Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jumper's Knee and Other Ailments

Gavin told me at soccer this morning that he used to have something called Jumper’s Knee and to treat it he was told to take a year off from sports and do nothing physical. He’s back now, and he played great, so I guess it worked, but have you ever heard of a more fake sounding condition? It sounds like some kind of hillbilly town where people roam freely in overalls without shirts. But I looked it up, and it’s a real thing, with a proper Latin name as well.

I’ve uncovered some other medical conditions I personally experienced with my recent ACL knee surgery and subsequent return to soccer. I’m thinking of submitting them to The New England Journal of Medicine. (I’m not 100% sure on my Latin though.) They are in chronological order, as follows:

In-between fifteen (fattus assus)– refers to the pounds you gain when you use food as a crutch and eat obsessively due to depression. Usually occurs between MRI diagnosis and surgery itself. Symptoms include feeling sorry for yourself since you can’t play soccer for months and months, and tight pants.

Mom bomb (riddance inheritance ) another name for what happens when well-meaning, kind-hearted, mother and mother-in-law types come to ‘help’ after surgery and almost make things worse by not knowing what you like anymore and doing weird things like bringing you DVDs you would never want to watch and putting butter on ham sandwiches. Who puts butter on a ham sandwich? Ick. Important: questionable casseroles are common in this condition. Note: Mom bombs can last for days and days.

Kafuffle shuffle (screwus translinkus) this condition occurs shortly after knee surgery, when you can walk again, but not very fast. It’s very specific: you’re about to miss the bus and you do this ridiculous shuffle-y kind of run to the bus stop so you won’t be late for work. Once you’re on the bus you realize you were flustered in the moment, and you chastize yourself, thinking, what the hell? I’m not supposed to run yet...I am an idiot.

Glorious Victorious (glitterous unicornus ) That delicious, amazing feeling you get when you are finally allowed to play again and you tentatively lace up those cleats and head back out onto the field to see if you’ve forgotten everything or if some parts of soccer stick when you take a whole year off. Metaphorical rainbows, unicorns, and glitter sometimes surround you during this phase, and you mince around smiling smugly like an old guy in a Viagra commercial, both on and off the field. Downside: Can be short-lived.

High gear fear(wimpus limpus) – terror of stepping up your game to pre- surgery level and playing high level soccer with much younger and better players again. (Well, being tolerated when playing with much younger and better players.) Can be somewhat abated by buying a fancy customized carbon fibre brace. This condition can come and go at will.

Fraction overreaction - (frightus arthritis) – this occurs when you do finally strap on that brace and go play with all the good young punks and something tweaks in your knee and then you panic and basically rock back and forth in the foetal position for days. Sometimes accompanied by highly irrational thoughts, such as chopping your whole leg off yourself with a pocket knife so you could get one of those cool fake legs with the hook for a foot and play soccer again, probably even better than before.

Condition is somewhat relieved by being told later by the physiotherapist that it’s likely nothing, you’re just – ahem- old, and have arthritis in your knee, and you should just slow the hell down because you’re not an 18 year old college star, and you should probably play less often, ice it afterwards, and take anti-inflammatories.

Prognosis: Getting old sucks. End of story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beckham on Ellen II

Check it out: David Beckham shows us his show-tune voice while undercover at Target.

2 things:
- Becks is such a good sport, isn't he? (Didja get that pun? Didja? Ha!)
- I love it that he gets recognized. Does this mean soccer is gaining popularity in North America?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hot Soccer/Hot Yoga

While playing soccer at high noon in the 28 degree weather last week, sporting an unbreathing polyester fitness bra and two sweaty neoprene knee braces underneath all my clothes, I started to get delirious from dehydration and question the wisdom of what I was doing. Why on earth were we playing in such hot weather, and at that time of day? It was almost unbearable. We quit early – and we never do that. And then I began to think about the millions of people who do hot yoga. They exercise in the hot, hot heat by choice.

No, hot yoga is not called that because of all the scantily clad cute babes who practice it– it’s where people of all shapes and sizes contort themselves into weird poses in a humid, 40 degree room. Why? Apparently, according to its founder Bikram Choudhury, it’s ‘rejuvenating’. Hmm. From what I understand, it’s also riotously farty. (There’s even a pose called the Wind Removing pose.)

I know I’m not the only one who is suspicious of hot yoga’s popularity. Even the writer of Bikram Choudhury’s Wikipedia page displays admirable, ample skepticism, as evidenced by his or her repeated use of the word ‘claims’ in describing hot yoga’s benefits. (Choudhury “claims the heated studio facilitates deeper stretching and injury prevention”; “claims that his system stimulates and restores health to every muscle, joint, and organ of the body” and “claims this helps in the prevention of heart disease and organ failure.”) Choudhury also declares that he has worked with NASA, Richard Nixon (no one has been able to prove these assertions), and the Beatles-- in 1959-- somehow, miraculously, the year before they even formed.

