The surgeons wouldn’t make any promises. One asked me if I enjoyed golf. The one who performed the surgery told me on the day of the surgery that once inside my ankle, he might just stitch me back up if it looked irreparable.
If you don’t know any of this story, I will catch you up to speed. At the beginning of 2015, my foot and ankle bothered me every time I played basketball. I mean it hurt!
I chalked it up to old age. So I rested. But, each time I went back on the court, if I planted my right foot a certain way, sharp pain shot across the top of my foot and ankle. I had the foot x-rayed to see if I had a stress fracture. “Nope”, said the doctor. “You probably have gout.”
I rolled my eyes. I might have gout, but this wasn’t gout!
So I rested some more. I returned to playing in May only to hurt it worse, but I still didn’t know what was wrong.
Willing to try anything, I went to see a sports chiropractor that works with runners. His response that only an MRI would tell us for sure, but that insurance probably want us to try a conservative route first. He worked on my foot, ankle, and shin a couple of times each week relieving the pain enough that I returned to the court after a month or so.
But I could tell that something was not right, so we got approval for an MRI. It was August now. The day after the MRI, I got a call from the referring doctor. The diagnosis? A neglected, ruptured anterior tibilias tendon.
Well yeah it was neglected! I think I ruptured it in May!!
I did what all intelligent, digital savvy people do now. I googled the injury. Yeah, well, anyway.
I did have a choice. No surgery and deal with ankle problems the rest of my life. Or, have the surgery ASAP with no promises.
Initially it was a no-brainer for me. Have the surgery for at least the chance of repairing the tendon even if I never did play basketball again. Which I didn’t expect I ever would again. But I at least wanted to be able to chase my young son around!
Still as the day of surgery approached, I wavered allowing small thoughts of fear enter my psyche. But on toward surgery day I pressed.
The surgery took maybe 1 hour. The surgeon met my wife, parents and a good friend in the waiting room with a huge smile exclaiming that it went better than he could imagine. He sat down next to Danielle asking if she wanted to see pictures on his smart phone. (I resisted the urge to insert those here)
From that day on my ankle responded quicker than projections. Overall everyone with medical or injury experience told me not to expect any kind of physical activity like running, much less, attempting basketball for about 12 months.
Everyone except my Physical Therapist. She and the technician asked me if I wanted to play basketball again.
I am sure my response was delayed by disbelief of what I heard them ask. YES! Even if it was to only shoot baskets on the driveway one day with my son.
Then at the end of March, six months after surgery, I began going to the gym where I had played pick up basketball for several years. I could have gone anytime of the day, but I chose to go early in the morning when I knew my basketball buddies would be there. I wanted the motivation. I missed the interaction.
The first several times I went I worked out by myself on agility and strengthening drills assigned by my PT. I would shoot some baskets, and get caught up with my friends. Then one morning after working out for about an hour on an empty court, I heard the guys asking if enough were staying to play one more game. I poked my head around a curtain to hear one say, “Hey there is number 10!”
I felt good, and I decided to give it a shot. There I was playing in a pick up basketball game less than 8 months after my surgery! I have played a few more times since then, too. Don’t worry, I am pacing myself trying not to over do it.
I know that one day I will have to hang up my basketball shoes forever, but for now I feel blessed to still be able to play!
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