The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 26th

Pit Talk

An ode to sports injuries

Last April, I severely fractured my ankle in a high school soccer game.

I was rushed to the nearest urgent care facility and within two hours of my ankle breaking into a few splintered pieces, I was scheduled for a surgery on Easter weekend.

I had played soccer for 11 consecutive years without any incident of injury other than minor growing pains. I had made it to my final season of high school athletics and was getting ready to graduate.

Sitting in the emergency room, I was livid. I was angry at the opposing team for inflicting this injury upon me. I was angry at the nurse who informed me that a procedure was necessary. I was even angrier when she told me that I would not be permitted to drive a car until my ankle was mended. And then I was angry at my mom for accepting all of these things that the nurse was telling us.

“What about prom? What about walking across the gradation stage? What about my teammates? I’m supposed to be their captain.”

In between my tears and winces as a temporary splint was plastered around my mangled ankle, I yelled at the nurse in the room and at my mother beside her.

When I found myself in a hospital bed a few days later, the anger had not subsided and a touch of fear had been added into the mix. Tears had been running in a constant stream down my face for almost 72 hours without ceasing.

I hated the hospital. I hated the IV in my arm. I hated the outfit I had to wear.

The doctors kept telling me that I would be good as new in a few months. But their words didn’t mean anything to me and I struggled to find anything positive about my situation.

In the weeks that followed, I was constantly surrounded by a cloud of unpleasantness. I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t drive a car, I couldn’t shower without wearing a garbage bag on my leg and I couldn’t participate in my senior night soccer match. I wallowed in self-pity.

But things slowly got better. I started physical therapy and came to love my doctor. I looked forward to my sessions with Dr. Noah because I knew that every session was a step towards getting my strength back.

The first time I was able to walk on a treadmill, about two months after the initial incident, I felt form of joy that I had never experienced before. Every time I was able to increase the speed of the belt beneath me, I got more excited.

Eventually, I was able to run again. And when the intramural sports started up in the fall, I was able to play soccer for the first time since my injury.

It has now been a year since I saw the X-rays of my fractured lower leg, and I find myself valuing exercise immensely. I am so thankful for my health and strength and I have a new appreciation for fitness.

To anyone who is currently experiencing an injury or anything that feels insurmountable, I promise that it will get better. And the process of getting through a hardship like this will be so rewarding. You will learn so much.

You can be angry at the world when it throws things at you that seem unfair. But try to make your anger as short-lived as you can. The learning process is far more relieving than stubbornly holding on to anger. Take advantage of the obstacles you are faced with and use them to enjoy life just a little bit more.

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