The Tearful Injury

As per my previous post the events of the past few days are still swirling around my head. They have been tempered somewhat since yesterday because we organised a get well card and went to see the injured player in hospital – this helped to clear things up and erase some of the haunting memories I had of the last time I saw him being in total agony and clearly very distressed about what the future had in store.

Things did come to a head for me yesterday, though. After having one of the worst night’s sleep in ages, lying awake for most of the night, I got up in the morning, exhausted from the constant churn of devastation. I could feel it building up. I had to get it out.

So when my mum came into the room and started asking about what the latest news was (as my dad had taken a phone call from the injured player earlier) I just burst into tears. It was awful. Then my mum joined in. My dad wasn’t there, but judging by his demeanour since the incident he has been depressed about it too. We’re all pretty cut up about it…

We resolved to do what we could to help, anything to try to make us feel a bit better. It turns out that he doesn’t have any immediate family that are any use, so when we said we wanted to visit him, his dad (who has had to stay at home throughout due to other family commitments) asked if we could take some stuff up to his mum, who had been at the hospital almost constantly since it happened. We were only too happy to help.

When we finally arrived we spent two hours talking, getting everything straight (the confusion about the incident itself was bad enough) and having a good laugh and a joke. It’s clear what happened was appalling for him, as every time he mentioned it he went gloomy, saying how terrible the pain and the unknown was. He’s obviously gutted about it, but he’s determined it won’t be the end of his playing career, and he’s still the same kid as before – bright, cheery, witty and optimistic for the future. The small matter of a cast from his toes to his thigh doesn’t seem to have got him down too much. At least, I hope not.

But most of all it’s answered a lot of my questions. It seems his operation wasn’t as bad as we first feared, and his ankle wasn’t broken in the incident after all – it had somehow gone out of place (but not dislocated?) as a result of the smashing of his tibia, just a couple of centimetres above his ankle. They had to “operate” in order to make sure everything was in the right place and fit the cast, because the pain was just too great doing it while he was still awake, but, fingers crossed, it’s all gone well, and the worst is now over.

There is the little matter that the cast is too heavy for crutches, so he’s wheelchair-bound for at least the next six weeks, but in total he will be out for four months or so. That’s going to be the longest four months of my life. The pain for me will ease day-by-day, as the necessity of other things in life comes along to change my priorities, but every waking moment of the kid will be taken up by this thing. I’m lucky. He’s not.

What have I learned from all this? Well… I’ve learned that I’m a pretty sensitive soul, emotionally wired up with the team I run. That’s not much of a surprise. I have been surprised at just how much it’s devastated me, though. I now know too that mistakes were made when the referee tried to remove the player’s boot in the early seconds after the incident. I hope he didn’t aggravate it, the idiot. I also know that slide tackling is a recipe for disaster if both players are sliding for the ball, but that seems to be a case of naivety on the part of our injured player for not recognising the danger, and not realising that he didn’t need to do it at all in the circumstances. I also know that shin pads probably ought to offer more protection for the side of the shin – in this case they didn’t, and that’s how he still broke it.

As a team, we will be taking out personal injury insurance, and we will now have to rebuild our squad looking to the future. We will also have to rebuild morale – not an easy challenge at all. We will also put in place a procedure to deal with an incident like this better; we couldn’t help but feel inadequate after what happened.

He gets out of hospital today, at last. That will be a major relief for all concerned. The long road to recovery will now begin. Let’s hope it does so with as good a Christmas as they can have under the circumstances.

I could definitely do with that.

Snapped

At more or less the time yesterday when WordPress was automatically publishing a post I’d pre-written and scheduled for the morning, I was standing in my usual spot, watching my football team. It was a surprise the matches went on for two reasons: 1) the weather had been poor prior to it, the pitches not in a good state, but on the day itself it wasn’t raining, so the league took a chance; 2) we normally have two weeks off for Christmas, but this year we’re going with one.

So we played football.

I wish we hadn’t.

Right now lying in hospital, undergoing an operation, is one of our players. One of my favourite players, to be exact. He has only recently joined us, but he has added hugely to our defence and our battling spirit. Plus, he’s bright, witty and very talkative. He has been an exceptional addition to our squad.

About 15 minutes into the second half, our player went sliding in to get the ball. Unfortunately, his opponent had also started sliding in. They collided. I didn’t actually see the smash, because at the critical moment another player had ran across my line-of-sight. But the instant reaction from all around was one of shock, and the gasp of horror at the crunching collision was audible. We knew immediately it was bad because he couldn’t get up. He started shouting in pain.

A crowd gathered around him, and it quickly became obvious that an ambulance was going to be needed. The poor fella had to lie on the ground for a disgraceful 40 minutes, with a bitter wind blowing constantly, while we waited for the ambulance to arrive (naturally the game was abandoned). We had a couple of first aid blankets to keep him warm, but he was obviously shivering and in danger of going into shock. We kept talking to him, but the feeling of total, utter helplessness was hard to keep away from my mind. One of the parents was a first-aider, but it’s irrelevant really when you’ve got a suspected broken leg. The only sensible thing was for him to stay perfectly still on the ground.

He braved it out, but the continual throbbing of pain resulting in him shouting was distressing for all concerned. You could see he was fighting back the tears. All the while, waiting, interminably waiting, we stood there, shocked ourselves, and in sheer disbelief about how long the ambulance was taking.

