I used to always be jealous of sports-related injuries. Since I missed out on the glory of being a high-school athlete, I would watch enviously those who were shambled around the halls on crutches with people constantly running up to them asking for progress reports and making sympathetic clucking sounds. In all actuality, the main reason I was not a high school athlete (besides lack of ability) was because I would not have cared for moments like this, but I still remain oddly jealous.
After high school, I worked at Barnes & Noble for a general manager who was the most terrible human being I’ve ever met. For example, when I came back from a semester in England, and reluctantly went to ask for my job back, I was told that she was out on medical leave. When I asked my boss what for, he replied, “they tried to give her a heart, but her body rejected it.”
She was also of that certain age where she had had polio when younger and had one leg shorter than the other. She had a big shoe, but still had a very pronounced hobble which made her both creepy and zombielike. It didn’t seem like anyone as gimpy as she should be able to approach so quickly, but you’d see her from across the store, and then next thing, she’s right there with a syrupy smile that always made me feel like I disappointed her just by showing up to work.
It’s funny, because all of these high school athletes were constantly pestered by questions about their injuries and recovery, but no one would have asked her about her limp–the big shoe said it all.
Since I started running, I’ve had a couple injuries. I got a stress fracture about two months after I started running, probably because I was wearing $5 sneakers from Target designed more for fashion than function. It turned my foot a disgusting shade of purplish green, and made it swell up like someone had injected me with marshmallow fluff, but healed in a few weeks, and hasn’t really been an issue since. Then yesterday, I was running along merrily, ignoring this twinge in my left calf that I assumed was a strange kind of shin splint that stretching wasn’t helping. I was determined to “push past the pain” and “overcome.” I was rounding in on mile one, just starting to accelerate, when I felt a pop in my left calf followed by an insane amount of pain.
After freaking out for a while about whether or not I should go to the doctor, I asked the internet what was wrong with me, and it told me that I had a calf pull or calf tear. It’s not nearly as bad as it could be, it’s barely swollen, and there’s no bruising, but I now have a pronounced limp, especially if I’ve been sitting for a while. Add this injury to the plantar fascitis that I’ve got going on with my right foot, and I now shuffle out of bed in the morning like an old man grunting and groaning.
The worst part of it all, is that now when I’m at the library, I feel like my old boss at the bookstore. I shuffle along with patrons feeling like they’re annoyed with my slowness; I see my destination on the horizon and feel like it takes forever to get there; and I feel like everyone is looking at me wondering why the hell I’m walking so strangely, but they would never dare ask.