I Teammates! They say hindsight is “20/20” which is so true. Had I gotten a second opinion on my injured leg, I probably would have had to take 3-6 weeks off, and then I would have been fine. Instead, I listened to the team doctor who had the interests of the team on his mind rather than that of his patient. Two and a half weeks after my initial injury in practice, my leg broke in a game with no contact. I jumped for a dunk off my left leg, and it snapped. I was all alone.
Sure, I went to the team doctor and even had an x-ray after the initial injury happened in practice. The results came back negative…no damage to the bone is what they told me. A deep bruise. So of course I kept practicing under immense pain because as we all, I did not want to let my team down, and I didn’t want to come off as soft. I ran outside on concrete for 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) a few times a week as our coach demanded. I practiced twice a day, hit the weight room doing deep squats, and I ate Ibuprofen like Skittles. I suffered in silence. Deep down, I knew something was wrong. It was getting worse and the swelling never went down, but I tried to put it off to be the tough guy. We all play through injuries, right?
After I was transported to the hospital and had emergency surgery on my broken Tibia, the next day, the doctor informed me that he took another look at my original x-ray. Now he could see that there were signs that I had a hairline fracture two and a half weeks before. My first thought was, “Are you f*cking kidding me?” If I would have been in America, I would have sued the hell out of him, the hospital, and the team. In Europe however, it is not that simple, so I had to live with the fact that had I taken a few weeks off, my leg would have healed on its own.
I say this because I would like to spare you all the turmoil, pain, and depression that I faced after my leg broke two months after I came to Europe. I was a 23-year-old that knew nothing of how the European medical system works. I had only been there a few weeks so I didn’t have a network of friends outside of those on the team that could have warned me to get a second opinion.
That is why I am writing this blog. I would like to help and make sure that you understand that getting a second opinion is an option. Even if you have to come out of your pocket to do so, you should get a second opinion. In most European countries, you probably do not have to pay for it on your own. Ask for help from someone outside of the world of the team you play for or else you run the risk of that person having ulterior motives that are not in YOUR best interests.
If I knew then, what I knew now, the course of my life probably would have been different. I am not complaining about my life, but that moment on November 17th, 1995 was life-altering. It took me years to be healthy again. Even after I was physically healed, I struggled mentally for an even longer time, which in turn influenced my game negatively at times.
This could happen to any of you. A vet is not immune to injury or even misinformation that could threaten not only your livelihood but also your health. If you have ANY doubt that something could be wrong after an injury, do yourself a favor and get a second opinion. Do not try to be a tough guy or girl. Take care of yourself, not the interests of the team. It is also not in the best interest of the team that you play injured. Your stats could also suffer and no one would understand why. Your body is your capital now, so protect it at all costs.
Be sure to keep your agent informed as well if you have reservations that something might be wrong. It will be then the agent’s job to speak with the team and keep them in the loop. If there are any conflicts because of it, your agent should be the one to step in and protect you.
If you have no agent, ask someone that may be able to help. Ask me for an example. If you do not know your options, the teams will definitely take advantage of you even if they claim that they wont.
Do your best to perform at a high level and if needed, force the medical staff to do more on your behalf and not in the interests of the team. Good luck and I hope this post can spare someone the anguish that I felt!