By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
The hand with the crooked scar has mostly healed, thanks in large measure to the skill of the surgeon and the nurses and the physical therapist, not to mention the support of my family and the promise of a seventh season writing and editing The JB Replay.
I’ve known for years that I’d need to deal with an issue known as Dupuytren’s contracture.
Basically, it’s a condition that slowly crumples the hands, with fascia thickening around tendons and pulling fingers down and inward, toward the palm. Left untreated, the malady can lead to serious problems. In my case, the doctor recommended surgery. I had my left hand fixed four years ago. My dominant hand — the right — was repaired on June 15.
For the first few weeks I debated whether to say something about my predicament.
I mean, I had to drop coverage of Texas-based teams in the NCAA baseball playoffs after the first weekend of the tournament. Then, in the weeks after the operation, I didn’t really know what to say about whether I could or should try to continue in a writing career that has spanned 46 years.
I mean, it was weird enough trying to do simple things around the house, much less think about how I should go about covering the upcoming college basketball season. Now a little more than eight weeks post-op, I’m feeling pretty strong. The right hand is not all the way back, but it’s on a good trajectory towards normalcy.
The hand no longer folds over the side of the laptop when I try to write a story. Thank goodness.
Overall, I’m feeling much, much more like my old self after swimming regularly in the mornings over the past few weeks. Hey, I’m no Michael Phelps. But I’ve knocked out about 1,500 meters in each of the last two trips to the pool. Now I feel ready to start making trips to the UTSA campus. To say hello to coaches Steve Henson and Karen Aston. To get acquainted with all the new faces on the rosters.
Clearly, most of my enthusiasm stems from just feeling good again.
Additionally, I just feel like I have a better perspective on a lot of things. For instance, I’ve written hundreds of stories over the years about athletes facing health challenges. I’ve always empathized with the athletes who were held back by injuries. Now I know from personal experience what it really feels like for a ball player’s season to be in question.
Moreover, the value of personal relationships has also come into much, much sharper focus. My wife, Paula, bless her heart, pretty much gave up her entire summer looking after me. When she wasn’t around the house, my son Charlie was. To my friends, everyone who called and messaged, you all played a huge role in my recovery.
Finally, for the readers who might have wondered why I didn’t write a thing about the College World Series in June or UTSA’s recent transition to the American Athletic Conference, I want to thank you for your patience. You guys are the reason I continue to run this site. Hands down.