Category: injury


You can read Part 1 of this story before continuing along here….

The TLDR version is:

  • 4 teams
  • 60 swimmers
  • 24 hours
  • Themes, costumes, crafts and colours….

Fast forward to the day before the event. I was riding my bike to work, as usual, via my usual route. Half way to work it started raining, and well, wet road, corner, next thing I knew I was on the ground. Pretty minor. People stopped to help and put me on a chair while I checked out my skinned knee. I felt pretty fine, though, and the bike started. Pretty much a non-event so I hopped back on the bike and headed off.

And then I went to change gears. For those of you who don’t ride, you change gears with your right foot. One click down into first, then 4 clicks up for the next 4 gears. I was fine in first, but when I went to change to second gear, something felt pretty wrong. I realised there was no way I’d be able to park and walk the 5 mins to my office, so when I hit the point I usually turn left into my parking spot, I turned right instead…a road that took me to the back entrance of the Sydney Eye hospital emergency room.

9am on a Friday morning is a pretty good time to go to the emergency room, apparently, they had me straight in, no waiting. Examination and X-rays. I was trying very hard to believe that it wasn’t that bad, that it would pass, that I was just exaggerating things.

Apparently not. The X-rays came back with the bad news. One fractured ankle. Absolutely no swimming for me. This was the point at which I started crying.

20130622-112906.jpgTerrible luck, terrible timing. I posted , quite optimistically at the time, with intentions of liveblogging the Megaswim (spoiler alert – didn’t happen). One of our team captains, Bel, called me about some last minute Megaswim planning while I was still in the emergency room waiting on my moon boot and crutches. We had kept a list of backup swimmers (an essential part of planning an event like that) and she was soon onto the case of finding someone to fill my swimming shifts. Lucky for me, because they soon drugged me up to the eyeballs, wrapped and booted me, gave me prescriptions, a referral to the fracture clinic, crutch-lessons, and instructions to put no weight on my ankle at all, then sent me home. I immediately passed out from the effort of getting there (crutches are a major workout) and the painkillers and wouldn’t have been much good to anyone.

So there’s my tale of woe. Even the best laid plans can be thrown out at the last minute. And this sure threw out my plans.

Luckily, the universe, and that event in particular, did not actually revolve around me and my participation. The Megaswim went ahead as planned…..

Watch this space for part 3.

 

Advertisements

After operation return to swimming got me back into the pool, and back to 4SEASons, part 3 consisted of a couple of Tuesday night regular 4SEASons session in the pool.

I continued to swim with the pull-buoy and band and with a bit of an assist to get in and out of the pool. Stock standard.

Then finally, after 7 weeks a follow-up x-ray and yet another visit to the fracture clinic…the good news was in: I could take the bloody orthopaedic boot off!

Unfortunately, there was still much work to be done to get enough strength, flexibility and stability back. The idea of walking on soft sand was pretty unthinkable for a while yet. I would have to be patient.

Then finally 2 weeks ago, after lots and lots of physio and exercise, it was time!

Part 4 of my return to swimming has involved getting back to my beloved Bondi beach and swimming in the ocean!

I have to admit I’ve chickened out and worn my wetsuit – the extra buoyancy (in my mind, at least) reduces the chance of coming down hard on the ankle. I’m still not up to running, let alone running on soft sand, and I lean on my lovely swimming friends as we head down the beach, just in case….

I’m not quite there yet, and I’ve obviously lost a bit of condition and fitness, but I’m back at the beach, baby, and loving it!

Yesterday I wrote about what it took to get back into the pool.the next step was to get back to actual training. Like many things, it’s far more productive to have someone telling you what to do, to push you further that you will on your own, and to pick up things that you might not notice yourself.

Lately the 4SEASons coaches had devised a plan for something different – a Sunday long session solely dedicated to specific technique training.

I emailed in advance to check on whether they thought it would be possible for me to do the session, and to make sure that I wouldn’t be disruptive to other people doing the session. Luckily, I have some of the most awesome coaches in the world and they assured me it would all work and encouraged me to come along.

The session was on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning. The session was held at the brand-spanking-new Prince Alfred Park pool, which I have to say is a pretty nice pool with great facilities…and has free entry until the 12th of November.

I had to switch out a couple of the drills, but it did give me the opportunity to play with one of my favourite pieces of kit – hand paddles.

