Uphill climb

I can’t lie to you, oh faithful readers. The last month or so has been rough. As optimistic as I was about champing it through this final overloaded semester and managing to avoid burnout- I didn’t make it. As usual, I naively strolled right into a massive crash and burn, and just like every time before- the Universe rubbed it in my face in almost every way possible.

The first signs were pretty obvious. My still recovering leg was acting up constantly, and during a few weeks in october I was still in a battle with WCB to receive more treatment (which I finally did get). I re-started rehab, but stepping back into that place (mentally) even though it’s what I do for other people on a daily basis– kind of brought back frustration for the injury, and for the time it’s taking to heal. I consciously know that nerve damage can take a long time to heal… but my subconscious I think is still resentful towards the fear towards my sport, the struggle I had all summer with riding, and the pain I still often feel on a daily basis. The fact that I’ve let this injury take me from an athletic, motivated person to a unmotivated on-a-break athlete who frequents the gym to train others.. but not herself.. hit me hard in October.. and was just another stressor. Then…Getting two midterm assignment marks back that were WAY below my expectations. An exam where I mixed up two words, which lost me 8 marks on the major long answer question (on a topic I know backwards and forwards), and a paper where upon rereading it, I realised that I didn’t even make sense through most of it (and fully deserved the mark I received). I reacted to this in the most usual way, by sobbing uncontrollably on the phone to my guy while sitting in a parking lot outside of work.

The next sign was partly just the universe being a jerk, but mostly my fault. Since moving downtown (like super downtown), I’ve been lucky. Unfortunately, since my brain stopped working through most of October, the weekend following the initial signs of burnout lead me to forget my wallet, passport, chequebooks, and medical supplies in my car while it was parked on a street a few blocks away from my building overnight. I had specifically planned this weekend where I was stuck in the city covering football and basketball to be a weekend where I could try and counter the effects of burn out I could feel coming on. Saturday was going to be a girls night, and Sunday would be a clean and finish unpacking and take a break from stressing about school day. Saturday went just fine, after spending the day with my mom, covering a basketball game, and then making pizza with the girls. At about 2am I realised I’d forgotten all those items in my car 3 streets away, but decided to exercise street smarts and not walk by myself through downtown to retrieve them. Forgetting about it in the morning, I went out to get into my car to drive out to the barn for some saddle therapy on Megg’s horse.. only to find my lock pried open and ALL of those above listed items gone. Serves me right, I know. And so, the weekend began and ended with me sobbing uncontrollably on the phone with J.

This is how burn out works. You neglect the little things. The little things you miss pile up and form a few big things- which send you over the edge.

The Universe continued to throw things in my face.

A few days after all of this, I woke up to my entire car being gone. My first thought was (honestly) “It’s been stolen… thank god.”. Turns out it’d just been towed. The sign saying “street work, tow away zone” was at the end of the block, and I didn’t see it. Since I still didn’t have any ID, or credit cards..  my loving father bailed me out of that one.

So, within a week, Life showed me that my balancing act was no longer working. I realised that if I was going to get through this term in one piece, it was time to reorganise my priorities- seeing as having all my commitments as a priority was only causing my blood pressure to spike and my emotions to run high. I’m pretty sure both my mom and J were getting sick of listening to me lose my mind too.

What have I done to fix it?

It’s hard to cut off from most of my commitments, but what I have done is start taking away things that are important, but not as important as kicking the rest of this semester’s ass. First to go has been work. While I probably won’t be able to get rid of my remaining November shifts, I’ve requested that I have December off- definitely the two weeks of exams. Football ended right as burn out was at it’s highest, so that freed up 3 hrs every day where I’ve been able to put time into either school work, cooking, or catching up on sleep or brain rest. This has been immensely helpful! I’ve also tried to move as mush as I can to earlier in the day.. so I’m not working our out and about until 10pm every night. Also a huge difference.

I’ve also made the conscious decision to get myself back into shape, regardless of the frustration stemming from my leg. I’ve been motivated and back in the gym (as well as rehab as needed for the leg) training myself 3-4x a week for a few weeks now.. and while I’m sore almost all the time- it feels good to be back into that mindset. Yes it adds something to my already stupid schedule.. but it’s something that makes me feel whole, and to me that has to be a priority. I feel I’ve been tested a lot lately by the universe.. with getting questioned almost daily as to if I am still riding, and then having to explain why I’ve taken a step away from the sport I’ve been so committed to. The first few times I got asked these questions it caused doubt and fear to arise- but after taking time to think about it, I recognised that I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and that is more important then worrying about my future in the sport that will wait for me. It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but I know in my heart it was the right one.

For now my biggest goal is getting through the remaining couple weeks of this semester without any more major break downs. I’ve done it before, I will do it again. Soon I’ll be done course work and another giant step closer to my career. Since I’ve made these little changes, the Universe seems to be slowly getting back on my side. My balancing act is once again getting better- all I had to do was take a few things out of my hands, and juggle some other things around. A prof the other day commented on me looking tired, to which I replied that I was trying to cut back on my commitments.. but wasn’t doing so well. His response was: “No.. you are a person who needs to be involved in everything. It’s what makes you tick. Be patient, you’ll do alright”.

