D-day came, and D-day ended. Last night, 14th October 2014, I put my skates and kit back on to skate in the hall I broke my ankle in back in July.
Pure and simple, just wow.
I had a huge rush and mix of emotions, nerves, excitement, passion, determination; and love for those around me last night. I arrived bearing cake and sweets for the end of the night in case I broke down or for when I survived the session & everyone was awesome. It was a little bit of a comfort blanket focusing on the humour side of things and that cake would either be a reward or consolation prize. I said hi to people I haven’t seen in so long, it felt good to see people smiling and being happy that I was there, and that I was actually putting my kit and skates on. These people mean a fair bit to me and to have their support and see positivity really helped me in standing up and moving my butt. I had originally delayed putting my kit on and skates on, by the time I got up and started to pootle everyone was midway through warm up drills.
So why the fear and emotions? There was a fair bit of me that thought people may be disappointed or feel let down if I couldn’t skate like I did pre-break, that I would be disappointed and upset with myself. And a fair bit of me that was just excited to get back on skates. I have so much passion and determination for this sport and I want to push myself and get back to being on the squads and showing my team and captains that I am 100% worth my spot. When it came down to standing up, all that disappeared. I took a deep breath and stood. At first I felt a little bit unstable, nothing to do with my body, but my mind. Once I stood up, everything became very real. Right then, stood in our practice hall, that moment I realised that D-day was make or break for me.
And it was make.
I started moving, and I suddenly felt at ease, I felt relaxed and so liberated. I could skate. And I was skating. At first I felt a little rusty, but it all came back to me so quickly! Crossovers, t-stop, plough/plow stop, laterals, hops, jumps, stepping, forwards, backwards, transitions of various manners….. it felt like I had not really been away! And there was no pain. A slight pulling on crossovers and laterals using my left foot as an anchor/pusher which will come back to me with time, the same for any toe-stop work and derby stops, I can go through the motions however putting my power and weight through them will require me to continue increasing my strength and stability a bit more first! I did get excitable as my confidence grew and went a bit faster and tried things a bit harder to test the limits of where my ankle was at, and it was fine! No pain, no struggle, it didn’t feel much different to pre-break. Maybe not so much of a pootle in the end…. oops!
I went through most of what I could remember in minimum skills, knee taps not really a problem! Knee falls however… my brain (Brian) seemed to not be able to compute the idea of falling. I could physically do it, but Brian decided – I’d rather not. Rosie was fantastic and went through the motions with me again, she didn’t really have to spend much time looking after me either, I appreciate the support she gives me so much and I know that if I need her, she’ll help me fix the problem! But to not have to rely on Rosie on my first night back for pretty much everything else? I felt like a strong person again. I didn’t really cry either! I teared up a little on the way back from practice, no sad tears though – happiness and assurance. I felt strong, positive and pretty damn happy. Just call me the come back kid!
My Mueller ankle support was fantastic. I’m not entirely sure how it helped me exactly… there was a strong essence of keeping my ankle stable and supported, but it helped my confidence. I think without the ankle support I would have not tested myself the way I did, I probably would have held myself back. So top marks to Mueller’s XLP ankle support! Highly recommended.
So where do I go from here? The only way is up? Baby? Ok, so a little cheesy. The fact everything felt so easy and so natural is mostly down to 20 years of skating giving me pretty awesome muscle memory!! I wanted to note that down in case some skaters returning may be expecting to be as they were or are back at skating and not in a comfortable position like me, returning is different for everyone – but the main thing to remember is that you were able to this before you broke. The only thing really stopping you from returning to pre-break status is you. There are occasions where skaters cannot physically return (I’m hoping you are Zeebs and HNSO’s/NSO’s in the making!) but if you are physically able to return, then you need to have that confidence that you can be awesome.
Before I broke, I was working my butt off to be better and I was not happy with my skating even at that point, now? The forced time off skating has given me a little R&R of course, but it has given me a renewed hunger and determination. I spent so much time feeling low, crying, feeling lost and alone without a purpose, but now I am out the other end? All that emotion? All that pain? I am taking everything I felt and everything I went through and I am using it. I’m using it to make me stronger, make me work harder, help me push harder and break down all the walls I hit whether mental, physical or a team of blockers. I may not be contact ready yet, but when I am? I am giving it my all. I am Tiki Terror – hear me roar!!!
