After a month of exams, summer had finally arrived for me as well. I
had it planned, day after day, all the things that I was going to do
and the places that I would visit. From volunteer activities to camps,
I had it all set, and I was eager to make it a meaningful summer, full
of accomplishments that I could look back on.
First official weekend of a two-month summer vacation, I woke up early
Sunday morning to go to the gym to play basketball. Exercise and
fitness were just another part of a jam-packed summer. I even had the
entire day planned out as well. I would finish basketball, go back to
the dormitory, freshen up, and meet a friend afterwards.
Everything according to plan.
I arrived at the gym in time, as expected, and shot around, warming
up, waiting for friends to arrive. Once everyone gathered up, we
started with a simple 5 on 5 half court game. I hadn’t played in a
while so I was naturally just taking it easy at first, but the competetive
level quickly got high and the next thing I knew, I was playing zone
defence all alone.
We were up 2 points with just a few minutes remaining. We lost
possession from a pass interception, so I quickly rushed to the ball
carrier to block off a shot. Like I had done a million times in my
life, I jumped towards the shooter, got my hands in the way of the
shot, and slapped the ball out of bounce. Even before I landed, I knew
this was one worth boasting about with a list of terrible clichés like
‘shut down’, ‘in your face’, and ‘not in my house’. This was probably
something that’s been encoded into my DNA, almost like a natural
reflex from all the years of playing basketball.
I landed from the jump, with only the thought of how great of a block
it was on my mind. But the next thing I knew, I was on the ground,
rolling in indescribable pain, while friends gathered around me in a
circle, asking if I was alright. What happened? The ball had gone out
of bounce which meant I had blocked the shot. Why was their so much
excruciating pain in my right foot?
I have been playing basketball since I was grade 5. That makes it
almost 10 years of playing basketball: outside on the cement, in the
sand, in the grass, in the gym, with basketball shoes, no shoes, with
flip flops, with friends, against girls, with people I didn’t know,
adults, younger kids, competitively in a team, in a pick-up game,
playing casually with friends, 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 2 on 5, 3, on 5,
playing at night when I couldn’t see the hoop, playing in the
daylight, with a basketball, a volleyball, a handball, a soccer ball,
a football, a dodgeball, with a cold, with no sleep for several days,
in pain from a stomach ache, with a sprained finger or even with a
fever. Simply put, I had played basketball under pretty much any
circumstances and situations that I could think of. Of course in that
time, I had countless number of injuries like bruises, scratches,
sprains, athlete’s foot, loss of toenails, twisted ankles, and a minor
concussion. However nothing that happened was serious or long term.
I was always able to pick up my ball and wear my basketball shoes the
next day and get back at it again.
Here I was, playing the same game that I had played over and over in
pretty much all situations that I could imagine. But when I landed
after the block, this time I knew something was wrong. I have rolled
my ankle numerous times and know how painful it could be. But when I
landed this time, I knew the pain wouldn’t go away easily. I had
landed my left foot alright, but did not get my right footing correct
and as a result, landed awkwardly on the top right side of my foot. I
couldn’t feel what was wrong. I just knew it hurt too much.
As usual though, I thought to myself the pain is short and the gain is
great. I thought, no, I knew, the pain would subside eventually and I
would be able to get back on to the court to help out my team.
However, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes passed and the pain had
only gotten stronger.
I left early for the dorm, hobbling on my injured foot. Depressed
about not being able to stick it out and play more basketball, I got
back to my room and turned on the cold water in the shower. From past
experience, I knew the best way to keep the swelling down was to dip
the foot in cold water, then hot water, and repeat.
Simply put, it hurt. But I had plans and I had all intention to see
them through. I had twisted my ankle and sprained my foot before. It
hurts. It hurts a lot, but it is bearable to a degree and I knew this.
I went out, hobbling my way towards the meeting place. My friend kept
on telling me to go to the hospital, telling me that something was
really wrong by the way my foot had swollen up. I brushed it away
saying that it was normal for it to swell up with a sprain.
Next day I woke up, I was in for a very big surprise. To be precise, a
surprise located at the lower half, right side of my body, somewhere
farthest away from my head. My right foot had turned black, from all
the blood collecting under the skin, and it didn’t feel right.
Combined with the horror stories that my friend had told me the night
before of people having to have their leg cut off, I had come to a
relatively easy decision of going to the hospital.
“Fracture and sprain in two different areas of the foot.”
“Four to five weeks to walk and 2 months to 3 months to be completely
Screening out all the verbal abuse and profanity, I had one thought in
mind: my summer plans all down the drain.
The doctor put on a cast and gave me a pair of crutches to use. I
learned how to use the crutches in the rehabilitation center for about
5 minutes and I was free to go. Free to go, with no school, hours and
hours free time, and no one to stop me. Yet I stood there, with cast
and crutches that felt like shackles and chains.
I had all the time in the world to do the things that I wanted to do,
yet I couldn’t. I wouldn’t be able to go meet my friends, wouldn’t be
able to volunteer, wouldn’t be able to go to camps, wouldn’t be able
to travel anywhere, and I wouldn’t be able to go to work at the ICC
for a while.
Then I had an epiphany. It was something that I had read a long time
ago in a book.
You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.
I planned a picnic: one like a 17 course classical French dinner menu.
From the appetizers, soups, salads to rice, fish, entrees, roasts to
sweets, savory, desserts, and coffee, I was ready to dive in and had
only just tasted a spoonful of the French onion soup. Then, my course
menu, my picnic, my summer plans were taken away. I would have to make
do with a cup ramen. A cup ramen of summer.
It would turn out to be a memorable summer for what it was, but it
would be a summer that really opened my eyes to the reality of life.
You can’t predict what’s coming at you next.