Overcoming injury teaches patience

My personal preference isn’t to learn life lessons the hard way. I had much rather learn from the mistakes of others. But a sports injury in 2011 changed my life. Whether my injury was a deliberate trial that God put me through or just a series of unfortunate events, I don’t know; I sometimes confuse the two.

I blew out my knee in the final 1.2 seconds of a basketball exhibition game. We were ahead by more than a dozen points and my coach decided to put in the second string to coast through the rest of the game. Unfortunately for me we didn’t coast for very long. I sat on the bench as I watched my teammates struggle and let the opposing team quickly catch up. In an effort to save the game, our head coach put the starters back in.

We fought hard to keep the lead; we had their guard trapped with nowhere to pass the ball.

God must have been on my side because I was able to rip the ball from her.

I took off down the court in a mad dash to our goal. I knew I would most likely get fouled going for a lay-up and I expected contact. I have to be honest, I closed my eyes and laid the ball in.

I don’t know if I made it or not because I felt a horrible sharp burning pain shoot up the entire right side of my body.

I cried out and it was so loud that I shocked even myself.

I crumpled to the floor and when my coach came onto the court I tried to walk but I fell hard. It was scary. I couldn’t help myself. I was dazed and confused.

For eight months I pictured my rehab as a war of not just my body but a war of the mind. Every obstacle was a small battle and in these battles my pride was attacked and patience tried.

In hindsight I see that I needed to go through this experience to strengthen myself, but in the midst of this eight-month war I lay confused. Simple tasks such as walking to class became daily obstacles. Asking for help is something that, before my surgery, my pride just wouldn’t let me do.

When it comes to basketball most people describe me as a hard-ass. I know what I want and I work hard to obtain it. I’m a driven athlete who wanted to be successful but would rather do it alone than get handouts. However, one incident changed my perspective forever.

“I can do it. I don’t need anyone’s help,” I used to say. “Yeah, right,” I thought as I lay sprawled out on my dorm room floor. My crutch had just slipped in a small water leak and I was now awkwardly and painfully hunched over in front of my bathroom door.

I had almost made it. My bed was so close, if I had two good legs, but now I was crippled and it seemed so far. I lay there on the floor with no way to get up. There was nothing near to balance myself on. My roommate was out with her friends and I was alone. The silence in the room was only broken by my sobs as my tears dropped onto my shirt. I was angry, embarrassed and in agonizing pain. My face heated up and turned red as my eyes swelled with tears. I needed help!

After 20 minutes or more, I finally came to the conclusion that I would not let small falls and failures like this detour me from my goals. Reaching my bed was such a tiny goal, but I vowed to apply this type of fight to everything that I did. This fall made me determined. I wiped my tears and gingerly slid myself back across the cold floor to my bed, being careful not to aggravate my knee any further. My arms were burning and tingling from all the energy I had exerted. I saw the edge of the bed and relief filled my body. I had made it!

With every obstacle, whether small or big, I learned to take my time, to prepare and most importantly to be patient. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. I feared that asking for help made me look weak, but actually my rehabilitation humbled me and that’s all God wanted from me.

Keira Phipps is a sophomore  communications major from Arlington.