I hate sitting out of sessions. I hate it with a passion. It frustrates me to not be involved and to not be learning hands on. I also worry about how it looks on me, the last thing I want is for people to think that I don’t want to take part or do drills. I want to get stuck in every session and more often than not tell myself off for over thinking instead of just doing. Since music made a swift exit from my life, roller derby has become my only hobby and I really want to step it up this year. If I cannot physically skate, I will still make the drive from outside of Nottingham to attend and watch practice where possible. It’s been a while since I had to sit out, but my body had other ideas.
So it is really going to happen. I am going to bout this year.
My last public bout was February this year. When I broke, I thought I could throw everything out the window until 2015. When I came back within three months, taking part in drills, squads, scrimmaging – bouting was the last thing on my mind! The idea of bouting again felt light years away, but – of course.. wrong!
Sunday 14th December 2014. I make my return as a bouting skater. For that, I have Team Metal Legs to thank.
I posted about Team Metal Legs previously, these are a group of previously broken or injured skaters who have made a return to roller derby and are skating in support of those who take care of our broken and battered players. These skaters are a beacon of light to all the skaters who experience the darkest days of dealing with an injury, these skaters are living proof that there is life and derby after injury. It may not be easy, but it is more than possible.
I saw Team Metal Legs début bout in Leicester. Two weeks after I had gotten my cast off, after two weeks of learning to walk all over again, I saw hope for the future of my skating career.
In a weeks time, I will skate as part of Team Metal Legs. I get the honour of lining up on track with some amazing ladies who have endured physical and mental/emotional hardship to skate their hearts out. Of course I am nervous. This is a huge deal for me! I love jamming and blocking. I love getting stuck in and working with & learning from other talented skaters. After 20 years of skating, nearly 5 years of roller derby, enduring my first broken bone, and returning to skate another day….
I AM EXCITED!
Til next time little blue monsters xxx
3 months of healing, 3 months of fighting against your own body and mind, 3 months of emotional turmoil…. my break experience lasted 3 months. I broke on the 13 July 2014, and was back on skates on the 14 October 2014. Throughout those 3 months, I knew I wanted to return to derby and skate again, train, scrimmage, bout. Yes, there were wobbles on the darkest days of those 3 months, but as soon as I was physically able to and allowed to, I skated. I worked hard to get my body back in a position to return to skating, 3 months of lost fitness and stamina, 3 months that I had to really make up for.
I have since returned to skating as though my break never happened, yes… I am healed. But I’m still figuring things out mentally and emotionally.
Physically I feel strong and comfortable, my fitness and stamina is creeping back up and I keep pushing myself to keep going, breaking through the walls. I now know my body again and I have really learnt to trust it all over again in the last month. I have set goals and targets, small and big, in a bid to get to where I want to be. And when I get there I intend to keep pushing further and further.
Mentally and emotionally? I am not really finding any middle ground just yet, more or less highs and lows. When I came back, I had so much determination and motivation and passion, and it showed as another skater friend commented on my determination. It made me feel happy and strong knowing that my want to be better and work harder showed in a positive light. At first when I returned, I was a little cautious. I think that was a completely natural way to feel post break, but it wasn’t really caution in the sense that what if I get injured again, it was caution in the way that I did not know how my mind would react to situations. What would happen when I got back in a pack, when I fell, when I took a hit? Things I would come to learn to deal with as and when they happened. The main positive about my break was that I had no muscle damage, bones heal stronger and quickly, whilst muscles can be a waiting game – so I knew physically, I was fine. Physio Jen would not have let me return if she had not thought it safe too, and with her track record working on other skaters in my league I fully trust her judgement. And I’m glad I did!
I knew coming back would be difficult, I didn’t lie to myself about it and I was not naive about the process, in fact I surprised even myself at how quickly I was able to pick it all back up and jump into scrimmages and drills again. Of course there have been moments where my wankle (bad broken ankle side, most commonly known in the UK-Derby-Crips world as a wankle!) has been moved in certain angles, that before I would not have thought about, that I have suddenly thought more about and over-concerned myself with the new feel to it. I find myself thinking that this feels weird, but then I wonder how it actually felt before I broke? I never paid attention to it before? I think it is similar to the way I process and tend to over think things, for instance in training I am always thinking how to improve what I’m doing, what I need to do to get a move right, how to correct something I did wrong, being over critical even when I do something good…. then in scrimmage? I just play, I am relaxed and at home and I just do everything that our TC have been working on with us in training sessions just so naturally.
