trust me on this one fact—how you treat your body when you’re young will directly affect how it works for you as you grow older.
This is tricky because when you’re young, you have an idea in your head that you’re invincible and that any injuries will heal eventually regardless of whether you take time off or not.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
It’s important to overcome physical challenges and strive for personal bests—something I think sports can help teach young people how to do. But it’s just as important to listen to your body and know when it’s time to let it heal.
If I could go back in time, I’d have several long conversations with myself about how the decisions I made then are affecting me now.
It’s absolutely ridiculous that, at 28 years old, I can’t get to the fridge and back without ending up on crutches.

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