And so I
The therapist (who works for a place called the Sports Medical Center) shook his head and gave me the low-down.
"I've seen lots of people tear those ligaments. One group uses their leg in the same movement over and over again, like runners, cyclists, triathletes, rowers, etcetera. Then there's a group who sticks their legs out in every direction, twisting and turning; people who play tennis, football, hockey, squash... Now, the first group can be helped with lots of training and exercise. The second group - if they want to get back to their old level of mobility and stability, they usually need surgery. When I hear your story and your fears that you feel that your leg just isn't stable anymore and that you think you might twist it at any given moment, I'd say that surgery might be the only way to fix things."
That's where my heart sank and I pictured all kinds of doomscenario's about having to learn to walk all over again. The truth might not be as bleak, but I was genuinely scared. What if I wasn't fit enough in time for my trip to Africa? Luckily, the therapist gave me another option.
"Now, seeing that you're a little overweight and guessing that you probably haven't worked out for a while because of the leg trouble, I think that there's a lot of room for improvement, maybe even room enough to be able to avoid surgery. But I have to warn you. It's only 4 months until November, so if you want to go to Africa and be able to do manual labor without fear of collapsing, we're gonna put you through a rigorous training program. And believe me: it's gonna be hard work, and lots of it."
And so I walked out of there with a business card and the promise that I would get a call tomorrow for an intake-chat a.s.a.p. I'll be poked, prodded, measured, weighed, the knee will get a thorough examination and from then on I'll probably be in the gym a LOT. Two details help ease the mind. One: this Sport Medical Center is affiliated with a local hospital, which makes me believe that these people actually want to help you and not just see you as a source of income. Two: everything is covered by health insurance.
So there you have it. Either I get into shape, improve my health, lose my gut and go to Africa or I end up on the operating table and might have to postpone the trip I've always wanted to make.
I'm not the most spiritual type, but if this isn't a wake-up call from a higher power, I don't know what is. But the road ahead of me is clear. And I feel both determined and scared.