2 more weeks, 3 more papers, 1 more presentation, and 4 more exams.

See you on the other side!

PS: I’ll write an update on all my more uplifting moments soon- I’ve been kept busy with KSA milestones, personal research, and new teams even while being burnt out! Stay tuned for more on that!

The KSA execs (girl power!) at the inaugural Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising dinner.

The KSA execs (girl power!) at the inaugural Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising dinner.

 

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The tale of a cursed AT.. School post #3 (or 4?)

Long time no post. Football took off like a rocket and had me running for the last month or so. Injuries galore!! My poor rookie team took a beating this season, and their first and last playoff game was no piece of cake.

About three weeks ago in a game we used every single splint we had, and one kid we thought fractured his already casted hand… again. After that game I had a week or so of absolutely nothing, which was odd. Turns out it was just the calm before the storm. My next week started with an ambulance call for c-spine at practice. I had been driving away from the tail-end of practice when I saw a kid go down and not get up before I drove away. So I backed back into my parking spot and headed over where a coach had been and left him sitting in the field alone. He was sitting up and had his helmet off when I got to him so I began chatting with him. His helmet had been slammed into the back of his neck when he was forced into extension in a tackle. All his pain was around C3-4. No neurological symptoms or referred pain, and good strength in the extremities. At this point in time I was sitting on the field with him, one hand on his head half stabilizing c-spine, while trying to get a coach’s attention (they were on the far side of the field and not listening). So finally I just told the kid to stay as still as he could and went and consulted with the coaches. My only option really was to call an ambulance as I didn’t want to just send the kid home, but was pretty sure he was just bruised too. So, thats what we did. In a weird, unorganized way, I got the kid to my table, got his equipment off and had him laying down while I had one of my injured kids run around and get my phone from my car (which was full of laundry… awkward), and called an ambulance. The coach called the mom while I stabilized, dealt with the fire fighters (who were cute but clueless), and then finally the paramedics. Luckily I ended up knowing one of the EMTs, as the other one who didn’t know me tried to boot me out of the boarding process at c-spine.. the paramedic I knew stuck up for me and I ended up getting to lead the boarding process! The kid ended up being just fine and was back into play a week later.

Our final game brought two more splint and referrals, plus many runs onto the field. A friend of mine who is a photographer came and took quite a few trainer shots- which was pretty fun!

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My most embarrasing moment EVER occured in this game when I got a player off the field with a possible tib/fib fx and was beginning my assessement by taking off his cleat and sock (super carefully as this kid was losing his mind with pain). I finally get everything off and ask him to wiggle his toes.. and he sits up and looks at me and says.. Sure, I can do that. this foot feels fine.. it’s the other one.

-_-

Of course the entire team, plus Nikki, plus the doctor were all standing there. After this it all went smoothly until I was trying to tput together a new splint… Those things are not as easy as the old ones we use for practice! Not much of a “speed” splint.

I also had a pretty sweet dislocated thumb.. The athlete was generous enough to let me take a picture of it!

**I’ll post later pic later…my phone is dying!**

After all this I had a couple days off, where I had all of my stuff stolen (stupid downtown), and then got to attend my first hockey game with a new team no fanny pack (I felt naked). There was no such thing as an easing in peirod as within 3 minutes I was out on the ice for the other team. As the ref escorted me the players surrounding the kid down kept yelling “his leg is broken, it’s his femur!!!”. All I could think was “there is no flipping way this kid broke his femur.”. Granted, I am under some sort of curse currently, that would still be a stretch. So I get to him, and he’s freaking out. He slid knee first into the boards and was now having severe pain mid-proximal thigh. He had very limited will to move, and after talking to him for a couple minutes and palpating what I could I called the “team doc” out onto the ice. This is a parent who told me all his credentials about 4 times upon meeting me. Anyway, he came out and agreed that it was unlikely it was broken but maybe x-rays were a good idea anyway. I love when the doc agrees with me! So we got him off the ice and into a change-room and an ambulance was called. I thne left the doc and parents with him and went back to my bench where I got to deal with a VMO strain, a puck to the thumb, and a likely trap strain. Apparently this is the most injuries they’ve had in one game ever. Usually this amount is spread over 6 games. Cursed, I tell you!

So now I have a couple weeks to unwind, as they don’t play until November again.. and football is done (I miss it already..). What do I plan on doing? Catching up on all the school work I’ve neglected, replace all the things I had stolen (all my ID and personal info, my business cards, my medical equipment…sigh), and maybe even taking a couple mental health days to get rid of this “curse” I’m apparently under.

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What I’ve been up to lately…

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy taping teenagers together, writing midterms and reviews, tutoring, managing the political side of student life, and starting personal research projects and (wait for it) relaxing on weekends (sometimes).

