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Those are the Breaks

My wife and I made an unexpected detour in the midst of our errand-running last Saturday after an unwelcome phone call. The news, of course, was bad: my brother-in-law had a motorcycle accident and was in the hospital undergoing surgery. The prognosis is good but the injuries were grim: a severely broken leg that will require another surgery and plating and a broken wrist that will also require surgery.

Scotty and I have a lot in common besides the fact that we’re both fond of his sister — motorcycles, shooting, the Cowboys, barbecued red meat, you know, guy stuff. Now we’re both also unfortunate members of The Broken Leg Club. This is a fairly exclusive club not open to just anyone. You had to have snapped your leg at some point and undergone mind-numbing pain and months of rehabilitation to walk again in order to be part of our click.

My own injury came about 10 years or so ago during a hockey game. I was skating in to shoot on goal when I lost my edge, or came off of my skates. I still don’t know how it happened, but a heartbroken teammate told me a year later that he fell behind me and took me out, or so he thought. To this day I don’t know the cause but I live with the result daily. When I fell I hit the wall feet first going at my maximum speed. I hit so hard that the blade of my skate dug into the wall and when my body twisted my leg did not. The result was a tibia and fibula that snapped in half above the ankle. After I hit the wall I tried to get up but couldn’t feel anything below my waist and briefly wondered if I was paralyzed. But then the pain hit, and hit hard.

Not knowing what had blown up inside my leg a referee and my coach tried picking me up but when they set me back on my feet my lower leg bent at a 90-degree ankle. It wasn’t supposed to bend that way; there was no mistaking a broken leg at that point. Three days later, I got a titanium rod hammered into my tibia (yes, they actually hammered it in starting at the top) and aluminum screws to hold it in place at the knee and ankle. I still sport that hardware today. I spent three months or so on my back and then another five months learning to walk again and building up my atrophied leg muscles. I had suffered broken bones before playing sports — a broken big toe in basketball, a broken right foot in soccer — but nothing ever dealt me as much pain as this broken leg.

So, I feel for Scotty on a completely different level than most people are able. I get a sick feeling in hospitals now after my stay and felt the blood rush from my face when I saw the metal gizmo screwed into his leg to stabilize the injury. He has a long way to go to get back to form but I’m walking proof that it can be done. And while crutches will be a constant companion in the months ahead the simple joy of shedding those instruments of underarm torture will make life worth living again.

Rodney Williams is the managing editor for The Anna-Melissa Tribune and the Van Alstyne Leader. He can be contacted at news@amtrib.com or rwilliams@vanalstyneleader.com.