Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Answering the question

Last weekend marked two months that I've been off injured which means I've got one month to get back on skates otherwise I drop back down to Corporal level. This issue has occupied my thoughts for quite a few weeks now. I won't lie, a large part of me would be absolutely crushed if this happened especially after fighting so bloody hard to pass the Sergeant's testing level only to have it slip out of my grasp right away. If the worst does happen and I don't recover in time I've already made the decision that I'm not going anywhere. Instead I'll fight all over again to pass even with the new minimum skills coming into effect now.

I was THIS close to getting a clearance letter to return back to skating last week from my physio. At first she said no, give it at least another week. She changed her mind and then asked me how long would I skate last weekend at training, then changed her mind again and said I should continue working on strengthening my knee up, all in the space of 15 minutes so I virtually went from DAMMIT to YES!!!! to SHIT!!! The rational part of me understands where she's coming from. I've had ongoing problems with this knee in derby and now I've got to permanently manage it correctly. The irrational part of me is impatient and just wants to be back on skates already.

One of the biggest things I've discovered in this lengthy injury lay off is discovering how much you're willing to fight for something when it has been taken away from you (in my case more times than I can remember). How bad did I still want derby? Wallowing in the feeling of the injustice of it all served me well for the first few weeks but at the end of the day it didn't change the situation I was in. The chats with Jilla and having the MRI scan helped snap me out the negative head space I was in.

It's so terribly cliqued but it felt like a switch got flicked. I was eagerly doing all the strengthening work and following all the instructions from my physio so that I could get back on the derby track. One of the biggest things I've discovered in all this is the benefits of stretching and the flow on effect it has with injury prevention and improving flexibility. I've been incorporating that a lot more of that into my life.

At the beginning of the year I listed all my derby goals for the year. Given this ongoing injury issue I've had to adjust it a bit and add a few more goals:

1. Get back on skates
2. Slowly work my way back to the level I was at pre-injury.
3. Hopefully be back to my best for whenever it is that Jilla is scheduled to come down to train and scrimmage with us.
4. Get the chance to bout when we have home teams hopefully later this year.
5. Become a kazi by the end of the year.

I realise the last one is probably a bit cheeky because that's still another level away and I haven't even officially trained at Sergeant's level yet but when I look back at what I managed in the first part of the year through determination and hard work then I don't see how this could be impossible if I continue to work as hard as I did pre-injury and remain focussed on the task at hand once I get back on skates.

In my attempts to get back on skates I've looked outside of derby for help. One of the things I've wanted to improve is my fitness so as I've been allowed by my physio to start walking and then jogging I've looked at getting back into running. Although my current size says otherwise I used to be quite athletic and loved running. Nowadays I also find it helps clear my head while I listen to my ipod and block out the world for a little while.

I've also gone back to my first ever love of football. As silly as it sounds being able to do something I love and not get injured has been such a great feeling. For now it has just been kicking a ball but just being able to put my body weight on my right leg to strike the ball with my left foot and not get any pain in my right knee has been such a confidence booster for me. I love the fact that there are transferable skills in football that I can use in derby like when I was taught from a young age to trap the ball with my chest so that you learnt to the absorb the ball so that it would fall to your feet instead of bouncing off your chest and losing control. The same motion can be used in derby when it comes to absorbing the force from an oncoming skater when you're backwards blocking them.

All this non-derby work I've been doing the last few weeks and watching some NRDL bouts along with our family and friend's bout has completely invigorated me. It has made me re-evaluate what I want out of derby, the original bouting goals I had before haven't changed, I'm just that bit more determined to achieve them. That hunger I've had most of my life to improve and work things out when things haven't gone well in sport is something I've tried bringing over to roller derby. I want to fight for the shirt. I want to see HARD continue to improve so that we can go into bouts against the likes of NRDL and believe we can get something out of it and not think how much are they going to smash us by. Really I just want to stay and fight and see all of us at HARD be the best we can be.

I love a good motivational quote but I thought I'd end this post with a video clip I fell in love the moment I saw it. I found this extremely inspiring. That's how I feel right now. It may not look pretty at the beginning of the journey but I'm trying my hardest to find my greatness, hopefully it'll be good enough to allow me to represent HARD one day on the track :)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

There's stuffing up and then there's completely fucking things up.

From as far back as I can remember I've always had two expectations of myself whenever it came to my involvement in team sports:

1. Always put in 100% no matter if it's at training, playing or anything in between.
2. Don't let the team down.

Sport has been a huge part of my life that I often suffer the sporting equivalent of bi-polar ranging from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. The lessons I learnt from all the years I played football (or soccer for Jilla) shaped the way I am in derby. I've never strived to be a superstar but I tried to be the best I could be for the team.

There's two moments from those days which made what happened last Saturday night hit me that much harder. When I was playing in the under 16's all season we were neck and neck with another team. We played each other in the preliminary finals with the scores tied 1-1 and time almost up. I trapped the ball right near our goal line instead of smashing it up field. The opposition striker slid and kicked the ball out from under my foot to score the winner which meant we were forced into an elimination match the following week to have any hope of getting into the grand final. I got home and absolutely bawled my eyes out because it was my fuck up that cost us the match. My poor dad clearly uncomfortable with crying daughters tried his best to cheer me up by reassuring me we'd beat them in the grand final when it mattered :)

Fast forward two weeks and we found ourselves in the grand final against our arch enemies in another nail biter. Just like the rest of the season we played awesome as a team with everyone playing their roles to perfection and we ended up reversing the result and beating them 2-1. It was one of the best moments in my life. What we achieved as a team that season was nothing short of amazing, it's why I treasure the trophy I received at our awards night so dearly even to this day. It serves as a reminder of what can be achieved through hard work and team work.

