Unlike professional athletes such as Brett Favre, most common people and their aging bodies just know when to retire and start taking it easy in sports. After many years of softball, I got the hint when I could no longer walk the next day after double headers, and the coach/player kept bringing in 19-year-old girls to "help us out" during tournaments. The choice to retire was a no brainer.
For my husband, reality struck home this fall when he was attempting to help out at my daughter's basketball practice. He had quit playing rec league basketball and softball years ago, but still likes to be active. As he sauntered down the court, he suddenly awkwardly fell over and was in excruciating pain. He mistakenly thought one of the girls threw a ball at his leg to be funny.
Unaware of any injuries, I returned home from a successful shopping excursion and there he was lying on the couch waiting for me to bring him to the Emergency Room. Wonderful wife that I am, I countered that since it was flu season, I thought he could probably get there himself. I would wait at home to give him sympathy when he returned. I assumed the doctor would tell him to put ice on the injury and take it easy.
But NOOOOO, he was in too much pain to drive himself, so I called the clinic and was able to get him into a regular doctor as I was hoping to
avoid the ER. And yes, even in that waiting room, sick people were bountiful, coughing and hacking all around me, and spreading their germs, phlegm, and general bad karma. I could sense the bacteria and viruses moving towards me from all directions. After seeing the doctor, my husband was referred, of course, to the ER where they could use better technology to determine the injury.
Great, now I had to go to where the really sick and germy people hang out. I sat and tried to not touch anything while I waited. And waited. I finally decided to run home and breathe some fresh air before anything serious attached itself to me. I returned in a couple of hours, and he was patiently waiting for another test. The prognosis: ruptured achilles tendon. He would require surgery. And he was lectured on how "older people" need to really stretch out before exercising. We went to get crutches.
Two days later, he had surgery and received heavy duty painkillers. I, on the other hand, had a serious case of the flu and no painkillers. However, I did recover in about two days and was able to show adequate sympathy toward my invalid spouse. ( I'm hoping he has forgotten about the two times he fell down the stairs with his clunky cast and I reacted by laughing before remembering he was actually hurt. ) Now, since sports are out, we just need to find a canasta or whist league.
(Eileen Dolan is one of four community columnists for The Minot Daily News)