I am happy to report I have returned from the 10-day Injured List (IL). According to Mike, this was formerly called the Disabled List (DL). The new title is probably more accurate and definitely more politically correct.
The problem was somewhere in my right front leg, although without an MRI, the exact location of the tendon tear or muscle pull that caused my limp remains unknown. “Rest and recuperation” was the prescription from Dr. Heather, who might have contributed to this predicament by running me though too many fetch repetitions the day before I started limping.
At first the injury didn’t appear too severe, and I gave every indication of being raring to go to chase that ol’ ball again. I was almost deemed ready to rejoin the active roster when I leaped off my camp chair one morning and landed awkwardly, straining my muscles all over again, this time more severely. Heather prescribed a total shutdown.
I was sore for several days. We went outside for peeing and pooping purposes only. Favorite toys Wiffie and Lamby were quarantined in places I couldn’t even see, and my camp chair was folded away in a corner. My napping locations were limited to my floor-bound office and living room dog beds. And Heather’s lap, of course, or between her legs in the bedroom while she was reading or watching TV.
Yet my limp persisted. Heather was almost resigned to calling in noted “Tommy John” surgeon Dr. James Andrews (or more likely my personal physician, Dr. Kimmel), when I finally crossed the summit of recovery. The pain was gone, and my strength and stamina gradually returned. We walked in the park for 20 minutes, a half-hour, then 45 minutes and a complete hour. After almost two weeks of rest and rehab, I was almost ready to play fetch again.
First, however, I had to do one more endurance hike. Mike selected the hilly terrain of Kubota Garden. My pals George and Debbie came along, and while they are experienced and adept hikers from the Alaskan wilderness, George is temporarily weakened by his compromised immune system, so I was under strict orders to go slow and avoid the steepest trails, which I was able to do for the most part. Still, it turned out to be my extremely lucky day, as one trail near the park waterfall got so narrow that Mike had to duck off to the side to avoid a child coming the other way. As he moved, something or someone nudged the partially open treat bag on his hip, sending a slew of Charlee Bears and cheese hearts hurtling onto the gravel path. I couldn’t allow Mike to litter a public park like that, so I pounced, cleaning up all of the fallen treats before he even realized they were gone. It was the least I could do.
Then it was on to the reintroduction of fetch–without spectators, of course. In Spring Training 2.0, I was only allowed to fetch on non-paved areas at first, thinking my legs would take less pounding that way. Heather had me on a strict pitch count, so she could monitor my response and recovery time. After my first session of seven throws in the meadow produced no ill effects the next morning, the number of throws increased daily.
If all goes well from here, my favorite spot on the pavement on the hill near the Visitors Center can’t be too far into my future. It’s time to play ball!