Michael Gordon is a Philadelphia Eagles fanatic. Like many of his ilk he has a high threshold to agony.
It helped him to cope with all of the Eagles playoff failures over the years. It also helped him make the final test of his devotion last week.
His left foot was badly injured in an accident. He fractured his heel multiple times and also lost another bone. Gordon opted to delay surgery for a full week in order to be able to fly to Arizona and watch the Super Bowl. (His doctor gave his approval.
“I’ll be in pain and that’ll suck,” Gordon, 39, said, “but I’ve got to do this.”
He will. His foot feels almost like a bowling ball. A cast — green, of course — entombs most of his lower left leg, starting a few inches below the knee, and he is learning to navigate on a knee scooter.
Though he cherished celebrating the Eagles’ first Super Bowl title, in the 2017 season, with thousands of other fans on Broad Street, Gordon, of South Philadelphia, said he regretted not going to the game in Minneapolis. He vowed not to miss another one — if it ever came.
The Eagles defeated San Francisco in the N.F.C. championship game. Gordon purchased two tickets for his husband Lauren’s January championship game. He described it as his gift for every holiday and birthday for the next few years.
Then, while he was on his way to collect a package from a neighbor, he tried to scale a small fence. He jumped, landed on his left heel and, he said, “saw stars” immediately. He couldn’t stand. His foot twitched, trembled and twitched. He felt like vomiting.
In that moment, he said, two realizations arrived at once — one pragmatic, one emotional. And you, dear reader can decide which one is it.
“Well, I’m not 14 anymore,” Gordon said, “and then, welp, I just ruined a trip to the Super Bowl.”
After several urgent care visits, multiple radiographs, and a long night in the emergency room, Gordon found himself almost 36 hours later in the office Dr. Derek Donegan. He is an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Donegan said to him that he may not be able walk again until next year after the surgery. He could also develop arthritis. Gordon, sitting there with his broken foot and crushed spirit, asked Gordon if he could fly to Arizona if he had surgery on the next day.
Donegan warned Donegan against any potential complications, such as infections or blood clots.
“That was worse than the injury itself,” Gordon said.
Gordon recalls that the time Donegan spoke before Gordon was able to speak next felt like minutes. Gordon said that there was no risk of causing further damage to the foot or prolonging recovery. Donegan suggested that he put on a cast and schedule the surgery for Thursday.
“I just met you,” Gordon told him, “but I think I love you.”
Donegan, an Eagles fan from Malvern, Pa., joked that he had casts only in red and white — Kansas City colors. He expressed empathy for Gordon and said that he would not have cleared him in the event of an unsafe situation.
“As physicians, we manage the whole person and make sure the patient has the best outcome — both physically and psychologically,” Donegan said Saturday morning. “If this was going to cause him undue harm, the conversation would obviously have been different, but it seemed like he really, really wanted to go.”
He added: “And me saying it’s OK to go doesn’t make it easy to do, and it doesn’t make it pain-free. It’s going to be uncomfortable.”
Gordon, who wears a custom Eagles businesssuit and has witnessed the team play at 15 stadiums on two continents over the past year, finds the discomfort to be temporary.
He was to arrive at the stadium approximately four and a-half hours before kickoff. His wife plans to stay a few more days in Arizona to enjoy the majestic red rocks of Sedona before flying home on Wednesday.
If the Eagles win, it’s possible their victory parade would be held on Thursday — while Gordon is in surgery.
“I’m OK with that,” Gordon said. “I wouldn’t have seen that part live, but I’ll get to see the better part in person.”
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