I tore my calf muscle playing soccer. Okay, technically I was coaching soccer at the time. But it was the 8-9 year-old division of the Decatur Rec league so as you might imagine it’s something of a pressure cooker situation. I was scrimmaging with the kids (modeling textbook technique) and I was running near the sideline. There was a throw-in coming right at my face so I jumped to gather the ball on my chest and then… somebody shot me!
At least that is what it felt like. In an explosive flush of pain and frustration, I thought maybe one of the kids toe kicked me in the calf (really friggin’ hard) while I was mid-air. Why I needed someone to blame at that moment is beyond me, because it’s a really nice group of kids, but there was a definitive split second of “Who! Did! This?!” Thankfully, Elliott offered some perspective: “There was no one behind you.” And that meant this was going to be much worse than just getting kicked. So I punched the ground a couple times and may have blurted out a word that starts with F-U that was not “fundamentals!”
It was emergency room pain for sure, but since it was a left leg injury I right-footedly drove the kids home to dump it all on Kristen. I was enjoying the visceral release of pounding the dashboard and groaning at the windshield as we waited our turn at a stop sign until Elliott said I was scaring him. Conversely, Margo was unfazed and asked if we could stop at The Imperial for dinner. Once home, Kristen secured me four Advil and the highest gravity beer we had in the fridge, which was probably better than what the ER would have offered anyway.
Now I’m on crutches, wearing a boot-cast thing that comes up to my knee and reporting to physical therapy as instructed. Also, I’m feeling decidedly middle aged. Dr. Hammond over at Emory Ortho assured my good wife that I did indeed do a number on my calf or else I might be under suspicion of milking it. Luckily, Kristen is one of those semi-competitive Fit-Bitters so she sees a silver lining in her added steps since her household duties have doubled. A lot of guys give their wives a Fitbit but how many are so thoughtful as to give them extra steps, right? Happy Mother’s Day!
I don’t mind so much telling people what happened. It’s a logical thing to ask. If I were wearing a 10-gallon hat I imagine folks would ask “what’s with the hat?” But unless you’ve had the same injury (like my brother Marty did) I could probably do without all the comparative stories. If you sprained an ankle once and it bothered you for a whole week well, I’m sorry to hear that. But please understand that I hurt my calf so badly that my uninjured foot and ankle are a swollen, purple hell. And if you were in a boot cast once because you had a bone removed from your foot which subsequently required all the tendons be rearranged then, well, you definitely win, but that’s pretty gross and I hope to eat again sometime this week.
Ironically, I have declined suggestions from friends that I play with their “Over 40” soccer team because the body of evidence reads like carnage. Knee surgeries, blown Achilles tendons, varietal malaise indigenous to just being dads who are too old to do the things we used to. If I wanted to take the risk it would be for an over 40 basketball team, because I’m more adept at feigning effort on the court than the field. It doesn’t matter, though. I can’t play either because I have things to do! Like be a dad and run my business and don’t you know youth baseball is right around the bend? Limp on, dads, limp on.