Category Archives: Student

“I can’t do this” (hindsight blog #2)

And so we left Pheriche and headed to Lombouche.

Within 20 min of trekking I was far behind the group.

I woke up with a worsening chest cold. While the views that morning were unbelievably, the air beautifully crisp- I felt like I was walking into quicksand with every step. The first hour or so of today’s short trek were on the flats- through small fresh glacial creeks, and on winding trails full of mountain shrubs and flowers. With the mist above and some sun peaking through. Even on these flats I was struggling to get enough air into my wheezing lungs.

We hiked through the flats, up and across a rushing glacial river (probably the sketchiest crossing yet), and then up and up to Lombouche which sits around 4900m. At about the 4700m mark I began experiencing the throbbing altitude headache many had already experienced on the trek. When I sat down in the lodge in Lombouche and had my vitals taken, my starting O2 levels sat at 56%. Luckily they rose to a comfortable 76% within the hour. That probably explained the headache.

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While the rest of the group did a 100m+ acclimatization hike that afternoon, I sat it out and fell asleep with my legs resting up a wall. I had finished the morning’s hike with a very sore chest, very swollen legs (besides the compression socks I was wearing), and numb feet. It was all I could do to stay somewhat lucid at this point. You think you’ve experienced full physical, and mental exhaustion- until you reach this point. Then you find a whole new level.

Reading through my journal entries at this point some of them don’t even form complete thought processes or sentences. I don’t remember much of anything above 5000masl. I remember exhaustion, I remember coughing, I remember everything being completely depleted, I remember losing all interest in the menu items available (white starch after white starch after white starch) and at one point realizing I hadn’t had any protein in days- ordering eggs- and immediately never wanting to see another fried egg ever again.

From Lombouche we continued up to Gorakschep (5180masl). Positive memories at this point are few and far between. I didn’t want to talk to anyone in my group, I came into the village about half hour behind the rest- back to my 5 steps at a time mentality but completely void of emotions. Somewhere around the 5000masl mark while trekking I started crying, and it felt like all emotions and cycling thought processes left me. Poured out of my heart like the glacial rivers we’d been following the whole 10 days. I cried behind my sunglasses as I became empty- and then I cried because I realized how badly I wanted to quit. The scenery, the mountains, THE mountain, the sherpas, the tourists, the monuments- I didn’t want to be in it anymore. I wanted to be done. The diamox dreams filled me with sadness and anger the night before- and I’d woken up sobbing two mornings in a row. Those altitude laden dreams were all related, all lucid, and all too real. They helped me resolve many things, and let go of emotional baggage- but boy could they be harsh.

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When we arrived at Gorakshep we had a lunch break and then continued to Base Camp. The goal. Before setting off, in our two hour break, I honestly contemplated throwing in the towel. It was 10:30am where I was, and 2am home in MB. I’d been connectionless for about 7 days, and decided to use some cell service to source out some motivation. Texting a few close friends and my mom- hoping someone would bring my mental game back into focus. Thankfully I received one text right away (“HOLY S***- You have to keep going!!!”) from a friend I knew would be awake. And some reverse psychology from my mother (“If you’re sick, you should stop- you can always go back again and finish later”) That was enough to get me going for another few hours (my brain knew enough at this point to know that I didn’t want to have to start this whole journey over again out of principle).

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We trudged along towards EBC (5350masl). Over the frozen, sandy lake bed and then over rock trails (literally- the actual trail had been washed out by that year’s monsoon and no longer really existed. In the picture above you can see one of our guides pointing at where we should place our feet on certain rocks. We got to the rocky plain that was base camp- took pictures- and I sat on a large boulder overlooking the glacier for a while. Literally with no thoughts. I just sat. I was empty. I’d made it- but at this point, I didn’t care. I was just happy to be sitting still and breathing.

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Next post I’ll begin reliving the descent- because believe me, this trek only was starting to get interesting!

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What kind of Therapist do you want to be?

When I first started practicums (which feels like ages ago), my first supervisor told me to “work under as many different therapists as you can” to see different styles and ways of working alongside different clientele and focuses. Since then I’ve worked in numerous clinics under different ATs and even a Chiro/AT. I’ve attended extra seminars and conferences, and begun my own training and movement client base under the supervision of my mentor. I took that advice to heart and tried my best to learn and observe a variety of treatment styles, even if they didn’t always match up with my own philosophies. What better way to learn and grow your own ideas then to experience other’s ideas?