I find when I play that during a bout or scrim, I am focused and fairly centered. But post bout or scrim? I fall really hard. I immediately start to put myself down and look at everything I did wrong or could have done better. I generally tend to brush off anything positive people have to say about me and act like it’s just people being nice and trying to cheer you up. I know at the end of the day that this isn’t true. The women I skate with are very honest and genuine people who won’t turn around and sugar coat things, but they also won’t turn around and just straight up tell you that you did bad. Mentally, I have never felt as though I am good enough, I am thankful every day I get to train at the level I do with the people I do.
Since returning, the biggest mental block I have dealt with has been an odd one. The feeling of not being good enough and being unwanted. Part of me feels like now I have been damaged, I’m not the same and I’m not good enough or wanted now, even though I’m actually ok and any damage has actually made me better after the experience. I feel like I have a lot to prove. Before my break, I was working hard and aiming to skate alongside some of the top members of our league, I had just had a taste of what it might be like and that the opportunity may have arose to do so! I was also at a point where I was not happy with my skating, not happy with my ability as a blocker and as a jammer. Coming back I had a fire in my belly. But I still had a large sense of self doubt and self confidence. I know I have rebuilding to do, and I am working hard to do that. I guess I’m more or less saying it is ok to not be ok. I keep beating myself up about the way I feel, making myself feel more babied than I probably am being. I know people are looking out for me and have best intentions at heart, I think I sometimes take it to hear too much and feel like maybe something is wrong with me.
I am going to continue to work hard physically, but I think I need to begin to balance that out more. I need to pick out something good I did, something that helped the other blockers on track or helped my jammer get through. Even things like saving my point or keeping my communication strong on track. I don’t want to ignore any negatives, but I don’t want to focus on them either. And more often than not, you wake up the next day and think, why? Why did I beat myself up so much over that, because it was no-where near as bad as you thought at the time. I’m lucky to be part of a league where I am surrounded by genuinely fantastic ladies and fantastic skaters who I get to learn from and skate with every week. These women push me to be a better skater, motivated to skate & play harder and stronger. And I intend to continue to do so. I am also lucky that I can call these women my friends. Friends who tell me to keep my chin up, give me that hug, grab my padded pants, laugh over tiny pots of jelly, give you positivity and confidence, and just generally help remind you that you are not alone. These women are there on track with me, they are there off track for me, they are women I will fight tooth and nail to be there for in return. These are my bad asses.
I don’t this particular blog post has too much of a direction in what I am trying to say, this is more of a mental blurt? I think if I had to say that this came with a message, that the message is this….
It is ok not to be ok, you are only human, filled with emotions and thoughts that some days we cannot even begin to understand. There are days you feel amazing, and there are days that you have the horrific urge just to cry with no warning or reason. You are not alone. No matter what happens, you must always try to love yourself, the world is a mean enough place without you being mean to yourself.
Til next time little blue monsters xx
Yes. You read that right. And no. I’m not saying go break a bone!
I guess the better way to word it is that breaking my ankle turned out to be a good thing. By that, I mean that I personally took a lot of positives out of the experience.
For one, I took a step back from derby. For me this step back wasn’t good in the way that I missed everyone, missed practice, missed skating, but that it pulled me away from it all and made me take a good hard look at everything in perspective. It made me want everything so much more.
Yes. I couldn’t walk and lost most of my independence. Yes. It sucked big time. BUT… It took me to a place where I found a new fighting spirit. Firstly, I appreciated being able to walk and do simple things again, I took great satisfaction and enjoyment in being able to do all the small things. But secondly, I worked my ass off.
To get back to skating, I went to physio, was given exercises, and I worked hard. I had so much determination to be able to walk again, go up stairs normally, and skate again. Mentally I grew stronger as my body dealt with the physical side of things. I am lucky to have league mates who are not only friends, but inspire and drive me to do better, be better. And to be happy.
The first time I was able to walk normally upstairs, not on my bum, not facing sideways, but facing forwards bending each body part every way I was meant to, I realised that the harder I worked and the more I trusted my body, the quicker and better everything would come back to me.
I was determined to be able to skate the day the doctor said I could. Nearly three months to the day (broke 13 July – skated 14 October) I skated. I listened to my physio and trusted her to do what was best for my body. The hardest thing was for me to learn to trust my own body again. Know that when I put weight over my wankle I would be fine. Hard work had so far gotten me up the stairs, had walked the dog, had gotten me through gigs. And hard work would get me through skating.
