I’ve been skating regularly all spring, and am mostly back to regular lessons with my main coach and moves coach. When I first returned to skating after surgery, I wasn’t sure how many of my lost skills I would get back, or how long it would take me to bet back to where I was. Having been back at it for about six months, I can say that I’ve gotten most of my skills back and can do generally all the jumps and spins that I used to do. (Probably not at the same quality level—spins are slower and jumps aren’t as high, for instance—but at least I can do them.) That’s a huge relief for me, because I was worried that I might not be able to jump anymore, and was dreading the possibility of having to quit freestyle skating.

Even though I am back at freestyle and feel optimistic now about continuing to progress my skills, I have found that there are new twinges and pinches and signs of weakness that I am hypersensitive to now, and that I’m not able to approach skating with the same amount of confidence. Sometimes I feel great and can skate like I used to, but I find that most days, I feel things in both hips (I only had surgery on one, but they’re both a little off)—those feelings aren’t necessarily painful, but I take them seriously as signs to be careful. I notice that I can’t skate as long as I used to before I feel that ache in my hip—it feels like there are only a limited number of jumps I can try without overdoing the joint, and the same for spins. I don’t feel that skating is reinjuring me, but I do think I’m more liable to be injured if I’m not mindful. So every practice is a constant assessment of how I feel and how much I think I can attempt safely. I stop often to check how I’m feeling, and often cut my practices shorter than I want to. Before my surgery, I would just push through because I wanted to skate more, but now I force myself to ease off, which is frankly really tough to do.

It’s a bummer to have new limits holding me back when skating is hard enough as it is with a completely healthy body, but I suppose I’m grateful that I can continue to skate at all, so I try not to get too disappointed by the new restrictions. I tell myself that I love the feeling of skating even without the fun tricks, and even if I have to hold back the desire to go all out, I’ll do what it takes to keep me skating longer.