Recently, after a discussion on different treatment styles, philosophies, and options,  I was asked by a young patients mother what kind of Therapist I wanted to be. After close to 4 years observing, practicing under supervision, and interning… you’d think I’d have a fluent answer to give. Yet, I struggled with my answer. It’s not that I don’t have an idea or a perception of who and what I’m becoming as a professional, but it was how to describe it.

The thing with the profession I’m in is that pretty much every successful and practicing AT/Kinesiologist I’ve met has the same vision for what we do. Varying ways to get the same thing done. Yes, personalities and treatment styles are different.. but the atmosphere and goals are generally the same. Some may focus more on manual/soft tissue work while some my focus more on movement modalities. Some attend conferences and seminars on one thing, while others attend with interest in another. But at the end of the day, they all want their patients to get better, be better, and live better. They accomplish this with patient education, continuing ed for themselves, evidence based treatments, and knowledgeable exercise therapy programs.

So.. what kind of therapist do I want to be?

Early on I recognized I had a love for solving a problem and improving performance. This is one reason I fell in love with biomechanics and movement correction. Not only do these areas benefit athletes of all levels, they are practical and useful to general population clients as well. I’ve always had a thing for teaching and empowering people, which has blossomed as I’ve progressed into this career choice. The past month or so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a client progress from being unable to walk without the support of crutches and deal with two legs that just would not do his bidding to being able to walk across the room standing up straight, unsupported. His renewed positivity and insatiable drive to keep improving is inspiring and motivating to say the least. Every patient or client I have that realizes their own ability to improve themselves is something that inspires and motivates me. I’ve realized more and more lately how blessed I am to have found a career that enables me to empower others, and also brings substance and meaning to my own life. This is something I’m very grateful for.

Of course there are days where I’m tired, I’m unmotivated, and I’m nervous for my upcoming certification exams. Some of those days I still end up working with clients, or doing my jobs.. and I always come out of the day feeling better and a little more motivated. Leading up to my exams this fall, I am both nervous, and excited. I know I have a solid base to support me and I have a preparation plan leading up to the actual exams. More then anything I feel undeniably ready to take this next step in my career path. As someone who is always about 5years ahead of herself, this exam is only a doorway to the next thing.

I want to be a therapist that is inspiring, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. I want my clients to leave sessions feeling like they have the tools to help themselves. I never want to stop learning, or lose the ability to adapt to each patient and work in a style that best suits them. I want to be a chameleon therapist that can fit into anyone’s mindset, see through their eyes, and change their perceptions on their body, health, and lifestyles if needed. I want to promote my profession and help change the way the world views healthcare. I want to help athletes better themselves and be the best they can be. I want it all, and I’m determined to get it.

This week I completed my interning hours and finished my last university course. 1200 hours plus some in clinic and field on top of 4 years in University, all leading up to this fall’s exams. I have an excellent support system behind me, and an every better vision for who I want to become. I think it’s a question every aspiring AT should ask themselves… what kind of therapist do I want to be? The way to finding the answer takes blood (usually other’s), sweat and tears.. but as any journey often is.. it’s worth it. Here’s to the next step in this adventure!

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Student Therapist Thoughts: The things you don’t learn in class

Arnheim’s Principles of Athletic Training list communication, stamina, empathy, sense of humour, intellectual curiosity, and ethics as the qualities necessary for an AT. What isn’t listed? The ability to self-motivate after a 14-16hr work day. All the multi-tasking. Being an educator, first-responder, student, personal trainer, counsellor, life coach, strength coach, nutrition advisor, substitute mother, and clinician all in the same day (sometimes all in the same hour). Self-promotion (most graduates are not walking into a job), and an excellent time manager (which includes keeping yourself sane).

