In the moments that immediately following an excruciating turn of my left ankle on Sunday (and my recollections of those moments eight hours later), I can remember a thought pattern going through my head.
1. Is it broken? Please, let there be some crazy deity of preventing any further injuries to my ankles! I’ve turned my ankles dozens of times, sprained them at least three times apiece, and broken the right one once. I blame my Achilles’ heels. They’re too close to the impact zone not be related.
2. If I can still walk then I can still run. My injury history established, I’m firmly in tune with my ankles. (Simply, they hurt a lot). Having sustained so many different degrees of damage, I know pretty quickly what the damage is. And oh crazed deity of ankle-injury prevention… it really hurts. Start trotting.
3. If I can run then I need to keep the ankle warm with even more stretching. Circulate the blood, circulate the blood, and keep it all from rushing to my head as I jockey up and down the touchline. Did I mention I was refereeing a youth soccer match when this happened? Sweet crazed deity, save me!
4. I have to continue to chase these kids back-and-forth, up-and-down this touchline. Can I continue to chase these kids back-and-forth, up-and-down this touchline? As an Assistant Referee in a AYSO U-14 semifinal, it is my responsibility to follow my half’s second-to-last defender, or the ball, whichever is closest to the goalkeeper. Oh my dear crazed deity! This be-otch hurts. Those little kids can run pretty fast. The ball is even faster. I probably didn’t impress any referee scouts before, and I certainly didn’t after.
5. My running style cannot be described as compact. A slight limp probably made me look like a wounded ostrich. Or at least Big Bird. Oh crazed deity, you’ve won! And now that I realize I can go on, I realize I’m probably embarrassing myself. But what are you gonna do? Stop?
6. Don’t be a sissy! (I think the adrenaline is kicking in). Keep going! Keep going! I don’t care if it hurts! (Yeah, the adrenaline has kicked in). I’m at the mercy of my hormones and I’m loving it.
7. Two ten-minute overtimes and a lengthy penalty-kick shootout? Sure. Let’s do it. This ankle be damned.