Monday, October 11, 2010

Kate: Work Your Way Out

Yesterday at the rink, I was practicing power three turns, which basically meant I was doing an s-pattern on the ice – I would do a three-turn, then glide into a backwards crossover, then step back out into a three-turn. I’m not very good at it yet, but I was really getting the hang of it when I noticed that my left foot was hurting a lot. I tend to ignore pain in that foot because I broke it a year and a half ago and it’s been troublesome ever since. This pain, however, was deep and intense.

I thought I’d just take a break and try some Mohawks because I’m finally starting to master them and I wanted to practice some more. That’s when everything really went south. See, doing the mohawk, I flipped from going forwards and my left foot was like “AW NAW HELL NAW” and the pain was suddenly really intense. I tried doing several more elements, and it got to the point where even skating with any weight on ol’ lefty was painful.

I try to be kind to my foot (and the rest of my body) and remember to take anti-inflammatory drugs and take breaks to massage it when it gets really painful. Yesterday, though, I just fought through because I got really upset and frustrated. There’s nothing more annoying than something as simple as pain holding you back. It’s just not something you can control.

When I got really angry, I decided to do lunges (literally, you lunge forward into a deep knee bend with one leg while dragging the other behind you. The goal is to get your back foot parallel to the ice.) until I wasn’t angry anymore. So I did. For ten minutes, I did lunge after lunge and complained to Candice about the pain in my foot. Finally, when my legs were shaking and I had finally run out of curse words, I stopped, took a breath, and realized it had worked. I wasn’t angry anymore, I was just exhausted. So I got back to practicing what I was doing, and worked through the pain.

I’ve spent a lot of years struggling with chronic pain. I have endometriosis (don't know what that is? Try google or wikipedia!), which used to cause That Time of the Month to be so painful I couldn’t get out of bed. I’ve had five surgeries and unpleasant drug therapies that have long-term effects. After my last surgery, my doctor told me that if things kept on the way they were, I would have a hysterectomy before I was thirty.

Since then, I have had a marked improvement in my health and have managed to lead a quite normal life, despite a couple of scares and some ongoing pain issues. I spent years learning to manage pain, how to live with it. I have always firmly believed that if I just keep moving ahead, eventually I’ll work past the pain or figure out how to work around it. This is why I kept skating, even when my foot was hurting so badly I had trouble putting weight on it. Pain isn’t something I give in to. Pain is something I push into the background so I can get on with my business.

This story is not to illustrate what a badass I am. It’s to illustrate what a moron I can be sometimes. Skating isn’t easy. It’s not just hard to learn, it’s really hard on your body. When you’re a kid it’s much easier to deal with falls and muscle exhaustion and pain from old injuries, but as an adult you have to be much more careful with yourself. After I got off the ice yesterday I was in pain for the rest of the afternoon. We ran errands and I could just feel all the bad things I had done to myself.

Eventually, we stopped and went back to Candice’s apartment to stretch, and that took care of a lot of the problems. What we SHOULD have done was stretch immediately after skating, and what I personally should have done was get off the ice and give cranky ol’ left foot a break. It’s hard to remember sometimes that if you push yourself too far, you’ll regret it. We’re both strong and have a lot of endurance, so we’re often like “No, no, it’s no problem! I GOT THIS” and then three hours later we’re both weeping about muscle pain.

So, lesson learned. Be nicer to myself and stretch, for goodness sake.

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