Monthly Archives: March 2014

Walk before you run, breathe before you freak out, and when in doubt-write it out!

New WCB caseworker: “So, I was only informed of your job with Horse Connection and your job at the U of W.. what else do you do? Are you a student?”

Me: “I am a full time student, as well as I have another job at MORfit…”
WCB: “What? You have 3 jobs and you’re in school.. full time?”
Me: “Yes..?”
WCB: “Oh.. my god. Sorry.. but how do you do that?”
Me: “Well, it’s safe to say I’m pretty burnt out at the moment..”
WCB: “I can only imagine.. you’re officially the busiest person I’ve ever talked to…”
My week has been filled with classmates, coworkers, and friends telling me I look tired, and asking what’s wrong. So, I guess it’s been a long week? It’s only Wednesday? This post may be a bit of a frustration rant- bear with me.
With the end of term fast approaching, a bum leg, and a million things on the go- I guess this burnt out feeling was inevitable. Today I took a me day, after struggling through the morning rehab/training session and class- and being questioned a billion times as to what was wrong and why I wasn’t my usual motivated self- I went home and crashed into a nap (still in my jacket and shoes..). I’m starting to feel more refreshed now, and am actually accomplishing some school work for once.
This injury is starting to catch up to me, all that optimism I had early on is fading as rehab seems endless and my burnt out brain loses motivation for pretty much everything. Having experienced burn out before, I can at least deal with it somewhat productively- however this time I do have the extra challenge of physical hinderance as well and dealing with fear and anxiety as they come up in relation to the gradual return to my sport. Because my chosen sport is a little less familiar with my ATs and doctors- I am somewhat lonely on that front. I am lucky to have great supports from my teammates Megg and Lauren, as well as from others in my life- but the only person who can really get me over this hump is me.
A few weeks of an average of 14hr days has definitely left me ready for a break. Normally that break for me would come in the form of going for a run on my favourite route, or taking my horse out for a long hack. Two things that I can’t really do. Once because physically I won’t be there for a while yet, and the other because mentally I am far from that point as well- also, the weather sucks. My subconscious is really just doing it’s job; after all- why would my brain want me to step back into a situation that recently damaged significant aspects of my body? I’ve talked to many other athletes who have gone through the same experiences, and it’s nice to know I’m not losing it. Also interesting to learn first hand about yet another aspect of athletic therapy, a side of it we don’t often hear too much about. It’s not easy to deal with fear of something that is a major part of your life. 
In baby step form, I have been on a horse twice this week- with the help of some awesome people. Shakka sported me around on the weekend, and recreated many fearful situations for me as he was a tad fresh (thankfully his fresh is slow motion compared to most horses). I was on for about half an hour, 15 minutes of which I felt great for before anxiety started in, and when M came to watch, leaving the arena door open behind him- I was at the point where I had to stop. That was too much of a recreation of my accident for my head to handle at this point. I got on again Monday night, and Shakka was much less spunky and we had a great hack for another half an hour. This time I was only mildly anxious the entire time. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe, and that the saddle was once a safe place for me. Nervousness is a very unfamiliar feeling for me in the saddle. One that I hope doesn’t become familiar.
While this year has brought many lessons in patience, and prioritising- right now both those things are difficult. I am very frustrated and impatient with my recovery at this point, which isn’t horribly positive. To be in the tack, looking a small jumps set up around the arena and imagining myself schooling over them in the future is terrifying. Yes, I know that won’t last forever- but it certainly makes the next few months seem very daunting. I have never experienced a level of demotivation I’ve felt towards pre-season conditioning and rehab like this before- which in itself is interesting and provides me with a challenge. Often the only thing that gets me to a rehab session is pure obstinance towards the parts of me that are saying “why bother” or “this is going to suck, and be exhausting, and might make you hurt more.. maybe you should just take another day off”. I’m thinking those things all the time- and they are feeding into the fear of riding. Right now, before I get in the tack, and while I”m in the tack- there is a voice telling me that at any moment I could be thrown, be injured longer, be in more pain.  The same voice is telling me to walk away from this danger- wait longer before trying- avoid the risk. Take it easy in rehab, don’t push yourself to stay fit as much as possible, take it easy.
That voice isn’t me, really..  And unfortunately arguing with that voice is only adding to my already hectic schedule.
No wonder I zombie napped for an hour and a half today!
What I do know is that if I listened to that voice’s suggestions and took more time, stopped pushing myself to do things that seem hard or horribly intimidating, is that I honestly don’t know if I could get myself back into it after more time. If after 7 weeks the fear built to this level, what would 14 wks be like to deal with? What about a whole season? Yes, I did consider just taking a season off. However, I quickly realised that in all honesty I couldn’t afford to. Even though I do always stress about being able to financially afford to compete and train like I do.. in this sense I mean afford in a long term sense. My passion within the sport of riding has roots in almost every aspect of my life. Educationally, riding has driven me to pursue extra research, ask deeper questions, and set higher goals. Career wise, it’s given me an arena to voice my ideas and put them into action, building my own client base and giving me a chance to develop long term goals. My involvement, and all the ups and downs I’ve had within riding has given me so many skills and set me up for many opportunities that otherwise I may not have been privy to. To say that after 15 years of hard work, sweat, blood, and so many tears that I’m done because of one scary injury? That isn’t okay with me, and it’s that thought process that is keeping my inner argument going.
Fear is a two sided coin for me right now. There is the fear of returning, but also the fear of never going back. Would my life be easier if I took out the expensive hobby and time commitment riding is? Probably, yes. However, easier is almost never better. I would be taking out a piece of who I am, and losing a piece of who I want to be. Riding may take a back seat in the future due to other life goals, as it has and does already during the school year, that is a decision to make if and when. I’ve always been open to the idea of letting goals evolve and change- but letting a decision like that be made because of fear isn’t okay with me, and it doesn’t represent who I am. I also truly believe that if it was something I truly wanted to take a break from, I wouldn’t be having as much of a inner struggle with it. I am so grateful for that struggle, and for the people in my life who aren’t afraid to push me and question me when they see me working through this.
Today I got on a treadmill for the first time and was told to walk- I was immediately frustrated because all I wanted to do was run. A few days ago I got on a horse and was terrified I would never shake this uneasy feeling in future rides.
I am happy for that frustration, it means that I WANTED to run. I’m thankful for that terror- as it means I was thinking of FUTURE rides. As tired as I am- I’m tired because I’m trying.
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“No..Thank You!” …. The results are in!