As a intern, almost graduate, and someone who is attempting to set up their own business in a niche market that has been, for the most part, untouched by athletic therapy thus far.. these are all skills I’m developing on the fly. It’s not uncommon for me to hear from the clinicians I work under things like “you know what you don’t get taught in class..”, followed by any number of skills such as dealing with difficult patients, or insurance companies, or technicalities of charting or running a clinic. The skills and qualities I listed above often are seen as a given requirement, or a make it or break it set of abilities for young students or therapists. Many find that by the 3rd or 4th year of their studies, they aren’t cut out for the demands of this profession. Like any career, the ones who take a vested interest in personal development for the sake of their profession are usually the ones who thrive… and have fun while doing it.

In the clinic, working my way through the internship hours, I’ve found many things that are not even touched during lecture time. Including the silliest of things like getting cervical hot packs into the corresponding insulators, not getting adhesive IFC/TENS pads stuck to yourself while trying to apply to a patient, and not getting ultrasound gel everywhere. In the field, what they don’t teach you is that real live injuries don’t present themselves like the ones in your exam do (that goes for clinic too, actually), not every coach or parent will be convinced by your education, knowing how to interact with teenage athletes, the glamour of glove sweat, knowing how to layer appropriately so you will stay warm and be able to assess, tape, and stabilize too, and no matter how much you tell yourself you won’t lose your penlight.. you will always lose your penlight somewhere in the depths of your fanny pack.

All those things and more are things you learn when you step out into interning at various placements. You pick up little things here and there from the different therapists you work with (and all you upcoming students out there.. work with as many as you can!), and the different teams and events you frequent. You’ll learn that when you’re covering different events the sense the moment when athletes realize who you are and why you’re there (its usually signalled by the sudden onset of EVERYONE wanting ice, tape, a bandaid, or an ache assessed- most common with ages 17 and under). You’ll also learn how to manage burn out (in both yourself and your patients/athletes- often simultaneously), eating a half way balanced diet between time commitments, and how to carry a med bag, crutches, a coffee, and sometimes a table all in one trip.

When it comes to setting up your own image and stepping out into uncharted waters.. everything is fair game. Picking the brains of your mentors is the closest thing to a text book. Even then, figuring out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting your brand out there is touch and go. When you’re already promoting and part of a newish aspect of the health care system, working your way into a sport that is just beginning to integrate the skills you bring adds an extra challenge. What I’ve learned so far is that word of mouth is the best marketing. One happy client leads to another. Knowing  how to promote yourself online, and present yourself in person are key. Even more important is knowing how to sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you feel like your brain has melted. These things go for any young professional in any business. I see so many people around my age out there rocking their own ideas and making things happen for themselves, and I see just as many stuck doing other things. Kudos to all those out there doing what they do and loving it. Even with all the unknowns, learning curves, and long days.. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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Intention and the questions no-one can answer

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I have this vague memory of driving to the city with my mom when I was 5 or 6 (ish). Being a typical kid of that age, I was asking non-stop questions, and when given an answer.. my response would be “but.. why?”. Whatever answer I got wasn’t enough to satisfy the questions I had in my head.

I’ve been feeling a lot like that kid lately. Though, my questions aren’t as black and white.

Last week I wrote about working on being at peace with things. One of those things is accepting that sometimes (quite a bit of the time) there won’t be answers for the questions I have. As someone who is fairly open with my personal dilemmas, whether it be via blogging or long discussions with those close to me.. it’s clear that more often the not, nobody else can answer or solve certain things for me. I’m rarely happy with the answers I get, anyway. The discussion can offer great insight and further opportunity for reflection, yes, but it won’t bring a clear cut set of directions or a guide to the next step. There isn’t a handbook for growing up, another fact both twenty-something me and mature, young professional me are equally upset about.

What does give answers?

Time.

Following gut feelings. Trusting intuition.

Reflection.

That’s what I’ve come up with so far, anyway.

What I’ve noticed is that life seems to put us where we need to be, if we are able to pay attention to it’s directions. Whether those places make sense or not at first, time and reflection allow for the reasoning and answers to become a little clearer. The directions for the next step are those subtle little gut feelings. The intuition is developed via those gut and heart guidances. It’s the learning to listen with patience that’s the hardest part.

I struggled at first when I began my University career and began falling in love with my profession with how I would have room in my life for two all-consuming passions. My sport and my career. I had two deep down feelings: I would have to give up one to be successful at the other, or I would have to find a way to make them both work. It took years for the answer to become clear. Answers I didn’t even know were answers until now.. where I am living the dreams of my past self.

