Wednesday, June 06, 2012

So Then There's This

Yeah, that's a walking boot. Which was preceded by two weeks on crutches.

When Eli played in his school league championship game three weeks ago, they played at the other team's field, and it was positively gigantic--60 feet wider than the field at Eli's school, and considerably longer as well. So it turned into a game of long ball, with both teams just kicking the ball as far as they could, because a build-up of an attack via short passes was really not even remotely plausible.

In the second half, with the score still tied 0-0, Eli got blasted in the stomach with a hard shot from an opposing player. He fell down, and while he was on the ground, somebody stepped on him. This severely stretched the extensor tendons in his ankle (these tendons aren't on the side, they're in front), because his heel was on the ground, so his ankle was forced to move in ways that it normally can't.

I knew right away that it was bad. Eli was hopping on one foot and signaling that he needed to come out. He could barely walk, and he was crying on the sidelines, but five minutes later, he went back into the game--his team down 1-0--and played unbelievably hard, even though he was limping heavily.

At the end of the game, after a 2-0 defeat, he was so exhausted and in so much pain that he just collapsed on the field, crying. He managed to stand up long enough to go through the handshake line, then sat down again on the field. I walked up to him, lifted him up, and carried him to the sidelines, trying to comfort him but knowing there was nothing I could say to help with the pain.

I hoped very much that it was something minor (after all, he came back on and played for 15 minutes), but I was entirely wrong. The next morning, he couldn't put any weight on his foot at all, so he spent the weekend on crutches. On Monday, he went to the orthopedist, and he wound up in a walking boot. His foot was so sensitive, though, that it took almost two weeks to even be able to walk in the boot.

We went to my physical therapist once a week, and while improvement was very slow, he did get better. Now he's even walking around the house without the boot, although he's still limping.

If there's any good news about this injury, it's that it was so unlikely that it would be almost impossible for it to happen again. I won't even need to wrap his ankle, because it wasn't a lateral injury, and there's no way for his ankle to stretch that way, at least not while he's playing tennis and hockey, which is mostly what he'll be doing this summer.

Seemingly, being injured at the end of the school year, when all the sports seasons are over, is as minimally jarring as possible.

Except, of course, Eli doesn't have an off-season.

We were scheduled to leave for Grand Rapids on Saturday for a week-long goalie camp, and he was tremendously excited. Since it's three days before we leave, though, and he can't even walk without a limp, that trip is out. We were able to reschedule to a camp in July (same people, and it's high-level instruction), but it's not in Grand Rapids--it's in Detroit.

Vacation downgrade, hello!

Eli is bummed out (we all are), but he's handled it very, very well. He just has this internally sunny disposition that warms everyone around him.

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