Injuries happen. Anyone who participates in any sport -- forget fighting -- realizes it. Everyone has teammates, and knows how those teammates feel when they get injured. But all that experience doesn't make it any easier when it happens.
Before last night, I'd gone over a full year without a serious injury. I'll define a serious injury as one that keeps me off the mats for more than a month. I considered myself very lucky, but I also attributed my relative durability to some lifestyle changes: 1) focusing more on conditioning while trading off live sparring; 2) resting or doing lower-intensity training when sore or fatigued; 3) better nutrition (eating cartilage, marrow, bone broth, etc).
For most of the last year I've also been tied up with Ultimate Poker/Ultimate Casino stuff, so I've also been to fewer MMA, BJJ and boxing classes in the last year than I had previously. I kept up my conditioning though, and the last month or so as things slowed down a bit at work, I've started to get back in a decent groove and had plans on making a comeback for the Vegas-based TuffNUff organization in April.
Unfortunately that balloon was popped along with each audible pop of my ankle last night. The accident itself was pretty freakish. No one was trying to attack my limbs. I was caught in what grapplers know as a de la Riva position, a bit like this:
I was the guy on top, but my legs were stretched wider. As I started to lose my balance, my body rotated but my foot got stuck on the mat, so my body turned independent of my foot, which blew up my ankle. It was a freak accident, just "one of those things".
I yelled in pain, and I knew immediately it was going to be bad. Ten minutes later I was calling for my roommate Chris to take me to the ER. X-rays confirmed no bone break, but they did send me home in a cast, crutches, and lots of painkillers.
As mentioned, the timing is awful. I finally started to get a decent handle on my work schedule, the WSOP is still a few months away, and I was finally starting to put in some good work lacing up the boxing gloves and MMA shorts on a regular basis. I mentioned to Chris that I would happily pay very good money to instead have this injury the day before the WSOP instead of 6 weeks from a (albeit still theoretical) fight.
So, I'm depressed -- at 33, I'm no spring chicken any more, and while I know these things are only more likely to happen and taken even longer to recover from, the competitive fire in me is still burning. It's not that I won't get to fight in April, it's that after that will be WSOP, then who knows how busy work will get. Months continue to fly off the calendar as I struggle to keep this body healthy like a poor college student tries to keep a run-down vehicle road-worthy.
All I want to do is sit at home, eat chocolate, and mope. What I will actually probably do is work from home, elevate my foot, and eat some high-collagen, high-gelatin bone broth. I may be getting older, but I'm getting smarter too.