I have been recently suffering from a recurrence of an old sports injury which has made me a ‘not-so-happy camper’. But, at long last it appears that I am on the mend.
The initial injury occurred four years ago. I was playing a game of three on three basketball at a gym, guarding a college age kid in possession of the ball just beyond the foul circle. He faked going to his left, then started to dribble around me to his right. I remember initially, I began to react to the fake just for a fraction of a second, then recovered and began to follow him to my left – quite annoyed with myself because I realized he had gained a half-step on me and would likely retain it all the way to the basket. I had just moved and planted my left foot backwards and started to pivot when, without any contact with me, he suddenly lost his balance and fell into me with his full weight against my left knee.
I believe that only the fact that I have very strong legs prevented a very serious injury. I had firmly planted my leg and resisted the pressure of his body on the knee. It felt as if the end of my femur was going to burst right through the skin on the inside of my knee. I learned the meaning of ‘excruciating pain’. I’m certain that a thinner weaker leg would have snapped and I would have had a compound fracture as well as ligament damage.
Somehow, stiff legged and in constant pain I was able to get to the locker room, stuff my street clothes in my gym bag , hobble out to my car and drive home. If it had been my right leg I wouldn’t have been able to drive – maneuvering between the brake and accelerator would have been impossible.
I know I should have gone directly to the hospital emergency room but I didn’t. Instead, I spent almost two weeks in great pain and discomfort, unable to even bend my knee. It made no difference sitting, standing or lying down. I went out the door only to get my mail and pick up my newspapers. I’m sure I was quite a sight, especially with the contortions required to pick the newspapers up from the ground. I was lucky to have plenty of food in the house. But gradually over another two weeks the swelling subsided, the pain lessened and I was again able to bend the knee, albeit still with some pain.
A few more weeks and I was ready to return to the court. I bought a knee brace and although at first it hurt a little while playing and a lot afterward I was happy – I was able to play. An athlete plays with the little hurts, don’t you know! Heehee… It wasn’t long before the pain was gone totally, and one day I forgot to bring the brace but played without discomfort anyway. The brace was then confined to a dresser drawer.
Two months ago I started an indoor workout program because the weather had become unseasonably cool and very windy and I was not able to get my normal workout at a nearby outdoor park – shooting some hoops, jogging a bit then a long brisk walk. It wasn’t the coolness though – it was the wind – it plays tricks with jump shots. My program involved all the normal exercises: stretching, sit ups, push ups, deep knee bends etc., increasing the reps each day. I started and ended each session with 50+ jumping jacks and did some jogging in place. Well, I must have put a bit too much pressure on, or jarred, my knee because one morning I awoke to the return of a swollen and aching left knee, nowhere near the intensity of four years ago but very unpleasant nevertheless.
Maybe it’s because I’m not so young anymore but recovery has been slow. Two months is a long time to be hobbling about, but finally I think I am close to getting out on the court and practicing my layups and jump shots! I have complete mobility. There is no longer any pain sitting or lying down. And I have to walk at least a quarter mile before I start feeling a twinge on the inside of the knee. I am going to wait until there are no twinges at all before I do anything more than brisk walks, though.