As cheesy as it sounds, setting an intention on what you want in your life, and then going about your daily life- making effective and conscious choices that are best for you at whatever stage you’re at- can lead to you being where you wanted to be all along.

In a different example.. I spent a lot of years complaining and making criticisms on the way my sport (and many sports) are run. Yesterday I was voted onto the board of directors for my provincial association. My intentions (roundabout) for change and evolution in the equestrian sport came about in a way I didn’t necessarily predict, but in a way that I have a feeling will give me some interesting opportunities.

Choices. Change. Letting time pass and having patience. These things come a long with fear, frustration, disappointment.. but also knowledge, gratitude, joy. You can’t have one without the other. Positives cannot exist without the negatives.

Nobody can say what the future will bring. Nobody can answers the questions of your deepest desires and hopes. You can set your intentions in motion. You can reflect on what you’ve been dealt. You can decide how you’re going to learn and wait for the next clue. However you’re doing, don’t be blind to the choices in your control and the doors opening toward opportunity.

Philosophical post complete. Now for a quick weekly update.

As noted above, I am officially a part of the Board of Directors for MHJA. I will be running for the chair of athletic development, for which I am already brainstorming ideas for. February is here and I have a busy month of writing up my research and submitting it for a national writing award, putting together presentations for the seminars and clinics coming up quick in March, and a few other articles on the go as well. I’ve hit a great rhythm in my internships and in my personal life. I have at least two evenings off a week with which I actually take off. I even read a novel this week, between work and school.. “A Scientific Romance” by Ronald Wright (definitely a  must read!). This is probably the most sane I’ve been during a winter semester.. ever. At least I figured it out before I finished my degree, right?

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Re: 2014… An open letter to myself

I usually do a Top 10 of the year to bring in the New Year, but this year I thought I’d do something a little different. In place of a list, here is a letter written to myself on the past 12 months. 

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Dec 31, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, you are reliving countless moments from the year past. Most of them good, some of them not so much. 2014 began for you with fate halting you in your tracks (quite literally), with a broken leg and a ambulance ride (this post has more detail). You probably won’t ever forget that night.

The year continued as your leg healed and your eyes were opened to new things and new experiences. 2014 was a busy year for you, in almost all areas. You began work on your own brand with Katmah Training, starting out with a strength and conditioning class for riders- and, now at the end of the year, you find yourself promoting biomechanics and position assessments, booking group clinics for riders on biomechanics, and working on your own research project. Not a bad progression. As spring came and your leg continued to mend- you had to deal with some fear around getting back in the saddle. By refusing to let fear control your season, you pushed through and got yourself through one of the toughest competition seasons of your life which brought true meaning to the saying “sweat, blood and tears”- and even made the transition from hunter land in the the jumper ring (why you chose to do this while recovering from a broken leg and nerve damage is still up for question).. all the while having great support from your teammates and now close friends M and L, your coaches, parents and boyfriend. As the show season ended, and your fear became less- you faced another hurdle when you made the decision to sell your long-time teammate Will (see When you know, you know for more on this). This meant letting go of yet another fear and letting yourself let go of the belief that taking a break from the sport meant giving it up forever, or that it made you any less of an athlete. Again- the support you had from those close to you was outstanding. Without these people- what you did this year probably wouldn’t have been possible. One of 2014’s biggest marks was likely showing you how much you appreciate the people in your life.

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Academically, you faced the most challenging year yet. However, you surprised yourself with your dedication to your studies and the profession of athletic therapy. You realized you’ve found your calling, and you began to see your own potential. You took on a leadership role in your student association, and a few teaching assistant roles. Early in the year you even applied to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for their AT-student internship, but fate had it that you were meant to stick around home this year. Instead you began your own research and focused your in class work towards the equestrian sport. In the field you spent the spring covering the MB Winter Games (click here for more on that experience), and football. Summer brought working at the Winnipeg Folk Fest, the Morris Stampede, and then more football, basketball and hockey in the fall. You were the main therapist with your football team this year, and got to see a truck load of injuries. Unfortunate for the kids, but excellent for your confidence levels in the field (this and this are good reads on how your football seasons went. )! You even got published again by CATA with your post Meet Your Athletic Therapist. As an executive of the student association, you were also lucky to attend the first annual Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health Fundraising Gala. This event inspired you and kept you in love with the ever growing profession of kinesiology in Canada. The passion of those involved in it is slowly but surely making it a well-respected part of the health care system.

