Aging and still doing what you love.
Earlier this year, I sprained my right butt cheek. I pulled a neck muscle while putting on a T-shirt, and I sprained a rib while sneezing. Last year, I broke the tip of my left pinky. I often wake up in the morning with a stiff neck because I “slept wrong.” In last night’s soccer game, I either suddenly developed appendicitis or was trying to pass a kidney stone while shielding a defender.
Like any respectable Obgyn doctor who is sick or injured, I googled my symptoms. According to WebMD, I injured my psoas muscle. What the heck is the psoas muscle? Back to Google to find out. I should probably see an actual doctor. I probably won’t. Indeed, doctors are terrible patients.
Injuries are a part of playing sports
I have been an athlete my entire life. Sports are part of who I am. My elementary school years were spent playing soccer for the Brentfield Boomerangs. I spent my teenage and college years on the basketball court. Even in medical school, we stayed fit playing pick-up ball.
Injuries are an expected part of the process. Ankle sprains from basketball and broken wrists from soccer were normal in my house. A fractured thumb from skiing did not slow me down. None were surprising injuries. I lived on ice packs and athletic tape. My dad would stick my ankle in a bucket of ice, and we moved on.
Now I sprain my butt
So how does one actually accomplish this? One game, I jumped to head the ball into the goal but landed awkwardly. After nine months of unsuccessful self-treatment, I visited an orthopedist. It took the doctor about 30 seconds to diagnosis a piriformis injury. Most importantly, I did score on that header, and I am not ashamed to admit I had to google “the piriformis muscle.”
Ibuprofen and Tylenol are my new best friends. Aging is not. At age 47, I refuse to give it up. Every Saturday and Sunday, my adults-only over 30 coed indoor soccer league transforms into my personal equivalent of being featured on ESPN Sportcenter. Twice a week, I experience a 40-minute exhilarating thrill of competition and the comradery of being on a team.
Every Monday morning, I hobble and limp into the office as my medical assistant rolls her eyes. Although we creatively invented a way to slip on surgical gloves over a broken pinky, that injury did lead to the end of my days as a goalkeeper.
A change in mindset
When I was young, sports were about achievement. I played to win. I wanted the trophy. Now, I play simply because it is fun. I love it. Soccer affords me the ability to continue an active lifestyle. It provides a release for the workweek stress. But that is not why I play.
I play because it lifts my spirit. Soccer creates moments; brief snapshots of glory. Every few games, I make a perfect pass across the center to my sister Jill, the midfielder making a run. I tap in a deflection by positioning on the weakside post. The team moves the ball with absolute precision. These are the moments that impact the rest of the week. These moments stick with me.
My body does not move as well as it used to. My brain has one thing in mind while my feet have another. I am slower. My reaction time has decreased. I wake up in the middle of the night with toe-curling calf cramps. I injure muscles I did not even know I had.
I am at perfect peace with these changes
One day the cramps will stop because I will no longer be able to play. I choose to value what I have right now. I appreciate my body allows me to do what I love. One day it will not. Time is precious. I want to make the most of every second. I celebrate the joy of these moments more than ever. One day, all I will have is past memories. I plan to create new memories for as long as I am able.
I can live with an occasional sprained butt cheek.
Previously published on Medium.com.
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