So, the last time I wrote an article for the CCR website, it was a wrap up of last season’s activities in which I made reference to the captain’s curse.
Guess what caught up with me this season?
I was more fortunate than most, in that my break was very clean (no splintered bone to grow back, no major dislocation) but I had broken both of my lower leg bones, and had to undergo an operation to attach a metal plate to my fibulas and 2 large screws placed through my tibia.
You can imagine I was pretty devastated. In fact devastated doesn’t even cover it, I have to say the few weeks following my operation were some of the most harrowing I can remember. The major loss of independence, sleepless nights, discomfort, pain and general sadness of being broken was really hard to take. To top it off, I’d just helped to finalise the A Team’s fixtures for the season, and so my immediate reaction was driven by deep disappointment and I was very unsure as to what the future of my derby world would look like if I had a future at all.
At the beginning of February, 4 months later, I strapped on my skates again for the first time and this weekend, played my returning game with our B Team against Liverpool Roller Birds.
The path in between these events was anything but easy but the message I hope to get across in this post is that returning to skating from injury, with the right attitude, advice and patience doesn’t have to look like the Gladiators final with John Anderson counting you in and the Travelator of doom to conquer. Instead, it’s probably more like a cream cracker eating competition, really dry… but if you take it one cracker at a time, washed down with plenty of water, it’s totally achievable.
– Stay Involved is the best advice I can give anybody that is off skates injured. It can be as simple as going to practice once a week and watching your team mates play. The problem with playing a sport like derby is everything changes, very quickly. Tactics, rules, team mates will all change whilst you’re off with a long term injury and the closer you can stay to those changes, the better. For me, I continued my work off-skates as a captain, attending all the practices I could make, continued to be involved in team selections and spent time working with coaches on developing tactics. No, I didn’t get to try out those tactics but I can pencil out the scenarios on paper and that helped me adapt to carrying them out them on track.
– Staying Engaged with your sport not only means you’re more likely to return and your return to tactical play will be quicker, but it also gives you the added advantage of socialising with team mates who will end up providing you with support you didn’t even realise you needed. I owe half of my return to the team who made it clear from the beginning that quitting wasn’t an option for me.
– Making sure you get the Correct Care and you listen to your physiotherapist is important (but you know that already right?). If you don’t have a physiotherapist, strongly consider getting one, even self referring through the NHS. Having so many questions and doubts about my ability to even walk again to begin with was a heavy burden to carry (on my one leg), and having a specialist to talk to about them was very reassuring. That was without all the (very painful but effective) treatment they gave me, monitoring of my progress and correct exercise plans to follow that were tailored to my sport and my recovery level.
– Do Your Exercises. They will suck, and they will bore you to tears, they will be constant and painful, but just be prepared for that. They will work, but they take work.
– Be Patient, waiting around to do what you love can be hard, but if you come back from injury too soon the results can be even harder to deal with. When you do come back however, when you are good and ready, take your time (don’t try and just jump back into a scrim session) but don’t shy away from the things you find scary. Chances are things won’t feel right to begin with, but listen to what your body is telling you and pay attention. You don’t have to skate a whole session if your body is telling you it’s had enough, but don’t tell yourself you can’t do something. You’re probably going to fall over just like you always did, and you’re probably going to be scared of doing so, like I was, but then I remembered that I always fell over and sometimes it hurt and sometimes it didn’t and it would always be that way.
– And finally, remind yourself why you love your sport. Whatever drove you to do it, remember to keep remembering. It helps I promise, and when you do get to strap your skates back on it’ll be totally worth the wait.