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I’ve screwed up my right ankle so many times I’ve almost lost count. It was like once I managed to sprain it, I put the ankle-spraining cycle in motion, and I pretty much had to do it once every couple’a years.
The first time was when I was about ten years old and my cousin Walter jumped high in play and landed on it. It was pain like I had never felt before.
If you’ve seen his feet, you would too.
Where I’m from, if you sprain any part of your body, you’ve fucked yourself. You’d be taken to some old bloke, who’d jam it back into place, and then you’d be required to have someone rub the injury with towel soaked in steaming hot water. You’d then have vapour rub on it and it would heal in about three days. The message is pretty simple: Don’t-Sprain-Your-Ankle.
The first time I’ve had this treatment I didn’t cry or even scream, and this was perceived to be so impressive that the “sprain healer” showered praises on me to my aunt, who had held both my wrists firmly in anticipation of the worst. She then told everyone that I “took” a bone-jamming, and I was something of a hero.
Fast forward to when I was in boarding school. Back then, we had a bunch of hobbies. My favourite was play-fighting, which we called Judo; guided, taught and refereed by our hostel supervisor, who was our sensei of sorts.
On a daily basis we would square off in our room, and leave the arena open for two people at a time, who would either wrestle until someone tosses the other’s back on the ground (my WWE watching helped me here), or we would do our own version of Tae Kwando, where only kicks were allowed and points were won based on the number of kicks.
Now both sports were highly dangerous and could lead to fights (surprisingly, very few ever did – a post about the catalogue of the dangerous games we played at another time, eh?), but I loved them. Even when a couple of the senior students came into our room to take advantage of it to bully us, I’d volunteer and get my feet constantly swept aggressively off the ground. I knew I wasn’t the strongest or the most flexible with my feet, but I imagined myself a wily underdog. Kurt Angle, actually.
Now, around that time, my arch-nemesis was G Bobo. I didn’t -hate- G Bobo in as much as I loved making fun of him. He was just… kinda a massive dork, and made it very easy for you to poke a little fun at his expense. Now Supervisor saw this mental bullying as me hating on G Bobo, and well, a little drama was always good for hostel entertainment. He knew G bobo had very long legs and could hold his own in “Tae Kwondo”, so on a tournament day when everyone was packed to perform and watch, it was Drowsy versus G Bobo.
Now obviously, I was very nervous about this. Defeat could be every humiliating for me. So I was very careful and thought of all the tricks I knew. Now, G Bobo must have been even more nervous about facing me, because very soon, I found myself 3 points up to none.
Now at this point I must have gotten very cocky, or G Bobo – so close to defeat – must have had an epiphany, because he got me on a three hit combo with those long legs of his. I must admit, I could look back now and tell you they were very impressive; the first hit my legs and got me off balance, the second cleanly got me on my undefended under-arm, and the third thwacked me firmly on the head.
This got my blood boiling for a number of reasons;
1. It was very painful (especially the one on the head).
2. Everyone else was very impressed by the 3-hit Combo so G Bobo now had crowd support.
3. The confidence of that move plus the cheer of the crowd meant G bobo was now on the front foot and was most likely going on to win this.
4. I’d let myself down, badly, with my zero resistance.
Unable to keep calm under pressure, I kicked wildly at G Bobo in retaliation, van Damne style.
G Bobo sensed very quickly that he needed a defense mechanism. And boy, did the somma bitch improvise. He defended with his hard-as-concrete knee, and CRACK!! Damn! That shit hurt!
I knew I couldn’t carry on. The foot started swelling like crazy. Supervisor and the crowd saw that my ankle had acquired some damage, but it was good drama stuff, so they urged me to carry on, which I did. I was determined not to show weakness and back out. To G Bobo, it must be something like this at this point…
However, some diplomatic officiating by Supervisor saw the match finish 4-4. I immediately slumped on a bed and helplessly watched my foot swell up to the size of a loaf of bread.
Supervisor made me and G Bobo stand as he dramatically raised both of our hands as a sign that we were both impressive, and therefore victorious (again, very diplomatic by Supervisor). We didn’t seek treatment until all the matches were over. Even as I sweated painfully on the bed, I could see my friend, The Bad Man, laughing and poking at the foot, cherishing every moment of the pain in his badness.
Supervisor carried me on his back to the school nurse, who, from a distance, saw my bread-loaf foot from a distance and wagged her hands vehemently. She sentenced me to the bone-jamming system, and my heart sank.
Supervisor, being Turkish, was not aware of how we usually treated sprains, and he asked me if I wanted that treatment. I told him I wanted to go to the hospital.
I quite enjoyed the hospital treatment. I had a pain-killer injection, an X-Ray taken of my foot, and a bandage wrapped gently around my ankle by a quite pretty nurse. As a kind of gesture (brought about by his guilt, perhaps), Supervisor, who carried me everywhere on his back, decided to take me home for a couple of days. The story I was to give everyone was that I had suffered a football injury.
My home was quite close to my boarding school, and I loved the idea of spending a couple of days away. Everyone bought the football story and told me off for playing football without soccer-boots. My brother inadvertently helped with that; he found the story quite hilarious, and spiced it up a bit, telling everyone that I was going for a Beckham cross and laid the ball unto my right foot, ready to whip it in, when the defender knocked the ball away and I hit his knee instead.
Of course, I wasn’t complaining.
One thing I didn’t anticipate from my little retreat home was that in my house, the Bone Jamming Method was the spraining treatment of choice.
My family asked me whether my ankle was going to be alright and even though they weren’t totally convinced by my assertions, they let it play out. My X-Ray showed that I only had a sprain and the swelling was receding.
Noo, it was the workers that were the problem! Some of them almost seemed to have a personal flak against the hospital system. Too westernised, they said. They had a better method and the White Man and his system aren’t taking -this- away from them! One week is too long for an ankle to heal, noo! Not when it could be fixed violently straight away!
So they got me a bone-jammer. They didn’t even get me a good one! They got me this giant person who made his living as a labourer and electrician.
I’m serious! My foot looked like a biscuit in his hands! When he started I was determined not to yell. I was going to uphold my reputation of manliness! (Also, I had showed off to everyone that I did not scream the first time, and so my sister came to watch, specifically to confirm that I was, indeed, a yeller).
I had not factored a few things when my decision for not yelling was made;
1. This fella was significantly bigger and rougher than the gentle old man who fixed my foot the first time.
2. My ankle had already gone three days with a sprain – the first time, it was fixed on the day of the injury when it was still fresh.
3. Being about 3 years younger the first time, I would believe my bones were much more flexible and thus the pain would be easier to take.
So it was only a couple of seconds before…
He might as well have snapped the foot away and had it for dinner. It hurt.
Everyone laughed, and I trembled severely as I went back in to watch some TV and put this whole experience behind me.
Of course, after a couple of years I DID screw up my ankle again. I was playing football, and hit my best friend on the knee because he had dispossessed me and I was too eager to get the ball back.
I hate my life.