First things first, we’ve made it to the end of regular season football. The last three weeks brought some pretty busy games for me. In one game I used all of our splints. The game before that my injury report when on for pages. There was actually a brief period where I thought I wasn’t going to have a team left to work with by this point in the season. However, being the underdogs that we are, we’re surviving and are facing our last regular season game tomorrow before heading into playoffs. I had one week where I had no injuries, which was a very odd break when my entire season has been next to non-stop. This one week was short lived as I started this week with a neck injury and my first ambulance call. The kid is perfectly fine, and the ambulance call was more of a “better safe then sorry” call, but it was a interesting experience nonetheless. Thankfully my first responder skills are still very much intact, and I was able to stay cool and collected through the whole process. While my kids are taking a beating, I’m lucky to be able to get lots and lots of experience! Once football is over I will begin with a new hockey team (high school varsity). Hockey will be a new sport to add to my list, as I have next to no experience in it (what kind of Winnipegger am I?!). I am excited for the challenge, and looking forward to the new experiences.

I’ve been spending at least one morning a week in the clinic, as well, to keep those skills somewhat fresh. Every week my confidence and independence grows, and I’m very lucky to have great supervisors and mentors throughout all my experiences. I’m so blessed with close classmates and peers to re-hash details of assessments with, and even just to laugh about the joys of working with teenage athletes. They really do do and say the most priceless things.

Midterms are basically over, finally. This week holds one major presentation but no exams. The exams themselves have been fairly spread out (about one per week), but mixed in is an endless stream of papers, reviews, and reports due. This year has been quite different as there is less straight up examination of knowledge, and more detailed application and review of topics. I’m loving the increase in independence, application of knowledge, and getting to chose topics to discuss that are interesting and relevant to my goals.. but it certainly is more time consuming then just studying the facts. KSA presidential work has kept me busy, and usually just when I think I have everything under control. So far I’ve found myself writing letters to deans, university officials, and students to bid for better student space and office space for execs (our current space is awful), this week brings our sister association WATSA’s annual massage-a-thon with which I am also involved, and in a couple weeks the University will be hosting Thrive week (a health awareness week) in which KSA will be heavily involved for organizing some on campus sporting events for all students, and handing out general health information (nutrition and physical activity). I have extremely helpful execs and co-presidents who make it much easier to get things accomplished! Now that midterms are quieting down, hopefully things start running a bit less hectically.

I’ve been doing my best to give myself at least one day for me a week. I get so busy during the rest of the week that I don’t even have time to be stressed about being busy. Lately some of my time has been eaten up as my basketball team’s season is kicking into gear, and this weekend I decided running in the Fire Paramedic 10k was a good idea (even though I haven’t ran in months.. feeling that one!)…Weekends for the most part have remained my own, and I am very grateful to have time to spend with my loved ones. Quite often I make it out to the country with J and go for a little ride on Felix or just enjoy being out of the city.

A couple weeks ago, just to really test my limits, I launched a little bit of personal research. This will be an on going project, and have had a good response already. Basically I am looking for riders (either competitive, or not) who have been dealing with chronic pain either from a previous injury or just in general. I’m interested in finding out what I can change about their pain after an 8week exercise therapy program focused on postural and biomechanical corrections in their daily life and in the saddle. Each case will be different and unique, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn and how I can improve some local rider’s function at the same time! I’ll be sure to post interesting progressions up here for interested readers!

 

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Meet your Athletic Therapist

That cool and calm silhouette bundled and layered on the side of the football field.

That critical eye efficiently assessing and educating in the clinic.

Those quick hands managing to tape quicker then you can say “zagopophyseal joint”.

The craftsperson that can stabilize any structure, and the magician who can mobilize each one as well.

The healer who can get you back to where you want to be.

The support system when you’re exhausted, and running out of perseverance.

The motivator when you need that extra push, and the responder when you push (or get pushed) too hard.

The mediator between parents, athletes, and coaches.

The comforting hand on your shoulder when there’s nothing else to say.

The brick wall when you need protection and solace.

The one heads turn to when an athlete falls down.

The under-recognized professional who asks for nothing more then a positive outcome for their clients.

The behind the scenes hero that hopes to never have to be in the spotlight.

Trainer. Teacher. Comforter. Pusher. Hydrator. Protector. Therapist.

On the field we stand by our athletes, doing everything we can to keep them performing their best at what they love.. but above all keeping them safe and healthy. We put our critical thinking and practical knowledge to use in every situation, creating tape jobs that have never been seen and remedying the most abstract injuries. The thank you we want is the well-being of our athletes and the trust of our coaches. We breathe easy when nobody stays down. Prevention is our jam, and we know how to train each athlete functionally so they go into play ready to perform their best.. every single time. Our pride can be found in each wrinkle-free, sturdy tape-job that runs by our special spot on the field.. and in every athlete who performs better because of our work. We don’t lose our cool, even when we are bombarded with a eager parent’s arguments, a coach’s hopeful questioning, or an athlete’s pleading. Come rain, shine, snow, hail, downpour, delays or all of the above…we’re there. Our job is our passion, for nobody could survive our daily routine without a special spot in the heart for what we do.

In the clinic we are the healer. After the lights go down on the field, and in between practices…we’re there to make you better. Professionals, recreationals, or occasional go out and get-er’s come to us for relief, improvement, and education. Fixing the pain is one thing, but fixing the problem is the athletic therapists’ bread and butter. Think we’ll stop once you’re “text-book” healed? Think again. Where you aim to be in your health and movement endeavours, we’ll get you there. Each body is unique, and our expert assessment and rehabilitation abilities are more then capable to figure out what works for yours. Our extensive background in exercise science, musculoskeletal care and variety of clinical skills offer more then just a quick fix. Health is dynamic, and so are we.

