When I was in my thirties, I ripped my Achilles tendon in half. I didn’t mean to, but I did. Anybody who knows about this kind of injury knows it’s a long process to heal…about a year or so. Many different things can cause this injury, but the majority of it is caused by sports. It was basketball that caused mine.
I was playing basketball on a nice early Fall day with 3 of my kids and their friends. In Northern Wisconsin, a nice Fall day means getting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather before the 8 months of winter hit. I was going for a lay-up when my leg made a snapping sound…on my way jumping up. I landed awkwardly on my good leg and we all froze. I think everybody knew how to react if something snapped on my landing, but this was on my way up, we were all clueless. The only give-away that this might be serious was that my calf muscle looked like it rolled up my leg and I couldn’t lift my foot.
On the way to the emergency room (20 miles away), we discussed whether to paint my toenails just for shock value. This was conservative Northern Wisconsin so a fully grown man with brightly colored toenails would cause quite a stir, but we decided to just leave it alone and just get this taken care of. We got to the emergency room and the doctor recognized me.
“Which one of your kids this time, Mr. Dazeodrew?” he asked. It was a small hospital in a small community so it was easy to remember people. Anyway, they took some Xrays, put on a temporary cast, gave me some stuff to reduce swelling, and sent me home to wait for surgery. When I got home, the kids were anxiously awaiting me.
“What’re we going to do about dinner?” one of them asked. It was good to see priorities were still intact. It turned out I could still make dinner just fine. I could also do most of my other chores and the older kids helped out a lot. Since it was Fall, the grass no longer needed to be mowed, but it didn’t take long for the snow to arrive and shoveling was not an option for me. Another thing that wasn’t an option for me were the stairs going up to the kids rooms.
Let me describe our house before I go too much further. We lived in a two-story, four-bedroom, hundred-year-old house that had a steep staircase that went upstairs. The floors were warped with time and kind of rippled throughout the house. If you dropped a marble, it would do a zig-zag roll before coming to a stop. I did notice one day, however, that the more you drank, the smoother the floor became until you didn’t even notice the ripples, but obviously, this wasn’t a long-term fix…
The other thing this old house had was grates that you could see through between the first and second floor. The idea behind this was that heat rises so you didn’t have to install heaters on the second floor. The other idea behind this was a little more sinister. The kids could hear everything going on downstairs and if they weren’t careful, little things from upstairs would fall through the grates or get caught in between them. For my youngest son, this was a toy.
One fine Sunday, I was sitting on my chair watching the Packer game on tv. I had my leg propped up, my soda next to me, and a full plate of summer sausage and cheese that needed my attention throughout the game. Then it happened. Something dropped on my head, bounced off, and rolled into my summer sausage and cheese plate. It was blue. It was a lego.
I did my best to look around me before remembering something. One of those grates was directly above my head. I looked up just in time to see the red lego before it hit me on the forehead, bounced off, and landed in my soda. Then I heard the giggling of a little boy above me.
ME: Knock it off!
SON: (giggle giggle)
Then a barrage of little legos come flying through the grate. They end up everywhere, in my chair, around the chair, on my summer sausage and cheese plate, floating around my soda like little ice cubes, and one even found its way into my cast.
ME: That’s it! Come down here!
SON: (giggle giggle)
After about five minutes, I realized that he realized I couldn’t come up to get him. He had the high ground and my legs were too depleted to charge the hill, or, um, stairs. I needed to get this resolved before half-time so I could relax for the second half of the game, so I cooked up a new plan. I called the older three kids into the house…
ME: Do you guys want some cookies?
It took them nearly ten minutes to drag their kicking and yelling little brother down the stairs. His death-like grip on the stair railings was incredible! Every time they managed to pry a hand away, the other hand latched on like it was possessed by super glue! For a skinny little kid, he had some strength. He was also scared to death that his plan failed. All I did was make him pick up the legos.
Before rupturing my Achilles tendon, I used to be in pretty good shape. Afterward, I gained about fifty pounds and it took a long time to walk and run like normal again. Without the help and support of a couple friends and my kids, it would’ve been more difficult. Even my youngest son (despite the lego incident) chipped in where his little arms and legs could to try and help.
Of course, as many of you will understand, we stepped on legos for days…