It’s never easy to be sidelined from the sport you love. A true athlete doesn’t let anything stop them from playing their game. Bumps, scrapes, bruises and blood are a part of it all. But it’s those real injuries that can throw someone off. The injuries that require doctor appointment after doctor appointment, weeks and weeks for someone to tell you what’s wrong. And by that point, you know something’s really wrong that can’t just be bandaged up on the sidelines.
I’ve lived it. I’m living it now. The fear of the unknown. Once again, I have to sit around for the results of my MRI. But I don’t know what to think or what to expect. Do I want it to tell me something’s really wrong with me? I’ll be out for months then. Or do I want it to show nothing? But then what will explain the amount of pain I’m feeling? And then too, while I wait for my results – should I continue to ignore the pain and play through it or will that only injury me more? Too many questions and what ifs, my brain can’t take it.
Injuries are physical; their effects are mental. Sports are not just about being in the best physical shape possible, your brain needs to be in shape, too. It needs to be as healthy as your body. Quick on your feet doesn’t simply refer to physical speed, it refers to mental speed. But when you get hurt, like you need surgery hurt, I think it messes with your head more than your body. Take for example, a torn ACL. It happened to me. It took a month to know that I tore my ACL. I waited another month for surgery. I had to go to physical therapy 3 times a week. I sat out an entire season. I wasn’t allowed to run for 4 months. I couldn’t play for 6 months. And I am now sitting and waiting for my second knee surgery within the next few days. It’s a waiting game.
By the time my knee healed, I thought my brain did, too. But instead, I had to play keep-up. All the time spent not being able to train holds you back. You want to be on the same level as everyone else, but you’re left in the back of the pack. Left out. An outcast. Though everyone says they support you it doesn’t really feel like it.
You finally get back into the swing of things, and you’re back on the team, or in with the team I should say. It feels like you matter again.
But here I am again – sitting and watching and waiting. My body has me crying in pain but I think I’m crying more because my brain is in pain. Keep your head up and stay positive are just words that carry no meaning. Injuries set an athlete back from progressing in their sport, and in turn sets your mental game back even further.
Physical health is important to an athlete, but mental health means even more.