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Other then being swamped by football, you were also working in the clinic(s), manning the student association, teaching, and taking the four final AT courses, and then hockey. While the entire year had it’s ups and downs, the fall took a lot out of you. While the summer made you feel like you were living a double life, being both the athlete and the therapist, the fall flew by until sh** it the fan for about 2 months straight. This is usually how you experience burn out, and you’re finally starting to understand the pattern. First your car got broken into (and all of your ID and medical supplies stolen). Then you got some marks back that demonstrated a clear case of burn out, and your leg began acting up more then necessary. Then your car got towed (you hoped it’d been stolen). Following this, and numerous breakdowns, you headed into final exams while simultaneously facing the end of your first major relationship. Oh, and then your car broke down and completely died. Ya think the universe was sending clear enough message? This post gives a longer summary. Here, again, you got a front seat view of how much support you have within your different circles. M and L, your riding teammates, didn’t just stop being your friends when you left the sport- they stepped up in a big way for you this fall and winter. Your parents were endlessly supportive, as well as all your friends and colleagues at school. Even through closing the chapter on your relationship, J remained a big support and friend for you too.

When you look back at 2014, it’s easy to see that it was a year of learning (as every year is) for you. Learning took place in new areas. You were forced to deal with many emotions and feelings you either hadn’t given time for (love), or had locked away (fear). You proved your ambition within your career, and that is paying off looking into the new year. Before the year ended, your research took off and you began to form your own biomechanics program for riders. While it’s in the early stages, it will come in handy for the few clinics and talks you’ve been booked for early in 2015. It was very much a year of growing pains, in pretty much every aspect of your life- whether it be sport, career, or personal life. After getting through December full of exams and focusing on your research before taking some time off around Christmas, you road-tripped out to Lake Louise with your cousins. You definitely couldn’t afford this excursion- but your head thanks you for it. It was a great way to hit reset and bring in the New Year.

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As the clock nears midnight, you’re sitting in the Fairmont Chateau watching rich people in velvet suit jackets get progressively more confident on the dance floor (it’s as entertaining as it sounds). You have a fresh mindset on many things, and are looking forward to 2015 as a exciting year for you. Right now you have plans to work the Scotties tournament, the National Badminton Championships, and are starting in a few new clinics. You will continue with hockey, now with a younger student shadowing you, be a teaching assistant in two new classes, continue your own research, and come spring return to you beloved football team. You are done course work now, with just two humanities left to finish- which means your schedule is much more flexible and coordinated to your AT life. You will return to MORFit, after a month off, continue running your own business, and tutoring. With a little more wisdom when it comes to scheduling (we think) you will get back into the gym and yoga on a regular basis, because you know it’s what you need– that time for you– to stay sane and keep the Universe off your back. Since you aren’t riding competitively anymore, you need to find other ways to keep your body moving and your mind settled. Hopefully you’ll make it to this years CATA conference in Halifax, and surely you’ll find some new adventures to fill your summer with. This will be the first summer without a heavy training and competition schedule to keep you busy- but also the summer before you challenge the national certification exams.  After reflecting on 2014, you’re grateful for all the things it’s shown you- and are welcoming 2015 with a smile!

For future reference- practice gratitude everyday, it’s one of the things that kept you going through the low points of 2014.

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Driving in White Out Conditions

The usual driving condition for those of us living on the cold, wide-open, wind blown prairies during the winter months.. could it be a metaphor for life?

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In the last few weeks I’ve found myself feeling emotions I don’t know if I have felt much before, going through a few personal stressors that both surprised me but then didn’t. I’ve found myself at the funeral of a long time mentor and former coach, dealing with a new up cropping of feelings and re-instillation of the fear I thought I was making progress on with riding, and finding myself lost within a myriad of personal relationship stress. This lead to a week or so of not eating properly, and the gains I’d made on rehabbing my ever persistent leg and nerve injuries back slide as I wasn’t about to slip down the overtraining slope on zero nutrition (plus side.. lost some weight?). Most recently having finally thought I was getting myself picked up and well on my way to being done this semester (only two exams and one paper to go) to have my car hit what may be it’s final bump, and finding myself driving through white-out conditions in a car that’s not mine (dad if you’re reading this from your warm location.. I’m borrowing your car) pondering what the last few weeks have dragged me through and wondering what could possibly come next.

