by Chris Tippins
What felt like being on the receiving end of a freight train was actually a thunderous hit from a massive rugby player that left me screaming for a paramedic while holding my twitching, dislocated shoulder in my left hand.
What happened during that freshman year game became a pivotal moment in my life as well as my rugby career.
In the game of rugby, the use of pads is minimal to say the least. The idea is to take the hits as best you can and try to give them back harder. On the day of the match we realized that the size of some of our opposition was going to be a problem for our team.
During the game, I failed to follow the rule that when it comes to hitting bigger players, it’s all about shutting down the legs. Sometimes it takes a few guys to bring down the ball carrier, so occasionally you will see someone get swarmed by three or four defenders. This was how I found myself, arms fully stretched and wrapped around this small mountain of a person, leaving my shoulders vulnerable from behind. Before I could even process my situation, I felt a large driving force collide with my shoulder. I knew something was wrong. I’ve been hit in the back before, but not like this.
While screaming for one of the EMTs to show a little hustle, I heard someone behind me. It was one of the Lyndon players. He said “I’m going to stand you up, when I do, bend over and let your arm dangle as low as you can.” Following these instructions, I felt a sudden pop, coupled with sudden relief. My shoulder was back in the socket and I was able to walk off the field.
When the injury first happened I wasn’t as concerned as I should’ve been. Surgery would have sounded like a joke at the time, but it should of been the first thing I considered. Shoulder injuries are one of the most common when playing rugby. For a rugby player, getting surgery guarantees that you will miss playing the sport you love for a couple of seasons.
What I was not aware of was the drastic physiological change which had now been set in motion. I did not play again until our spring season. I got it checked and at the time this was still a new problem for me. There wasn’t much wrong as far as the doctor could see. However, over the rest of freshman year and all of sophomore year, my shoulder continued to dislocate a total of a dozen times. It wasn’t until the summer before my junior year that I found immediate intervention was my only option.
Three incisions were made, two in the front and one in the back. Through these incisions, my surgeon fed a small camera to inspect the damage, and boy was there a lot of it; damage to muscle and cartilage with a nice dent in my shoulder joint from all the dislocations. Repairs went on without complication and I went home that same day.
After the surgery I was confined to a sling for six weeks. In the grand scheme this was a minor setback. Although it did hinder my day to day life it was absolutely necessary. One of the responsibilities of someone in a disable or sick role is to want to get better. So when I started my physical therapy, I hit the ground running. I still don’t have full range in my shoulder yet, but I am close.
It isn’t ever good to ignore injuries whether they seem major at the time or not. Honestly it doesn’t matter if it only happens once, playing it safe will always benefit in the long run and it should never be construed as weakness by the individual or others. Now I can continue to play well into my adult life, until it’s my other shoulder.
Concussions are a commonly occurring injury in the game of Rugby. It it also a common injury in many other high intensity sports. It is for this reason why people must stay informed about the subject. To do that, follow this link to an article written by another Exchange writer Nicole Krawczyk.