Adding insult to injury: Am I just getting old?

The past week has reminded me that while I always try to convince myself that I’m still 25 years old and invincible, time is slowly but surely getting the best of me.  Every year I am reminded of it in bits and pieces in my classroom; a reference I make to a movie that nobody has seen or heard of, an obscenely inappropriate guess at how old I am that goes 10+ years over my actual age, or just the general wear and tear of my body over time.  However, the events of the past week have sent me spiraling into a transformation from a young, healthy man to a full-on grouchy old man almost overnight.

Over the weekend, I pulled a muscle in my back.  I’d like to say that I pulled it doing some vigorous workout or lifting something heavy, but I pulled it when I woke up, yawned, and stretched on Sunday morning.  This is not the first injury that I have suffered while doing something inane.  I tore my meniscus a couple of years ago shortly after my basketball season ended and we were about to start our Spring workouts.  I wish the story went that as I was coaching I participated in practice, went up to dunk and landed wrong, but I wasn’t anywhere near the court.  I knelt down to pick up my son and heard a pop. Two weeks later I was in surgery.

The muscle pull wasn’t as bad as the meniscus tear, but I did spend almost two full days dealing with pain and barely able to move.  As most of my existence for that time was horizontal, I watched a lot of television, including the Angels vs. Cardinals game on day 1 of the injury.  The game was aired on ESPN because Albert Pujols was making his return to St. Louis.  I moved to St. Louis right as Pujols ascended to a throne of greatness with the Cardinals, so it was a special experience to see him back in town.  However, while I sat sidelined with a stretching injury, I caught myself figuratively yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.

The fans in St. Louis gave Pujols a standing ovation every time he came to bat over the 3 game series.  When I say every time, I mean EVERY TIME.  I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to St. Louis as an adult, so I’m not really a true midwesterner in the sense of the stereotype.  When I got my dog as a puppy and took her for her first walk in our old neighborhood, people were stepping out and saying hello (you know, as nice midwesterners do), and the whole time I just tried to put my head down and ignore them and wondered what they wanted from me.  I get that midwesterners are supposed to be nice, but come on, this was a little much.

The first time in the first game I understood, but this was now game 3 of the series, his 11th or 12th ovation, and his final ovation lasted even longer because it was most likely the last at-bat he would ever take in St. Louis.  However, that particular at-bat came with the bases loaded in the 9th inning with a chance to put the game out of reach for the Cardinals.  Maybe it was the coach in me, but I was on my couch yelling at the fans to shut up.  I get the sentimentality, but this guy is now a member of an opposing team; he is the enemy during those 9 innings, no matter how many great memories you have of him.

My wife often tells me to turn off my competitive edge when I’m at home, but I was in full fist shaking mode when I saw it happen.  Maybe it wasn’t my coaching mindset, maybe the injury was clouding my judgement   Maybe I am just advancing through the aging process even quicker than I should be.  I know one thing for sure, my back needs to get better soon because I feel like I’m on the cusp of becoming Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men (how about that for a old movie reference!), only he had 30 years on me when he filmed that movie.

Stay tuned for a continuation of this post later this week, as I am writing this at the start of day 3 of terrible pain.


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2 thoughts on “Adding insult to injury: Am I just getting old?

  1. Getting old sucks, but the alternative is worse. At 65, I am about to embark on a 3 day back country hike in the mountains. This is all great, until you realize you will have a 28 pound pack on your back and have to sleep on the ground for 3 nights. I don’t do ground. Yikes. Stay tuned


    1. If aches and pains are the worst it gets I definitely consider myself lucky! That trip sounds like it could be amazing, but I don’t do the ground either. I’m excited to see how it goes.


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