Ask us how we got here, and we’ll say we were inspired. Inspired by what we’ve seen and experienced ourselves as athletes, through injuries and downfalls. We’ve been there. We know. That comforting hand on your shoulder is one of understanding and compassion. We won’t let you face the challenges of healing and rehabbing alone. We won’t let you down when you need tough love through the extra mile. Each one of us has a story that led us to where we are now. Each one of us comes with a unique personality, and our own strengths and weaknesses. But every one of us has the same qualities of leadership, compassion, confidence, and unfailing drive to do the best we can to help you be the best you can be. Doing no harm is our responsibility. Getting our clients to their absolute best is our goal. Seeing our clients heal, improve, and perform is our thrill.

If you’ve been thinking of getting an ache or a pain remedied, think of an AT. If you’ve been wondering how you can prevent aches and pains and maintain your health… think of an AT. We’re your prevention and care specialist. All sports, all hobbies, all professions… athletic therapy is for everyone. We’re here for you, no matter what.

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The moments in between

A week ago I turned 22. Another year older, another year wiser.. that’s how it goes, right?

If I had to take one thing from the past year to represent who I’m becoming, it couldn’t be one accomplishment or experience. It would have to be the moments in between. One of the things I’ve come to realise in the past while is how true happiness isn’t in big achievements or stand out moments we all look forward to. Happiness is a culmination of thousands of moments that we don’t even note half the time. To add to that, you can’t rely on joy to occur where you think it should. It sneaks up on you in ways you least expect it to. Impossible to trace, and sometimes disguised as something else.

Amongst the ups and downs of this year, I’ve faced fears, been thrown (sometimes literally) into things I never saw coming, experienced emotions I’ve never been privy to, accomplished more then I would’ve ever thought I could, made decisions I never thought I could, and evolved into the next version of myself.

More then ever I’ve seen the effectiveness of trusting that everything will work out as it should, and things happen for usually a specific reason. Every negative comes with a positive if you’re staying true to you, and sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to allow the right thing to happen.

With all those moments in between, I’ve been led to some stand out experiences. Through a series of unfortunate events I was led to a variety of first hand learning experiences towards my profession, as well as being introduced to a person who has more then changed my world. I’ve noticed a gradual shift in my self-confidence and leadership abilities, which helped me in taken on new challenges with school, internships, and setting new goals for the next stage of my life. While I still function as an introverted personality, I’ve learned how to use that to my advantage and continue to step out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. I know my own limits can step back and breathe before I burn out from pushing those limits. I learned that sometimes staying involved in something when it’s becoming more stressful then enjoyable, just because you’re afraid of losing the passion for that thing all together can only lead to more frustration and pain.. compassion for yourself and the ability to give yourself a deserved break should never be neglected. Life gives you lemonade if you stop sucking on the lemons.

I’ve reached a new understanding of myself, and feel more then ready to begin a new age. I was blessed to bring in 22 surrounded by loved ones.. lets see what this year brings!

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Immersion

If last weeks theme was feeling overwhelmed, this weeks theme is “I think I got this?”

Note the slight lack of certainty.

There is something about being surrounded by the student AT family who are all equally stressed about pretty much all the same things constantly that has brought back my cool, calmness.

So much about what we do as athletic therapy students (and graduates) is about jumping right in and just taking it as it comes. Really. You can’t fight against the current here. When you find yourself on field with no certified to answer your questions in person, and you have one athlete with a dislocated shoulder calmly (surprisingly) laying on the ground saying he can’t move his arm, two others waiting less patiently to be taped, 25 other players grouped around the first kid gawking, a currently injured athlete standing on the field yelling “you’re a wimp, you’re not actually hurt!” at players who come off the field injured (usually significantly) in between flirting with the water girls, coaches yelling things like “you are not brothers today.. you’re enemies! Let’s see what you can do!”, and kids getting absolutely smoked, getting up, coming off the field, and matter-of-factly stating “what happened? I can’t remember..?”…. all within an hour… you have to acknowledge this as a normal wednesday, go with the flow, and deal with it. Don’t worry about the numb hands, you can tape just fine with them. Palpating an acute injury doubles as icing when it’s 10deg and windy on a Manitoba fall evening. Jump in there… awkward injured teenagers are waiting.

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So far this week has been all about immersing myself back into a routine. I’ve found myself in many positions (partly volunteered) of leadership already, between being head therapist with football, c0-president of KSA, and just generally being a final year student. People ask more of you, people expect more of you, and you expect more of you. The first week of this new realisation terrified me, but so far the second week has reminded me that I’m ready to tackle all this (and hopefully fare better then my football players).

