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It was pretty much the summer without a summer…even though it started with a bang.

Or rather a snap.

A snap heard ’round the infield.

I was clearly out, but a little piece of my competitive brain overrode logic and I slid so as to impede the progress of a double play. It was a poorly executed takeout. You see, this was softball…of the slow-pitch variety. Sliding isn’t something you really do, much less a takeout slide.

Call it instant karma.

The outside cleat of my right foot caught on the questionably maintained infield dirt and turned my ankle outward. Gravity, momentum and 180 pounds of sheer athletic build did the rest of the work.

Fibula shattered.

Yeah…yeah…yeah…as my brother-in-law physical therapist reminds me…it’s a broken ankle, not a broken leg. But a broken ankle just doesn’t sound manly enough. So let’s call it a “lankle”.

In a flash, my summer was done: in April. The prospect of a summer on the couch was downright depressing. No hikes, no climbs, no biking, no trips…and hopefully I’ll be walking again in time for my wedding. The doom and gloom overpowered reality. When crushing pain overrides painkillers with even the slightest move it’s easy to be pessimistic. Yes it was just a lankle, and yes I only broke it. No it wasn’t cancer and no it wasn’t amputated. But being down a lankle was a bigger impediment than I gave it credit for.

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Seven screws and a titanium plate later my recovery started. And I started learning lessons…like:

1. HBO Go is my best friend FOR-EV-ER…I plowed through Game of Thrones (twice), the entirety of the Sopranos, Veep, the Pacific and who knows how many movies.

2. Netflix is my second best friend: Freaks and Geeks (finally), Parks and Rec and more documentaries than I can remember…and I finally got the worth out of my MLB TV package, although what I saw was almost as painful as my broken lankle.

Also watched a lot of hockey

3. Having a small apartment is kind of a good thing. With only 800 or so square feet to navigate I never had to hobble too far.

4. Gravity sucks!! I spent a lot of time cursing Isaac Newton (sorry Neil deGrasse Tyson)

5. Peeing in the middle of the night is the worst. I was half drugged and thus uncoordinated. And upon standing all the blood rushed to my leg creating a sensation tantamount to a water balloon about to burst…pleasant.

6. Miles of crutching means a new muscle in my back and a beastly left leg…seriously my left leg is Messi and my right leg is Gwyneth Paltrow, and henceforth that is how they shall be referred.

7. Crutches are an invitation to conversation. Everybody who’s ever broken anything flocks to you, “I know what you’re going through! One time I broke my pinky and I couldn’t hit the return key for like a month.”

8. And many of those conversations are with homeless guys. I don’t know if it was the crutches or my generally unkempt appearance but I’ve never had so many chats with guys on the street. Also, once a passing businessman gave me a dollar while I was standing on a street corner.

9. Showering is an adventure. Actually you’d be surprised at how far you can go between showers (see above). It’s enough to try and shower while standing on one lankle. But, I couldn’t even get the cast wet. That meant wrapping the cast in a trash bag, and then wrapping that in a towel, and then keeping that lankle on the other side of the shower curtain…if you’re ever down for an adventure give it a try.

10. People come out of the woodwork with advice and goodies. From baskets of cookies and fruit to bottles of whiskey and wine all sorts of things start arriving at your door. That led to me getting fat and drunk.

11. Benefits are beneficial. Living the vagabond lifestyle I did for the better part of a decade, there were more than a few times I flew without a net…and given the situations I put myself in it’s downright miraculous that nothing happened. With that said nothing beats having healthcare, and disability and a job to return to.

12. Riding Metro with crutches is something everyone should experience. From the able-bodied people crowding in front of you on the elevators to riders avoiding eye contact to feel less guilty about the seat they slid into while you hobbled aboard a train. To be fair there were a number of people that gave up their seats, but more who didn’t. Also I learned that people sometimes pee in the middle of Metro elevators, which makes for an awkward ride. And when riding the escalator it was all about timing, a hop at the wrong time and face meets floor.

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13. Nothing sucks more than dreaming of running and biking only to wake up in a cast…

14. And when dreaming of such things it’s only natural that legs flail about…and the cast becomes a deadly weapon to anyone else in bed (sorry Lauren!)

15. But that leads to the most important lesson learned: the value of having a partner who loves and cares for you. Lauren really came through in that whole “sickness and health” category. She took care of me when I spent the better part of everyday knocked out an drooling all over my shoulder. She dealt with my whining and whimpering and moaning. She sacrificed her time and priorities to make sure I was comfortable. And without her it would have been a far more agonizing experience.

In a way, that snapped ankle was a blessing. Because as I watched Lauren care for me, it cemented my faith that Lauren is the perfect partner for me. And through my recovery any hint of a doubt that may have existed about our pending nuptials was erased. Now I have a beautiful six inch scar that is a testament and reminder of that love.

It’s also a reminder to not slide in softball.

Tags : broken legDCsoftballsummer
Kris Ankarlo

The author Kris Ankarlo

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