How many injuries can a man take?
That is the question. It is beginning to be a dull topic I know. Last monday, I returned to ultimate frisbee after tearing a tendon in my heel in my first game. I took seven weeks off the heel, no running, only cycling. I could at least paddle. So I unwisely returned to frisbee, after repeated warnings, e-mailed horoscopes and ouija board signs all pointed to further problems.
During my return game, I got beat by only a few feet by a much younger player again. I dove to try and smack the disk down. I got my hand on it, but the other player caught it. I fell, and he landed on the upper right hand quadrant of my torso. It really knocked the wind out of me, but I got up and was able to continue playing. Adrenaline as we know can take care of quite a bit.
This is where the story gets sad and depressing. Tuesday I felt fine, I biked in to work as usual and took care of business. I loaded up my van to leave for Grand Marais on Wednesday morning for the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium where I was going to camp, instruct, and lead a trip. I got up Wednesday morning, feeling fine and then drove six hours to Grand Marais. As the day wore on, my chest and side began to develop a splitting pain as if I’d been rammed. I knew what it was from. The 24 year old kid who landed on me on Monday. In the back of my head I knew I might not get off so easy, I was praying and praying it would just be a bit of soreness. It was not. When I got out of the car to set up camp I couldn’t take a step without a searing bolt of agony rippling up my side.
I thought ok, I will eat dinner, go to bed, take a bunch of ibuprofen and a painkiller and see how I feel in the morning.
The next morning seemed ok, it wasn’t as bad as the day before. I went down to the beach to unload my kayaks and go for a paddle with Doug Van Doren and Derrick Mayoleth. When I was finally ready, I couldn’t even get my sprayskirt on. I was in agony twice as bad as the day before. I almost wept. I knew I would not be able to lead a trip on Friday morning, and I also knew if I had to paddle any distance I would be in agony. Performing rescues or towing was straight out. I knew I was done and there was no point in hanging around to depress my friends and drink beer. I packed up and drove six hours back to Kalamazoo.
My brother (older by two years) when he was fifteen had a year like this. He broke both arms, (not at the same time), took a broken bottle in the chest which almost killed him, and then broke his leg skiing. All in the same year. I think this is my Kris Wikle bad mojo year.
I am done with ultimate frisbee for the summer. It will take me at least three weeks to heal. And even then it may be sore. As I intend to teach in Wawa at the end of summer. I would like to not risk further cancellations for obligations I’ve made. I will be lucky to be fit for that event.
I think my problem is not solely age (34) as some of my friends have pointed out, but a complete black hole of predictive causality in contact sports. One has to risk injury to be competitive. And I am competitive by nature. We all rely on instinct to win, one reacts without thinking to out maneuver the other guy. Granted the other guy in Ultimate Frisbee is on average ten years younger, however I am determined and aggressive which sometimes works. Where it doesn’t work is in the aftermath. The twenty four year old gets up and walks away. And I am forced to deal with a body that doesn’t want to bounce back up anymore. I think if I am to continue playing ultimate frisbee, my aggressive competitiveness may have to be sublimated somewhat, because my body can’t keep up with the spirit.
I have essentially lost a summer to a hernia repair, a torn tendon, and a frisbee collision. All of which have contributed to an overall decline in fitness. I am going to have to work hard over fall to regain my cardio fitness, and my strength. It unfortunately is really depressing for someone with my level of manic physical energy to be in this state. But perhaps it is a lesson in humility. It was certainly a lesson in misery to watch Doug and Derrick paddle off onto Lake Superior from Grand Marais without me.