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ALEX JONES brown lacrosse

Brown State Blogging: Dealing With A Season Ending Injury

1 - Published April 12, 2012 by in College

Editor’s Note: Welcome Alex Jones of the Brown University Men’s Lacrosse team back to LAS!  Alex has been writing about playing lacrosse at Brown this season via Brown State Blogging, and things were going well… until he was hit with a major injury.  Alex talks about how he (and you!) can make the best of a bad situation and there is a big Brown update at the bottom!

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Well hello there readers!  It has been a while since my last post on this fine Lax All Stars Blog. I’ll begin by apologizing for my recent absence.  I can’t imagine my feeble attempts at cleverness and witty writing were missed by many of you, but I secretly hope they were.  Either way, I’m back, and a lot of stuff has happened since I wrote last.  These were some pretty significant things, both in my world, and the Brown lacrosse world.

To start with, although you wouldn’t know it just reading from home, I’m actually writing this post (with the aid of “Cool Jazz” Pandora, as always) from the comfort of our ”home” at 444 Brook St while the rest of the team is out on the field practicing.

No, I didn’t finally act on the urge to skip practice and enjoy a beautiful sunny day.

Actually, via an incredibly bad stroke of luck, I managed to incur a pretty serious injury during our game against Harvard. What is it you ask? Brace yourself for a cringe: I tore my Achilles.  That’s right you read that correctly, my achilles went boom.

Aside from a broken finger during my high school football glory days, this has been my first significant injury, let alone my first really serious injury. And while I joke about it, it certainly has been a difficult ordeal. As an athlete, especially in college, it is easy to define yourself by the sport you play and your performance on the field. And to have that taken away is a weird feeling.

Playing a sport almost becomes a job, in which your performance is judged and measured among your peers and your contribution to your team. Wins, losses, strength, agility, and natural ability can all constitute and contribute to one’s confidence in themselves and those they are surrounded by for hours on end everyday during practice and lift times.

A person’s sport of choice can be such a pervasive part of their lives; it often dictates social groups, housing assignments and even day-to-day language. Call me a jock or whatever you like, but I bought into this way of life, allowing lacrosse to be a defining part of my life, and I enjoy it because being an athlete is such an integral part of who I am.

So what becomes of a person when this lifestyle is suddenly taken away?

It has not been easy.  However, through adversity, you gain a level of perspective that you otherwise probably would not have gained. For one, I am learning not to take things for granted. I always thought that was a cliché phrase, but I now know it to be very true. I don’t think I totally took being healthy for granted, but after being relegated to the sideline on a pair of crutches, you gain a sense of appreciation that can only come from not being able to physically participate in something you care about deeply.

Another thing I am slowly learning is that positivity is a necessity, and not a convenience. Staying positive helps with everything, from the sometimes small day-to-day inconveniences, to the long-term ramifications that a significant injury often brings.

Staying positive for me means saying “I’ll come back on day one in just as, if not better, shape than I was when I got hurt.”  This thought keeps me going now and will continue to help me along as I go through the rehabilitation process. Do I want to believe that statement? Of course, and I believe it wholeheartedly. But what is more important than anything, is that I need to believe it, in order to stay positive over the long-term process.

I can’t sit here and say I haven’t had times of negativity. It’s hard not to. But those times can’t be allowed to grow and eclipse the positivity, because it will only serve as a hindrance to the healing process.

If this all sounds extremely dramatic, believe me, I know. I realize it’s only “sports” and I’m not on my deathbed or anything along those legitimately serious lines. But you’ll have to give me a break because I’m just a college kid who really loves to play lacrosse and run around and be active.

Now to answer the Achilles tear Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

“Oh my god! How bad did it hurt!?” – It actually didn’t hurt at all, I was more confused than anything else. According to our trainer, and the on-the-field physician, my body apparently responded to the injury by saying, “Holy Hezbollah this is bad, let’s pump this poor kid full of endorphins so it doesn’t hurt for a while.”  Thank you very much, body.

“How Did it Happen?” – After playing defense the first possession of the game, our goalie Will Round made a save and I broke out to try to figure out what the clear was. I couldn’t hear what the coaches were saying (which I never can) and began to back pedal to assess what was going on. I was then told to cut back to hole to try to get the ball. I threw my left leg back to stop my backwards momentum and cut forward simultaneously.

Because my ankle/leg was fully flexed, and the cut happened so quickly, my calf contracted in that very instant, and my Achilles tendon did not. Since your calf is a strong muscle, it is capable of pulling your tendon apart, and that’s exactly what happened. The sudden and violent release of tension gave me the sensation that someone had come from behind and kicked me in the back of the ankle, but it never hurt.

After realizing that there was no one around who could have kicked me, I realized something was wrong. If my step had been slightly different, the muscles would have contracted together like they always do, and nothing would have happened. Terrible, awful luck.

“How bad does it hurt right now!?”– Not at all, I do my best to stay off of it, hence the crutches!

ALEX JONES brown lacrosse

We love a positive attitude... Alex shows us how it's done!

“When will you be able to play again?” – The rehab process takes a long time. Typically it is six months until you are fully cleared for 100% activity, but with aggressive rehab a young guy, such as myself, could conceivably cut down that timeline. I’ll be in the orthopedic boot for a while (aka forever) and will be on crutches for the next few weeks or so. From there you just do exercises to strengthen the ligament and get it back to normal.

On a lighter note, the crutches have proven to be a great ice breaker with the ladies (not that it matters much as I manage to mess up anyway), but it is a much appreciated silver lining.  And while I’m here, I might as well dispense some advice. If you are  close with, or if you see someone injured, on crutches or what have you, don’t say “That Sucks.” It is an obnoxious thing to say.

Say “I’m sorry”, or “get better soon”, or something along those lines. It “sucks” to wake up early for a test, it “sucks” when the cafeteria runs out of ketchup or when your xbox breaks. Being on crutches for a major injury is a little bit past the point of “sucking”, so please keep that in mind and be sympathetic to our crutched brethren.

Now for a quick Brown State Men’s Lacrosse season update:

The Brown Bears Men’s Lacrosse team is currently sitting on a 4-6 record with a 1-2 league record. This past weekend, the guys pulled off a great win against the UPenn Quakers. Captain Rob Schlesinger buried the go-ahead goal with 11 seconds left in a classic “Don’t Shoot! Don’t Shoot! Yea! Nice Shot!!” type of goal.

We Bears now stare down IVY League rival Yale, who is 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the Ivy, on our home turf under the lights on Friday night. Beating Yale is crucial for our Ivy and NCAA tournament hopes, and it is crucial to Yale as well, so stay turned for a tough game, and my coverage of it. If we win, I’ll write about it, if we lose, I won’t. So hopefully you’ll all hear from me very soon!

Thanks for reading.

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