You know you’re special when your doctor thanks you for having rare and interesting injuries. 

I got my MRI results today, from the MRI I had done a couple weeks ago for the accident I had a month and a half ago. Turns out I do indeed have a fracture, on the lateral plateau of my tibia. Thankfully undisplaced.. I was told by the doc that I was a hair off of a very, very severe injury that would have resulted in surgeries and pins and screws. Ya no thanks! I can’t lie though, I am pretty excited about having my first official broken bone.. #nerdalert

So, what we know now (7wks post trauma): fracture at the lateral tibial plateau, microtrauma to the trabeculae in the superior tib/fib bone (trabeculae = spongy part of the bone), marrow effusion (bone bruise), edema (fluid) surrounding the deep peroneal nerves, sprained superior tib/fib joint, strained long adductors (groin muscles crossing the knee), and rotator cuff strain/impingement to top it all off! What better way to study for my rehab practical then to spend the entire semester going through every stage of recovery!! 

For the most part, recovery has been going very well with consistent progress. Today was the first day I’ve had nerve pain in a couple weeks, and I know I’m not really done with those random symptoms for a while as nerve bruising/edema can take around a year to fully heal. The last couple weeks in the clinic I’ve spent doing more conditioning and strength training work, which sucks- but is also pretty awesome. Considering only 3 weeks ago I was just happy to be walking without severe pain. I’m still a ways off of running, but am getting closer to getting strength back. I’ve been challenging my cardio with bikes, swimming, ellipticals, and dry-land rowing- and challenging my strength more and more each week. It’s very nice to be able to do something in the gym again! Step by step (literally)!

To put a positive spin on this whole series of events- it’s given me a great opportunity to rebuild my body. Because I have some super talented ATs behind me, and have basically started from the bottom up when it comes to conditioning- we’ve been working out all the little kinks in my posture and functional movements- which in turn will help me rebuild my riding position too. This would be something difficult to do if I was still in good condition. The fact that my body was broken down by a trauma, and then had to be rested for a few weeks was at first frustrating- but I’ve really come to appreciate the chance to build it back up again on more stable foundations. All this also has given me some great new ideas to put into my own training class- which I’m sure my clients will love/hate! Holla at me silver lining! 

What else is new? 

