Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cats aren’t the Only Ones with 9 Lives

In everyday life, most of us learn from our mistakes. We do something resulting in an unfavorable outcome, and we learn quickly to not do that thing again – unless, of course, that thing is an injury resulting from derby.

I have family and friends who look at me with awe and amazement when they hear of yet another derby or athletic-related injury. What they say is usually something to the effect of, “Wow, you really are dedicated,” but I know what they’re really thinking is more along the lines of, “Wow, you really are fucking crazy.”

I’ve always been accident prone, and I’ve never quite done the smartest of things. When I was about 8 I had a series of foot injuries due to wearing jelly shoes while riding my bike. When I panicked, I wouldn’t use the bike brakes for some reason – I would use my feet like Fred Flintstone – and I panicked quite often going by the house of my friend whose hot brother made me, well, panic. Slamming my feet to the ground, I would tear right through a pair of jelly shoes as if they were big pink erasers disintegrating on mistake-ridden spelling homework. I would come home with the nastiest foot wounds and repeatedly tear open the thin skin on the inside of the ball of my foot – just below my big toe. I played soccer then too, and I remember my dad trying everything to keep the scabs from turning to a layer of yellow puss that would rip off during each practice or game, making me start from scratch with the healing process. I don’t know how I played like that, and I have no recollection of it hurting or keeping me from playing, but I digress (as usual).

Speaking of feet, two months is an appropriate amount of time for a rollergirl to lose all her carefully crafted calluses. Last night was my first night back in skates since September 6, and my candy-coated exterior was nowhere to be found (boo!). But that’s not the point here. The point is that I GOT BACK ON SKATES!

My physical therapist has been telling me for the past week that I may be ready to try out skating again, but I’ve been understandably doubtful that I really am ready. I know she’s seen derby before, but I don’t think she knows just how much the ankle is involved in cutting and other quick moves. Regardless, I’ve been bored as hell at home, so I decided that I’d show up and just noodle around. Then, at least, I’d have a good idea about where I am with regards to being able to skate again. I made it through an hour and a half of skating (and about 20 minutes of warm-up time on my own before the actual practice started). I didn’t jump, and I didn’t do any contact (coming off injury, I have to do 2 practices no contact, 2 contact, and then I can scrimmage again), but as time went on, I could actually feel my ankle joint loosen up, which was a good feeling. Then, I did something stupid on the carpet, trying to show a fresh meat skater an exercise she could do at home to mimic the intensity of sprawls and falls, and it was all over for the night, which was actually fine because I didn’t really know what the outcome would be anyway.

I cannot tell you how good it felt just to be out there on the hardwood with two of my teammates, Holly and Terror, warming up and bullshitting before practice started. THAT is a big part of what I have missed: telling Holly she’s an asshole and listening to Terror bitch that she hasn’t been on skates in a week (I’m only talking about Holly being an asshole here out of pure love, because I know she reads this. Hi, Holly!). Being there felt good – really good. At one point, I stopped and thought about what I’ve been doing during this time while healing at home. My goal was to use practice time to write several large articles I’ve been planning and submit them to some magazines, but instead I sit on the sofa with the dog and watch crappy network television by myself. “I could be here instead,” I thought, “There’s really no other place I’d like to be.”

I guess I really have found my thing. I joke with Lady Quebeaum that we’re “lifers” – no matter what we do or how burnt out we get, we can’t stay away from derby. I’m beginning to think there’s some real truth in my jest. I’ve been injured significantly enough (albeit not all from derby) that I’ve been off-skates now 5 times during my 5-year derby career: PCL tear, right AC joint, left AC joint, herniated disk in my neck, and sprained ankle. And this list doesn’t include the other minor injuries that haven’t kept me off skates, like a tailbone break, rib fracture, cartilage tear between my ribs, pulled hamstring, pulled groin, various foot and back pains and cramps, and that insane knot on my lower leg that still hasn’t gone away and that the doc said after viewing my ankle X ray looks like a now-healed hairline fracture that I skated on all last season.

Even the most seasoned skaters might ask me, “Isn’t that enough?” I guess not. I’ve come to terms with my inability to plan any sort of “retirement” from derby. Each year I think it could be my last, but then I’m just not ready to leave, so I don’t. Bottom line: I’m going to continue to skate as long as I want to skate, and I’m not done yet.

This morning I woke up, expecting to be greeted by a swollen, sore ankle, but instead the usual morning stiffness I experience was nowhere to be found – neither was the swelling. I’ve been having problems getting the fluid cleared from the joint, and I’m wondering if skating last night didn’t actually help it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no position right now to jump back in head first – I can’t make quick maneuvers and I’m scared to lock wheels with anyone because my ligaments are still in pain – but I think I’m on the road to recovery.

There’s a white board at my office on which someone wrote “Interesting facts”. One of the facts was: cats have nine lives. Standing a little taller and walking with a somewhat larger stride this morning, I grabbed a marker and added my own fact: Rollergirls ALSO have 9 lives. By my count, I’m on my 6th, and I have a feeling number 6 is going to be a good one!


Jan said...

If you were a kid, I'd think "Munchausen's by proxy"! But I just think "Damn, she's awesome."

LQ said...

I love you.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, "I would tear right through a pair of jelly shoes as if they were big pink erasers disintegrating on mistake-ridden spelling homework" is fantastic imagery. Just don't hit your head and forget how to write ;)

Second, I'm really glad you're back on skates! Take it easy though--better to come back slowly and safely than bust yourself up again by being too eager!

Third, Holly is an asshole.

trebuchet said...

From a freshie who is still figuring out this whole derby thing, its so great to hear the whole experience from a seasoned skater. Congrats for getting back on skates!

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Anna's first point. Lovely writing!

I'm also fresh meat starting DCRG training camp on Tuesday. I just love your blog and have been telling all the other newbies about it!

Glad you back up and rollin'!

SKabs said...

Well Lady Q might not quit derby but I consider it my job to lure her away to DC! haha!