Monday, August 22, 2005

Don't Look! It's Gross!

A couple of posts back I put up a picture of myself at the Dead Sea. In the picture you could see a big scar on my leg. Sam asked about it - so, here's the story.

A couple of days into the "Spring" semester (it was January!) of my Junior year at UNC, I was playing kickball with the rest of the girls in my class. See, I was taking a class that was basically "How to Teach PE" - it was all education majors - mostly women - you had to take it. The prof. was showing us how people don't really exercise during a game of kickball or baseball. She was demonstrating that with such little time devoted for physical activity in schools that as teachers we should pick games that get more children active for longer periods of time - not just one kid using spurts of energy to run from one base to another while the others stand around.

I kicked the ball and ran to first base. Someone else kicked the ball and I ran to second base. I can't remember if I tripped or what, but as I came to second base, I fell and heard a popping noise. It was not a popping noise from outside of my body - it sounded like it was coming from inside my body. I heard it with my heart; not with my ears.

Here I was on the gym floor in front of a bunch of girls. I managed to push myself up and stand but I felt really weird. I realized that I couldn't move my left leg. I was thinking, "MOVE!" but it wasn't DOING anything. So, I hopped on one foot off of the court and kind of sat down. It's hard to sit when your leg won't bend. I reached down and touched my leg. There was a big lump in my thigh and (this is so gross) I felt my knee cap on the back side of my knee! I must have turned sheet white because the teacher came over and they called an ambulance.

It didn't really hurt. It was just really uncomfortable.

Less than 24 hours later, my parents were in Chapel Hill walking beside me as I was being wheeled into surgery. The orthopedic surgeon to the US Olympic Basketball team was to be my surgeon (he was the bone doc to Michael Jordon), so I wasn't too worried.

I spent the weekend in the hospital. I went home on Sunday and was headed back to class on Monday. The recovery from this was really the hardest thing that I have EVER done. My mom wanted me to come home, but that would mean a year delay in finishing my degree because of the way classes were offered. I was committed to staying on campus. It was a good idea too. Even though I was away from my family, I was in a dorm that had a handicap shower (I could sit down) and I could get free ride to my physical therapy twice a day. I was able to hang out with friends and keep studying.

We were observing in schools off campus and my friends Meghan and Laura would come and pick me up every morning at the crack of dawn. I would scoot in backwards (butt first, then legs) into the backseat of their car - leg immobilized - my crutches! It was a mess. I couldn't have done it without those women. (You gals are great!!!)

The injury didn't hurt when it happened - but after the surgery I was in big pain. I remember sitting on the table during my first PT session and the therapist was like, "Lift your leg." Um, dude, I can't. The muscles couldn't "remember" how to fire. We used shock treatments to help the muscle fibers to remember how to fire. It took a week or so before I was able to lift my leg off of the table. I remember that it was such a triumphant feeling when I was able to move my leg under my own power. My therapists were great. I had two of them - one in the morning and another in the evening. Plus there were a whole range of students that I worked with too. They pushed me to the limit and beyond. I am glad they did too. We stretched, we lifted, we iced, we rode the damn bike miles and miles and never left the room.

In the end, my left leg is not the same as my right one. I have great range of movement, but sometimes it's tight. Sometimes it hurts. I can't always get into all of the yoga positions that I want to. The muscles in my left leg are smaller than the right one. But when I look at that scar on my leg, I am really damn proud of myself. It's a reminder of how hard I worked to overcome a shitty situation and the kind of determination that I am capable of. Plus it scares little kids sometimes.

If you want to read more about what happened and see GROSS pictures, you can follow this link.


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