Uhh both Will and Felix move into M&C’s in a couple weeks- just in time for exam season. The doctor has given me the okay to ride- actually he couldn’t really say no, because he doesn’t know enough about the sport to really know what it would entail for all my injuries. So I’m flying on my own opinion. And that’s just going to be trying it out and seeing how it goes, once I get my brain wrapped around the idea that it’s something I shouldn’t be terrified of. Yes I’ve still be finding excuses to avoid going out to the barn (that and I am honestly just swamped by everything else in my life<– prime example of an excuse). I did go out to a horse show to watch Megg do some rounds this past weekend, and it was actually a good thing for me to do. After getting my very patient boyfriend and I lost (I have excellent navigational skills….), and finally getting there- it was good for me to sit in that atmosphere and watch horses and riders go around courses all morning. It kind of revived some motivation in me, and reminded me that that is something I do want to do still. 

This week is of course packed full of fun times. As classes are coming to an end, the pressure to stop procrastinating has begun. Today I interviewed for a potential summer job, and tomorrow I'll be working at the Rotary Career Fair reppin' the Faculty of Kin AT program. I did this event last year as well and had a blast! Friday will bring the annual AT Games, an event I haven't attended before but am quite excited to attend this year. Trivia and Kin related games with the profs, followed by hanging out after? Nerd fun! I am honestly hoping to get out to the barn this week at least once, and sit on Shakka for a bit to see how it goes. I will not make excuses…most likely…!

I lasted 3 years as a Uni student before becoming addicted to coffee…..

I think the title explains the last 3 weeks of my life. However, I will state that it is roll up the rim season.

This is going to be a monster of a post…..A few things to talk about, so I’m going to start off with a contents list so you can skim if that is your preferred method:

1. Midterms
2. The view of the Manitoba Winter Games as a student therapist (spoiler: it was awesome!!)
3. Leg update
4. General life update
5. The general thought/whining section
6. Summer planning

Okay. So it’s been a while since I’ve written an update. I’ve had my hands full, often literally, and been running (not literally) from place to place the past few weeks!

First up, Midterms:

These went shockingly well. Of the marks I have back, anyway. The first one I got back (Therapeutic Modalities) I completely expected to be around the class average (which was..very low.. talking maybe 50-60 ish), but was pleasantly surprised with a 71, which happened to be in the top five or so of the class. Bonus! Then came Ergonomics, the class I really like but am sometimes lost in. Somehow swung an A here. Awha? Sure. I’ll take it! If you’ll recall from my last post, I had gotten my Ex Phys exam moved to this week due to a mystery virus, and had a super fun crazy day on Thursday where I drove back to the city from the Games (see next section) for a day at school where I wrote 2 exams and 2 tests, with classes/labs and a clinical shift thrown in as well. I am still waiting for Ex Phys back, but am not optimistic it was anything amazing. Meh. I also wrote Rehab on Thursday, which I feel pretty decent about. I don’t really remember most of the day though, so who knows. Lets talk about something more exciting..

How about The MB Games experience from the eyes of a student AT?

First off, thank you past self for volunteering up for this event in the fall. Holy guacamole did I learn!!! I worked full days (and then some) in Morden/Winkler covering different events on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I seriously never wanted it to end (only a little bit because I’m sick of school (see section 5)).

The week started with getting my volunteer badge and medical team shirt (which made me feel super legit, anyone else?).

Yes I realize how old that picture is...

Yes I realize how old that picture is…

The sports I covered for the first couple days were ringette and gymnastics (both male and female, ages 9-14). Monday was just practice for gymnastics, and I hung out there for most of the night after being shown around and bombarded with an ankle support and shoulder assessment within my first half an hour there. It was pretty crazy watching some of the things these kids did on the uneven bars (terrifying). Surprisingly (to me) there was only one injury that day for me to deal with: a gymnast came down during her floor practice off some sorta intense double round-off thing and landed in full plantar-flexion, inverted, and hit the ground crying. Cue my brain shutting off for 3 milliseconds then realising that everyone was looking at me because I was the one wearing the super cool medical shirt..

First lesson I learned: asking the patient questions doesn’t only make you look like you know what you’re doing (even if you don’t), it prompts your brain to start working again. I managed to go through a half decent assessment after getting her off the middle of the mat, and decided that she most definitely needed to go for x-rays; so after breaking that idea to her, and making her cry more, I headed to find the doctor, ice, and crutches. The doctor promptly confirmed the x-ray, and I had to mcgyver a set of crutches (the supply we had was sketchy- the only pair I could manage for her height was one metal and one wood, the wood taped together as there were screws missing…). Then we sent her off to Boundary for imaging, and the rest of the night was relatively uneventful. I did get to tape another gymnasts ankle, after the coach realised that I could actually do that. I got a little confidence boost as this 11yr old watched me tape with wide eyes, and expressed adorable gratitude.