As classes got rolling this week, I thanked summer me for pushing myself to almost crazy squeezing all the extra reading, clinic time, and field work that I did manage to. It’s already made 4 super intimidating courses seem a little less mental. The switch back to super-human scheduler has begun. I’ve noticed that (so far) I don’t find myself feeling like prep reading for class is as dreaded. I actually just do it without thinking. And I usually actually find it quite interesting. Which in turn also helps to make these courses seem more manageable. Studying is so much easier when it doesn’t feel like work! Now I just have to figure out a way to get my brain to shut off for bed time. It wants to just keep on rolling 24hrs a day! Luckily, I never really find myself low on energy (again, so far). I still manage to find time to have car naps, a habit a started this summer too. And, as my boss at the gym pointed out one day after coming in stressed as I could be (during week 1)… “you still have time to work out, so things must not be too bad). I’m making a conscious effort this year to take time each day for me, even if that’s just a car nap. This is in an attempt to keep myself from the colossal melt down that usually happens around January.

This past weekend we welcomed home the newest addition to the hobby farm… Lucy (already sometimes “Lucifer”)! She will the the new project, now the Felix is almost all grown up. Of course he isn’t going anywhere fast, and Lucy has a few years yet before we’re riding her as she’s only just 4mos old now. What we’ve learned so far is that she loves people, but not in the mornings.

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The rest of this week brings another football game (on my birthday of course), plans to spend time with friends and family over the weekend bringing in the 22nd year, and hopefully a continued progression of immersing myself into a comfortable stress/study/function level for this semester.

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Beginning the End

After my last first day in the undergrad… it’s safe to say my brain is mush already.  

To end off my summer, I really made a point of relaxing and just doing the things I wanted to. This gave me a total of 5 days of summer. The last few days of my summer job were spent doing next to nothing due to sketchy weather. Then J and I took off for a few days out to the country, and then to my cousin’s hobby ranch (if you can call thousands of acres of farm and pasture land a hobby farm) up in Horod, MB with Mom and Gord, and the rest of the Rance crew for some off the grid relaxation and family time. The scenery in the area of the province is like a slightly less condensed and tropical north NZ.. so pretty perfect. Over this time my immune system also relaxed and I got a cold, of course. The only way to bring in the school year! 
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The first two days of school have already completely exhausted my mental capacity. Between KSA promotions and organisation, a tough roster of classes, football 24/7, and catching up with familiar faces… it’s been a non-stop week so far. The last two days I’ve had to take an hour or so to just turn off my phone and stop the bombardment of texts, emails, and to-do lists. This, I think, is going to be a regular strategy.. at least until my head clicks back into super student mode (hopefully soon.). 

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Some of the Kin/Watsa execs a O-week!

Usually I’m much more enthusiastic about the first couple weeks of school. Whether it’s the fact that I’m very ready for this to be the last go-around, or like all the other final year AT students am feeling the burden of field and clinic hours crushing my soul.. there isn’t as much crisp new school supplies excitement floating around right now. I have become the jaded AT student, who begrudgingly dedicates majority of any free time to practical hours and somehow manages to study and work paying jobs in between commitments. It’s a interesting place to be, and I’m glad I have a few other students in the same situation as me to battle through this semester with. One thing I did miss was ranting about AT student sorrows and stresses to fellow AT students. 

I’m also looking forward to getting back into the routine. Once I settle back into the grind, I usually find a decent balance in my schedule. Or at least accept it. Acceptance is the key to not mentally imploding. 

If I could tell first year me what I would be handling in my 4th year.. First year me might have permanently stayed in NZ. However.. looking back at all my hard work and stress, the pattern would suggest that I can handle this one last crazy semester.. and once I get through it, I just have another semester left until I’m degreed. The CATA certification stress doesn’t start until after that. So we’re not even going to start talking about that for a few months yet. 

Stay tuned for more brain fried rants as the semester continues! 

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Taking in Summer

You would think that selling my horse and taking a hiatus from competition would free up hours of free time in my life.. and if you did think that, I’d have to ask you.. do you know me at all?

After making the decision of selling Will, and finding the suitable buyer…I spent about a week hibernating. Or at least that’s what it felt like. I kept up my regular work routine, but spent the rest of the time napping, eating comfort food or being grumpy. I refer to this week as my ‘emotional hangover’. I can’t lie, it was and still is quite an adjustment not going out to the barn every afternoon in between shifts, and not spending my weekends planned around training or show schedules.  It has, however, been quite a happy adjustment as the financial and time commitments that came with riding full-time have diminished significantly.

After the week of feeling hungover, I spent the weekend with my guy going from one social gathering to the next. Supper at my parents to the west on Friday, a birthday party at J’s friends to the east Saturday, a retirement party in the city on Sunday. Getting out and about, being surrounded by good people for three days straight really helped snap me out of whatever I was doing the week prior.

Following that was another busy week full of work and beginning to prepare for the school year to begin once again. I’ve been able to fill the time once spent at the barn with getting my focus back onto getting myself into the gym to work out, eating right for me, and getting more involved in a couple of clinics. Claude at MORFit has been utilizing me whenever he has clients and I’m on shift.. which is great. It still amazes me that one year ago I was terrified of working with a client, and now he’s given me a client to work with from day one onwards.. which just seems like everyday stuff now to me. I assessed this client on his first appointment, and have worked with him twice weekly for the last month or so. It’s been pretty neat to see him progress in his rehab and be elated with his results; results that he’s achieved with me working on him mostly independently!

