I have been wanting to blog about this for weeks, but have been struggling with one very prominent issue: Admitting you are a dumbass to the world is a huge kick to the pride and ego. Sometimes it takes a little time to build up the courage to put yourself out there and I’m as guilty as the next person of letting my ego rule me sometimes.
So here it is. I’m not a machine. In fact, right now, I’m not even an important component part for a machine. I am, well and truly, broken.
Somewhere along the line when I was an embryo forming, I was “blessed” with the “play through the pain” gene – one that runs so deep and strong through both sides of my family that I didn’t have a damn choice but to come out with my head screwed on a little skewed.
I’ve been playing competitive sports since I was six years old and entered my first figure skating competition and I have always had a drive to succeed, at whatever sport I’m playing, no matter what is going on with my body.
When I skated, I constantly battled through hurts and injuries – aching arches from flat feet, aching knees from landing jumps and falling down, pulled muscles, stretched ligaments and tendons, and numerous other sprains and strains – but I kept on skating, sometimes up to five days per week.
In Basketball, shin splints- from rapid growth- kept me wincing as I ran the court, but I ran the court as hard as I could, every time my feet stepped on it.
In Volleyball – years and years of volleyball, all the way up to the end of university – it was rotator cuff injuries from being an Outside Hitter and always hitting and twisting the same way. I kept on playing, learning how to compensate during stretches when it was excruciating to even lift my arms up in the air. And I was good at hiding it too. Nothing was going to stop me from playing the game I loved. I actually played a tournament in university where I was in so much pain that I crunched T3s like candy, played the best three games of my career, and then couldn’t lift either arm for two weeks (thank goodness it was Christmas Break).
Through it all, no matter how much my injuries hurt or how much they impaired my ability to move freely, perform at optimal levels, etc., I played through the pain. I played through physio, being taped up, icing injuries between competitions, periods, quarters, halves, Sets and everything else. I never gave a second’s thought about how my body would fare in the future because I was young and strong and, well, stubborn as a brick wall.
I DO NOT HAVE A STOP BUTTON.
I have always been competitive, tough, stubborn and completely unwilling to stop doing activities that give me adrenaline rushes and shoot endorphins through my body like tiny needles injected with kick-assedness.
I am an athlete, pure and simple. I will always be an athlete or, at least, athletic, but this doesn’t mean I’ll always be smart.
When I joined roller derby, I had the same mentality I’ve always had with sports. Get ‘er done and don’t let little hurts and pains slow me down. The first two years, I probably skated four times per week because I was training, coaching and playing so much. If we couldn’t skate at a facility, I was outside rippin’ it up or on the ice, working on shit.
In my very first game, I was sandwiched between two blockers and, because my body was not even close to bouncing back after giving birth, I broke myself. Partially tore my supra spinatus in my right rotator (a recurring volleyball injury) and almost completely tore my infra spinatus in my left rotator. I could barely lift my arms, so I learned how to skate without having to use them much. Of course, every time I took a hit and braced myself with a shoulder, the pain almost buckled my legs. But I played through the pain.
I broke one of my knuckles in half during a fun bout in Penticton (when the lovely and ridiculously talented Jessie “Jester” Bartholomew launched my ass into the crowd and I tried to stop myself from flying into the crotch of a male spectator…ah, good times) and, rather than decide to sit the rest of the game out, I just taped my fingers together and kept on rolling. The knuckle never healed properly and now it looks as though my already large and manly hands are even more so (on that one finger anyway).
During a banked track game last summer against the Tilted Rail ladies, Tomato slammed me into the rail at the end of the first quarter and I cracked two ribs. The pain was a bit ridiculous, but I LOVE playing banked track, so I popped a couple Advil (okay, I took a small handful and some Tylenol) and played probably the best game of derby I’ve EVER played (the bank is my LOVER). It was only the next day, when I was no longer pumped full of adrenaline that I realized I was having a really hard time breathing and went to get some xrays. Then I took two weeks “off” (as in I kept skating on a regular basis, but didn’t let anyone hit me) and played through the pain of cracked ribs healing for the rest of the season.