I even carried on my physio exercises right up to the point I physically put my skates on that first time. To the point I did my first drill based practice. And when I scrimmaged for the first time.
Hard work has gotten me this far. But behind hard work has been determination and motivation.
When I broke, I had been lucky enough to have been deemed suitable for the A squad and B squad. A fantastic place to be, I was going to skate hard to show my team that I was worth the chance. The week before my first Harlots bout, I broke my fibula. Having come so close to representing my league hit me hard, but it also started a fire. I was so close to doing what I wanted. And it was taken away from me. Ripped away leaving me with little hope.
I was angry, upset, depressed. Then I accepted everything. There was nothing I could do to change the situation. But I could do something about coming back. Other skaters had come back from worse. From the moment I realised how far I had come since breaking and how close I was to being able to skate again, I had a huge fire in my belly. I had a hunger and determination to get back to where I was before I broke. Then to surpass that and be better. Be able to work with my team as well as stand on my own two as a blocker and jammer. If I can solidify my own ability on these roles, I can better support my teammates on the track. And if I can work better with my teammates, the better I can support my team.
I have scrimmaged. I am gradually getting back to where I was step by step. Back in training. Back in squads. I have worked so incredibly hard to get back to this point. And I am not about to stop here.
I continue to set goals. I continue to strive to be better. I am doing ok at the moment, but I know deep down that I can do better. And I will.
Watch this space little blue monsters!
Til next time xx
So I have documented so far how I have found things and how my body has coped.
This last week, I returned to drills and scrimmage.
Friday night was my second practice actually being involved in drills. We were working through min skills requirements with our intermediate group and people were able to request what we could work on. The words came up from another skater – 27 in 5! … I’m sorry… what..!?!
To return to skating post break as early as I could have done then look at achieving this, I was a little overwhelmed and unsure how it would go. But.. no pain, no aching, nothing! And I was about 2m off hitting 28 in 5! This was a huge confidence boost, I wasn’t expecting my ankle to hold out to consistent skating at speed and power, but it just shook off everything. I was slightly knackered out initially, my fitness is lacking since my break so I have another goal to work to, getting my fitness level back up!
Then we moved onto hitting drills, it was difficult to feel like I was able to knock the other skaters around not knowing how they would deal with it as I hadn’t been around this group much. But I worked with them, helped them with their hitting and supported them, and some of them told me to hit harder and I did. I’ve never been a skater who could hit well, I have always relied on getting my butt in peoples way. But to work on hitting helped my confidence with my ankle also!
Today… I scrimmed! My first scrimmage back post break. And I did well! I was a little rocky, over thinking and maybe protecting myself a little too much in the first half – but then I got upset, had a cry and manned up. The second half I think went much better!! The first jam, I got a little too excitable and false started jumping through the pack before realising, owning up, returning to back of the pack in a yielding way and trying to get over laughing stitch. Idiot!
But I survived, didn’t break, I fell over, I was fine, did hits, took hits, jammed and blocked. It was a little emotional. But I am feeling on top of the world right now! I am lucky to skate with some fantastic ladies who are supportive both on and off track.
Monday 27th October 2014. I saw the mystical derbyphysio Jen again, three weeks after my initial trip to see her (which I touched on in this post).
Since my original visit, I had been working hard to make sure I did my physio and look after myself and my wankle (Yes – we do use this phrase!), and I was nervous about going back to see Jen in case I hadn’t done enough or made enough progress in my recovery. She had a look at my skating videos and was impressed that I had taken to it so quickly and freely, and then went through looking at my hopping ability and stability which was also looking much more improved. Looking more positive!! Yes! We went through some exercises and tested where I am at, a fair few things involving clenching my butt… what!? Yes. Butt clenching! Working from the butt, pelvis and hips – the word of the day? ENGAGE! Engage everything then move. I found it really surprising how these felt and effects of some of the exercises and movements, but I could feel it working and feel a real difference.
