I really love skating. Swerving around on the track or at
the rink leaves me smiling in a way few things ever have. Because of this I
made the decision to put my skates back on after an almost two-year hiatus and
head over to my local league for a second run at Fresh Meat this year.
I broke my fibula (leg) and damaged my knee during my first
fresh meat try in August 2012. As a girl with an unusually high pain threshold
I made the decision to catch the subway home and walk on it for the rest of the
day before seeking medical assistance.
Note to all skaters: If it hurts please get help, better
to find out its nothing than to do further damage by ignoring an injury.
After seeing the
doctor I discovered the magic of life on crutches with a full leg brace, the
reality that the ligaments around my knee were badly damaged. The surgeon
offered me two options; have surgery and attempt repair or wait a few years and
see what happened. I chose to wait and see. My reality is that at any point the
ligaments could snap and I could be back on crutches and heading for the
operating room. However, by the time he gave me the options I had been trapped on
crutches for more than four weeks and couldn’t imagine going through it all
again when they could schedule a surgery in a few months time.
I was sent to physiotherapy
for a few more months and after six had been given an all clear to put skates
back on. The trouble was, I couldn’t. I couldn’t even look at them and contemplate
the devices of destruction being a part of my life again. They had hurt me and
I'd paid the price. I'd gained weight, lost touch with the friends I had started to
make skating and went back to life, as it was before derby: chubbier and more
nervous about doing anything physical.
Fast forward to 2014
moved across the planet I had seriously contemplated selling my skates to save
on space, but couldn’t bring myself to part with them. I decided that maybe I
might try out a skate along the waterfront at some point and it would be a
waste to get rid of skates that fit and were already broken in.
Once I arrived in Auckland I started to think about returning to derby again. I spent a bit of
time searching and discovered that Auckland NZ has TWO derby leagues, one of
which was WFTDA accredited. After doing the research I selected the Pirate City
Rollers and discovered that they had just started a new Fresh Meat intake the
Putting on my skates
I got to the arena
and quietly shuffled over to where the girls were putting skates on. After
pulling everything out of my bag in what felt like slow motion I managed to
find the guts to get my pads on. It felt like my skates had grown in size as I
sat there staring at them. They had grown to the size of the entire gym and I
was sure that the second I put them on I was going to discover myself broken all
After what felt like
a decade I slid my foot in and started lacing.
They fit! They felt
familiar! “Ok…. Now stand!” I told myself in my head. It was going to be fine.
Deep breath in, and
That’s all it took
and I was skating. Gliding across the floor like the fairy elephant I knew
myself to be. Just like that I was a Freshie again and more determined than
before to become a strong, safe skater.
injury: Three steps back to the track
It’s hard to stop
being yourself. Stop running to grab the mail, popping out to grab a coffee
with a friend, but injuries teach us to slow down. My experience taught me some
lessons that I thought I would share to get you back on the track.
rush back to your sport, but don’t abandon it either: The derby community could
have used me even when I was broken. I could have NSO’d or helped with
fundraising, but I didn’t know those options existed.
- Do the
work: whatever your practitioners tell you to do, DO. Do the exercises, take
the rest days, pay attention to your body and let yourself heal.
- Don’t be
afraid to re-learn: When I broke my leg I was just at the tipping point of
becoming solid on my skates and after my hiatus I had to re-learn pretty much
everything. While re-learning felt like a set back at first it reminded me that
sometimes you need to study a lesson in different ways for it to sink in.