4:30am on Wednesday, January 6th. Thinking about healing...
Right after my Achille’s surgery last month, a journalist wrote an article about me in a local newspaper in Umea, Sweden – I have yet to see it. So. At 4:30am, unable to sleep, I decided to search for it. Every combination of the terms Yetsa, Tuakli, Ghana, Sweden, Dr. Alfredson, and Achille’s Surgery yielded nothing but, curious, I did a general search of my name. Starting around page 7, results from old meets began to pop up. I don’t think I’ve ever looked through my performances over what feels like, and in many ways is, a lifetime…
In college, an astonishing 14-15 years ago (goodness gracious!), I competed and set a few school records in the triple jump (the triple what? why and how was I even authorized to do that event?!?), and my performances were all what I now consider “cute:” barely hitting 5 to 5.50 meters in the long jump, once hitting 6.17; hitting 11 to 11.80 meters in the triple jump; running 7.43s in the 55 meter dash (is that event even contested anymore?!?).
After medical school, around 2008, I consistently hit 5.80-5.90 meters in the long jump, and 12.20-12.30 meters in the triple jump (again, why was I even triple jumping?!? I literally have no recollection of those meets).
During my first year as a member of the medical school faculty (2015), I randomly ran the 60m dash in the middle of a strange period of fall training. I wasn’t enrolled in a specific training program since my coaches had “quit” on me yet again (Lord knows, that should have been the final red flag for me never to go back to them). I remember just wanting to give myself a goal, any goal, and re-kindle the joy of competing. So I signed up for the 60m and ran 8.00s. Not earth-shattering. But I ran almost the same time 3 years earlier during residency (7.91s). The major difference was that in 2008, I was in the middle of a comprehensive, supervised season of fall training. Weird!
My best jumps came in 2012 (6.29-6.35 meters). In 2015, despite my Achille’s pain (and probably due to a lot of Diclofenac!), I still competed out in Cali and hovered right around 5.99 meters.
Now. Let’s not hype it. None of these performances are staggering, I know. But they tell me that I have been working very, very hard for a very, very long time; that in the midst of very different seasons, professional moments (college student, medical student, resident, fellow and faculty member?!?), coaching programs, and often in the absence of a program (and a sane coach); that in different states and at different body weights; with no support or the full support of family and friends; I have made either very slow and steady progress (long jump), or at least stayed consistent over a weirdly long time (sprints).
Amen to consistency over time but really… The question is… How can I use this “story,” my story, RIGHT NOW?
Truth be told, I’ve been pretty beaten down by this Achille’s issue and recently, I've wanted – badly, to give up all together. But. This 4am Google search is making me re-consider.
I haven’t worked harder or longer for anything. It’s an invisible journey, and a slow one, sure, but it has both taken and given me more than any other journey I’ve taken in my life. It's not something to just cast aside. If God sees fit to allow me the opportunity to train this season, to overcome my literal Achille’s heel and enroll in a formal, systematic program of training and competing with a positive coach (not the old ones, Lord have mercy...) who is as committed as I am apparently am, best believe I’m taking the chance. I can’t just passively give up now. Whatever the outcome, if or rather when healing finally happens, we’re going for it.