Part of the problem I have is the lack of physio I was given when I had my hip operation which was none at all. Age 16, I had to have an operation on my right hand hip to shorten and put the muscle/tendon/ligament (a really long word and I can’t find my paperwork!) back in place around my hip/pelvis to my knee to stop it flopping around the bone and stopping me from sport – even just running! (Ok. I didn’t mind not running. Running is evil. People who make you run are mean.) Whilst I have been able to continue sports with little grief, I was not given physio to help my hip and avoid any future issues with it – you’d think they would give you physio if you are young in a bid to avoid any future return over issues because the muscle/tendon/ligament was not cared for correctly post op. But because of this, my strongest leg is actually weaker than it should/could be. So by continuing to do my exercises and work on my stability and strength, I will not only reach the point I was at pre-break, but I stand a very good chance of being in a better place than I was pre-break! Next step, into the gym to look at these and work on the best ways for me to achieve the best results.
So I now have a list of exercises to be going on with, and Jen informed me that I need to buy a skipping rope. I bought a skipping rope…!! The man in Decathlon was showing me these cheap skipping ropes but I figured I may as well get a decent one that I can continue to use!
So with my new exercises and skipping rope, I plan to work my butt off. If I can keep it up and do all the movements properly and with control I should be able to start more full on contact in a weeks time. I am currently cleared for contact, but Jen believes if I persevere with my exercises, I can regain and increase my thigh/ankle/core strength within a week!! So I will be dipping in and out, testing the waters and just seeing how my body reacts. As it currently stands, I have no fear about getting back into a pack or a wall, however when the time comes I can honestly say I have no idea what will happen. I could be fine, or I could freak out. From here on in with contact, I plan to take it as it comes and deal with it then. I don’t want to psych myself up or psych myself out either – after all, I did it before and it was normal and natural.
The best news? Jen believes that scrimmaging and playing actual roller derby by mid-November is a more than achievable goal. I could physically do it now she believes, but I would like to build up to it rather than throwing myself back in at the deep end. At least then I know I will have done everything I can to be safe and controlled with my skating again. The biggest problem I have is my confidence. Jen has pointed out that Brian is stopping me and still protecting me. But I did it all before so there is no reason that Brian should stop me if i ease into it!
So I will hopefully be going back to both the advanced and intermediate sessions for general skate time and just getting back to it. I have had time off so I know I need to work hard to get back up to scratch and be on the same page as my team. I am determined to do it. And after returning to test the waters last night at one of our fresh meat sessions, I am thankful that the league I skate with is supportive, the Harlots contain some very understanding and supportive skaters/people and are more than happy for me to go at my own pace – no matter whether that is jumping back into it or taking it slow and steady!
So for the next couple of months, the rest of this year, 2014, I will be working my butt off. I want to prove to myself and to my league that I can bounce back, I want my spots on the squads again, I want to skate alongside everyone and be back on the same page. 2015 will be my year. And I look forwards to being able to wear my new kit with pride.
In other news?
- The house is coming on well. There are now doors! Not far off moving in but definitely before Christmas!!
- The lovely Mika will be coming to see mesoon and I can’t wait to see her and actually be able to talk to her in person again! A truely lovely lass and just too awesome!
- I have a cold. This sucks. Welcome back to skating! Oh… sorry, you need to get over being ill.
- We bought new pillows for both bedrooms (the third bedroom is to be a study/hair/makeup area..!!
- Got some doggin love! Oakley is growing up so quickly and is still as soppy as ever!
So that is all for now. I can’t wait to keep updating this with how I progress again with skating!!
Til next time little blue monsters x
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
The last few months I have been pretty much ignoring the existence of this blog, complete radio silence since my last blog announcing the break. I thought about blogging maybe 2 or 3 times? But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now I feel up to it, let’s go back to where it began. If you haven’t read my previous blog, you can read in the previous post or I’ll do a brief catch up now – 13th July. Last scrimmage practice before my first bout as a Harlot. Warm up 4 wall drill with an active opposing jammer. I was blocking in the 4 wall. Something happened, I fell forwards then some how backwards and onto my toe stops/ankles and as I went down I heard a cracking noise. It was painful initially and I knew something didn’t quite feel right. Usual protocol was followed, checked over, skates removed, help to stand – I realised I couldn’t comfortably put weight on it… hopped over to a chair with aid and then sat there for two hours watching the rest of scrim thinking that it was just a sprain. Hours later in A+E… verdict? Broken. Backslab and then finally got a proper cast (and some pretty horrible ankle/leg manipulation..!) on the 17th July. I returned to work a week and a half later after another visit to the hospital and consultant to check that no operation was required and everything was healing and bonding in the right place (with many lifts in and out, a disabled toilet key and a desk on the ground floor until I could return to my own marketing office!) Didn’t need to see me until my cast came off.
