Tomás Waters: “I heard the snap straightaway. I tried to get up and go after the ball, but I wasn’t able to get up. I was in too much pain.”
Four months on from ACL damage to his knee and Tomás Waters’ life is slowly regaining a sense of normality.
He’s still on twice weekly visits to St. Vincent’s Hospital, not to mention the 12-week dose of intravenous antibiotics, but compared with the past few months, which included going under anaesthetic five times in six weeks, it’s a relative stroll in the park.
The Wexford hurler was discharged from hospital last week and is optimistic that a hugely frustrating summer is now finally behind him.
“Hopefully now I am past the worst of it,” smiles the 26-year old.
“I got out last Friday week and so all that is left now is roughly 10-weeks of antibiotics. They are a pretty strong dose so please god now that will be the end of it. I was on crutches for ten weeks and I only got off them the week before last. Up to that the last time I had put one foot in front of the other was the Clare qualifier on July 13. The whole thing was very frustrating.”
The opening lines in Waters’ nightmare summer were penned in the 64th minute of July’s qualifier defeat to Clare. The full-back had burst out in front of his marker, Shane O’Donnell, to gather Dómhnall O’Donovan’s delivery, but misjudged the flight of the ball which flew in over their heads. Waters turned, the knee buckling, and collapsed in agony.
“I knew straightaway my knee was gone. Once I went down I heard the snap straightaway. I tried to get up and go after the ball, but I wasn’t able to get up. I was in too much pain.
“Coming off the pitch then the knee went again.”
The 26-year old arrived at Santry’s Sports Clinic the following Tuesday morning where his worst fear was realised. ACL damage.
Having missed the entire 2012 campaign due to an impingement on both of his hips, Waters was consigned to spending further time on the treatment table.
“A month after the injury the swelling had come down on the knee so they could do some pre-operation rehab. Two screws were put in during the surgery. In the weeks after the initial surgery I knew there was something wrong. I was getting high temperatures at night time. I was readmitted and the knee was very hot. I was a month after the operation without noticing there was an infection in it.”
The St Martin’s clubman went under the knife on four further occasions and with no progress achieved, a transfer request to St. Vincent’s was made.
“I went up to St. Vincent’s where their top team of microbiologists was put onto it. They sorted it out and prescribed me the correct antibiotic. I have a foreign body with two screws in my knee from the ACL graphs and once you have a foreign body, so to speak, in your knee it is harder to kill the bug. They are giving me a stronger dose now so it definitely will kill it off this time.”
Waters will tell you he managed the pain, galling and all as it may have been, but what really concerns him is the severe strain put on his Dublin based business, Model Construction.
“It was very hard with work. That is my sole priority at the moment, trying to get the company back on its feet. While on crutches all I could do was be on the phone. I couldn’t even go to a job for insurance reasons, they wouldn’t let you anywhere near a job with crutches. I was laid up at home, on the phone and trying to sort things out as best I could from there. It was a tough old time.”
As for stepping back inside the whitewash?
“I will only come back when I am 100%. There is no point flogging a dead horse. There is no point me coming back, not being fully right and then having to drop of again. I hope to be back in with the Wexford panel around March.
“Presently, I am just maintaining the muscle around my knee and trying to maintain my body as best as I can so I won’t have as long a road to come back. I can’t kick on where I’d like to.”
To ease the financial hit to Waters and his business, Wexford play Kilkenny in a challenge game on December 8 at New Ross, tickets priced at €10.
Though far from a begging man, the full-back is humbled by the gesture of manager Liam Dunne.
“I asked Liam Dunne not to do it, but he pushed ahead with it anyway. I am hugely appreciative to Brian Cody and everyone who agreed to be part of this game. Dave Beirne of the Wexford Supporters’ Club has been helping me out with work in Dublin and I appreciate all he has done.
“It is a massive help. It would make you want to play for your county again when you see people going out of their way to help you. I am not a whole lot of good to Liam. Most managers would tell you to come back when you are right, whereas Liam has been on the phone to me sorting out stuff.”
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