If your thing is gone
And you wanna ride on, cocaine
Don’t forget this fact
You can’t get it back, cocaine
My doctor should maybe be a sports psychologist. When he broke the news to me today that there’s little chance I’ll recover without surgery, he spent some time just sitting and talking with me (and handing me tissues as needed). Few people understand — really — what losing powerlifting meant to me, but he does. He’s an athlete, he’s physician to many hundreds of athletes, even to the U of L college athletes. And, pointing to the injury on my MRI, he tells me that he dies a little on the inside when he sees this happen to an athlete. Just having someone truly get how hard it has been to stop exercising indefinitely and know I can’t go back to the sport I loved is an immense relief. He told me that every year athletes commit suicide after an injury ends their career. That’s how real the depression that accompanies a debilitating injury is. That’s a morbid thing to make me feel better, and a just horrible thing in general, but somehow just knowing that feeling low is ‘normal’ eases some of my dismay at my constantly teary response to the injury.
In conversations with friends I’ve compared lifting to a drug. Turns out I wasn’t far off. My doctor said that MRIs show that the effects of having to stop your sport are similar to that of quitting cocaine. I’ve never tried cocaine myself, and am not inclined to change that, but if I were, knowing that this is what quitting feels like would prevent me from ever doing it. There’s a reason retired professional athletes so often end up in disgrace and broke, he said. They’re still chasing the high that their sport brought them and they find it through cocaine.
My plan is a little less expensive and rather healthier than that. I plan to find a new sport the minute I’m able. It may be in a few weeks, it may be in a few months. And while honestly I don’t see how any other sport can bring me the thrill and euphoria of conquering an unbelievably heavy weight, I won’t know that until I try. So I’ll try them all if I have to!