I think I was definitely on an incredibly positive level (or just drugs in the system) when I posted my last blog post. I have been on one hell of an emotional and physical roller coaster since July 18th. I wanted so badly to watch practices whilst I was out, keep up with drills and where the team was at, NSO on Scrimmage Sundays. It was set in my mind that I would do all the things! But when it came down to it? It was too much for me to handle. The pain of watching my league skate, partake in drills, scrimmage, along with knowing that other skaters were missing practice/scrimmage (for various reasons) when I would have given my other ankle to be on track… it broke me into pieces. I knew that physically being broken would be tough, but I don’t think I originally quite grasped how tough it would be mentally. There have been so many low points in which I thought – screw it. No-one will notice if I don’t come back, no-one will miss me on track, why am I even bothering when I know I wasn’t actually a good player/skater, I think I’ll just sell my skates. Screw it. I hit a major low, I felt alone, isolated and just overall rubbish. I reached out a few times, and it is difficult because the world doesn’t stop when you are broken which means no-one else does either, and many people have a full week of roller derby, have commitments relating to family or friends, have heavy work commitments or just generally ridiculously busy schedules. And when you reach out, you always have to remember that if you don’t see people, it’s not because they don’t care, but because they are busy and have lives, and it is incredibly tough. I have spent a lot of my broken time feeling very alone and isolated. And maybe I should have done more to see people (which in retrospect, relying on lifts is bloody hard!) but there was a large part of me that didn’t want people to stop what they were doing just to see me. I felt like a burden and I did not want to put that on anyone, especially with the large amount of negativity I was dealing with. The hardest part of this experience was the way in which I had previously looked after my body, MECFS and made sure I rested etc, simply was not possible. The physical and emotional strain of breaking my ankle made dealing with the previously under control illness, so incredibly difficult. I was drained and exhausted, physically and mentally. I had bouts of depression and in some parts let this affect relationships in my life. Thankfully everyone has been wonderfully patient and put up with all my broken and tired crap, now I’m through the other end and he is still looking at getting his skates on! I will also note that I sang/performed at two shows with my band Little Mammoth whilst sat on a rather Westlife-like bar chair! Dedication to the cause! Even though my ankle bone/fibula is now healed and I am just working on the muscle/tendon/ligament strength etc, I am still mentally/emotionally struggling. I NSO’d again last week during a friendly scrimmage with another team. And when I sat in my car post-scrim to go home, I broke down. Everything hit me. Everything was real again. It felt like as I was walking, dancing, driving and my ankle was healed, that I should be on track skating with my teammates. I felt so many emotions rushing around at that point. I managed to put myself together, start driving home, but had to pull over about 2 minutes later from just feeling sick and breaking down again. At which point a teammate pulled over and just really saved me from myself. I really owe her for sitting there with me, talking through everything with me and just being there in general. Everyone needs a Charlie! Never underestimate the power of a friendly face and positive/supportive words!! Another integral part of my Ohana has been looking after me from overseas, as well as kicking my butt when giving up was mentioned. Mika has been a big rock, even though she has not been here in person she has been there, offered me advice, supported me and otherwise just let me rant and get everything out of my system. I can only hope that I can be of as much help when she needs my support! She is coming to visit soon and I cannot wait to see her, so much excites! A big turning point in terms of support, came in a strange form. Lanny – who had initially helped me out of the hall into the car the day I broke – was also off skates due to injury and operations, was so fantastic in offering me a support point and texting me to check in. She made me feel like I was not alone. And I still owe her a coffee date! But she added me to a group on Facebook which I am oddly proud to be a part of. The UK roller derby crips – in association with Team Metal Legs. A group of broken and fixed skaters, some with metal parts, some with non metal parts, but a group who when put together created a beautifully strong bond and had so much hope for everyone around them. These people encouraged everyone to have hope and be positive, gave them support when they felt down, or just made jokes and put a smile on your face. They also had the serious side covered, where you could reach out to people with similar breaks and get an idea of the healing process, especially as a huge part of this is not only physical healing, but the mental/emotional healing you need to do. Through this group I have found a new strength, I have found new friends, people who I have my own little link to, people who are going through the same or often worse with surgery and the likes, some who have returned to skating, some who have yet to return to skating and a few who have been waiting an awful long time. But these people? They are filled with determination and hope. And this strength, hope and resilience that all these skaters share is just inspiring. I am proud and honoured to know & be friends with these people. I went to watch some previously broken skaters skate in a bout known as Team Metal Legs (returning injured skaters to derby) versus Team Crazy Legs (skating out for invisible illness) – both teams of which I resonate with very strongly. But to stand in my plastic splint as I watched this group of talented skaters bout, I felt proud and I felt a strong sense of hope. This group of women had battled through injuries to return to play a fantastic game. I had wanted to skate for the Harlots and do them proud before, I wanted my spot on the team – after watching this I wanted it even more.
