I have a physical therapy appointment tomorrow where I will learn to point and flex my foot. Big stuff. I was thinking about it, and it occurred to me that I never recounted the story. If you’ve been reading the blog through all of NaBloPoMo, you know that I broke my ankle and my lower leg, and you probably even have some notion of the fact that I did it during kickball. But you know, I’ve never told the whole story…

November 1st was the night of the kickball championships. This fall season had not been a very fun one for me, partially because our team was not doing well, partially because our team was not getting along, and partially because I was not playing well. In fact, earlier in the season, we almost beat the number one team but for two errors in the outfield, which led to the two runs that defeated us. And those errors were made by me. But leading up to the playoffs, things had improved slightly. Some amends were made among the teammates, we started playing together better, and I was able to consistently get on base by using what I call a “piston kick.” So the night of the championships, I wasn’t holding out hope that we’d win the whole thing, but I was striving to do well and have a really good time that night.

I got to the field early-ish, so that I could throw the ball around with the team. The idea of catching a flying kickball was getting less scary, and I made some amazing (for me) catches, and even having some fun. The opposing team finally arrived, and our practice circle started breaking up and moving towards the field. But before we played, I wanted to get in a few practice kicks, so I yelled to a friend to pitch me the ball.

A “piston kick” is one where you extend your foot quickly, and kick the ball with the sole of your sneaker. When it works correctly, the ball appears to move quickly, but soon loses momentum and stops directly between the catcher and the pitcher, giving the runner enough time to make it to first base before getting tagged. The key is that you have to coordinate the kick and the run to the plate, so it helps to give a bit of a running start, which is what I needed to work on.

When my friend pitched me the ball, I ran towards it, but it wasn’t coming fast enough for me to kick with my right foot. At the last second, I decided to kick with my left instead, but it wasn’t close enough to reach for a good left foot kick. I reached out farther with my left foot than I anticipated, and started to lose my balance. Since I was not close enough to the kickball to make contact, the ball was still directly under me when I stepped down with my right foot to regain my balance. Instead of my right foot finding solid ground, it found a ten-inch diameter rubber kickball.

As I stepped on the ball with all my forward momentum, I had many distinct thoughts. The first was, “I missed the ball.” The second was a memory of a game last season. A player on an opposing team had made a similar move, and in a split second I saw it in my head, as if it were a movie being played in slow-mo. He had stepped on the top of ball like I did, and it rolled his foot forward, causing him to almost do a split on the ground. He then fell over and grasped his right hamstring, which has been pulled past its comfort zone, into injury, which knocked him out for the rest of the season. “Great,” I thought in this same split second, “Pulling my hamstring is going to prevent me from doing all my 30 activities for NaBloPoMo.” But as one split second turned to the next, I realized my leg wasn’t going forward, it was rolling off to the side. As I hit the ground, all images of hamstrings faded and disappeared the moment I heard the CRACK which sounds exactly like the sound effects of broken bones in every single movie I’ve ever seen. Before the rest of me hit the ground, I said to myself, “I broke my shin.”

My first impulse was to stand up and reverse time. According to eyewitnesses, after the crack, I did lurch upwards as if I was going to stand, but then I fell back again. And I screamed. I screamed in absolute horror. As I fell to the ground, my brain processed the distance from the field to the hospital, and I screamed again, this time consciously, to let every single person on the kickball field know that I was not kidding around and someone better call an ambulance right now.

Next up: lying in wait on the kickball field, and the longest 15 minute drive I’ve ever had.


13 responses to this post.

  1. Owwww. Damn, Tannenbaum, you’ve reminded me of one very good reason I don’t participate in sports — even something as seemingly innocuous as kickball.

    Still (not to beat a dead horse), I really am amazed at your ability to keep on’ bloggin’. Because I almost fainted just reading the part about the audible “crack”. Ai yi yi.

    Like I said, from the knee up, I’m fine…

  2. Yeah, that whole “crack” thing made my stomach wobble a little. Wow, you have a good injury story. I had a herniated disc, and I may have done it re-caulking the bathtub. Boring. You had high drama going on.

    Isn’t it weird how time seems to slow down or your brain speeds up or something in moments like that?

    Good luck in PT today!

    The speeding and slowing of the brain is so fascinating to me.

  3. For all who think she might be exaggerating, the “CRACK” is really as movie-like as she explains. I heard it with my own two ears!

    My parents also really love to tell the story of a neighbor in the city who slipped on ice and broke (an arm, a leg, I forget?) and they could hear the crack all the way down the road. Just food for thought.

    I’m glad you were there to be a credible witness.

  4. Holy crap, Noelle. I am never playing kickball. It is interesting the thought process, though, when you know you’re about to be in a world of pain. I remember when I crashed my car (to the point where the entire front end was crushed and the my glasses knocked off by the airbag) thinking, it’s ok, I’ll just drive it home and maybe they can knock the dents out.

    Yeah, for a good long time I actually thought I was still going out that night.

  5. OH MY GOD.

    That is all.

    Aw, shucks, it wasn’t that bad…

  6. OUCH.


    yeah, that’s the next part.

  7. I’m feeling it in my chest right now. Yowzer. I guess it’s about time we heard this. Can’t wait for part 2.

    Do you feel it in your leg, though?

  8. Ugh. That sounds even more horrible than I first imagined it.

    I think I wrote this more powerfully than I intended…

  9. OMG, Noelle I’m amazed with how you relate things to us, it was like I was there and heard the crack thing…and I almost run out of air there…tsk tsk

    My only sport of Taekwondo, but I’ve never been into accident…

    I’m amazed that I still remember the moments so clearly.

  10. OWWWWW.

    Truthfully, I was actually sort of wondering exactly how that injury occurred, but now I’m not so sure I want to know the details. Damn, that is sucky and painful, my friend.

    I feel it’s my duty to warn others that may try to kick a kickball without properly judging the distance.

  11. what a nightmare. but you sound like a pro-kickballer if that makes it any better.

  12. Posted by gregorymeyer on December 13, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks for the gruesome account. I’ve always wondered how people have so many thoughts in an instant. I still do.

    PS – I would have screamed like a teenage girl in a bad horror flick if that was my ankle.

  13. […] December 11, 2007: I’ve decided not to tell the rest of the story of the night I broke my ankle. You were all so horrified when I told you I heard the “crack,” I don’t think you want to know how it felt to have it set… […]

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