“Adversity” by Jeff Ptak
I’ve always been jealous of guys like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Dirk Nowitzki. Not because of their fame or fortune, but because of their genetic makeup. These athletes can go thousands of practices, training sessions, and games without any major injuries. Athletes like me, on the other hand, NOT quite so much…
There are some injuries that simply cannot be avoided by any amount of training or strength. Sometimes you just have some really bad luck, and this was the case for me in the Beginning of 2008. I was playing in Brazil and was in the best physical condition of my career, what people refer to as your “prime”. 28 years old, playing in one of the best leagues in the world, and on the top team… Life was good, UNTIL I landed on a player’s foot causing a double compound fracture of both my tibia and fibula, as well as a complete dislocation of my foot/ankle. Doctors compared it to a motorcycle accident type injury, and I was given a 10% chance to ever walk properly without a limp. The Brazilian doctor actually found it humorous that I wanted to play again.
The next part of my life would be the most difficult I’ve ever known. I underwent a total of 6 operations, couldn’t walk for almost 12 months, and nearly lost my leg due to a serious staff infection that went unnoticed. There was a time when I mentally and emotionally hit rock bottom. With no end in sight, and no way to support my family, I gave up on my desire to play volleyball again. I simply hoped to be able to live a normal life.
I have to thank the idiotic and ass backwards-American Health Insurance system for my comeback. After everything was said and done, I racked up an extremely hefty medical bill comparable to the price of a newer home in Indiana.
Needless to say I had no choice but to get my leg healthy, play volleyball, and take care of this debt. It took a total of 18 months, but I was able to prove those doctors wrong and walk again. My wife and son were by my side every step of the way, holding my hand through all the pain. I could never thank them enough for giving me the inspiration and will to keep going.
I’ve gone on to play 7 more years of professional volleyball with 11 different teams. Although mediocre in comparison, I am satisfied with my career and results. I’ve never made superstar type money, and I never went on again to play with the National Team. It has taken me a very long time to convince myself this, but I can finally say that I am proud of what I’ve accomplished.