Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

Ryan Carville
Austin, Texas USA



"Down, red 67, red 67. Set...hike!" All my weight shifted to my left leg as my right foot quickly dropped back. My heart was beating like the lead horse in the Kentucky Derby. My head swiveled to the right. As my eyes narrowed in on my assigned target I began to feel a rush unlike any other. I sprinted harder than I ever had before. I ran with pride and with something to prove to my fellow teammates, my coaches and most of all, myself. A clock in my head was informing me of the distance between the present and the time of impact. "Three yards. Two Yards. Six Feet..." BAM!!!!! Next thing I new I was flat on my back cradling my left knee. The agony and pain I felt could only be expressed thru a series of grunts and yells. The team trainers ran onto the football field and began to ask me questions, but I was to wrapped up in the sheer bitterness of pain that I couldn't answer them. I was helped up to my feet and hobbled to the sidelines. They sat me down on the warm metal bench and began to lift up my knee pad. The train, Coach Wilkerson, began to move my lower leg back and forth as if it were some kind of pendulum. After a few more "test" he said it was nothing and that I just needed to walk it off. So, being a 16 year high school junior whose mind was only set on securing his starting position on the varsity team I tried to walk it off. After few laps around the sidelines I knew that if I didn't get back in there my previous year and a half of hard work and dedication as a second string varsity play would have been in vain. So I told the coach I was read, even though it still hurt like a bitch, and I headed back into the game. I really had to make up for lost play time so I pushed through the pain and smeared the other players all over the field. But I knew I couldn't keep it up. And sure enough, as I was headed toward my block I felt a pop! At the time I didn't care. I knew I have to follow through with my task and I did just that. I ended up making the block to achieve the touchdown to win the game but little did I know then that it was the last block I would ever make.
The next day my knee was as big as a cantaloupe. I could barely get down the stairs. I knew that I had done something more than strained a ligament in my knee. The trainers were usually up at school on Saturdays after the game to treat players for aches and pains. So I went. I limped into that cold, linoleum floor, cylinder block walled room and plopped myself down onto an examining table. Again Coach Wilkerson examined my knee, but this time he didn't say "Just walk it off". Oh no, this time with his eye browns wrinkled and mouth as tight as a sphincter he said, "I think this is more serious than what we decided yesterday. Let me go make a phone call." First of all "we"? There was no we in this at all. It was all HIM. I had no say in the diagnosis. Second, because of his mistake I was about to embark on a journey that was going to change my life drastically. I just wouldn't find that out until a few years later. After what seemed to be the time span of a really bad Keanu Reeves movie, he walked out of his little office and said that we had an appointment with the Rockets orthopedic surgeon on Monday morning. I still had no idea what was wrong and I sure as hell wasn't going to listen to the man who caused this whole thing. So I was left in the dark for another day and ibuprofen became a good friend to me.
As I learned that the human hip is form by a ball and socket joint, as shallow knock whispered from the door as it began to swing open. "So how is the old knee treating you?" a voice said. He was a tall, thick, dark haired, man. Who I could tell her was most likely going through his middle age crisis from his hip, new ear ring that sparkled from his left ear. He told me to lay down so he could have a look at me. He didn't have his hands on me for more that tree seconds and he had already came up with a verdict. "You have a torn ACL. I want to have an MRI done to see what exactly is going on in there but I can a sure you that you have broken vital a part of your knee. And if that is the only thing wrong with you then it will take 8-10 weeks to fully recover." I was shocked. I was dismayed. I was depressed. All these emotions were coming out of me so fast I didn't know what to do. My hard work and commitment was down the drain. I was pissed! He knew the story of the events in their entirety from the form that I had to fill out that was now clamped down to his fancy doctor clipboard. So I asked him if it was possible that if I didn't go back in to play, that it could have been a different outcome (just out of spite so I could make my trainer look like a fool in front of a real doctor). His response with kind of a smirk on his face, as if he got joy out on my misery was "Of course. You probably only slightly tore it when you first came out. And by playing on it more you did the major damage. If you didn't go back in you would be ready to suit up again in maybe 3 weeks." That only fueled my flames of anger. As we left the office I didn't say a word to Coach Wilkerson. That was one of the longest hour long car rides I have ever had.
The MRI came back positive. It confirmed everything the doctor had said and more. For some reason I felt that if I focused hard enough on the fact that nothing was wrong that nothing would be wrong. But that plan failed. I had torn my ACL, messed up my cartilage and strained a lot of ligaments. That meant surgery and a long rehab program. My surgery was set for September 12, 2001. Obviously, I did not have my surgery then because of the terrorist attacks. So it was rest to the 22nd. It was a family affair. My mom, dad and I arrived at the Medical Center in Houston, which is not that far from our house at the time, around 5AM to check in. We did the whole pre-op thing and signed the waivers stating if I died it wasn't the doctor's fault. Which still to this day I don't understand that. But the surgery went fine and I went home the next day. Rehab sucked but I meat a lot of interesting people. One of my therapists was an intern and basically had 3 jobs. She was a student, an intern for this clinic and a stripper by night. To my surprise she was quiet an intelligent girl and we had many interesting conversations as I would bend my knee in a manner that Pinocchio would. Those where some fun afternoons.
About six days before I was fully recovered I asked my head coach to speak with him. He was a large, black man who had a sever case of jondess as a child. His eyes where always a dark shade of yellow and he continually look like he was going to rip your arm off and beat the living shit out of you. I was terrified when we called me into his office but I wasn't backing down. I had made my decision to quit football and no one was going to change my mind. I told him the this whole experience really opened up my eyes to the fact that there is more to life than football to me and I was not willing to but my body in danger anymore just so her could have a trophy for his show case in the main hall. He didn't take it well. He tried to persuade me to stay by pointing out the fact that I had dedicated three years to his program and he was counting on me to be one of the foundation players. I didn't budge. I told him again I was through with it and there are other things in life that are more important to me, like my health. He began to open his mouth but before he could say a word I told him my locker would be cleaned out by that afternoon and shut the door. By shutting that door that day it was if I was shutting the door to an era. I was saying goodbye to the past and hello to the future. And so I packed up my looker. Took one last look around the brand new locker room, that the booster club had donated the money for by selling stupid ads in the programs that no one ever reads along with the other money from the scams they got parents to buy into, turned around and never looked back.
These are the thoughts that run through my head every time I look down at my left knee and see the five scars that changed my life. It is funny how much baggage a scar has. I have well over ten of them and each one has its own little story. Some sad, some good, some painful, none the less they are memories that will stick with me for a life time.