Two weeks ago, I tore my hamstring. I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to explain how it happened: defending a sobbing infant from a rampaging bear, freak freeclimbing accident, landing a base jump. But the truth is, I injured myself playing recreational, co-ed, two-hand-touch football – during the first game of the season.

Embarrassing. I was running full-speed to catch a pass when I felt a sharp “twang” in my leg, like a finger-picked guitar string. Leg stops working, down goes Nate. The aftermath was one of those cases where a little knowledge is a bad thing; with my background in sports medicine, I knew right away that I had done serious damage.

Presently, my leg looks like this (warning: it’s gross, so I’m not including it in the body of this post in case you don’t like internal hemmorhaging. I mean, who doesn’t!?).

Keep in mind that picture was taken two weeks after my initial injury. I can walk, in a limpy-gimpy Dr. House kind of way, but sitting down is a monk-like exercise in pain tolerance. By the end of the day at work, my leg is twice normal size.

Having this kind of injury makes certain movements difficult:

  1. Driving
  2. Drying my leg after a shower
  3. Putting on socks in the morning

I’ve solved the first two. To drive, I bring along a textbook and put it on the floor of the car. If I put my left leg – the hurt one – up on the textbook, I can straighten out a little without the back of my leg pressing on the car seat (which feels, roughly, like being dismembered with a serrated steak knife).

It looks a little weird because it makes me lean the whole time I’m driving, so to pedestrians and other drivers I look tilted off to the right. But I don’t care, because I don’t feel like amputation might be a viable surgical option now when I’m behind the wheel.

The second problem required more creativity: drying the hurt leg after a shower. I could dry the other leg no problem, by striking a perfect Half Moon Yoga Pose: straighten the good leg, bad leg out straight behind me, lean over and dry off. It requires Zen-like concentration, but it’s doable.

The other leg? No such luck. With a limited range of motion, I simply couldn’t get my hands near my calf. My early solution was to stand around and dress the rest of myself as my leg air-dried.

Today, I hit upon a genius solution. I wrap the towel in a spiral around my upper leg, like a really crappy Ace bandage job. The far end of the towel follows suit around the calf. Then, pull – and voila, just like that my leg is dried!

This achievement ranks right up there with the discovery of the steam turbine in importance.

I still can’t put on socks, though. Try this: take off your shoes and socks – yes, right now. Now sit down in a chair and straighten your left leg. Lock it out, no cheating! Now, without bending that leg more than, oh, ten degrees, put on your sock.

Good luck.

My present method takes about five minutes. I dangle the far edge of the sock hole as close to my pinky toe as I can get it, then wave it back and forth until the edge catches. If I’m lucky, I can push and pull and cajole the rest of my foot into the sock without feeling one of those shooting pains – the zingers so intense I think I can feel the individual nerve neurons firing.

I’m open to suggestions. Maybe I can train the puppy to help.


2 thoughts on “Hamstrung

  1. OK Nate, this is Ellen Porter’s mom. Your post made me sincerely appreciate my working hamstrings right now. So so sorry to hear about your very painful injury!

  2. sorry about your hamstring.web md for grandmothers says to rest,try your mothers crutches,ice 29- 3 0min elevate leg on pillow when possible; guess chicken soup wont help this time.keep smiling.this too shall pass.that purple is a gorgeous color!!!!

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