RURAL VIEWS: Nelson, Mikko and my tennis elbows, By Danilo A. Balucos

The pain, particularly in my right arm, recurred and worsened when I resumed playing badminton in December last year after two weeks of not playing.  This could be what they call tennis elbow.

A two-week rest was very long for one who has been addicted to the game.  Well, I’m just trying to compensate for the time when I was constrained not to play this game in my younger days.  But that’s another story.

Wikipedia defines tennis elbow as a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender.  It’s a condition that is commonly associated with playing tennis, though the injury can happen to almost anybody.  It is simply known as lateral elbow pain.

Tennis elbow is common to players of other racket games like badminton.  Some of my friends experienced it.  They fully recovered after doing some arm exercises in a month or so, even if they did not stop playing for long.

That day when I resumed playing in December, I did the usual stretching exercises prior to the games.

Maybe I should have done more stretching, or maybe I have not executed them more properly.  Or maybe, it’s nature’s way of reminding me that in sports, age matters.  And it really matters a lot.

It was also in December last year when Nelson, the husband of a former officemate, met an accident.
His motorcycle collided with another motorcycle on his way back to Davao City.  His leg and arm were badly injured.  He was confined at the hospital and underwent surgery.

When I visited him at the orthopedic ward, I saw the condition of other patients which were worse than that of Nelson.  I felt so weak and could not stand long looking at the steel braces on the legs, arms, and other parts of patients’ bodies.  They were obviously in severe pain.

After a week or so, Nelson was in a better condition.  He even managed to ask first, “Kumusta Dan?” (How are you Dan?)

It was also in December when I asked Mikko of his wish for the Year of the Ox.

Mikko is the eldest son of my friends Roger and Lourdes.  His motor development is slow and so, at the age of ten, he can walk only with the aid of a “walker.”

Mikko smiled and said, “Ninong, I wish I can walk.  That’s my only wish. That’s all.”

He is full of hope, without any hint of self-pity.  While he has accepted that he is a special child, his optimism remains.  He continues hoping and wishing that he can finally walk.  He said his wish without any pain in his eyes.

There is still pain in my right arm and elbow, although it has subsided after I followed some simple home exercises suggested by a physical therapist.  I was advised to rest for faster recovery, but I can endure only a few days of not playing badminton.

But when I think of Nelson and Mikko, my tennis elbow would seem reduced to an insect bite.  Their fighting spirits can lift me up to go back to court and play.

This is not simply being stubborn by refusing to rest.  It is getting inspired by people who strongly go through harder challenges in life, not the mere discomfort or little pain experienced by trying hard, mature individuals who play against younger and better players.

And it’s simply getting reminded of our blessings.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Danilo Balucos, the first business manager of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center,  left to pursue law school, passed the 2006 bar exams and is now a partner in a law firm in Davao City.)