The actual time of an injury happening can feel like a moment of existence in a parallel universe. Suspended in time almost, trying to make sense of the status quo before the reality hits square in the face.
For me, time definately stood still whilst I realised that whatever had just happened was big.
The time of injury wasn’t dramatic particularly; the movement that had resulted in the injury was inconspicuous almost. My instant thought was that of ‘foul play’ of my opponent…which was met with my disapproval of course (disapproval meaning I publicly shared my thoughts on the matter, none of which polite or measured).
I was moving towards the ball – opponent behind me – and I pushed off to take the ball from my teammate. I was relatively still, not on the run. I felt a whack near my ankle. Little did I know this was in-fact my (previously) trusty achilles tendon deciding enough was enough. Immediately, I felt the kind of level of annoyance you would feel if someone in a crowd caught the back of your shoe and it slips off your heel. ANNOYING. Little did I know this moment was to become increasingly annoying – way beyond the realms of crowd-related irritation!
I walked off court (somehow) feeling like I was walking on someone elses foot. I remember feeling a little in denial. I knew something bad had happened but I didn’t really know what. I can describe it only as a reverberating feeling – with pins and needles – and I was caught wondering just how aggressively my opponent could have stepped on my shoe…With my shoe firmly attached to my foot I remember thinking, has she kicked me? My annoyance even with this small inconvenience was fairly significant; after all, I had only really just come back from an ACL reconstruction and felt frustrated at being forced off court again.
Those who know me know that I’m a little antagonistic on court…I like a battle, a contest, I enjoy a little opponent interaction let’s say! I was pooling this energy and – how do I put it – expressing myself – as I came off court a little unhappy with my opponent. I remember sitting by my teammate’s now fiancée, who asked me what I’d done. There was not much fuss at this stage, the game continued (after my shoe, which I had lobbed on court in petulant frustration) had been removed from the court. I knew deep down this wasn’t a twisted ankle or a scuffed heel. I turned my attention to the achilles region, placing my thumb there. And I remember saying ‘there’s nothing there’…
I got taken home. I wanted to get changed (having sweat buckets for 50 minutes and sceptical that I would be able to manage a shower) but more crucially I needed to get my Christmas Cake out of the oven on time! My focus on this was intense – ‘Stir-up Sunday’ forever etched in memory as ‘achilles day’! My brother collected me and dropped me at A&E. Fast forward a few hours and I’m in plaster cast having fully ruptured my achilles tendon. In the hospital I was coping well – doctors and nurses continually offering ‘condolences’ on my injury, I responded with a happy-go-lucky ‘Oh that’s okay!’. Further sympathy gained from a fairly recent ACL disclosure, I actually saw this as a ‘been here done this’ process. Little did I know…this was no ACL rehab.
My partner collected me, and I felt okay. In a strange way these moments I recall as almost humorous. Perhaps a lack of belief that this has happened, followed by news travelling fast to friends and family. The immediacy of a major injury is inescapably dramatic, novel, and in a very odd way, exciting.
Only when my partner swung by the local shop to collect some bits, and offer further food-realted condolences, this is when it hit. I remember crying alone in the car. I’ve always been strong willed with or without help from friends or loved ones. On reflection, this moment showed me how my supportive partner makes me stronger but also allows me vulnerability that I’d held in all day.
With shock handing the baton over to sadness, the realisation of what immediate life now looked like was huge. Implications on work; Christmas; social events; upcoming surgery; dog walking. Not to mention: lack of exercise regime; my mind drifting to whatever rehab looks like; how long; what my upcoming holidays now look like; how do I drive; what the surgery is like; whether I will have surgery.
All of a sudden, lots of practicalities have come into question. But something else changed both in this moment and in the weeks to come…