On The Verge

It started on a Monday night. The humidity was thick, the ground was hard, the air was dusty. I rushed to the bench, apparently decked out head-to-toe in UC apparel – equipment hat, lacrosse t-shirt, CPaw shorts. I elected to play right field, allowing the new player to play my normal, left-center position.

Without catching my breath from running to avoid being late, a ball comes to me, just short of catching distance. I bobbled it off the ground and threw it back. Moments later, another ball, just over the heads of our infielders, lands a few yards in front of me. And again, a batter or two later, another ball comes sailing out, enough air under it for me to believe I could dive and catch it. I dove, my glove hit it, my left knee hit the near-cement ground and the rest of my body did some sort of roll. It was apparent, after the fact, that I had caught myself in that roll with my right hand.

I hopped up and chased down the ball, regretting my decision to dive. I must have looked like a fool, but more importantly, my knee was scraped, bruised in two spots, and my right hand was in pulsing pain. I played the rest of the game, I iced, I took advil.

Three days later, I decided to golf. Another foolish decision as my hand was swollen and pounding by the seventh hole.  I iced, I took advil, I played softball again on the next Monday. And again the next Monday.

I gave my hand and knee a day or two of rest, and things were starting to feel good again. I could move my hand and my knee didn’t throb. Then, I had a job interview. A four hour festival of hand-shaking. My hand was crushed on many occasions, as we all know the better the handshake, the better the person. They have a lot of good people. And if I do not get the job, I will blame my hand shaking ability, or lack of hand shaking ability.

I took a few more days off and decided to play sand volleyball. Everything was fine, until I dove for a ball. The same knee and the same hand were once again victims of my poor decision.  I iced, I took advil.

Then I woke up and went to Boone County, Ky. to ride the mountain bike trails. With each ride I become more confident, faster, stronger. After the first trail a fellow rider crashed and it was frightening to watch. Her feet still clipped to the bike, her entire body covered in dirt powder, I was nearly frozen with worry because her head hit the ground so hard. As she lay on the ground evaluating her pain my concern grew that her injuries were worse than she would lead us to believe. And I didn’t have ice or advil to offer.

But she hopped back up and we continued riding. She took it noticeably easier as the lead rider and I went to the third spot, doing my best not to climb the rear tire ahead of me. I slowed down as the rider in front of me slowed a bit and in an instant a tree was before my front tire on the ground. I tried to adjust quickly and pull up but after realizing I couldn’t hop the tree, I grabbed my brake in an attempt to stop. It was too late. By hitting the brake, and the tree, I caused my bike to stop. My body did not. I flung over my handlebars, my giant thighs catching and bringing the bike with me over the tree and onto the trail before me. The riders came back to check on me (and pull off my bike) and I decided to lay and evaluate my pain. Left knee – new bruise; right hand, smashed again; both elbows bruised; right forearm, right quad – expect knots with the bruises; potential scratches on back from the prickly bush.

My evaluation complete, I decide I’m good. Somehow my ride-mates held back the laughter of viewing my “superman” and I hopped back up and kept riding. After some confidence and fun hills, we were riding fast again. Up and down, around and back, flying down and kicking up – we were hammering through when, boom, bang, pow! I kicked out of a boost-like part of the trail, lost my line and hit a tree. With my front tire. I still do not know how I managed to hit the tree with my teeny-tiny tire, but I am thankful I did. I didn’t fall off of my bike, I simply yelled out, “That. Was. Awesome!” I stopped to make sure body parts were still attached and again, all was clear and ready, except my front tire and my brake lever. The tire was literally hanging on, wobbling, and my brake lever was almost under my handlebar. So we fixed that and kept riding.

We managed to finish without further injury and I was pretty happy with the fun I had on the trail. That is, until I went to get in my Jeep and couldn’t bend my knee to use the clutch. And couldn’t grip my stick shift with my right hand. And couldn’t rest my arm in its normal place because of the forearm bruise. And could barely extend my right leg after accidentally hitting my quad bruise with the seatbelt latch as I buckled up for safety.

But I have ice, and I have advil. So on Monday, I will play softball and keep praying to stay “on the verge” of a major injury. Rather than having one.


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