Sunday, June 13, 2010
Career Ending Injuries and other Stresses
By using the above chart, I have calculated my personal stress level of the past month to be 433. The legend at the bottom of the chart suggests “If you score more than 200, you have an above average level of stress and should simplify your life.
By reading that ridiculous statement, I think my score went up to 443.Either way, I expect more than doubling the "average level of stress" ain't good.
A few recent stresses: I sold the house that I have lived in for the past fifteen years (my longest stint, I believe, in any home in my life). I bought a new home. I went through childbirth, twice. (Passing Strange just came out, and I delivered a new book to my editor. Um, ok, so maybe that isn't quite as stressful as actual childbirth). I’ve been travelling, a lot. Never been to Kansas my entire life before this year, and yet I’ll be there for my third time in five weeks when I head out for the unRequired Reading book tour. Life is weird.
The highest individual stress score I awarded myself, worth 53 points, was for one of the most gruesome sports injuries of my entire life. While no one would ever confuse me with a world class athlete, I tend to be very competitive and what I lack in natural ability I compensate with tenacity and resilience. I play hard, and I almost never ever get hurt.
Except, now I do.
I went to play basketball with a friend of mine in his local church league, hoping to burn off a little of the huge amount of stress I’d been carrying. I’m always nervous when I start playing in a new league, but I I could hang with these guys. I'd been running 3-6 miles five days a week so although I still look like a lumpy animated couch cushion I could get up and down the floor pretty well. I started out great. In the first minute of the game, I had an assist and two rebounds, one of them offensive. I got my third rebound ten seconds later, but when I came down my right knee buckled laterally and there was this awful sound,like someone ripping into a sheet of bubble wrap, and I went over.
My first thought wasn’t “ouch”—actually it didn’t hurt all that much, it just felt kind of weird—my first thought was—“that’s it, the career ending injury. I’ll never play basketball again".
This was not a pleasant thought, by any stretch of the imagination. By favorite personal recreational activities, in order, are writing, reading, listening to music, and playing basketball. And jogging is somewhere in the top ten, and considering my knee was making crinkly-cellophane sounds as I limped off the court, I thought that maybe I’d lost that one as well.
It is the old saw about not appreciating something until it is gone—I tell you, the prospect that I’d never be able to play pickup basketball again left me with a deep, deep despondency. I guess I'm getting old! How did that happen?
But here we are about six weeks later, and the air has cleared considerably (although I'd never want it to clear too much; the fact of the matter is a bit of stress is good for the ol' writin'). We’re in our new house, and the massive stress of selling/buying/moving is behind me. And the first “home improvement” project I did was set up a roll away regulation NBA hoop. Every night that I’ve been home and the sun is out (or the rain isn’t too heavy) I’m out in the driveway with the kids or by myself shooting around. I ran two miles yesterday and three today. I’m stubborn. But the knee is feeling really good.
And I'm a little more thankful every time I shoot a jump shot, regardless of whether it swishes through, clangs off the rim, or misses entirely, because, no matter how much I may want to, I won't be able to shoot them forever.
I also wanted to extend a special thank you to Kati, who took the time to write a note to tell me how my newest novel Passing Strange affected her. Kati, your note made a big impact on me as well; as a writer sometimes all you want out of your work is that it reaches a single reader. I'd just hurt the knee, and was feeling pretty sorry for myself and whah whah whah, but your note got me thinking and lifted my spirits considerably. Thank you, thank you, thank you--I really appreciate you taking the time.
Oh, and PS--I'll probably be blogging a bit more now that I've moved. That was literally a year-long project, one that I'm glad to see behind me.
And also PS--please buy PS, Passing Strange, at your earliest convenience. At fine bookstores everywhere!