It’s been a frustrating summer/fall, being laid up after my hip surgery and not healing as fast as I wanted (or the doctors projected), but I’ve finally started to feel like there’s hope in sight. Following my surgery, the immediate pressure and pain inside my hip joint eased, but I wasn’t actually able to sit upright in a chair for months; the angle put undue pressure on the joint and I could only take it in short bursts. So despite feeling generally better and able to walk and stand freely, I wasn’t able to work in a chair, drive, or eat at a dining table. Frustrating, to say the least!
I went to physical therapy and had lots of check-ups with the doctors, who didn’t seem that worried although I was starting to be when my recovery seemed to stall and plateau. I know it’s only been three and a half months since the surgery, but I really didn’t think I’d still be bed-bound after several months, and it was concerning. I completely understand now why pro and elite athletes fall into depression when they’re injured! I’m a pretty positive person in general, but mentally dealing with the recovery was a lot harder than I thought it would be — I expected crankiness and frustration, but I was surprised by a few sudden bouts of panic and anxiety, and an overall cloud of depression that went beyond temporary sadness. It wasn’t even about skating in particular, but about life and general existentialism at that point.
(If you don’t mind seeing a picture of the surgery camera and labral repair, you can click this one for a bigger image. The torn labrum was anchored to the bone, and the broken/loose cartilage pieces that were damaging the joint were pulled out.)
In recent weeks I’ve finally started to feel better, and I’ve been able to sit and drive for longer periods of time (although still not for extended periods). I also got the green light from the surgeon and his PA to start easing back into exercise, which I was told I should avoid for 16 weeks to prevent reinjury. I’m not completely pain-free so I was wary of getting right back into skating, but I did feel ready to try putting on my skates and getting the feel of the ice.
So this week, I headed to the rink, keeping my expectations super low and just trying to see what I was capable of. Which turns out to be not much, after five months off the ice! I started out with basic stroking, which I thought would be slow but fairly easy, only to have my ankles wobble immediately and nearly send me faceplanting right away. It was a very odd sensation, because I felt like my entire body was familiar with the motions and was comfortable right away… except for my feet. My upper body was prepared to go at my regular speed — so even with simple stroking and one-foot glides, when an edge wobbled unexpectedly, my upper body (which was expecting to continue sailing along) would lurch ahead of my feet and I’d nearly fall.
It’s a new feeling to not be sure of where I am, skill-wise, because I FEEL like I can do things that my feet disagree about. It’s odder than being a beginner, because then I was limited by my comfort level (low) and skill level (also low), and that kept me from being reckless. But right now, I don’t know what reckless entails, because I feel like I can handle more speed and power than I can. I spent the session constantly checking to see if I was able to do things. (Mostly, I wasn’t.) I expected to avoid complicated patterns or jumps, but I think I’ll have to lower my expectations even more, because I feel like I have to work my way back up to Pre-Bronze levels and relearn basic edge control. It’s funny how once you start getting control of those edges, you take them for granted! I was surprised at how awkward it was to do a 3-turn, and my backwards skating was incredibly scratchy, like I’d never learned to get off the toepicks. I attempted a (very slow, careful) one-foot spin, but I couldn’t even hold the RBI edge to manage the entry, so that was a bust.
I kept my session short — about 30 or 40 minutes — because I was scared of overdoing it, and I was relieved to not have any follow-up pain. Although I WAS exhausted! I’ve basically lost all of my muscle tone in my legs, and probably my core as well, so it was more tiring than I expected. Still, I wasn’t let down — that much — because mostly I was just grateful to be back on the ice again. Skating, I’ve missed you so much! Never go away again.