While over the last few weeks my go-to answer to the question “how’s it going” has been a very simple “oh.. it’s going”. Somedays profs would find me sitting in my office literally banging my head against my desk.. and unfortunately for them dare to ask how I was. His only response to the half hour long rant he got was “how are you not an insane person by now? You always seem so calm and collected.” Thankfully, my profs and mentors are all unbelievably compassionate and understanding human beings.. and every day I’m grateful for what they’ve done, said, and taught me over the last few years.. especially this year. There’s been a lot of rough days in the last few months for me.. hence the “it’s going” response.. but, the more I go through, the easier it is for me to just adapt and move on from all those little personal stressors. Time rolls on.

I’ve always liked driving through winter storms. Maybe it’s because I was raised doing it, but if we get a little more deep- maybe it’s the feeling of not being able to see where you’re headed.. but having to trust you’re on the right path anyway.

When I began this semester, just shy of turning twenty-two, I foresaw what was likely going to be the most challenging academic year yet. What I didn’t see was non-stop challenges from  every other aspect of my life in between the demanding school life.

I feel like I’m coming out of this semester with more then just 4yrs of education in kinesiology. I’m coming out of it with a better understanding of who I am, and who I want to be.

While at the funeral last week, I expected to feel sad.. and finally snap out of the shock I’d been feeling at her death the week leading up to the funeral. Instead, I found myself, once again, feeling inspired by the life she had lead. From having a successful career in more then one area, chasing her dreams relentlessly and achieving whatever she set out to achieve, having a loving marriage and family, and travelling to her heart’s content. She lead the life I see and dream of for myself. She wasn’t slowed down, or if she was not for long, by all the bumps and bruises life can bring.. and she was always smiling. You could tell by her passion and enthusiasm that she was fulfilled in every way, and had passion for everything that she did (and she did pretty much everything). I grew up with women and men like her in my life. People who have gone through hardships, but have chased their chosen paths without being held back. I left the funeral both still in shock, but mostly grateful to have known her- and to be blessed with her inspiration even now that she isn’t humanly here. I was also overwhelmed with the people I have surrounding me now. All filled with their own passions, stuck with their own challenges, and moving down their own paths. While we all have different reasons for doing what we do on this earth- we all face many of the same challenges, fears, and “white out conditions” if you will.

Things are not always going to go smoothly. Actually, I’ve come to learn that if they seem to be going smoothly.. you must be doing something wrong. Life is full of challenges, big and small, and different for each person. Growing up and figuring those things out and learning how you react to stress is sometimes the hardest part. But being able to follow that path even when it’s completely blown over and visability is crap.. that’s sometimes where you just gotta trust in your belief, your support systems, and keep your head up.

As weird as it is, the last two months started out as having an effect on my marks. Big time. But even though exam season came with a whole new wave of the Universe laughing at me… I was able to just throw myself into full AT mode as it has been the one constant for me this year. Studying, writing, working with clients (exciting research has happened here.. I’ll really write a post on this like I’ve been promising soon!!!), even doing practical exams.. it’s become my happy place. That and spending time with my spectacular friends and family. Yes I rant a lot.. but it’s times like these when having dreams that are becoming a reality keeps you going. Everything falls into place.. just not always at the same time.

The same prof that found me banging my head against the desk a few days ago just walked by as I was finishing this post and tentatively asked how I was doing.. and when I told him “I’m doing okay, you know, I’ve decided that I’m letting all the stress go and just gonna roll with whatever happens next”. He kind of chuckled and said, you know.. we should have you teaching classes at that skill- you are unbelievably good at it!

So as I finish my final week of my last full-on semester.. I find myself blasting Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” (don’t judge me) and realizing that being stressed is overrated when you have been doing it for months.. all I can do is control the controllables, and mainly.. my reaction to what I cannot control.

 

 

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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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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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