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Last week I began work in another clinic, one which I’m very excited to be working in. I’ll be there twice a week as well until classes begin, as well as continuing the work at MORFit with Claude, and then I’ll have to put clinic time on hold to accommodate football season. I was also kept busy with KSA business as well, as we prepare for our big member push during the first couple weeks of school. It will be interesting to see if the four of us can rebuild this student association, and get it back on track to being the huge network of students it once was.

I’ve been really trying to take as many chances as I get over the last while, and in the next couple weeks, to just do whatever I think might be fun with what remains of summer. It’s been close to 10 years that I’ve always had something horse related to do on weekends, so as much as I’m already missing it- it has been very nice to just do other things on weekends off. This weekend I did end up doing something horsey by setting up J with a polo lesson and going as a spectator. My good friend and teammate Megg joined to watch, and we had a great day. J seems to be a natural to the riding world. Only having ridden a few times in his life, this lesson was his first official ride. He made it look easy and had a tonne of fun. I may be getting him addicted to counter my withdrawal..

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As much as I can hobbling around on my persistently bruised foot, I’ve been getting myself back into a work-out routine and cleaning up my diet. With classes fast approaching, and my schedule turning into a crazy monster.. I’m going to need a clear head and lots of energy. Right now is the perfect time to start taking advantage of all my friends and family with fresh food growing in their yards and get myself back into my healthy routine. With a little extra time (relative) I’ve taken the chance to start cooking more. A couple meals with J this week consisted of garden potatoes, onions, paired with bacon and eggs (both local), french toast (gluten free and locally baked) with fresh raspberries and blueberries. I made some fantastic fresh corn with sauteed zucchini, onions, carrots, and beet greens the other night. And tonight at work I made myself a arugula salad with tomato, sweet red pepper, fresh basil, nuts, and carrots topped with chicken and poppyseed dressing.

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Football practices began today.. which will combine with work (2 jobs still), running my own class, and CMU basketball teams. I’m the head therapist with Murdock Football this year, as well as the only AT working with CMU basketball (both men’s and women’s). It’s gonna be a bit of a crazy year. I’m registered in 4 classes and one lab, and just heard that I got chosen to be the lab demo for Taping and Splinting this fall as well. Those plus running KSA, and potentially also working with the Older Adults class again.. I’ll be flying. I am really looking forward to it all though. I’ve found my niche within AT, and every experience I get drives me further towards the career I want to have. This being my last year of my bachelor, I want to make the most of it. And how do I make the most of things? I do every possible thing I can. Duh.

My week days are quickly filling up, but the next two weekends I’ve saved to spend time with family and friends, relaxing and enjoying summer… and raiding people’s gardens!

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When you know, you know.

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Photo credit: Steve Carmichael, solosnapshots.com

You know that feeling you get when you are doing something right, but you still feel like you’re swimming against the current? That defines how I felt for majority of the weekend at Heart of the Continent.

Of course, there were many moments of positivity. Like when M stated that “that was the best round I’ve seen you ride in years” after one of my .85m courses, or when he followed up a .9m round with “you’re riding better then I’ve seen in a long time”. While it could lead one to question what he thought I was doing over the last few years, I’m choosing to focus on the here and now and be quite happy with how I did this weekend as a rider.

In an attempt to counter the negativity and confidence issues I’ve had this season, I set myself a goal of finding at least one positive from  each ride over this five day show. The only day I didn’t find one right away was Sunday, but I’ll get to that one later. Here are the positives from each day at Heart:

WednesdayI got a effortless ride through a two stride during warm-ups, and I’m wearing my new boots (finally).

Combinations have been a long standing issue for us, so getting a nice ride through one on warm-up day was a great boost!

ThursdayCompliments from both my coaches on how I rode and feeling effective and solid in the tack.

Our rounds weren’t perfect, but I was riding like I should be. My legs felt solid, and I was making good decisions around the courses.

Friday our .85m round was easy and clear, Will jumped great for me and I was riding like I should be! We pinned 4th. 
- both our warm-ups felt amazing, even when M set a huge oxer in prep for our .9m. Warm-ups usually only frustrate me but today they were only encouraging! 
- our .9m was one of our best rounds at this height! I had a great ride through the first half of the course (flawless two-stride ) and finished with a few minor rider errors- but my horse worked for me.

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SaturdayI still have cat-like reflexes in the air.

Yeah, it was a rough day. We competed in two .9m classes, a height we’ve been building confidence slowly in. Today was not the day for that. I found myself having to chase my usually eager horse to each jump, and when it came down to it.. he really wasn’t interested in his job. While he obliged over single jumps, he didn’t really agree to combinations.

A brilliant shot by Steve Carmichael right before a trouble spot...

A brilliant shot by Steve Carmichael right before a trouble spot…

And here's the trouble spot.. Thanks Dad, for this one.

And here’s the trouble spot.. Thanks Dad, for this one.

He dumped me in both courses at the same spot. I’ve never had to fight with him this much through a course, and both my coaches agreed that I was doing everything I could as a rider.. he was just not with me. The second fall I landed on my feet, and managed to bruise a couple bones in my foot. Unfortunately in the same leg I broke 6 months ago. After driving myself to the hospital to get x-rays (and almost passing out from pain, oops), and bossing around some x-ray techs who not only tried to x-ray the wrong foot, but also the wrong set of bones, I still decided to get back on for the rest of Sunday’s classes, two .85m courses.

