How 48 Stitches Taught Me It’s Never Too Late To Change



If you receive my daily emails, you’ve already read the post below.  But the email responses I received from this were so much greater in number than usual, that I thought I should post it to the blog as well.  

I’m not sure why this story struck a chord with so many people.  Perhaps we can all relate to enduring (or ignoring) pain and discomfort for the sake of a greater good.  And perhaps we all know that there is a dangerous fine line we walk, where ignoring the damage can eventually lead to permanent injury if we let it linger for too long.  That being said, I hope you enjoy my story of 48 stitches. . .

I stood across the ring from my karate instructor’s top black belt student.  My instructor threw us each a three-foot long stick.

48 Stitches Taught Me It’s Never Too Late To Change


Fight.  That’s all he said.  No details on the level of contact we should use.  No clarity on the rules of engagement.  Just “Fight!”.  I was 17 years old.

I rushed the black belt with a forehand swing of my stick.  He parried easily and we ended up chest to chest – too close to swing the sticks.  I reached up with my off hand and grabbed him by the throat.  He stepped to my inside, dropped his hips, and tossed me through the air with ease.  But we were too close to the trophy case. . .

My left foot smashed through the glass of the trophy case.  I rolled onto the floor and landed on my stomach.  As I looked over my shoulder, I could see the bottom of my foot but not the top of my foot.  And the top of the foot is where all of the damage was.

I remained calm.  I didn’t get a visual on the true extent of my injury, so I didn’t panic.  Everyone in the room either helped apply first aid or reassure me that everything was alright.  We went to the hospital.

I left the hospital with my wound treated and my foot bound in a heap of gauze and bandages.  I still hadn’t seen the damage.  And I was still calm.

The next morning I had to clean my wound.  So I undressed my bandages and here, for the first time, I saw the true extent of my injury.

48 stitches.  My foot was swollen in hues of purple, blue, and green.  The laceration ran from my middle toe to around my big toe.  I was lucky I still had toes.  It looked like the foot of Frankenstein.

I felt light-headed.  I got short of breath.  I panicked.

And then I regained my composure, cleaned the wound, and dealt with reality.  I walked with a cane for several weeks.

Often, we ignore the extent of the damage we have done to ourselves.  Whether that be from poor diet, lack of exercise, drug use, or being a workaholic.  And ignoring the facts serves us – it allows us to soldier on.  It allows us to not panic.  And it allows us to keep going when we really need to stop.

But eventually we have to look at the wounds we have created.  We have to see the harsh reality.  And then we have to get a grip, clean the wound, and deal with it.

No matter how far down the wrong path we have gone, we can always turn back.  It’s never too late to change and Injury-Proof Your Knees. It’s never too late to start cleaning the wounds.

We might need a cane for a while.  But eventually, if we deal with reality and change course for the better, we’ll walk with a spring in our step that we never had before.

We’ll be better than ever.

Train Hard,

If you enjoyed that story, you can get daily emails from me were I talk about my life as a soldier, lawyer, and pet owner (Coda makes for good story telling), and how the lessons I’ve learned can apply to your fitness challenges.  To register for this email newsletter click here.

How has allowing yourself to temporarily ignore pain or injury served you? 

How has it made things worse? 

Let me know in the comments below.

How 48 Stitches Taught Me It's Never Too Late To Change
Article Name
How 48 Stitches Taught Me It's Never Too Late To Change
If you receive my daily emails, you've already read the post below.  But the email responses I received from this were so much greater in number than usual, that I thought I should post it to the blog as well.  
Publisher Name
Gym Junkies
Publisher Logo


  1. Hi Vic,

    I’ve been ignoring a nagging shoulder for a few months now and it has finally caught up with me up to the point that I now have to rehabilitate my shoulder with the help of a physical therapist, obviously putting my workouts on hold for the next couple of weeks.
    Luckily I have been able to fall back on kickboxing and conditioning for the summer, and once my shoulder is healed up I will be ready to hit the gym harder, but more importantly smarter than before.

  2. I am soic, so I sometimes don’t know the extent of an injury, sometimes I don’t even know I am hurt. I can tolerate pain better then most people so when I feel pain I make sure and check on it. I also don’t like pain killers because I have to know exactlly what my body is telling me through the pain, I dont don’t want to make an injury worse.

  3. This is crazy — allowing a seventeen year old kid to spar all-out with an advanced student — using STICKS, near a GLASS trophy case is criminally insane. I’m glad that you were able to pull such a valuable life lesson out of it though.

    I would also add — for anyone who is put in a situation like this where you know your body is at risk, WALK AWAY. Injuries will put you out of training for so long, and will annihilate months upon months of progress.

    And if you are injured physically or psychologically, handle it just the way Vic did. Don’t waste time beating yourself up — just do the things that will bring you back to 100%, and realize you’ll be stronger for the experience.

    Mike Chang’s Fitness Blog

  4. Life is going to knock you down. It’s just a simple fact. The only thing we can do is do what we were built to do: Get Up!

  5. Such an inspiring post! Goes to show no matter how dire a situation, you can always come back stronger from it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here