Friday, May 1, 2015

Broken back

I haven't told this story on my silly blog, but it's actually an interesting story, and possibly worth reading. It was a significant event in my formative years. It also says quite a bit about me.

In junior high school I broke my back.

Back at Jefferson Jr. High I ran cross country, track, and played basketball. I'm not sure how I injured myself. I used to high jump with the opposite foot of a normal right-hander. As a result, rolled off the mat after a jump and gave myself a concussion. I ran 100 meter hurdles. And playing basketball was never good for my knees or back.

I'm pretty sure, I didn't break my back running cross country. And as a side note, I hated cross country.

But I did break my back. I fractured the L5 vertebrae, which is located on the lower right back, and I can assure you from experience, it is not a pleasant experience.

The first doctor I saw was my usual pediatrician. He was a moron. His horseshit diagnosis, was that I hurt my back, and I'd have to learn to live with the pain. This was completely unacceptable to my mother. If you don't know my mother, know this about her. She teaches grade school, she loves her family unconditionally, she's Puerto Rican with a Latin temper, and she will not but up with any bullshit. To this day, I'm amazed she didn't smack the taste out of that doctor's mouth.

So we got a second opinion. A family friend from church was also a pediatrician, and she referred us to a specialist. He told us that I had three options. I could learn to live with the pain of a stress fracture, I could undergo surgery to repair it, or I could wear a back brace, do physical therapy, and wait to see if it healed on its own. We opted for therapy and the brace, and saved surgery for a last resort.

Being fourteen years old is hard enough. Having to wear a back brace is the proverbial icing on the cake. I couldn't participate in gym class. I had to medically take leave from the basketball team. When I got to high school, I missed football tryouts. It was hell. I vividly remembering throwing a tantrum on the basketball court, taking the brace off, and literally saying "Fuck it. I'll play through the pain." I was not the most pleasant person to be around.

I remember praying to God that I would heal and be able to go back to being a regular kid. And guess what, for once God said yes. Without having to go to surgery, I healed and got back to normal. I was healthy for the start of basketball tryouts. I ended up playing varsity basketball and tennis. I still have my letter jacket.

I grew a lot from the experience, and it made me who I am today. I guess I wouldn't change a thing, otherwise I wouldn't have my gorgeous wife, the most beautiful baby on earth, or an idiot dog. So I guess it all worked out, but sometimes my back and knees still ache.

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