Like I mentioned before, Sunday is the day I haven’t come up with a positive for yet. Why? Well, it was a bit of a emotional roller coaster. It took a lot from me to even go back into the ring on Sunday, after having such a disheartening performance from my usually eager partner. However, I was keen to not end a show on a negative note.. so off we went.

If I was to pick a positive from Sunday, it would be something like this: The relationship that has formed between my horse and I over the past 8 years has given us great communication skills, and for these I am grateful

Horses can’t speak, but they can definitely let us know what they’re thinking. Galloping to the first fence in our first course on Sunday, my horse told me he was finished. In a matter of strides, he made it crystal clear that his time in the jumper ring was done. He didn’t misbehave. He kept me safe. He was honest. But our interests had changed.

Riders are big talkers when it comes to how they perceive their relationship with their horses. When it comes down to it, to be serious about the sport- you have to acknowledge when it’s time to let a partnership end. Riders who plan on progressing all accept this as true… however it doesn’t make the progression any less heart breaking.  To quantify what I’ve learned from my partnership with Will isn’t possible. However, I’ve never experienced a clearer message from my long-term teammate. After he slowed to a stop before the first fence, I felt a shift in our relationship. I got him over it on try number two, and got him over the second fence.. but once again he slowed to a stop before the third fence on course. As we walked out of the ring on a loose rein, he dropped his head  and sighed while I struggled to keep it together.

The list of emotions I experienced in that moment went something like this: frustration, relief, confusion, sadness, and clarity. I was frustrated for obvious reasons. I felt a little let down by my horse, and more then anything wanted to just have one good round to end the weekend. I was relieved because I was tired of pressing him to fences when he wasn’t wanting to participate in the game. I was confused because I no longer felt like I was riding the horse I’d known for years. I was sad because I knew that our partnership in the show ring was ending… I felt clarity because there was no longer any hesitation behind my next steps within the sport.

As I walked out of the out gate, under the tower and looked at M (he always stands right at the gate watching his riders), his only comment was “he isn’t in there with you, is he”. I could only shake my head and get out- “I think we’re done for the day”. We scratched the rest of our day, and walked back to the barn. About the only emotion I wasn’t feeling was anger.  After all, how could I be mad at such blatant honesty.

It’s easy to get discouraged after a wrap up like that. However, to look at all this horse has given to me (through true blood, sweat, and tears) is a reminder of how much he’s helped me grow as a rider. I’ve known for a long time that he can only take me so far in the sport, and while seeing him reach his limit was a tad heart breaking.. I’m glad he did it in his usual honest manner. It would be more heart breaking to see him reach those limits in a more unfortunate way (i.e., injury). Not every horse makes it so clear that they are ready for the next chapter before they have physically broken down. As it stands, Will is still a healthy, safe, honest, sound and able horse, and he will excel at being that for a number of years yet. As he has been for sale for quite a while, now seems like the perfect time to find him a new home that will give him a chance to do what he is ready to do now.. a little less competition and a little more just having fun as a riding horse. I’m so looking forward (in the most bittersweet way) to finding him that perfect home.

I, too, am ready for a little less competition and the stress that comes along with that training regime. I am slowly switching back into school mode for another year, and have been toying with the idea of taking a break from the sport (competitively) for a while, and this appears to be the perfect opportunity. Riding as a sport isn’t often one that you can put away or take many days off from, especially when you train to compete. Horses can’t just sit around for days at a time. They need constant attention. I know I’m not the only one out there who has experienced the strain and burn out that comes from balancing work, school, and sport.. so with the prospective of being done competition for a while I feel so much less stress already (mentally, physically, and financially).

My already tough season definitely ended on a tougher note. It’s not easy seeing a long-term partnership come to it’s end (although a logical one). As a close teammate once said, there comes a point where you have to choose between a horse and the sport. I’ve always known Will wouldn’t be a forever horse, but we do have a fair amount of history so it will not be an emotionless day when he goes to a new home. It’s also weird to think about me being ready to take a break from the sport I’ve held onto for so many years, but I truly feel that it is the right choice for where I’m at. After the year I’ve had within the sport, and out, I need to figure out where my goals sit. Sometimes the only way to do that is to take a step back and let time do it’s thing. So, I’m in no rush to find another horse. Instead I want to take the next year or so to finish my degree, certify as an AT, ride other people’s horses when I can and want to, do a bit of travel, and settle into a steady job so I can afford to get serious about training again if that what is still important to me.

There will always be horses to ride, so I’m not worried about not getting my saddle fix. I can’t imagine my life without this crazy sport, but I do think this year has taught me many valuable lessons and taken a lot out of me. My riding has progressed immensely, but my drive and passion for the sport has been clouded by negativity: residual fear from injuries, shaken confidence, and stress from the outside world. I have a feeling that that drive and passion will return quite quickly once I take this step back and switch my focus back to the other passion I have within the athletic therapy world.

My blog has always been about “learning one day at a time”, and that is pretty much exactly what I’m sticking to. This is just another step along the journey, and with it will come more lessons. Some tough, some cheerful, and some frustrating. That’s life, and life would be nothing if it wasn’t an adventure.

