Having joined WRD’s Fresh Meat Programme in 2014, I have been pretty lucky where injuries have been concerned. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have been injured, there is no debating that. I am now recognised in the x-ray department and have honed my skills on multiple pairs of crutches, but nothing had stopped my life carrying on as normal or impacted anything more then my participation at training. That is not until one evening in July when, attempting a basic dynamic stretch during the warm up, I lost my balance and managed to break my fibia, another bone in my ankle and tear all the ligaments in that general area. Sh*t.
A week later, once my foot wasn’t swollen to double the size, I was at hospital awaiting surgery. The hospital staff were lovely and I didn’t have any concerns about the op, in fact, it hadn’t quite sunk in what was happening. Maybe it was the painkillers, but I was feeling pretty positive about life… yeah, ok, it was definitely the painkillers. I was put under general anesthetic and the next thing I know I was awake and eating bourbon biscuits. Surgery success!
So back at home on my sofa with everything I could possibly need at an arm's length, the reality of my situation began to sink in. I had a metal plate and a handful of screws in my leg and a 4 inch cut with stitches on my ankle. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go to work, I couldn't drive and for the next 6 weeks I was basically going to be sat on my bum with my leg in the air... bummer.
It is at this point that it is easy to succumb to self pity and generally feeling down in the dumps, pointless, worthless, lazy. Which I won’t lie, I have felt at times. It is said that the key to recovery is in the mind, you know, staying positive. And I was trying. I told myself that things could be much worse and to focus on the bigger picture. But when you start to lose the strength to keep telling yourself “it’s going to be fine” what can you do?
Well luckily I didn’t have to work that out. My teammates did it for me. They checked on me, told me to keep my chin up and spoiled me with lovely gifts and GIN. They pushed me in wheelchairs, got me out of the house and most importantly, didn’t let me alienate myself. They have supported me through my recovery so far and although I’m not back to being 100% Skeletor, I don’t believe I would have managed so much in such a short period of time if they hadn’t been behind me.
The whole league generously got together to pay for some physio for me and on top of that I have been building my strength back up at the gym. I wanted to get strong before I put my skates back on. Having watched my team training hard the whole time I have been out of action, I am motivated to come back fighting. They have supported me this whole time when I haven’t been able to train, so I want to give that support back to them on track and at training when I am back on skates.
14 weeks post break, x-rays showed that my bones had completely healed and there was no displacement in my ankle joint. This was great news and after speaking to my physio, she said she would be happy to assess my ankle strength back on skates. The next hurdle was making sure I didn’t get “the fear” of putting skates back on. I laced up my skates with confidence, took it steady and after a few laps and some gentle plough stops I felt on top of the world as I had zero pain from my injury. Even more reassuring, my physio said she couldn’t see any weakness, loss of balance or any sign that my ankle wanted to give way. For once I felt like I had been a sensible “grown up” and taken all the advice I had been given to rest and stay off skates.
I am now at 16 weeks post surgery and back at training, taking part in as much as I can without doing contact. Pretty good going if you ask me. So what would I tell someone who was in the same position as I was in 16 weeks ago? Its pretty simple actually: take the advice you are given. Rest, do your physio and heal strong. Take your time, try not to beat yourself up and give yourself something to focus on to get better for. If you want to get back on track without worrying about re-injuring yourself, you have to give your body enough time to heal. It will be worth it in the long run. Sometimes it might feel like you’re letting your team down by not being there to play alongside them, you are not. If you put strain on your body to early, you will be back out of action in no time, and that will be a bigger let down as you could have avoided it. My second piece of advice: keep your head in the game. Go to training to watch or help out and keep up to date with your team's tactics and gameplay development. Bench your team, LUM at their games, support them and stay part of the team even though you’re not on skates. I have found that watching instead of taking part has actually improved my understanding of the game and helped me to see where my team can improve and be more effective.
Looking back at all of the blood, sweat, tears, plates, screws, stitches, crutches, muscle loss and FOMO I have had to contend with, I feel proud with my achievement of being able to lace my skates back up again, feeling strong and confident to continue my recovery back on 8 wheels alongside my teammates.