Something No Athlete Ever Wants to Feel (How it Happened)
I got the ball on the wing, faked right, exploded left. It was game number four of 2-on-2 this past Sunday. As I planted my right foot and pushed off trying to drive past my defender, I felt a pop in between my right calf muscle. I couldn’t tell you what happened to the basketball. All I know is I felt something no athlete ever wants to feel and my feet grew roots. I couldn’t move.
After a few minutes, I hobbled over to the side of the court and sat down on the first row of the bleachers. I leaned over, with sweat dripping off my face, held my leg with both hands, closed my eyes and prayed. I know the guys were talking to me, but I couldn’t tell you what they were saying.
I think my brother and I were born with a pretty high tolerance for pain. My brother once broke his big toe playing around at the house and then went and did a 2 hour basketball practice as a kid. He knew it hurt, but didn’t know it was broken until he got home and took off his shoe to find a black and blue toe. With that tolerance and the fact that I don’t like people to worry about me, I did my best to mask what I was feeling and encouraged the guys I was playing with to go have a 3-point contest.
I sat there, almost motionless as they shot, trying to stay upbeat and positive. Deep down I feared the worst. Is this how my journey to to play Michael Jordan would end? How badly was I hurt? If I’m hurt badly, which I have never been before in my life, could I deal with the rehab involved? Was this my nightmare coming true?
As I watched them shoot ball after ball, I wished I could be out there. Through my frustration, I did small self checks by moving my ankle and my knee. No pain. Just a sharp pain all around my muscle area. I breathed a sigh of relief. The positive side of me, the believer in me, prayed I would be healed. I couldn’t go out like this. I would never give up. This couldn’t be how the story ends.
After watching the shooting contest, I made my way to my car, by taking a step with my good leg and then slowly moving my bad leg. The guys offered to help, but I didn’t want to be helped. I said my goodbyes and drove slowly to the closest pharmacy to get some pain medication. By the time I got there, it was even worse. My range of motion seemed to be going. I hobbled through the store and to the cash register only to hear a worker make a poor joke about my injury. I didn’t turn around, even though I wanted to beat him like a pinata. I was angry. Angry that this happened to me. I knew he didn’t know my situation though, so I did my best to stay calm, thanked the lady who was helping me and slowly made my way to the car.
I got home and family and friends were calling to check on me. Everyone feared the worst and while I appreciated their concern, hearing terms that rang up 6-12 month rehab sessions scared my soul. I thought of NBA players over the years with injuries. Fear wrapped me up.
A buddy of mine asked me how I was doing through twitter and I sent him a direct message back. I was scared. We conversed back and forth. I told him everyone is talking major ligament/tendon damage and it’s freaking me out. His response of, “probably best not to listen to anybody until you get it checked out,” eased my worry.
Still I made a call to a local emergency clinic, but they were unable to do any kind of test that would show damage other than a broken bone.
I sent a text to a friend I knew who was around the game at the highest level and would probably know better than anyone what I should do. He asked me some questions, then walked me through the steps I should take and gave me advice on when I should go to the doctor. He basically said it could be bad, but said to just to give it some time and take proper recovery action immediately. I thanked him and felt somewhat better.
My wife, who had been out with some friends, got home shortly thereafter. As she walked in the door and towards me, my eyes welled up with tears and I began to cry. I was overwhelmed.
If you’ve been following my journey, you understand how passionate I am about what I’m doing. This isn’t a joke or ploy to become famous or make money. This is my PASSION! I felt I was making so much progress lately and now with the new gym, the sky was the limit.
I had a 1-on-1 match-up scheduled for this coming Saturday and was working on finalizing a 1-on-1 match-up with a very cool opponent that might surprise you.
I was at the rec center I just joined anytime I had time, so much so that one of the girls working there said this past week, “So you’re pretty passionate about basketball, huh.” I guess that’s what happens when you stay longer than anyone else, until the gym is empty, just working on the game. I honestly only leave the gym because I get so hungry that I can’t stand it or because I have to work or some other responsibility comes up. I love every single part of it.
Dealing with Another Setback
After sitting in the same position on the couch, legged kicked up and iced on and off for eight hours, I took some more pain medication and made my way to bed with a pair of crutches my brother dropped off for me. Before I did my best to fall asleep, I laid in bed and prayed that I would be healed. I told God I would work even harder at my journey if he would only allow me to work.
I drifted off and only woke up a few times Sunday night. Every now and then I would move the wrong way and feel a sharp pain, otherwise it was a good night’s rest.
I woke up Monday morning, not healed, but no worse. With a heavy heart, so thankful, I smiled.
So I’m still on crutches. I’m still icing it. Still unable to walk or even put any pressure on it, but extremely optimistic that it isn’t major damage, but only a temporary setback. If I don’t see anymore progress by tomorrow, I’ll be making my way to the doctor.
No matter the outcome, I WILL NOT QUIT!
I want to thank everyone who has reached out to wish me well or pray for me. It means a lot! This won’t be the end of my journey, I promise you that! If I have to, I will hop on one leg and play Jordan.
Until I can move again, I plan on working on my ball handling while sitting in a chair. I may even try to make it to the rec center later this week, just to sit on the court and be around the game. I’ll do some updates through twitter (@KennyEller) to let ya know my progress.
As always, thanks for the support and for following along.
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