Even though I don’t know much about him, you can probably tell I’m not a Choudhury fan. Perhaps it’s just the influence of my parents’ working class upbringing, but I am leery of people who collect Bentleys and who are openly giddy about how much money they’re making.

But.....I also know there's probably something legitimate about this yoga thing. A lot of talented, respected athletes do hot yoga. The list of devotees includes Kobe Bryant, John McEnroe, Wayne Gretzky, David Beckham, the Williams sisters and last but not least, my beloved Pele. Actors and performers like hot yoga too – apparently George Clooney and Lady Gaga are fans.

I like to picture them all in a Bikram yoga class together. Lady Gaga is in the front row, all superior and ignoring everyone else, wearing a headband made out of meat. Becks is only half into it, mostly distracted by his sweaty, glistening tattoos, which he looks at with quiet awe. Next to him is pasty Richard Nixon, struggling to bend any limbs at all. Lennon and McCartney are elbowing each other, fighting for mat space, while nearby Ringo just lies on his mat, not even pretending to try. The Williams sisters grunt loudly whenever they finally get the hang of a new pose. Just when it finally gets really quiet, George Harrison rips a really loud fart, prompting McEnroe to yell “You cannot be serious!” and Gretzky and Pele to giggle quietly together. Clooney winks suggestively at Kobe, and flashes his killer smile.

Wait, what was I writing about again? Oh yes, hot soccer. Let’s just say I’m glad the weather’s cooling off a bit. Those of us who exercise outside like to get sweaty purely from effort. Namaste.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sometimes They are Penalty Kicks

My dad’s once stalwart, avionics-engineer-brain is now a swiss-cheesy mess. At 78, the dementia is setting in for good; all that knowledge about flight recorders and airplane wiring diagrams is gone forever. When I visit, he often interrupts my attempt to tell him about his grandchildren to ramble on about the new task they have given him in his carehome: taking the metal tabs off the top of pop and juice cans. To hear him tell it, this is a top-notch role he’s been given. How did they previously get along without him? I try my best to nod and listen, and enquire about these amazing cans.

It’s said that dementia allows a person to retain the essence of their former personality. People who have a kind and sweet disposition when they are young are still sweet, although addled by the disease in other ways. Of course, controlling and difficult people retain that too, and that’s unfortunately what my mom sees when she visits: Dad yells at her to take him home and regularly threatens to divorce her in front of any and all who will listen. (One of the nurses actually followed her outside the other day to ask if she was okay.) The gist: my dad was a very cold and demanding man when I was young, and he is now. He does not give compliments, ever, to anyone. But for some inexplicable reason when he talks to me about soccer, now, he’s different. He’s not sweet, just ...respectful. And very, very misguided. It’s like he is making up the things that he wished had really happened. It often goes something like this:

“I used to come over to Victoria pretty much every weekend to watch you play when you were in University over there....”

“Uh, Dad, I don’t think so, but yeah, you came sometimes.” (He might have come twice in my entire collegiate soccer career. I don’t mind—he lived on the mainland and I was on the Island—but let’s face it, if we’d lived in the same town, I doubt he would have been much more interested.)

“Yeah, I remember I came to the second game you ever played over there (no, he did not) and you had to take a corner kick, and you scored from the corner kick, with your right foot. And your coach was so shocked and happy at what a big kick you had. And then later in the game, you took another corner kick from the other side, with your left foot, and you scored with that one too. You got two goals. Your coach couldn’t believe it. ”

Hmm...he might not be the only one. I don’t believe it either. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I can remember an embarrassing amount of detail about most of the goals I’ve ever scored (usually embellished with loud fan cheering and liberal doses of the chanting of my name) so I’m sure I’d remember scoring twice in one game, from corner kicks, using both feet.

“Uh, yeah, dad? I do not remember that.”

“Yeah, the goalie, he was really pissed off.” (Hmm, why was the goalie a ‘he’ in women’s varsity soccer?) “You just put it right over his head.”

“Wow, cool.”

“And when you took the goal kick, it just went right by him.”

“Wait – what? It was a goal kick? Not a corner kick?”

“Yes, they were goal kicks.”

“I scored twice in one game from goal kicks? Once with my left foot?” (This is impossible.)


We have variations on this theme. Sometimes they are penalty kicks. Sometimes the goalie is a girl. And this muddy, circular conversation is the closest thing to praise I have ever received from my dad, a man whose fallback communication with me, as a kid and a teenager, was to tell me I was lazy and stupid. He still seems to be aware that UVIC was many years ago, and that now I just play for fun, both indoor and outdoor, with both men and women. He also tells me elaborate details about watching the Whitecaps play the Canucks on TV. Of course, we don’t have to talk about soccer—there is always the riveting pop can tops to discuss—but he is often the one to bring it up.

The other day one of the carehome workers happened by, and my dad tried to introduce me to him, saying, “This is my daughter, Cathy. She still plays soccer. With men.” And the person looked at me and smiled, his face relentlessly cheerful, and said the things my father never could say: “Wow, that’s great. Good for you. Your dad must be proud.”

I’ll take it.