In my last post, I wrote about whether I’d be able to return to skating. Whether I would be able to do full contact? Would I just find solace in the world of Zebra? Would I be forever Team Grey? And at this point in time, the answers to all the above is still unknown. I hope it will be that I do get back on skates, continue to hunger for a spot on the team and play alongside my brilliant league mates. I am full of so much determination to skate again, scrim again, bout again. I want this. So what about returning to skate? The hospital refused to give me physio. I heard the immortal words from my consultant when the cast came off and she gave me the news on how long it would be until I could skate again and the refusal of physio…. “It’s only a sport!” Commence the floods of tears. Again. When I look back, I know how lucky I was to be given 6 weeks until I could try to skate. At the time it seemed like the kiss of death to my derby life. I was to immediately weight bear, with a plastic splint for two weeks, then without for the final four weeks. I Googled alot in a bid to find some sort of physio help, thankfully there is quite a bit of ankle rehab information out there and it is all essentially the same. So I started working on my own physio. Whilst I’d been in a cast, I had been trying to work on my core strength (which sometimes caused my leg to respond in the general fashion of “What. The. Hell. Are. You. Doing.”
In the last week of September, everything seemed a lot closer. The six weeks until I was allowed to skate was flying by and everything was so much more real. I spoke to my teammate who had undergone operations on her knees, returned from injury and still kicked much butt on track – Rosie has an incredible wealth of derby knowledge and experience, is a force to be reckoned with on the track and has gone through serious derby injury and returned to skate at a high level. She is also a fantastic person which has made having her there as a form of support just incredible! She had spoken highly of her physio who had managed to guide her and work with her on her return and so she passed me her number and I went to see the mystical derby physio Jen! This was probably one of the best decisions I have made. Jen was so understanding and with the knowledge of what derby demands of you physically that she had gained from working with Rosie amongst others meant the advice she gave was ideal and I felt comfortable and safe with the exercises she was giving me and where to go from there. I will be seeing Jen again at the end of October to see where I am at and what the next steps are! The key things from my physio trip was that Jen told me I would definitely be allowed to return to skating this week and that for my own sake & my body, I needed to. My body is protecting my ankle, even though it is healed, it is protecting it from stretching/moving where it needs to go. By strapping on my skates, my body will relax and allow me to continue improving. Under her advice, I purchased a soft Mueller ankle support (£18 clearance sale from SportsDirect – bargain!) which will softly support my ankle in the initial stages and help with my confidence whilst starting back at skating, and I will build up to a neoprene support, then eventually… no support!
I have been NSO-ing and supporting Team Grey. I won’t be able to scrimmage for a month or so yet, so I will continue to honor and support Team Grey! This allows me to catch up with NSO’s, continue to be involved with the league and keep an eye on what the team is doing so I am prepared for returning to full contact.
So tomorrow is D-Day for me. Tomorrow I will be putting my skates back on properly and having a pootle around the hall. I did a small living room pootle on Friday night to test that my support fitted under my boot ok, and to overcome any initial nerves, and I did a thousand times better than I thought I would! T stop, plow/plough stop, crossover….!! I am really hoping more than ever that 20 years of skating will mean that my muscle memory totally has my back! I know it will be tough, both physically and mentally, I need to get back my strength, my stability and above all my confidence. I have come out the other side of a broken ankle, and I have come out fighting. I will continue to fight and I hope I continue to have amazeballs support around me!
Today I am full of determination and hunger. I want to return to skating, I want to get my place back on the squads, I want to finally claim my spot on the team. I am determined to push hard, do everything in my power and prove myself as a skater and as a Harlot. At the end of the day, I will do this. I will not rush this, I want to be safe, I want to be as strong as I can be, have my strength and stability back in my ankle. And then I will work my butt off and get where I want to be.
My ankle break timeline.
13th July: I broke my ankle (fibula)
17th July: Got a proper cast
28th August: Cast was removed
14th October: Back on skates