When the ambulance finally arrived the paramedics seemed in no hurry. They were lethargic and obstructive. They didn’t clear the crowds away. They put him in a wheelchair and had to be helped by members of the public to put him in it. No one knows why they didn’t use a stretcher, which would have been more ideal for making sure the injured leg didn’t move. The wheelchair itself didn’t seem to have sufficient support for a leg. Then they had to wheel it over bumpy terrain back to the ambulance, which clearly was causing even more pain to him. They stopped and started on their journey. The kid even had to support the bottle of N2O on his lap. The paramedics just didn’t seem to be very good. I feel terrible saying that, as I know these people are overworked and underpaid, but the events that transpired from when they arrived filled nobody with confidence that they were now firmly in control of the situation.

Since these events me, my brother (who plays in the team), and my mum and dad have been in something of a daze. We’re all tremendously depressed about what’s happened. The one image that sticks in my mind is seeing the player’s tearful face as he finally made it into the back of the ambulance, howling in pain while trying to wave goodbye to those of us who had stuck around for moral support.

After hearing of the damage that the other player has caused to our player, we’re all left wondering. It’s so bad – a broken ankle and a fractured shin – that could it have been a deliberate, malicious challenge? The player who did it swears it was accidental, and everyone who saw it thinks the same. But we still don’t know how he came to break the top of his shin, below the kneecap, and ended up with an ankle that was broken and twisted far out of place. And the thing is, his ankle didn’t even look that bad when I looked at yesterday.

It’s hard to stop thinking about these events. I thought about it all yesterday. I woke up many times last night and it was the first thing in my mind. It’s been up there again today, and it just keeps coming back as we get more news, and each time the news seems to be worse. At first we heard it wasn’t going to be too bad. Then he needed an operation. Now it’s unlikely he’ll ever play football again.

As in everything in life, we’re left wondering what if. What if the game had been called off? It’s raining today – why wasn’t this rain here yesterday? Why didn’t we have two weekends for Christmas, as normal? Why did we play the injured player at right back instead of centre back as normal? If he had been at centre back, it’s unlikely he would have been near the incident. Why didn’t we play the game at our opposition’s ground, as we were originally supposed to? Why did the paramedics not leave us feeling absolutely confident that they had everything under control? Why did they use a wheelchair, not a stretcher? Why had we rushed back on after half time? Why had the referee only played 30 instead of 35 minutes in the first half?

The list just goes on and on. The agony continues. The memories of all the previous good times we’ve had since the player joined us are all resurfacing. Only last week we all had a great day out at a Premier League football match.
They seem such innocent times.

They are gone. We can’t rewind the clock. We have to suffer what this cruel twist of fate has brought us. The worst of it, of course, is that all this has happened right on top of Christmas, and the player’s birthday next week. And in a family that are going to struggle to cope with what’s happened.

It put an incredible bad feel to the end of our footballing year. We were looking forward to sending them all away with their selection boxes and wishing them all a happy Christmas. Instead we were left with this absolute trainwreck.

And the sad thing is that this isn’t the first time this has happened to us (yet some managers report it’s never happened to them!). And in all previous instances, the player has never played football again. It gets worse each time you see this happen, but this one is totally devastating for all concerned. If I wasn’t an atheist, I would probably use a phrase like “There but for the grace of God go I”…

We hope to go and visit him tomorrow. It also might help us make some sense of what actually happened. Not knowing the exact details of the event is making it even more difficult to come to terms with it.

The team’s morale is shattered, I can’t stop thinking about it, and we’re all going to take a little while before we can get past these emotions.

I even admit that I have shed a few tears over this. Truly upsetting. It’s making me reassess just what’s left in the beautiful game for me…

Crying

In recent days my mood has been along those lines due to the incredible disaster that is my life right now, but it’s a pure co-incidence that yesterday I found a song of the same name by Roy Orbison which has moved me to make this post…

I have always liked the well known Roy Orbison songs. I’m also aware of his tragic life, and how it’s such a shame that a talented bloke like him would suffer in that way. So yesterday I borrowed a DVD from my gran’s house about the Big O himself, a biography filled with his music.

On there I came across the song that is the name of this post. I heard a live performance of it, just Roy on his own, and thought it was something very special indeed. His ghostly, operatic voice, soaring with falsetto, building up to the crescendo at the end… just truly magical. The theme of the song is as you’d expect from a song that has such a name, but somehow it doesn’t feel cliched or contrived, like most songs about love and loss do these days.

Once more I am left in awe about the power of music. The rest of the DVD also contained songs which I will have to investigate. Perhaps even ask for a Roy Orbison CD for Christmas. I think of myself as being very lucky to be able to like music of all types from all eras. It means I can absorb such a vast range of moods, lyrics, great riffs and melodies from a massive array of talent, and all without feeling the snobbisheness and aloofness that people who like “real music” often burden themselves with. My motto is: if it’s good music, it’s good music. 

(And, incidentally, that is also how I justify to myself watching X Factor, which always brings me a moment of embarrassment… my excuse being that a good singer is a good singer and always worth listening to! Methinks I do protest too much)

I’ve been spending more time lately playing my guitar after a fairly lengthy absence from it. The guitar has frustrated me now for seven years, simply because I have never passed an intermediate level of skill on it. But I know why, because I don’t have the discipline. I know full well that if I played it for an hour each day and tried to learn a new song or new riff at least once I week I would make definite progress. But I don’t. I’m lucky if I play it once a week, and haven’t learned a new song in months.

So I think I should put this right. And if I did get good, maybe I could find a friend and go out busking. I would love that, seriously. Whether I’d have the bottle to do it is another matter. I am often full of good intentions which are never fulfilled. This, to me, sounds like I’m building up another hostage to fortune…

But in any case, it is providing me with a useful distraction right now. That can only be a good thing, because I really could do without sliding into a depression the likes of which I’ve not been in for several years. I just need a break, a lucky one.

Perhaps I should view the returning of my Icesave money, which should be complete by next week, as a good sign…