The next day started out similarly uneventful. I taped a few ankles (including the young gymnast from the previous evening, who swore it was making her better!), wrapped a few groins, ate some great canteen food, and chatted. Then headed over to watch the first of the gymnastics competitions. This age group went smoothly, although I cringed a few times with some close calls on the vault. After this I had another couple hours to chat with the other health care professionals about the place, then me and the other student AT headed back to watch the second gymnastics event. With no other events running, the sport med doctor was hanging around with us too. Thank goodness, as not long after the event started a floor routine went horribly wrong. I was unfortunately watching this girl’s feet as she landed, which resulted in me seeing her ankle dislocate and her go down. I 110% froze, and probably said something not school appropriate out loud- and had that great moment where again we realised everyone (and there was A LOT of people there) was looking at us, and then hearing the doctor tell us to “go!”. Matt and the doc headed out while I stayed by the med kit ready to bring it out if needed, pretty much right away got the signal to call 911. I went out onto the mat to help, only to have the coaches lift the girl and start moving her (seriously…. who does that!?). Thankfully the doctor had a good grip on the ankle and we all headed to the other room to carry on. The ankle was most definitely fractured, with what looked like the fibula pretty close to breaking the skin. Needless to say all we could do was splint and wait for transport. So that’s what we did. The poor kid was understandably freaking out. While the other two stayed with her and her parents, I headed back out to the competition, only to find another athlete had thrown up and was looking pretty faint. Her mom quickly explained that she had had a very similar injury last year, and was reliving some of the experience.

Definitely the worst injury I’ve dealt with so far, and once the adrenaline worse off I had a seriously hard time watching floor routines for the rest of the day. I couldn’t watch the feet anyway. Who woulda thought floor over bar and beam would cause the most anxiety! After that gymnastics ran smoothly, and I spent most of the rest of my time handing out ice bags (snow bags). The next day was much slower, as it was a transition day for the games- so after watching the boys gymnastics, and still cringing during floor routines, I used the rest of my time there to study for rehab and ex phys. My last day at the games I got to cover hockey (female) for the first time, and thankfully nothing major happened. I did get an insight as to how intense the sport of table tennis is- especially when we had one athlete come to us with stomach flu symptoms (which 50/50 could have been caused by the stress being placed on him by his mother and coaches… oh, and the large plate of meatballs, fish, and rice he had eaten.. oh and the dehydration…)- and saw his coach sprint out to get ginger tablets so he could play in the next 15minutes. Between the coach freaking out about her athlete (who was like 10) maybe being down for the count, and his mom wanting to take him to the hospital (for mild stomach flu symptoms..?..)- it was understandable that the kid was a little uneasy about his life.

What did I notice this week? I really noticed myself gaining confidence in acute assessment, and even just standing rink side or event side. As terrifying as the gymnastics ankle was- it solidified that I do have a solid education behind me and I am trained to handle things- even if my brain shuts off. It was sorta neat seeing how people looked to you as you had the most training. Another very cool side to this event was getting the chance to network with athletes, coaches, parents, doctors, nurses, other ATs and fellow students. I was asked so many questions about what athletic therapists do this week, and was able to provide semi-educated answers. People were able to see how competent we are in a variety of areas, and doctors were often looking to us to deal with assessments, taping, and return to play protocols. After injuries, I was able to hang out with the sport med doc on sight and discuss possibilities for what the images would show, recovery, and mechanisms as well as got to watch her do some kick ass assessments. Just watching her interact with patients was a learning experience! So yeah, it’s been a pretty athletic therapy filled week! I got to practice many skills at the Games, that I didn’t even know I needed to practice. Talking to young athletes, for example. Or talking to parents with heavy accents. Or talking to a sobbing kid with a near broken ankle. Not things you get to do or see everyday, that’s for sure. It was such a great week, and I really look forward to continuing to grow as a AT working in the field. Multi-sport events are a fantastic place to learn skills and gain confidence, even if it takes being absolutely terrified half the time. Faking it til you make it is definitely the way to go! People eat up confidence, and acting confident inspires real confidence. It was such a good feeling realising that I know what I’m doing, once my brain caught up with the moment I was in. The week at the Games ended off with a nice compliment from the head therapist, after finding out I was only in P1 she was very surprised and said “You have an amazing skill set for your level! Seriously, keep it up!”. Overall everyone was very impressed with the UW students, so I guess our education is actually getting us somewhere!