 

 

 

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A confidence parallel

You may have noticed a theme of confidence in this summer’s posts (although few). Be it from recovering from my riding accident 6months ago and dealing the residual fear of getting back in the saddle, to transitioning into the jumpers from my oh so comfortable hunters- I am seemingly constantly confronted with the trials of where my confidence levels are on any given day.

My last post focused on how much I was beginning to regain confidence at Beach Party in the jumpers, after a good 3 days of making decent decisions and having decent rounds as a result. After that show I took some time off to do other things. I worked Folk Fest as part of the first aid team (which was awesome), dealt with an old back injury that acted up which took me away from riding for another week,  interviewed with a therapist I will be doing some clinical with, covered the Morris Stampede (professional rodeo) with a professor as a member of the sports medicine team (also awesome), applied for a related scholarship, covered some football, celebrated 6months with the guy, got my back back on track, did some clinical work at MORfit… my first two assessments in I don’t know how long, and finally got back into the saddle for a few rides and lesson before Heart of the Continent which starts this week. My lesson was quite good, although I did struggle with my head a bit during. Thankfully, even though my brain was nervous- I was able to put that aside and tune into autopilot. This made our lesson go quite smoothly, and M&C were quite happy.

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This has been one of the first summers my career/school and riding have really collided. I’ve been trying to find a balance, but in all reality for the majority of the earlier summer riding took precedence. The closer it gets to fall, the more AT focused things I’m beginning to do.. but I’m glad I’ve had the opportunities in AT I’ve had the past few weeks as they kind of reset my mindset towards where I’m at with riding.

Through doing all those other things outside of riding the past few weeks, the more athletic therapy sided things, made me see the other side of confidence in my life. It seems that my career and my sport have switched sides on me. In the past, athletic therapy related ordeals have taken some serious guts for me to accomplish due to a lack of experience and confidence in the area while riding has been something that comes easily for me with success following my experience and confidence levels in the ring. This summer every event I’ve covered as an AT or responder has been refreshingly fun, easy, and not like work at all. At Folk Fest I found myself labelled as the chief wound dresser, after impressing a few people early on with my roller gauze abilities. Morris Stampede brought me using soft tissue release techniques that I’ve never actually had the chance to use in real life since learning them.. but I still rocked it out.

I’ve clicked into a groove in the field, and excel at every chance I get in the clinic. The two clinical assessments I did for Claude were the first in 6-8months, but I found myself running on autopilot and picking up on things I’d read about or seen talked about at the CATA conference. I didn’t stumble through my questions, or forget what came next in the movement assessment.. I just did my thing and did it pretty well.

How nice it is to be able to do something so autonomously with confidence. All this took me the past year and a bit of working my butt off in class and clinical, and taking myself out of my comfort zone every chance I got. When I started this program I was somewhat shy, quiet, and although eager to learn- completely terrified. I see myself now turning into a calm, confident, knowledgable young professional. I guess that’s where I should be at as I enter my final year of the program before challenging the national exam.

When you stack that feeling of confidence within my budding career up to my long time riding career and my current feeling of not much confidence at all… it clearly shows the effects of a transition year. I most definitely underestimated the switch to the jumper ring as being simpler then it is. While I was plagued by a few unfortunate injuries early in the season, between having to ride very differently around a longer more aggressive course and being on a horse who has just as much experience doing this as I do… I have my work cut out for me. Beach Party proved to me that I am on the right track. But, just like the steps I had to take as a student AT to build my confidence and as a result boost my abilities- I have to do the same and put in the time in the jumper ring.

My goals for Heart of the Continent this week are to remain focused on staying calm, sitting up, keeping my leg on, having fun, and doing what I know how to do.. which is ride. Because while I may be a newbie to the jumper ring, I have been doing this crazy sport for over half my life- the skills are in there somewhere.

In a more general “state of my life” update, I am being run kind of crazy between work, riding, KSA organization, trying to get my current apartment subletting, dealing with subsequent no shows to the scheduled apartment viewings, working with my CMU Basketball teams, prepping for my football team to start up again, and the school year to begin. On top of Heart this week I’m moving in the middle of it, and working evenings. I’m also currently working on a proposal for a directed study on the biomechanics of a rider and how strength training can improve that (I know, I know.. I’ve been on this forever). In the midst of this I’ve had to chase the show boots I ordered in June across the country as I still haven’t received them…. long and frustrating story short.. they got on a plane today for express overnight to Winnipeg and should be here before I start competing Thursday. Here’s hoping I get to wear my boots for the last couple shows of the year!

Writing this all down I’m not surprised I had to take a “sick/mental health” day this morning to both recoup and get packing done for my move later this week.

The remainder of the time leading up to Heart… which is like 16 hrs at this point.. is going to be spent putting my game face on and not stressing about every other thing going on in my life. The move will happen with the help of my man, friends, and parents. My apartment will get sub-letted asap. KSA will be organized in time for fall. I will organized all the paperwork and training schedules for all three teams I’m working (after Heart). I will survive, and August holds some much needed weekends off and chill time before the last year of my BSc. I can do this!

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