Gray Matters — The painful truth
Belfast — When I was a kid, I can remember taking some pretty colossal diggers off my bike, tumbling down the steep side of a gravel pit — using my face as a fall-breaker — and taking more than a few dives from trees after making some poor judgment calls on what branches could support my weight.
And while all of those things hurt pretty bad, I don't remember any of the resulting injuries leaving me debilitated for any length of time. Usually the remedy was a Band-Aid, or in a more serious situation, gauze and tape, and I was back out there ready to take on the world again. Or at least, the world contained in the neighborhood of upper Swan Lake Avenue and Smart Road.
As I get older, though, not only does it take longer to recover from an injury, but it also hurts more when it happens. And the actual damaging event (the trip, the futile reaching for something to stop the inevitable, the fall and then impact) seems to take forever because by this stage in my life I am anticipating the excruciating pain that will surely be coming my way.
Also, the injury never seems to have a cool story attached to it as it did in the good old days. As a kid, I pulled a hamstring while playing baseball.
Fast forward to me at age 33, when I came limping into the office after a weekend of overdoing it at a rather intense match of Wii Bowling with my son.
Yes, it's looking like those are the kinds of injuries the older version of myself must endure.
Take this weekend, for example. I was carrying a laundry basket out to my car at my parents' house Saturday when I decided it would be quicker to go out the back door. Sound reasoning, yes?
So holding the very heavy basket in front of me, I proceeded out the door, left foot first.
That was the beginning of what I suspect will be another lengthy healing process.
I had stepped down onto a smaller wooden step that leads to a deck when I suddenly felt the sensation of falling down.
It felt as though the falling part was in slow motion, but I know in reality it was maybe a second or two. Then I landed on my left ankle, which had rolled on impact. I tossed the laundry basket, strewing a collection of towels and face cloths flying over the side of the deck, and landed on my right side with a resounding thud.
It's been a long time since I'd had an accident that foolish in nature. I laid on the floor gripping my freshly wounded ankle as if that would somehow lessen the pain. Without really thinking about it, I started in with the breathing exercises I had learned when taking child birthing classes before Shane was born. I suppose since experiencing the searing pain that which is bearing a child, my body kind of goes on auto pilot like that.
But no matter. It still hurt. A lot.
Then, after I don't know how many minutes or seconds I laid there in a quivering mound of whining flesh, my dad comes up the hallway to ask me why I'm on the floor. Fair question.
I think I was able to tell him, between measured breaths, the occasional uttered swear word and a few "ouches" thrown in for good measure, what happened in a way that resembled English closely enough.
Dad helped me up, and after putting my weight on the injured ankle I was relieved — it still hurt like hell, but I was reasonably sure it wasn't broken.
But my pride was a little bruised, which is a condition I think might take longer to heal than the actual wound. That's because while it's funny to tell your friends about the stupid way you got hurt, you must also prepare yourself for the steady ration of jokes at your expense that will surely follow until they grow tired of making fun of you. Or until someone else does in your group does something equally foolish.
Yes, gone are the days when I could tell a cool story about how I incurred my latest injury and bounced back within minutes, bleeding profusely or otherwise.
Now, I am just grateful for having survived a relatively traumatic event without it costing me hundreds of dollars and a visit to the local emergency room. And for ibuprofen. I'm also very grateful for ibuprofen (or as an old friend of mine refers to it, "Vitamin I").
All there is left to do now is live down the embarrassment. I think I can safely say it'll be a while.