What happened was fairly straightforward; rugby is, after all, a no-bullshit game. Run straight, avoid the tackle, pass the ball, kick the ball, score. We were running a drill, four guys against two defenders, the object being to advance the ball and pass to the next guy before getting hammered. I got the first part right. While I was lying on the ground, screaming "FUCK" at the top of my lungs, my right knee exploding in pain, two things occured to me. One: this is what happens when your right foot is planted and a 200 pound guy runs into you - you go one way, your knee goes the other. The other: the sound your knee makes, as the ACL is being torn in two, is very similar to that sound you hear in your head when you accidentally bite into the cartilage on a chicken drumstick. That wet crunch.
The surgery did not go well.
I'm not sure how long it's supposed to take for one to wake up from anesthesia, but I'm pretty sure it's not three hours.
What I remember: lying on the operating table, the doctor sticking something into my arm, waking up in the recovery room, throwing up in an impossibly small plastic bowl. My right knee encased in a massive bandage, my right leg sheathed in a plastic and metal brace. Run, Forrest, I think. There won't be any of that. Not for another six months. My right leg is now for all intents and purposes a useless thing, a blood-filled bag of bones and deflated muscles and shredded tissue hanging from my hip. I throw up again. And again. And again.
The Oxy they gave me wears off at about 3:00 each morning. The throbbing rousts me from chemical-fueled nightmares. I take some more and lie there, staring at the clock, grinding my teeth. 3:01. 3:02. 3:03.
"How's your leg, Daddy?" It occurs to me that I'd written thousands of words about Lucas by the time he'd reached age four. I can probably count the number of posts I've written about her on one hand. How'd she'd get to be four? She's growing up. Which of course means that I'm growing old. She pats me on the hand. It's a strange affectation, and like so many things - her knowledge of Katy Perry lyrics, her ability to read words like "s'mores" - I wonder where she learned it. I give her a strained smile. "It's ok", I say. "Getting better." My right leg itches, like it's been injected with ants and they're still alive, desperately trying to chew their way out.