The ball was, again, in my hands, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I was on the floor, trying hard not to cry like a baby. My Achilles tendon had torn as I came down with the ball; that was the end of the game for me. I hobbled over to the bench and sat until the buzzer marked the end of play.
Struggling to walk the short four blocks home, rather looking like a crippled frog—hop, drag, hop, drag, hop—I slumped on the sofa just before my father walked in from work. I told him what had happened and asked him if he would make an ice pack for my ankle. Yup, he’d make me an ice pack, just in case I had to wait a bit at the doctor’s office. Groaning, I protested, “Da-a-ad; I don’t need to go to the doctor. It’s nothing, really.”
“We’ll let Doc decide on how nothing it is. C’mon, hold up your leg and I’ll tape this pack on.”
“But, Dad, do you remember all the steps he has on that narrow stairway to even get to his office? I’ll never be able to do those stairs, ple-e-ease, Daddy.”
“Well, I’ll help you. You hopped your way home; I think you can hop up a few steps. C’mon now. Get up and let’s get going.”
It was no small matter to get all the way up that long, narrow and steep set of stairs in the old building on Main Street and First. It was late in the day but I didn’t have to wait to be seen. Maybe it was the melting ice pack, dripping on the waiting room floor? In any case, I soon left with a pair of metal crutches, clinking as I made my way out of the office and down the steps, made all the more narrow by the presence of the one crutch opposite my handhold on the rail. At least they found the spongy rubber protectors for my hands and armpits; could’ve been painful, as well as awkward to maneuver with these things.
The doctor said that I had torn my Achilles tendon and school was out for me for the next few days. I was to use the crutches whenever it was necessary to ambulate anywhere in the house; but, otherwise, I was to have the leg elevated and packed in ice at all times. As I recall, the ice pack lasted for about a day, I worked my way around the house for another day and, then, I was back in school. Friends helped carry my books between classes so I could manage my way around. Teachers let me leave before the bell so I could get a head-start on the mob of kids changing classes. I took some aspirin now and then; but, overall, things seemed to be coming along fine to me… until I tried to stand on the injured leg. It hurt like crazy and I crumbled.
By the end of a week of crutch-walking, I returned up those steep stairs, arm and shoulder muscles still a bit sore but getting stronger. The verdict didn’t’ surprise me… progress was not what the doctor had hoped for. I had to lie on the exam table, face-down, while he injected my tendon with cortisone. I didn’t feel the drug because he had deadened my ankle first. Piece of cake, I was telling myself as I got up off the table. Why was he warning me about the pain?
Ha! I would find out why at about 2:15 AM! What I had not expected was my reaction. Now, that was a total surprise!
****Lessons Off the Court: Senior High, Conclusion… Coming Tomorrow (internet permitting)