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.
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.