Hurts So Good

So, after 7 years of derby, I finally hurt myself.

It’s not that I haven’t had bumps and bruises, hard falls and hurt fingers – I have.  We all have.  But I had never missed a day of work because of a derby injury until this week.

It wasn’t anything spectacular – in the very last jam of a scrimmage at practice, I went in for a block, my knee shifted, my foot stayed where it was, I heard a pop, and went down.  I was having a great practice, my head was in the game, I wasn’t doing anything unsafe – my foot just caught a sticky patch of floor at the wrong time.

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Looks like my left knee is growing an alien baby.

I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d feel when I finally got hurt – perhaps unsurprisingly, I pretended that it was nothing and continued to boss my team around with an ice pack on my knee.  Whenever I’ve taken a hard fall before, my brain always tries to get me back on my feet right away – sort of like a horse who doesn’t want to be shot.  I tried that again this time – with much less success and a comical knee collapse.  More than anything, I wanted the injury to be nothing – to feel better as soon as I walked around a bit.  But that wasn’t really happening.

As head of training for my league, I’ve seen a lot of skaters hurt themselves.  I’ve seen lots of rehab, and I’ve seen lots of mental anguish over the ever-waging battle between the amazing things this sport does for us and the toll it takes on our bodies.  I’ve seen skaters come back WAY before they are ready because they’re terrified to miss a bout.  I’ve seen skaters not come back because they just can’t get past the fear of injuring themselves again.  I’ve seen a lot of reactions to injury over the years.

The reaction that baffles me, though – and this is the moral of today’s blog post – is accepting that you “are hurt” and then doing nothing about it.  You know those skaters – the ones who complain about their aches and pains and then when you ask whether they’ve been to the doctor, they look at the floor.  That reaction is the silliest one.  If you’re injured, even a little, do something about it.

The first thing I did when I got home was leave a message for my physiotherapist to get me in first thing on Monday (alright, the second thing – the first thing was to go to Costco with a leaguemate because I was still trying to convince myself that I wasn’t that hurt).

The next thing I did was book Monday off work to rest, ice, and elevate ALL DAY.

I’ve been in physio every day this week.  I’ve done my exercises at home.  I bought an ice pack that I can strap to my leg for convenience.  I elevate my knee every moment I can spare.  I cancelled all of my training clients this week to focus on my recovery.

Why ?  Because I want to get better.

Because I don’t want to screw up my knee any worse.  Because taking it easy and doing what my doctor says now means the potential to heal quickly and fully.

Over the week, I’ve felt compassion for the skaters who hurt themselves when they’re just starting out.  It’s got to be so tough to fall in love with the sport and then have it snatched away from you in an instant.  I’ve been playing long enough to be okay with missing a bout – if it were my very first bout, I’m sure that I would be crushed.

But that one bout is NEVER worth the rest of your derby career.  It’s not worth the ability to walk when you’re 50.  It’s not worth the mental stress of coming back before you’re ready.  My first major injury is teaching me this – don’t be a hero.  Take all the time off that you and your doctor think you need. Don’t mistake the absence of pain for total recovery.  Do your physio.  Derby will be there when you’re ready to come back.

So, that’s what I’m learning – what about you?  What has injury taught you about life and derby?

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14 Comments

  1. Sorry to hear about your knee, and amazed that you went 7 years before anything like this happened! Rest up, Lilith.

    Big Banger
    Nashville Rollergirls

  2. OUCH!! Sorry to hear about your injury – I hope all your hard work and sensible behaviours lead to a very speedy recovery!

  3. Sorry to hear about your knee! LOL I have a very similar story about a recent injury. I sprained my ankle hiking, with only 4 weeks to go before a big end of season tournament for my team. My first reaction was denial as I kept hiking (I think I walked about 8 km on it). But once I recognized the severity of the injury I tried to do all the right things; doctor, x-ray, chiro, deep tissue laser therapy. I stayed off it for a whole week, got around on crutches, but kept up mobility exercises. In the second week I got into more weight bearing and rehab exercises. I couldn’t help but think all of this was silly and a tad extreme for “just a sprained ankle”. But I am so happy I took these measures as I managed to heal in time to play the tournament with a taped ankle and feel no pain! I consider myself lucky to have been able to treat and heal my injury as I did. Hope you heal up quickly and come back stronger than ever!

  4. I fall into the hurt and too frightened to get hurt again category. I truly believe no one can really understand until they have been injured the emotional effect it can have. Good luck in your recovery x

    • I think you’re right – it’s easy to assume that everyone’s recovery (both physical and mental) should follow the same path, but that’s just not the case. I wish you all the best!

  5. I tore my PCL in warmup before my first all-star bout. It was devastating. I finally felt like I had arrived as a skater and then it was gone. Your statement of having it “snatched away” really resonated with me. On the outside I was determined and in good spirits. On the inside I was devastated and depressed. I did my physical therapy and followed doctors orders and still participated in league events. 4 months later I am braced and back in the track physically but my mental game has really suffered. My coach says I’m skating scared. Anyone have advice in getting over the mental hurdle?

  6. My injury taught me I am stronger then I think! And that derby is always there for you. You are totally right about getting checked out and listening to your doctors! Getting over the mental barriers is the hardest part.

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  8. I broke my fibula in two places at my very first Raw Meat session. Didn’t even get as far as Fresh Meat or a bout. It has been an amazing opportunity for insight into my physiology – what muscles I need to strengthen, in particular – and it has also been a hard lesson about listening to my body. I was really tired going into the session and had the thought that I should sit it out but I was SO excited to be skating with others and learning new skills. As a result, I lost the whole raw meat training session and likely won’t be on skates until early spring. I have a bit of fear; it was an innocuous move that led to the fall, but I am hoping with rehab and a concerted strengthening regime I will feel confident in my body. Physiotherapy first, off-skate training second, skates third. I definitely need a trainer!
    Hope your recovery goes smoothly.

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