Us soccer players set up three teams that afternoon. Little hockey-style goals stood on opposite sides of the patchy, somewhat uneven field. Still, my love for soccer had trumped the unfavorable playing conditions in the past. A few dirt patches weren’t going to get in the way of my enjoyable afternoon. My team played the first game and we lost, which meant that we had to sit out while the other two teams battled on. Darkness began to set in. Since we couldn’t turn on the floodlights for the field, this meant that the soccer game had to come to an end soon.
My love for soccer gripped me. In the end, my determination led me back onto the field in order to play for a few more minutes. After all, I reasoned, college isn’t going to last forever. I have to enjoy every moment to the fullest.
Should I Play or Not?
A nagging sense that I shouldn’t play came upon me as I rushed onto the field. I pushed the weird feeling aside and played anyway. Shortly after I had run onto the field, my team won the ball. As I turned around to join the counterattack, I planted my cleats. Without thinking, I locked my knee as I twisted my body.
My left knee gave an audible pop and paired with the immense pain and the shock of the moment, made me fall like a sack of potatoes. I managed to utter repeatedly, in a weak and trembling voice, “Something popped, something popped.” The pain radiated throughout my knee, causing a nasty combination of stinging and throbbing. A couple of guys helped me off the field and gently set me on the sidelines. I don’t want to cause a scene, I thought. It can’t be that bad. I should be able to walk by myself once I calm down a bit.
Thankfully I lived on the side of the dorm that had an accessibility entrance which meant that a short elevator ride stood between the outdoors and the comfort of my room.
As a freshman in college, I was still trying to figure out how to be independent. My shy nature had often led me to refuse asking for help, and once again, this same “shy guy” situation repeated itself. But now that my very ability to walk depended on a desperate call for help, I nervously called a friend who had a car. He took me to the hospital.
A blur of appointments with my orthopedic doctor, an MRI, loads of paperwork, and several phone calls followed through the next three weeks. I used crutches while I waited for surgery. The anxiety and trepidation that gripped me often tempted me to fall into despair. To hold on, I kept telling myself: you got it. Take it one day at a time.
Let the Healing Begin
Three weeks later I received a phone call notifying me that there was an opening for surgery in two days. In shock, but with much gratitude, I agreed to have the surgery on that Friday. In the end, the experience of having surgery turned out very different than what I had expected, particularly when it came to the post-surgery time.
Since I hadn’t used my knee since I had injured it, my muscles had atrophied. As the days passed, I slowly built up the strength in my knee. First I was able to lift it, then to bend it, and finally to start walking on it.
The week following my surgery was Thanksgiving break which meant that the cafeteria shut down and students had to fend for themselves for food. A friend who lived on my hall offered to take me in at his home so I could recover from surgery and eat home-cooked meals. Though my shyness threatened to keep me in the dorm for fear of intruding into my friend’s family dynamic, his offer was simply too good to pass up.
Through this learning experience, I became better equipped to tackle life’s trials which often threatened to overwhelm me. Over the past couple of years, I have broken out of my shell. I have grown into the confident man that God intended me to be.
Andrews Ferreira writes from the Pacific Northwest.© 2002 - 2021, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.