I also want to take a moment to just say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has been there at one point or other in the last three months. Thank you for listening to me rant, offering me supporting words. Or just kicking my butt when I nearly sold my skates.
You are part of the reason I skate.
Thank you ❤
So what would I say to those going through the broken or injured stages?
Here are Tiki’s tips for broken/injured derby folk!
Doctors etc. Listen to them. Simple. They know what they are talking about and have your best interest. Come on, would they really want to keep seeing you in their office about your break/injury? Positive attitude. A positive attitude goes a really long way. Like really. Because you will find a hole in your life where derby usually is, find a positive outlet to fill it with. Whether it is writing, crocheting (seems to a fairly popular one!), music, heck – even building all the things with Lego! Or falling in love with Netflix all over again (our group often recommends Ru Pauls Drag Race). Just find something that you can be positive about and have a little bit of passion for. It really helps to pass the time too!
Also, it is ok to be sad. I am not saying that you have to feel positive all the time, if you feel sad, then share it. You are only human and you need support, do not bottle your emotions up. You need to cry? Then cry like you’re at the Oscars. Leading me onto my next tip.
Support. You need it. I don’t care who you are, how strong you say you are, there will come a point that you find yourself on the floor in floods of tears demanding ice-cream hating the world and ready to sell all your cherished derby goods. Everyone needs support, and a good support network can really help you get through this period. Whether it is family, friends or even an online support network, make sure you have at least one person you feel you can trust or talk to. I found my UKderbyCrips/team metal legs to be so valuable, this was a group of people I had not necessarily met before, but they helped me through so much and are now people I can’t wait to meet at bouts etc! But you need someone to listen to how you feel, talk to you when you need it, or just listen to you rant and bring you chocolate! Don’t be alone, because you are far from alone.
Also… get a good pillow for elevating your leg/ankle if a lower limb break. A memory foam one. Or one shaped for your leg. Physical support is important!
What about work? This is down to personal circumstances and your job requirements. I am a marketing bod with a company who were really well organised in sorting out a return to work risk assessment, putting everything in place for me coming back with a cast etc. Initially I worked from home for a week or so, then returned to the office where instead of my first floor office I sat at a desk on the ground floor with all equipment set up for me and a key to the disabled loo. Colleagues helped me get drinks etc and I knew I could ask for help if I needed it. I know and understand that I am luckier than most as many have physical jobs or less understanding employers. If you are going to return to work early with cast like myself, then ensure all steps have been taken to allow you a safe and comfortable work environment. Ensure there is a risk assessment undertaken and that your HR and staff are well aware of side effects of any medication or your actual break/injury. Also make sure that if you need it, there is a ground floor/disabled loo!!! Otherwise check your contract and if you are unable to return yet then see what the sick pay situation is etc. Should I diet now I’m not exercising? Diet? How about di-not. Ok, so that was a lame pun, but still, don’t do it. Your body needs all the help it can get, it is working harder than ever to protect you and heal you, make sure you keep it replenished. Now when I say to eat, I don’t mean cake. Yes, have a treat, but make sure where possible you keep eating as you did when you were skating. Dairy, carbs, protein etc. ALL THE FOODS! Exercise. Do it if you can. Remember – exercise creates endorphins! (Or edolphins as I once heard a young child say…) I don’t mean trying impactful stuff and things you obviously cannot do in a cast. But you have a core still sat there (unless you have broken ribs or anything in the torso or hip areas!) Sit-ups, Russian twists, heel touches, leg raises (yes these are still possible! Take your time though and exercise great control, if you leg twinges, then stop). If your leg (or arm or other bodily piece) does feel odd and cramps, then do stop for a moment, you have blood rushing to places it hasn’t been for a while and you are using muscles it may not be used to using. I highly recommend doing core strength exercises whilst injured in moderation to keep your muscles going, maintain some muscle mass for when you are post cast and to keep you in some sort of exercise and positivity. Broken ankle or leg? Wiggle your toes! Wiggle them lots! It keeps the blood flowing (which means less pain when you stand upright to crutch your way around, you know the pain I mean!) and it also keeps your muscles moving. I say in moderation as you need to remember that you are healing and your body does need rest. And always remember to elevate and rest! You may not have been stood up on it or swinging body parts around, but your body/injured part may feel swollen after exercise even on the ground.
