You know, I've had my share of injuries over the last decade and a half of playing ultimate. I've rolled my ankles more times than I can count (and enough times that I don't donate my crutches, even months after I've healed). I've had discs thrown at my face. I've been crushed by male players, and broken my ribs under some. I've had my knees crushed, my hands kicked, my feet stomped on, my shoulder broken, my back seize.
This one, however takes the cake.
Early in this season (you recall, the season I "took off" by becoming a practice player so that I could concentrate on my confidence, my skills, my fitness and my health), I started having problems with my left achilles heel. I didn't think much of it, to be honest, having had pains with one or the other achilles tendon off and on for the last few years.
Lisa purchased an ankle stretching aid for me four or so years ago. It was one that Ben thought was dumb, given that it was only a piece of nominally unneeded, shaped plastic, he thought. "Just use the wall to stretch your achilles!" he'd say, but I loved it. I used it regularly that season, and ended the season with some other bizarre injury.
You know, I think it's to the point that people I've known for years will meet me on the sidelines and ask, "So, what is it this time?" with the understatement of, "why didn't you retire when it was still fun?" I can't say I'd think differently for anyone else.
So, this season, I've been struggling with my achilles. I figured the problem was with my shoes. When I originally purchased the style of cleats I wear now, the heel cup was so high that it pressed against my achilles tendon and caused some horrible pain. I figured out that issue fairly quickly, and cut a V into my cleats, removing the achilles hot spot. I do that with all of my cleats now, so I knew that wasn't my current problem.
After a few practices having the pain in my achilles, I started putting topical analgesic on my achilles, and kept playing. Clear case of "ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away." I mean, haven't all the other problems eventually gone away? Ribs heal, bruises heal, ankles heal, it all heals, just give it time, why not this one, too?
I gave up last week, and decided to have it looked at. I described the problem to my doctor. A few pushes here, a few prods there, and I was diagnosed with a crush injury to the ligaments and tendons around my achilles. "So the decision to continue playing on it was probably bad, eh?" I asked. "You could say that."
Since the problem is recurring, over many years actually, the doctor suggested I consider different shoes (since the thought of stopping playing ultimate wasn't even suggested, even by the doc). Originally, he told me to lay off running for three or so days, and start again after that. That was last week. When I couldn't walk at all the morning after this Tuesday's track workout, he told me that all running was out.
So, here's my recovery process, what I'm supposed to do to heal my achilles, given that ligament healing takes longer than muscle healing and this is going to take a while:
1. Stop running. Stop sprinting. Stop jumping. Stop all ankle impact exercises.
2. Keep the cool looking kinesio tape on as long as I can (wondering what kinesio taping is all about?), probably three days.
3. Heat my achilles for 30 minutes every 2 hours. That's a lot of heating.
4. Walk. Swim. Exercise in ways that not only don't hurt, but also don't aggravate my achilles.
5. Lots of vitamin C.
6. Wear sandals.
7. And stretch, as long as it doesn't hurt and doesn't aggravate the injury. Any discomfort at all and I'm supposed to stop.
That, and in 3-4 weeks, and I can try running again.
Three to four weeks.
THREE to FOUR weeks.
That's 21 to 28 days from now.
No, this isn't going to be hard, why do you ask?
I've been trying these last few months to go with the flow of life. Instead of forcing things to be the way I want them to be, I've been trying to accept things for what they are, to make things as good as I can given the way things are outside my control.
For the record, I need to say I've been trying this without much success. This injury is an example of how I just couldn't accept that I was done for the season, this time in June. I didn't want to believe it, I refused to accept reality, and managed to make my injury even worse.
And now I have to accept it, because I can't walk from my bed to my desk in the morning to get to work. I struggle to the bathroom in the middle of the night, knowing that any step in going to wake me up fully with a rocket of pain up my leg. I need a long time to get going after sitting for any time greater than fifteen minutes, as my ankle stiffens up so quickly.
Sandals. Like my feet aren't already cold enough.