Then, after all that, four months ago, I did something to my lower back while working out – it hurt and I felt a bit “off” – but shrugged it off and went to derbs practice anyway. About half way through, I was lucky enough to take a solid hit from my teammie, Hula (who has the boniest, hard hitting hips ever), and I landed on my right knee (something that almost never happens to me). I immediately felt something in my lower back scream out “OH MY GOD!!!! WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST DO TO ME?”, but I got up, stretched it out a bit and, again, finished off the practice.
In fact, I didn’t just finish the practice, but I kept playing for months with my lower back screaming at me every single day. I played through the pain of practices, bouts, an entire tournament (where I took the hardest Sternum Block of my life, flew backwards about three feet and landed directly on my back) and two more bouts. I would simply take some drugs to get through, ice my back and, as per usual, get ‘er done. It was brutal. I would get home from practice or after a bout and I would lay in bed and just ball my eyes out because the pain was so intense, but I just couldn’t stop myself from getting up and doing it again.
I REPEAT. I DO NOT HAVE A STOP BUTTON.
Then, three weeks ago when our season was coming to a close and we were scrimmaging against the Faster Pussycats from Vancouver, l lost my footing in the pack and slipped sideways, landing on my right ass cheek. It was at the moment that my cheek hit the floor that I knew, well and truly, that I was broken. Seriously broken.
In what some people called “Drama Queen” style, I lied there for a second and then flipped myself over and army crawled my way across the track and back to my bench. It took every ounce of my willpower not to scream from the pain, but, once again, I just couldn’t admit to myself (or anyone else) that I was well and truly injured. It took me five jams to be able to stand up and, when I did, putting weight on my right leg made it feel as though my ass was being split apart at the SI joint. It was not comfortable at all.
I somehow managed to coach the scrimmage after that, although I remember exactly ZERO about the entire thing. I also managed to mingle with our Vancouver homies and then hang out with some of my teammies in the parking lot for a couple hours before I got in the car and drove for 1.5 hours to get home, CRYING the entire way because it hurt so much.
By the time I got home, I was completely defeated and I just knew I was broken. Went for xrays and, surprise, surprise, my hip was stress fractured in not one, but FOUR places. One crack runs from the top of the back of my hip all the way down to the bottom and the doctor told me that if I sustained any more impact without allowing it to heal, my hip would probably break in half. In fact, he said he couldn’t understand how it hadn’t already exploded because the cracks had clearly been happening and then healing over time. I had cracked it four months prior, probably from a combo of my workout mishap and then the knee impact into the floor, but I am a dumb ass with a stubborn streak about sixteen miles wide, so I didn’t let a little thing like pain stop me.
World, meet Jo. Sometimes, she is not very smart. This, is one of those times.
It’s been just over three weeks since I’ve tried my damndest to slow down, let myself heal and stop being a diehard, obsessive, hard-core idiot. Admittedly, it is a small challenge to slow down in any way, so the healing process is probably not going as well as it could be. I also might need to go to rehab for diehards…if only there were such a place.
Anyway, this entire giant ramble has a purpose. I’m now unable to play derby for at least two months, more likely three. I also can’t bend down without wincing and my ass hurts from dawn til dusk and in between.
Listen to your body and, when it jumps up and down and screams, “HEY ASSHOLE! THAT HURTS…A LOT!” in your ear, listen to it. STOP. SLOW DOWN. DON’T DO ANYTHING CRAZY UNTIL THE HURT GOES AWAY.
Learn from my big ass mistake (pun totally intended) and almost hereditary stupidity. Don’t play through the pain. It’s not worth it.
If you need me, I’ll be the one coaching on the sidelines with a mother fucking cane and dunce cap.