Injuries suck. They really really do. My sister Vikki and I recently did a presentation at the Vancounver International Mountain Film Festival centered around the 'three types of fun'. Type one fun is fun while you are having it. Type two fun is fun in retrospect (not super fun while its happening, but you can look back and have a good laugh). Type three fun is not fun at all.
Injuries are defiantly type three fun.
I have dealt with quite a few debilitating injuries over the years. Knee surgery at 14, ankle surgery at 20, chronic shoulder impingement that took me out of the game for nearly 3 years, pulled finger tendons, dislocating wrists, hip problems… you name it, I’ve likely had experience with it.
The Kübler-Ross model states that people go through 5 stages of grief when there is loss in their lives.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally, Acceptance.
This is usually applied to the loss of a loved one, but has been well documented in sports psychology literature to also apply to athletes who lose the ability to participate in their sport.
For many of my injuries I spent a great deal of time in the depression stage, sitting at home feeling sorry for myself and drowning my sorrows with my mom’s famous Weldon Cookies. It’s understandable to be upset, but over the years I have learned to really focus on the positives, and stay away from replaying the incident over and over in my mind. Those ‘what if…’ questions never help.
I moved to Canmore last weekend to start my new job as a Registered Nurse. On Monday night I went to the climbing gym with a friend and destroyed my ankle. It’s a pretty rare injury, and is exactly the same thing I did to my other ankle when I was 20. I was high stepping at a funny angle, pushed to hard, and all those around me heard the sickening sound of soft tissue exploding. I new exactly what it was before I even hit the ground (allowing me to skip the denial stage of grieving). There is a band of soft tissue on the outside of the ankle that holds two tendons behind the ankle bone called the superior peroneal retinaculum (SPR). I destroyed this band, and now my tendons painfully flip over the ankle bone when I point my toes. It needs to be surgically repaired.
Photo from http://skillbuilders.patientsites.com/article.php?aid=124
The tears came pretty quick (depression), as did the F-bombs (anger), not so much from the pain, but from the realization that I had just lost the ability to do most of the things I love. Biking, climbing, skiing... walking around. My new skis wont be getting any more loving this winter, and I can say goodbye to my secret agenda to finally get my name on that stupid National Champion Trophy ;). Once I got my little self-pity party over with, I put it behind me and decided I was going to get sick strong for routes this summer (not sure yet if this is acceptance or bargaining, but it beats anger and depression any day).
I had a bit of an emotional setback this morning when I learned that it is going to take a month just to get a phone call about booking an appointment with a surgeon. I instantly started doing the math in my head and realized that I may not be back in action for the summer. But... I am luckily surrounded by awesome people who are every supportive, and am trying to take things one day at a time.
Positive thoughts... positive thoughts... positive thoughts!!
I can hobble around quite efficiently in my aircast (which I still had stashed away in my closet from last time). I am able to swim arms only, and I set up a rad circuit at the gym the other night of campusing, rings, hangboard and free weights.
I’ve learned that with injuries it’s really important to keep busy. I start my new job as an RN on Monday, and am working with my online coach Alli Rainey (www.allirainey.com) to re-organize my training schedule to accomodate for my injury.
My new goal is to be able to do a muscle-up on the rings before I can start climbing again.
So look out world… this is only going to make me stronger.