Sometimes we sustain an injury or become ill, and we have to find a way to overcome that injury or illness. Everyone is affected differently with different illness or injury, and the cure for getting over them or living with them is different for each one in each person, dependent on the specific biological differences of that person and their situation. We know this to be true.
While playing soccer over the course of just over 25 years, I’ve broken 10 bones, turned countless ankles, and damaged a good amount of cartilage. With each injury, I came back as quickly as possible to get back on the field as if nothing had ever gone wrong. Girls I played with did the same. Some took inhalers on the sideline to override severe allergies, some wore back braces to alleviate back conditions, some wore head-gear and mouth guards to protect them from further damage after concussions. With few exceptions, we all wanted to be on the field, with our team, playing the game as hard as we could as much as we could.
However, among some, there is doubt of those who are injured. Maybe it has been too long since they were injured themselves, or maybe they hold their condition in a different light than those of others, but there are those who believe it is a choice to be injured.
My first broken bone was a fractured fibula, the bone in the lower leg that is non-weight bearing unless you go up on your toes. I walked off the field and the trainer for my collegiate team, Laura, evaluated me, finally coming to the conclusion that I had a deep bone bruise. The rest of the day, as I scooted along flat-footed, she told me to walk normal. The next day she told me to run normal as I warmed up with the team. Feeling frustrated that I couldn’t “run normal” (physically with a broken fibula, you can’t support yourself on your toes), I felt like a complete wimp, and my teammates briefly got to see me through Laura’s eyes, as a malingerer. Finally, Laura gave up and got me an x-ray at the order of our team doctor “just in case.” Directly after the x-ray and 3 days after sustaining my injury, I was in a boot and on crutches. 6 weeks later I was back on the field, building up to where I’d left off.
Laura isn’t the only one who has questioned injuries, and I am not innocent of doubting the validity of other’s complaints. Sometimes from the outside it’s easy to judge a separate situation by comparing it to your own. ‘I took a hit just like that and didn’t break my leg’ or ‘there’s no swelling and she’s been out for 2 weeks, she should be fine. She’s just imagining the problem.’ We also do this when it comes to solutions for problems that everyone has. For instance, studies show that females suffer from more ACL tears than men do, largely because of their build and biometrics. As a result, it’s been suggested and tested with positive results, that teams can employ a training program that includes plyometrics with proper jumping and landing techniques to help prevent ACL tears. Some teams choose to utilize this training, and others don’t see a need that warrants the time it takes. Personally, I think the latter is both foolish and careless.
Directly related to this mindset is one that goes beyond physical health into social issues. We have countless real problems in the world. Hunger, pollution, poverty, racism, sexism, abuse, mental illness, genocide, corruption in business and politics, endangered species, drug abuse, natural disasters, and political oppression are some big ones. We have people affected by each of these things. We have people who specialize in finding solutions for each of these things, who work to bring these issues to light and to validate the needs that go with them. Undoubtedly we are all connected and thus are all impacted by their effects and all contribute to the conditions that allow many of these situations to exist. We cannot always be an active part of all of them, but we can show compassion, we can take small steps toward their solution when we are aware of them, and we can acknowledge their validity. They are all realities, and looking past them or denying their existence is both foolish and careless.
We all want to live life to the fullest, and hopefully, we wish the same for others. We work to understand the problems around us, to do what we can to get past them or make them better, and to do the most with what we have.
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