Altitude Sickness, Column

June: Skiing and softball… and surgery

By Brady Crain

As always, summer seems to have popped open overnight, and I am always blown away by it.  One of the things I miss most living in Killington versus other more residential towns is magnolia, lilac, cherry, and crabapple trees (even rhododendron, azalea, and forsythia).  There are a few flowering trees around, and more than a couple of volunteer apple trees about, but it isn’t the same as walking around a spring neighborhood festooned with flowering trees.  Truthfully, it was climbing through lilac trees in the spring that kept me painting houses on the side for so long. I have a long and fruitful love affair with flowering trees. (Pun intended.)

Over the weekend, I skied my 226th day, and if I manage to get up at dawn on Monday, June 12, I will ski before I go to surgery. I skied 201 lift service, which is every day Killington was open, a perfect season, and the remainder hiking. I didn’t feel as good as I normally do after the skiing, because I was not only sore, but hurt.

By taking my injuries seriously and doing lots of cycling and applying a metric ton of arnica gel, I was able to rehabilitate my legs by game time last Monday. I spent the hour before the softball game on the bike pedaling slowly, stretched, and went to the game.

This back surgery can’t come soon enough. I am ready to be able to move like a normal person, stand up to make dinner, go for a walk. I hope that it works. Even if it is minimally effective, I suppose that will be an improvement! The hospital where the surgery will be done just called to ask if I am an organ donor, which is sensible, but alarming, so I’m gonna go sniff some flowers.

Hopefully, I will be back on the field by playoffs.

But before taking a few weeks off for recovery, I did something really dumb in softball last week. Our team was down two players, and I went up to bat without warming up. Then I tried something inadvisable, adding my heel lift (my right leg turns out to be shorter than my left, the source of my lumbar disk issues) to my cleats.

The result was that on my first sprint to first base, I instantly popped both hip flexors and both quads, which made it very difficult to cover both first and second bases effectively, and further, made it really difficult to be a courtesy runner for other injured players (I still did, and I was still fast, but I paid for it dearly.)

If I had been talking to someone, and they had suggested trying a heel lift in a game without training that way, I would have predicted their injury. But as many of you know, I am not the guy with the little moderating voice in his head that plays the tape all the way through to the end.

My voice does not say “Hey, what will be the real result if you (insert put in a heel lift, drink a bottle of whiskey in eight hours, take three Oxycontin every four hours for three months)? Maybe that is not your desired result?”

My inner voice says “I CAN BEAT THAT! HOLD MY BEER!” Essentially I have an inner Donald Trump/Evel Knievel/Hunter S. Thompson hybrid constantly fighting for attention and stimulation. This inner idiot no longer dominates the interior landscape, but is still occasionally and invariably a big part of the conversation.

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