Last Saturday I was line up manager for the first time for the 'kazi's. I wasn't nervous about the task but I was worried about letting down the team with my inexperience. We prepared as a group for the bout in terms of line up's and having a zen bench. By all accounts we started off well, I was following the line up lists and setting the sides out but then I lost track of which side went out next and amongst the confusion it went downhill really quick and that's no exaggeration. The guys were confused so they couldn't plan on what to do on the track which probably lead to the penalties coming up in bucketloads. It was such a massive clusterfuck and I felt like the biggest gobshite in the world by the end of the bout. So much for keeping a zen bench, I lost control and ended up doing the one thing I dreaded the most - I let the team down. Driving home I was trying to think how could I even begin to make it up to the team but drew a complete blank.

In the days after I thought that quitting benching would probably be the right thing to do because clearly I'm rubbish at it. If there's no other option I might have to do line up manager again for the next 5x5 bout against Inner West. A part of me does want to try and fix up last week's fuck up, I owe my team mates that much. I'm not looking for sympathy with this post, in fact I won't hear it (yes I'm looking at you Jac). I put my hand up, I fucked up last Saturday and for that I truly apologise 'kazi's.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It ain't over until the fat lady sings and I ain't singing yet.

These past seven weeks that I've been off skates injured (especially the last few weeks) have taken me places physically and mentally that I least expected that I'm not even sure where to start so apologies if this post is all over the shop.

The dreaded MRI scan. I was hoping for the best and expecting the worst. While the scan was being done, my mind drifted to picturing lining up for the 'kazi's to take on the Dames (it always seems to come back to them) as if will power could somehow alter the results of the scan.

I had to wait until the next day to see my GP for the results because they got sent direct to him. It's hard to read my doctor because he'll often pull a concerned facial expression from time to time so you don't know whether to freak out or not. He finally spilled it out that the report found no tears (hooray so no surgery!) BUT they found that I've got early arthritis in two different spots in my knee. My heart dropped, isn't it predominately something older people get? According to him everyone gets it but it got me earlier due to all the wear and tear from the sports I've played over the years. The other issue was tracking issues. A normal knee cap moves up down, mine also moves left to right that the knee cap has started to grind away the bone behind it.

I thought that was all there was to it but when I went to the physio last week she pointed out something in the MRI result that my doc failed to tell me. The physio was surprised that the MRI still picked up bone bruising five weeks after I first injured it. I was thinking 'how the hell can you bruise a bone?' but my physio explained it to me. Given the amount of bone bruising that showed it was a miracle that I hadn't fractured the bone, I'd done the equivalent of denting the bone. Given all that info it's no wonder why my recovery has been so slow. Hindsight eh?  Ohh and crossovers actually make my knee worse because my knee is in such a stretched and flex position when I put my foot down and put weight on it it's doing more damage.

So now that I know the full story is it time to hang up my skates? Like hell it is. It's manageable but I have to follow these instructions that both the physio and doctor gave me:

1. Strap my knee when I exercise
2. Do the stretches to loosen my hamstrings and strengthen the surrounding knee muscles
3. Start taking Krill oil/glucosamine tablets
4. I got given the TALK to lose weight to take some pressure off my knees.

Funnily enough when I got my results and had it all explained to me it felt like a weight got lifted off my shoulders and my knee stopped hurting that I was sort of thinking that the physio would give me a clearance to return back to skating last week but she said she wants me to work on strengthening it and doing more non-skating exercise to see how it pulls up before she gives me a clearance. I wasn't going to argue with her because the last thing I want to do is un-do all the recovery I've put into the last seven weeks. At least when I finally get back on skates I'll be physically and mentally ready. 

I've had lots of help and well wishes these past seven weeks but there was one person whose help was absolutely invaluable and that was Jilla. Yeah, yeah while you all roll your eyes and say FANGIRL it actually had nothing to do with that. She told me a while back that she wanted to come and watch me in my first bout. When I told her I had to pull out of the family and friend's bout because of my knee injury she suggested getting an MRI done and it just spiralled on from there. She's had her own share of knee problems so being able to talk to someone who actually knows how you feel and all the crap you have to deal with made all the difference to me. It made me realise that there's always an option and quitting something I really love isn't one of those. It didn't matter how many questions I bombarded her with she answered all of them and it played a huge part of snapping out of my brain fart when I almost quit a few weeks ago. To top it all off the last NRDL bout I went to I asked her if she'd mind signing me a new postcard since the other one had my old derby name on it. She was cool enough to hold onto the card until she could think of what message to write. OK she might love rugby union but she's an awesome person on and off the track :P Some people like having motivation quotes or pics, here's mine to remind myself never to quit :)

Ok I might not be on skates just yet but there's so much good news happening in derby that it's hard not to feel inspired. Sharni and Betty both passed their Sergeant's exams last week. I was so happy for them especially Betty who kept picking herself up and pushed on for so long that she finally got rewarded for all her hard work. Bailee moved up to contact level and got her 25 in 5 with S2D2 after trying for so long. Cass is bossing it at NRDL and is within fingertip level of being bout ready, and Mon has settled in with NRDL and being pushed and learning heaps up there. It inspires me to work harder. I'd love to bout with or against my friend's one day on the track.Way too much awesomeness to even think of pulling the plug on derby!