Much to my dismay, however, our league is littered with people who mistake the word "co-rec" for "World Cup Final - MMA Style." These are typically guys who didn't make it beyond high school soccer, and now are living out their dream/frustration by slamming goals in D-leagues against people who have little-to-no experience.
I'm no good at soccer footwork, especially against these guys, but my relative size at least allows me to hold my own and maintain positioning against a lot of them. I take great joy in heading away a ball that otherwise would have been headed into our goal by a shorter opponent. I also take great joy in letting said opponent know that, although he can run circles around me, he won't be pushing me around.
...which brings me to last Tuesday. We were nearing the end of a game that we were losing 1-0. As our team started pushing forward more and more to try and even the score, their team ended up having occasional odd-man scoring opportunities against us in the open field. On one play in particular, I was the lone defender against a guy that was running right up the middle looking for a cross from his teammate that was running along the sideline. At first, he was a few steps ahead, but my long legs quickly negated that advantage as I again positioned myself to be the first one to have a chance at any high ball. Maybe he didn't see me in front of him. Maybe it all happened too fast for him to slow down or change direction. Maybe I got between a competitive jerk and his goal:
At any rate, he ran right through me, and we fell together pretty hard. The initial impact was kind of like being tackled as part of a dog pile touchdown celebration - not so bad. Somewhere as our jumbled mess fell back down to earth, though, my right leg got caught between him and the field, and I heard a loud, bone-chilling "SNAP!" The immediate sharp pain was the worst I ever felt, and let me know in no uncertain terms that my leg was broken before the rest of me hit the ground. I yelled uncontrollably at the top of my lungs, and immediately regretted it as I heard Jenny's very concerned reaction. I wanted to tell her that I would live, but I couldn't help it, so I just kept screaming out in pain.
I was initially convinced that I had suffered the exact same injury in the exact same place that Steve Zakuani had a few months earlier for the Sounders:
As adrenaline and a state of shock set in, the pain subsided somewhat, thus allowing me to survey they damage as my teammates gathered around. It didn't take long to realize that my leg had not been snapped like a twig, but more like my ankle had been twisted like a rag. Friends started asking me if they should call 9-1-1 and get an ambulance to pick me up. At first, I didn't care...I was in so much pain, I just wanted the same treatment a horse gets when it breaks its leg.
After taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I thought it would be best to have Jenny drive me to the ER, as opposed to paying an ambulance $500 for the same ride. We probably arrived close to 9pm, and didn't get out until after midnight due to the waiting game that doctors like to play. You know: 1) Welcome to the hospital! Your leg looks like it was put on backwards, but we'll be with you in just a moment. 2) Please fill out this insurance form so that your insurance can pay for your injuries, as well as those of people who can't afford health insurance. Then we'll be right with you. 3) Thanks for waiting, now we'll check your vital signs. Ok, looks like your heart is still beating. That's fantastic. The doctor will be right with you. 4) Ok, let's take some x-rays because we don't really believe your leg is broken. The doctor is going to have a look at these images, and will be with you in just a moment. 5) Looks like your leg is likely broken. Here's half of a baby aspirin. As soon as the doctor is available, he will see you and give you something better for the pain, assuming you don't pass out first. 6) Ok, our doctor is not competent enough to analyze the x-rays fully, so we're going to have a radiologist have a look so that we can also charge your insurance a little bit more. Then the doctor will be right with you. 7) Yep, you weren't lying - your leg is definitely broken. Here's some Percocet. Night night. We'll just put you in a cast and you'll be on your way.....blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.
Anyway, I'm now waiting to see an orthopedic surgeon on Monday who will have a closer look (after a great deal of waiting in his office, I'm sure), and determine next steps, which may include surgery. In the last 48 hours, my appreciation for Jenny in my life has grown immensely. I would have been nothing more than a depressed vegetable if it weren't for her taking care of me and enabling me to do things I wouldn't be able to on my own. I was even able to put in a full day of work at home thanks to her help today. I hope to be able to serve her half as well someday when she needs me most.
PS: I may have exaggerated the other guy's intentions a bit for the story. I don't hold any grudge against him. Besides, I still stopped him from scoring. If that's not taking one for the team, then I don't know what is.