Now that we’ve discussed all the injuries I’ve dealt with, how’s my own Injury Progress?

It’s definitely improving. Not a whiff of pain with every day stuff now, I’ve been able to kick in the pool and other then feeling like I’ve never worked out a day in my life- I have no pain. Yay! I’ve been able to up my strength work again too (to.. more bodyweight.. haaa high five for atrophy), and today did a full hour of cardio training (on a bike and elliptical). I’m anxious to get running again, but doing my best to not push it. Because that would likely hurt. I did have an MRI this weekend, so pretty pumped to see what that shows!

I faced a fear this week! I must confess I’ve been absolutely terrified about getting back on a horse. The idea of getting right back on after you fall all riders are taught from day one has legit meaning- the more time that has been passing while I recover, the bigger the fear gets. Stupid, for someone who’s been riding for more then half her life. With my horse being moved back to M&C’s in a few weeks (eeeee!), and me getting the okay from my AT to try riding in a few weeks- the nervousness around the idea only doubled.. So, yesterday, since the weather was finally spring like- I decided to go out to the barn to just reintroduce myself to the environment. I didn’t plan on riding, as frankly it was hard enough to get myself out to the barn. But I did it. I got myself there, and spent some time with Lauren and Megg while they rode. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous in a familiar environment. Whyyy! I decided then to follow my personal rule of “If it terrifies you, it’s probably a good thing to try.”. And Megg let me sit on her horse for a few minutes. More then enough for my body, and my head. Funnily enough, as nervous as I was before getting on AND after getting off- while I was in the saddle on Justinian, I felt nothing but calm. Thank goodness that learned instinct of focus in the tack is still there. Shoulda just stayed on I think because as soon as I got back off I was apprehensive again. And sore. Very sore. Oh the joys of coming back from an injury.

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The general life update/general thoughts/summer planning sections: School and Work have been good. School is getting old. It’s that time of year where pretty much every student is done with it. My class has continued to keep my spirits up, every week I’ve seen my students greatly improve and am always getting good feedback. Next week is the beginning of another 8-week block, and I’m excited to continue with it! I’ve begun my search for another summer job (keeping MORfit, teaching, Horse Connection), as I recently found out that I was not accepted for the internship at Mayo Clinic this summer. I was somewhat disappointed by that news, but then realized it only meant I can hopefully save some money and ride my horse this summer- which is a plus. As great as Mayo Clinic would look on my resume, I can always apply again and I’m sure I’ll find some other sweet experiences.. it seems to be a thing I do anyway. What does my summer look like so far? About 3 spring courses, work work work, teach teach teach, and, oh yeah! Almost forgot! I got asked to work (volunteer) with another football team! Until a few days ago I was planning on going back to the team I worked with last fall. But on of my supervising AT’s senior students approached me and stated that she thought I would be really good with their team, a team that happens to be a heck of a lot closer to my location then Transcona is (as much as I love them), and a team with a schedule a little more conducive to mine. It was quite flattering to be approached by a senior student (again) and asked to come to their program. Doesn’t always happen that way! That combined with the blush worthy feedback I got from the head therapist at the games, I am quite happy with where I’m at as a AT student! This May brings the CATA conference to Winnipeg, and I’m looking forward to attending that. Of course I’m planning on training and competing as much as I can afford to.

Finishing up this semester is exhausting, between job searching, studying as much as humanly possible, working, and planning end of the year events for Kin and AT student groups- oh and running for student group exec positions for next year (my last year? What?)- my schedule has been nuts as usual. The last two weeks I’ve felt like I’m running on fumes (coffee fumes), but have been surrounded by an amazing group of people, new and old, who keep me going. Whether it’s students in any of my classes, fellow classmates and ATs, friends, family- there always seems to be someone there to study with, rant to, or cook for me after a long day at work/school. I’m very blessed!

I think that’s all I’ll burden you with for now, dear readers. I promise I’ll get back to a regular post schedule now that I’ve gotten back to a semi-normal schedule! End of term and finals are fast approaching, which means so is riding and training- recovery permitting! I can’t wait to see what the 2014 season has in store for me!

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