What It Could Have Been

January 23, 2013
?The up-beat music blared from the speakers above the frosty surface, as I took off into the air. Even though it was practice, I needed to go all out and do the best that I could. My heel, blade, and then toe-pick left the ice and the world moved in slow motion. Twirling through the air had always felt effortless, like I could fly even. I was fully rotated coming out of my jump, but I didn’t come back down on my blade. My tailbone came in full contact with the sheer surface and I felt the vertebras in my back compress, as if they were part of an accordion. At first, I sat in shock until, BAM. The pain hit me. I hunched over, trying not to writhe in pain, but it was just too unbearable.
?I ignored the pain for weeks which turned into months. Hours and hours of practice made me writhe in pain. Spinning, jumping and twirling around put a lot of strain on my back. I swallowed my ego and pride and went to the doctor.
?I stepped into the intimidating office full of sick babies and crazy toddlers. It smelled of Lysol and rubber gloves. There were pictures of all of the doctors on the wall with posters about Swimmers’ Ear and the flu next to them. There was also a fish tank. It was large and rectangular with lots and lots of small fish inside it. Above the tank read, “PLEASE DON’T TAP THE GLASS.” C’mon, three-years-olds can’t read, of course they’re going to tap the glass and bother the fish. They’re curious!
“Maria Reed, come follow me please,” said a nice nurse dressed in Minnie Mouse scrubs. Oh gosh, what are they going to tell me? “Ok, sweetie, just wait here and the doctor will be with you shortly,” said the Minnie Mouse nurse. Alright Maria, get yourself together. You are too strong to back down now. You are going to ask the questions and the doctor is going to answer them. The doctor walked in and immediately sent me to get x-rays. After, I had returned to the same room that I met the Minnie Mouse nurse.
“Maria, you’ve broken your back. Specifically you’re T-11 and T-12.” I sat in front of my doctor, stunned. Eyes widened, jaw open and dreams crushed. Floods of tears began falling from my eyes as the doctor gave instructions to my mom. He said something about a back brace, physical therapy, and no exercise for about six months. Emotions ran wild through my head. Will I ever be able to skate again? Can I go back to being as good as I was before? Will my Olympic dreams be on hold forever?

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