Played soccer with my Sunday league team yesterday. This is a photo of my right ankle this morning.
You can actually see the stud marks from where the other guy (literally) put the boot in. To be fair, though it hurt when I got "tapped," it wasn't an extraordinarily bad challenge. We just got the ball at the same time and he got a bit of me as well. I played on a little longer and then subbed myself off for the rest of the game, to be safe, 'cos it hurt a little more than your average knock. I could walk on it (heck, I ran on it for the little while I was still on the field) and I drove the 40 minutes home well enough. No big deal, right?
When I was 19 I broke my other ankle while playing keepy-uppy with a soccer ball, all on my own, on my parents' rutted driveway. I turned it in a divot and heard the crack as my ankle buckled. I limped into the backyard to report the injury and my grandparents, of the shake-it-off school of utilitarianism, told me it was probably just a sprain and the best thing to do for a sprain was "walk on it," which, dutifully, I did. When I awoke the next morning and saw the swollen discolored joint I freaked, then spent six hours at the ER getting an x-ray and, finally, a cast. That was in June right after my first year in college. I had scored a summer gig as a clerk in the fulfillment department at Cheese Lovers, a mail-order service, where not only did we find ways to get people their favorite cheese-mocking processed products delivered to their doors, we sold catalogue-issue gemstones of dubious provenance. That was my desk: the gemstone fulfillment sub-department, shared with some other college-aged guy whose name long ago alighted on one the distant-most branches of what passes for my memory. The so-called gems were merely polished rocks with fancy names or so we believed (we might have given too much credit to the folks in charge), and we reveled in the vanity of the gulls who bought this junk. Better still were the hate letters we received (and kept on display) condemning us to eternities in Hell and worse for duping the poor dopes who bought our crap.
The fulfillment sub-department was an anonymous room on the second floor of a typically anonymous office building in a typically anonymous complex near Islip, a town in the middle of Long Island that has an airport to give it some sparkle. Our building had no elevator. So in my newly minted cast I had a daily climb up and down the concrete steps. Up to work; down for lunch; up to work; down to leave. Breaks were also taken outside, where the mostly middle-aged women congregated for their gossip and nicotine. I tended to stay upstairs, saving me a climb. I'm glad I wasn't a smoker. What a drag.
My grandparents would have been extremely proud of me yesterday. For not only did I run/walk/drive on my injured joint, at my daughter's birthday party I spent a good 90 minutes ice-skating on it. This morning's relative surprise (I could tell even in my morning blindness that one ankle appeared larger than its twin) led me to the after-hours clinic, x-rays and the initial diagnosis of a sprain. Some radiologist will review those x-rays later today and render a final verdict. I hope he or she is not paid by the degree of the diagnosis!