The first night at the hospital was painful. Not only my body ached, but my soul too. I had no appetite, I just ate a few bites of a bread roll and drank some bitter tea. A couple of spoonfuls of soup for lunch. Fortunately, right then my coaches burst through the door and yelled: “Hello! How is the patient?”
They brought me a book, Two Years’ Vacation by Jules Verne, and I was moved by the gesture. I still keep the book at my parents’ house. Do you know the story? It’s a riveting tale of fifteen schoolkids who take a schooner and go on a trip and the waves carry them out to sea. The boys get shipwrecked on a deserted island, they live a Robinson Crusoe life, fight pirates and become friends for life. Football creates friendships like that as well, which was proven to me by a moving message from my teammates. They wrote a get-well-soon note into the book and all signed their names.
Once they released me from the hospital, I couldn’t even hobble. The plaster cast didn’t have a walking heel, so all I could do was lie in a bed so the broken leg wouldn’t get damaged. But I wanted to run and run and run.
The healing process was slow, I was getting fed up with the cast and I felt like I was going to have to wear it for the rest of my life. Eventually got crutches, so at least I could go to the bathroom on my own.
When they took the cast off for the first time, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I sat on the hospital bed and just stared. I completely forgot that they hadn’t even washed the foot before they put the cast on. The dirt was caked into my skin and it smelled so bad!
Two months later they took the cast off for the second time and I suffered another shock. My calf was thinner than my arm, all muscle was gone. Just bone covered in skin. I couldn’t step on it; my leg wasn’t working.
I had a limp. For weeks. I couldn’t even walk to school without pain, I couldn’t move my ankle. I got orthopaedic insoles for my shoes, but still no improvement.
Running? Forget it, boy!
So my left foot was basically dead, but as soon as it was even a little bit possible, I went to a training session. “You should wait a bit, Petr. Don’t rush it, you’ll hurt yourself,” my parents warned. But I was convinced that just walking to the training would help. Mentally, most of all, because I was unhappy and needed a little joy in my life.
My parents relented, and so I knelt in the goal for a while and waited to see if a ball flies my way or not. Hobbling around the pitch would be useless.
P.S. Next week - Chapter 26
An infernal day. …
An eternal drive to the hospital. …