The Eye Injury

So there was a knock on my door one day, and the RA came in, asking if either my roommate or I was interested in playing intramural softball. They had eight players, but needed nine, and if they were short, they'd have to forfeit. I almost declined, but at the last second a voice in my head said, "Ah, what the hell?" This was the voice of Satan, but I didn't realize it at the time, so I cheerfully agreed to be the ninth player. We won the game with a big rally in the last inning, and I had a great time, and soon I was a regular on the team.

A few games later, we started right as a gentle rain began. The other team scored a few runs in the top half of the inning, and then it began to absolutely pour. I was catching, and I was scared because people were swinging aluminum bats and they could barely hold on to them. When I batted, I hit a weak fly out because I was concentrating less on hitting the ball than on not losing my grip and killing someone. One player hit a weak pop up on which the bat made it to the outfield, making it twice as far as the ball did. That should have been the warning right there.

The next inning, the other team was at bat, and the batter took a mighty swing at the ball, missing it. He also lost his grip, and the bat sailed at his teammates, striking one on the shin, audible in the outfield, causing a gash deep enough to require stitches. Just then, it stopped raining. Less than a minute later, the person in charge of intramural sports rode up on a bicycle and announced that the games had been rained out. Impeccable timing.

The make up date was a Sunday night. We weren't able to get together nine players, so we had to forfeit, which was fine because we were losing anyway. We decided that, rather than waste the trip up, the other team would lend us enough players to fill out their team and we'd mess around until about 7:45, because we all wanted to get back to our dorm rooms in time to see The Simpsons. On my first at bat, I hit a weak grounder, and as I attempted to sprint to first, I felt a pop in my right leg, and then my left leg started hurting, too. I could barely run—I could barely even walk—but the infielder threw the ball away and I made it all the way to third, where I stood, uncomfortable, spots before my eyes, trying not to throw up.

Some of you are probably thinking I should have just sat down and rested at that point. You people haven't got a clue. I mean, it's not like it was just anything. This was an intramural slow-pitch softball exhibition game! How could I possibly sit it out when all my teammates were counting on me? If you don't understand that, you clearly aren't a guy.

As it turned out, I pulled my right quad muscle pretty bad, and playing in the rest of the games for that season, two a week, didn't help it a whole lot either. It would stop hurting, I'd stop thinking about it, then re-aggrivate it during the game. This went on for quite a while, but the softball season eventually ended.

Then came IM football. The first game was okay, and my leg was healing nicely. I was finally starting to think I was getting past all of this when I had to go and demonstarte to myself that I'm a klutz. I was in my dorm room, around midnight, on the computer, and I got up to change the CD. As I was making the grueling three-step walk back to the computer, I slipped on the linoleum floor and crashed into the dresser, which is a permanent fixture that does not move. Imagine a runner sliding into second and crashing into a brick wall two feet short, and you'll have some idea what it was like. The quad muscle went right back to being in bad shape.

When Wednesday's game rolled around, I was going to sit it out and let my leg heal. But as it turned out, they needed just one more player for a full roster, and at the last second a voice in my head said, "Ah, what the hell?" I still hadn't realized this was the voice of Satan, so I joined the team.

Early in the game the other team was going to punt, and I was on the defensive line to try to block it, front and center, which wasn't really my idea, but my teammates insisted. They said it was because I was the tallest person on the team, and therefore I had the best chance of blocking it. I suspect the rationale was more along the lines of "Let's get Var to block! He's tall. He's dumb. We can talk him into it!" My teammates eagerly coached me on how to play it. "Get right up on the line," they said. "Reach as high as you can," they said. "Wave your arms around a bit," they said. "Just try to block it," they said. Too bad they didn't give me some intelligent advice, such as "Duck."

The play started, the ball was snapped, the kicker ran forward and kicked it, and he absolutely nailed it. Solid kick, tremendous force, straight forward, the whole works. The only thing he did wrong was failing to get enough lift on the ball, the end result being that 0.0042 seconds after he kicked the ball, it struck me directly on the right eye with enough force to kill a person.

I wasn't so lucky, of course. I wasn't killed; I was merely hideously maimed. Seconds after impact, I was staggering around, hand over my eye, trying to feel how badly it was hurt since the impact made it instantly numb. I noticed some blood on my hand, which really thrilled me, as I'm sure you can imagine. Naturally some wag asked me, "Are you all right?" I thought the answer was fairly obvious, but a question like that definitely deserves some kind of an answer. As I recall, the one I gave him was, "No." Okay, so it wasn't as hilariously scathing as you might expect from me, but under the circumstances it was the best I could manage.

The medical personnel there checked it out to make sure the damage wasn't too serious, and gave me an ice bag to use on the eye. After the treatment and some advice (and a flat "No" from me in response to a question about whether or not I wanted to continue playing), I watched the game for a little while. I noticed something interesting on another punt play. The other team was kicking again, and not only did none of my teammates have their arms up like they'd advised me to do, but when the ball was kicked, they all ducked. My teammates.

As the game went on, I paid less and less attention, and also I was freezing, so I left. As I was walking back to the dorm room, I noticed the ice bag was making my hand swell up. It struck me as odd that I was using something that was causing my perfectly healthy right hand to swell up to try to keep down the swelling around my injured eye. I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation. I'm also sure that I don't care. I also note that it didn't work, in the sense that my eye was swelled nearly shut for two days.

For the next day or two, upon hearing me recount this story, people would tell me how lucky I was. "If it had hit your face with the point, your eye could have really been hurt," they would tell me. Or, "Two inches to the side and you could have broken your nose." I have to admit, I didn't feel so lucky. No one told me how lucky I was before I got injured. Apparently one can't be considered lucky without first suffering a serious injury. Also, two people responded to my story with, "Did you block the punt?" These people don't know how lucky they are that I'm not prone to violence.

As it turns out, I haven't gone to see an eye doctor since the swelling went down because my vision is slowly improving. A week after the accident, I couldn't take notes off the board with my left eye covered, because all I could see was a blur. Now, I still can't quite make out the words, but they're not nearly as blurry as before. Also I'd been routinely testing myself by attempting to read a certain paper in my room from a set distance, and I've finally succeeded. That's a definite sign of improvement, and I can only hope it continues.

So, a nagging injury at softball didn't stop me, so I got clobbered during a football game. Thank you very much, Satan. I hope you're happy. Anyway... I also remember that celeste was quite proud of me for moving on from softball to football, which she considered a tremendous step up. I didn't then, and I certainly don't now. I'd rag on her a little about the injury—you know, "Look how much worse I got hurt playing your sport than playing my sport, that's what I get for listening to you," etc. But, I suspect she'd trade my eye injury for her back injury any day of the week, so I just keep my mouth shut. (So if anyone ever tries to tell me that I'm not a nice guy, I'll rip their heart out with my bare hands.)

Nonetheless, as much as I enjoyed the one game of football, I think I'm going to pass on the rest of the season. My feeling is, from now on I'm sticking with softball. Or, better yet, badminton. It doesn't matter how hard someone kicks the birdie at your face, it's not going to cause a serious injury, unless the person's shoe comes with it. Hmmmm... On second thought, I'll stick with Nintendo. Thank you.

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