Physio. Physio. Physio. Ask for it. Demand it. You pay tax for the NHS, you should get your physio. I didn’t sadly but I did see the worth and value in eventually going to a session with a private physio which was well worth the money!! One of the best decisions I made. If you somehow don’t get physio, make sure you Google. I’ve attached some ankle break rehab exercises here so you can see what I ended up doing and how I strengthened and stretched my ankle post cast! Also – use a clipboard on a cushion and make a home-made wobble board! (Thank you Rosie and PhysioJen!)
Sports insurance. If you didn’t have it before? Get it. I was meant to get it the weekend I broke my ankle. Idiot. But do it! Totally worth it. Staying involved. You wouldn’t be playing or refereeing if you didn’t love what you do. (And if you don’t, then continue what you are doing, as you were.) Just because you can’t skate doesn’t mean you can’t go to practice. Stay involved. Watch your team at practices, keep up to date on drills, be involved as Bench or LUM, NSO at scrimmages and help out at bouts on the merch table/cake stall/NSO etc.Remember – your team needs you! Note: This is an odd point and I would say take it or leave it. There is a psychological note with this point, and you need to look after your mental/emotional health as well as your physical health. I was determined to go, but I found it soul crushing. If you find yourself in the same boat as me, then please do not push yourself to go. You will find that you are only doing more damage to yourself psychologically and you run the risk of ruining your love and passion for derby. If you find this is you, then the best solution is to keep in touch with your league, get the girls round for a film night at yours, get a lift and meet up for coffee and cake, keep in touch and talk to people. Something I should have done more of, if you are like me than you may feel like a burden, but you are not, people will want to help you and be there for you, but sometimes you do need to ask – I hate asking – but you need to do it.
Put yourself first & know your limits. When you break or sustain an injury it is devastating. Well and truly devastating, it can seem like the end of the world (and derby career). It is fine to say that you are going to return, that you want to get back on skates, in fact it is more than fine, you need to remember that in the back of your mind, hold onto that desire and motivation and aim to come back better and stronger than before. BUT…. you need to take time and heal first. Do not, whatever you do, jeopardise being able to come back and skate again by doing too much too soon or rushing back to skating and causing further damage. You and your health is the most important thing, yes coming back to roller derby would be amazeballs, but first you need to be healthy and safe. It may even be worth paying to see a private physio like I did, or go see your doctor when you feel you are at the point of returning, just to have some form of validation that you are making the right decision and be cleared to skate. Do not go back all guns blazing. It would be badass to return, start scrimming, jamming, blocking, but it is not realistic or safe. You need to get comfortable on your feet and in your skates first. I do not intend to scrim or do serious contact for at least a month. Maybe make another appointment with a physio/doctor or your training committee/TCs to look at where you are, you can evaluate your progress and together make an informed decision on the next steps. Most leagues have a return to skating policy and procedure so make sure you follow this if so! Your league wants the best for you, they want to see you make a safe return and get you back on track when you are at your strongest and able to play your butt off. The last thing your league and teammates want is for you to be out for longer. Know your limits and do not push. There is a very big and very noticeable difference between good pain and bad pain. Listen to your body and if you need to, stop. No-one will judge you, no-one will think any different of you if you stop. Take a breather, have a drink, a little stretch, then when you feel safe enough start skating and moving around again. Whether you broke a bone or injured muscle/tendon/ligaments, things will pull, everything under your skin will be working like an elastic band getting the flexion and stretch and generally just the ability to work properly.
Plan ahead and channel your emotions. So you are dealing with or have dealt with an injury. Whether bone or muscles, you still endure the same emotions and similar pathways on your return. Previously in this blog I wrote about setting goals, this can still be applied to where you are right now. I have big goals that I want to reach, to get there I have to reach all my little goals. These little goals started with things like:
- Being able to take the dog for a walk around the block.
- Going up stairs like a normal person (not on your bum or walking sideways like a crab. Yes. That stuff happens.)
- Putting my skates on and sitting in them.
You have psychological and physical challenges ahead of you and you have to remind yourself that this isn’t easy. Things are tough when returning, your body lets you do things your mind won’t and vice versa. But if you sit down, set goals and plan ahead you will find things so much easier. It’s a lot like when you take your first few steps after a broken ankle, every step is a step closer to where you want to be.
Now I am back on skates, I am setting goals, I know where I want to be, I know how I will get there. I know what I’m going to do.
So to those of you who are broken, whether at the start of your journey or you have come out of cast or maybe even returning soon, I have one question to ask you.
What are you going to do when you come back?
Be awesome littlebluemonsters – til next time! x