About 10 days before I was set to leave for Beijing, during a regular practice session, I twisted my right ankle while attempting to reach for a shuttle in the front right corner of the court. I was taken to Manipal hospital immediately, and on doing an MRI scan I was told that I had partially ruptured 2 of my ankle ligaments.
I had torn the plantar fascia (arch) in my left foot earlier in the year in March, but that was not a very serious injury and it only kept me out of practice and competition for about 4 weeks. This injury that I had in my ankle, though is pretty much the first real injury that I've had. As I was to leave for Beijing, I figured out some temporary solutions, like taping my right leg from the foot to just below the knee, to compeltely take away any pressure on the ankle. While in Beijing, I also took a cortisone injection in 2 spots in the ankle. A cortisone shot, while it can give temporary relief, is best avoided as it delays complete recovery of the injured area. It only blocks out the pain, it does'nt heal the injury. But since I was in the Olympics, I went ahead with the injection anyway.
Its been 3 months now since I returned from Beijing and I am still not fully healed. I still cannot stretch my right ankle as much as the left. On returning from Beijing, I consulted a couple of doctors and got a schedule of what to do (rest, strengthening etc) but when that did'nt work, I consulted a doctor in Bombay who has put me on a 6 week rehabilitation program. I am 3 weeks through the program as of now and am feeling much better. I feel like this time I am following the right kind of rehab program, even if it ends up taking a bit more time.
Its been very hard for me to skip tournament after tournament,specially since in the last 3 years or so, I have not been away from competition or training for more than a week. I've got so used to travelling around countries,competing, training hard, pushing myself to my physical limits, that I hardly know what to do with all this free time. I'd bought a flat a few months ago and renovating the flat has kept me reasonably busy, but also very stressed out :-)
I've read a lot about athletes who get injured, have a rough time in rehab, but end up coming through it stronger than before. In my case, while I know that I still have a long way to go before I'm competely fit and back on top in the rankings, I feel like I'm realising for the first time how much I love playing badminton. I've always enjoyed playing, of course, but I can feel now that its more than just a career, a job. Its what I was meant to do. And I know that once I am back playing, I will be better than I ever was before.
I'm grateful for all the e-mails wishing me a quick recovery. Its really nice to read messages of support, thanks guys!