Today, I am not going to talk about music. Instead, I am going to put myself out there a little bit. As I have stated many times, I live in Central Indiana, which often has been viewed as being full of a bunch of hicks. Sure, we talk slow, have a definite twang and I tend to play that side up in an effort to be underestimated. But, I am not a stereotypical Hoosier and am pretty proud of it. But, I do love the Hoosier lifestyle. Second, I do suffer from chronic pain. You know that since I bitch about it on occasion. And, last, you all have heard me talk about my love of sports, as a decent athlete and coach. But something transpired this weekend that has me reeling a bit. The quarterback of my Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, abruptly retired at the age of 29.
Now, I loved Peyton Manning but there was something about Andrew Luck that endeared me to him. Was it his intelligence, his huge vocabulary, his interests outside of sports or his freakish athleticism? Honestly, it was all of those things. Additionally, he is around my younger son’s age. And, much like my younger son and me, Luck’s body has been through hell. The man has had at least one concussion, a lacerated kidney, torn cartilage between his ribs, major shoulder surgery and now this ankle thing. Every time you get injured, you have to go through rehab and you never ever come back 100% from it. Surgeries even take more out of you. No matter how much money you make, it could never make you mentally able to come back.
Personally, I admire Luck for stepping away. I wish I would have listened to my body in the same manner. Back in high school, I was a pretty good distance runner and an average basketball player. But, in my mind, my best attribute was my ability to deal with pain. That’s a distance runner’s mentality, with much stupidity thrown in the mix. In basketball, I’d sprain an ankle, tell the trainer to tape it up and go play the rest of the game because if I left the game, I am easily replaceable. Finally, during one game, I was on a one-on-two fast break. That’s right! I was taking on two defenders, not smart. I split them, went up for the layup then got creamed by both defenders. When we all came down, I stepped on one guy’s chest, rolling my ankle. As I continued to watch my layup roll in for a basket, I crashed over the other guy and went back first into the second row of bleachers. Pain radiated up and down my body so I sat in the bleachers trying to suppress the pain in my back and ankle. Slowly, I arose, limped to the foul line since I was fouled and drained the foul shot. But, something was wrong.
The next night, I sat out the game since my ankle was about three times bigger than it should be. But, like the idiot I was (and am), I said nothing about my back. Later the following summer, I just finished my daily run when a bunch of little kids begged me to play baseball with them. So, I joined in, when during another moment of stupidity, I decided to show off a bit by doing a handspring over a kid to score a run. Unfortunately, my plant was directly on the plastic home plate, so I slipped and wrapped myself back first around a small tree base. That one was the killer, because after it happened, I last the top gear in my kick and the ability to grab the rim. And, now the damage was done, and I ignored it.
Now, since 2002, I have been through four back surgeries. First was a discectomy, then a posterior fusion. Unfortunately, that fusion did not take. And, whenever I told doctors that my back felt unstable, they told me I was in chronic pain. For four years, that instability I was complaining about went undiagnosed. Finally, I had a CT-Scan, and a new doctor finally said, “You know what, your fusion did not take. Your back is unstable.” My reply? “No shit!” Finally, I have my third surgery to stabilize my back with an anterior fusion. But, the damage was done.
Since that summer of 2009, I have had my hardware removed, a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted and revised several times and a pain pump implanted and revised once. I have nerve damage pain done both legs and constant back/hip/leg spasms. This life sucks, and I would NEVER wish it upon anyone. I never proved anything to anyone except how stupid I was. So, I applaud any athlete who is willing to walk away with his or her health intact. So, all of you naysayers out there, such as Doug Gottlieb and Dan Dakich and anyone else questioning Luck’s manhood right now, just shut up! Having a life is so much more important than a stupid game. And, I love sports and coaching! Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20.