Ever since the surgery I wake up stiff in the mornings. Strange since sleep is supposed to help you recover. Why is it I feel like I got the hell kicked out of me when I when I wake up? My back is tight, neck hurts, shoulders is frozen. Forget the performance gains, I’d do steroids just to get some damn sleep.
Don’t get hurt. That’s what all the coaches say, as if you have direct control over it. Don’t get hurt. Like, if a life changing injury rolled up beside you while you were out walking, swung open the door of its black panel van and offered you candy to get in, say no. Hell, I wish it was like that.
After I got hurt, I wondered if I’d ever come back to the game the same. Shortly after I wondered if I’d ever come back to real life the same. Injuries make you stop thinking in terms of the game only. They remind you how much you actually use your body to do other things in this world besides hit or pitch. Now I wake up in the middle of night with back spasms around my scapula and some crawling pain inside my neck. No clue what it is, just know I can rely on it to be there most nights. Never had it before the surgery. Never went more than a day without after.
The body is a funny thing. Best not to mess with it no matter how minor the doctors say surgery is going to be. Once they cut you open, you never know what can happen.
If there is one silver lining about injury, I suppose it’s that I now have to commit to a routine every day, whether I feel like or not. My body is now some cranky engine that always needs warmed up before it can drive. This works well with being a starting pitcher since it too is all about committing to a routine. You only get to take the mound once every five days—plenty of time to second guess and over analyze. You need a routine in place just to keep your head from cannibalizing itself. Getting out of bed, running, stretching, being mindful of your body. It’s something to keep you focused. I often wonder if older, more experienced pitchers don’t become as crafty as there simply because their bodies force them to pay more attention to it. When you’re young and your body feels good, you can spend your free time obsessing about what might happen the next time you toe the rubber. When you’re older and banged up, you just hope to hell you can drag yourself to that fifth day with your arm still attached.