I love training with hand paddles, and they are the perfect piece of kit for winter. There are two benefits to training with paddles. The first is that they increase the surface area of your hands, and therefore increase the resistance against the water. This is good for building extra strength in your arms…and feeling like you’re swimming really fast!

The second use of paddles is what I was focussing on during the technique day. They really exaggerate any technical flaws in your stroke. For example, if your hand entry isn’t fingers first, if it’s out by a little bit (think like making a “stop” signal with your hand” you’ll know about it…from the bottom edge of the paddles catching and kicking up water. The idea of the paddles is to help identify these little flaws, and to practice and embed the correct behaviours for a bit before taking them off. I certainly found myself with a couple of things to focus on about my hand entry.

Another thing that was great about the longer session, and running it on a Sunday (rather than racing against the clock of when the pool is closing on a weeknight) was that once we had finished the technique session, we took the time to do a 1km swim, no pressure around speed or times, just focussing on excellent technique and embedding the things we had learned at the session.

Then we had lunch and coffee at the cute little cafe there at the pool in the sun! It really was so nice to be back training, to be back hanging out with swimming friends, and to be able to enjoy a post swim coffee!

How soon can you get back into the pool after breaking your ankle?

I didn’t know the answer, so I did what anyone would do. I Googled it. As often happens with these things, I came away more confused than ever.

Then I did what a grown-up would do, and asked my doctor. I was treated at the Prince of Wales fracture clinic and my first appointment was 10 days after the accident. at that point, the doctor looked dubious, but I explained what I had in mind and received tentative approval. That was enough for me.

Seems, though, that being allowed to swim was one thing, and being able to…

  1. Get to the pool
  2. Get into the pool
  3. Get out of the pool
  4. Get home from the pool

…was another thing entirely.

Let’s just say it took me a little longer than I’d hoped to actually get in the pool. Finally, though, the lovely Sonja who swims and lives in my apartment complex agreed to help me out. Luckily we have a 25m lap pool in our complex so we had somewhere to go.

The process was not too bad, with the assistance of a helper. it went something like this.

  • I made it to the pool on my crutches, then used a seat there to get ready.
  • I used the crutches to get to the side of the pool then removed the orthopaedic boot and pressure bandage
  • Pivot around and slide into the pool, making sure to land on only my good foot.
  • Position a pull-buoy with a band around my calves to immobilise my legs
  • Kick-off…one-legged of course. Swim using upper body only, with the pull-buoy to balance out body position.
  • Finish swimming and do pretty much the lot in reverse…but with a seriously unglamorous exit out of the pool.

It’s wasn’t pretty, but it worked. I managed several of these swims in the first couple of weeks, with the help of some very generous and beautiful friends. It’s not the same as the ocean, but during those weeks of working from home and not getting off my couch for very much at all, it certainly kept me sane.

Hello Again

Goodness, things got quiet around here, didn’t they?

Sorry about that.

I had the best of intentions, really I did. I was going to totally make the best of a bad situation and find some way to make the whole broken-ankle thing a theme here and keep to regular programming. Seems actual real-life recovery from an injury like that is far more, well, exhausting than I had possibly imagined. Plus I may not quite have counted on the fact that I am in complete denial about the fact that I’m no longer 18 years old and bounce back from things with my super-human healing abilities. Seems it was bloody hard work. Still kind of is bloody hard work.

So what’s been happening with me? Well, here’s the cliff-notes version….

Injury-Stuff

  1. 10 days, crutches, no pressure (did you know crutches can hurt more than the injury they’re supporting?)
  2. 3 weeks-ish, crutches, orthopaedic boot – allowed to put the boot on the ground. Explored the work-from-home thing to the point where I absolutely understood the limitations of sitting in the same spot for far too many hours a day, and not seeing anywhere near enough other live people.
  3. A bit of a 3-week transition where I weaned off the crutches to just the boot. Starting with short distances on flat surfaces.
  4. Just when I got the hang of that, it was time to take the boot off. Yay!
  5. Except everything else goes to hell after 6-7 weeks of inactivity. My left calf is vastly smaller than the right one, I have almost no range of motion in the ankle, and less strength. I’m back to pathetic limping and develop a love/hate relationship with the boot.
  6. 3 days later (sadly, not my shortest love/hate relationship ever) – end up part of a research study on this type of injury. Start seeing a lot of my new best friend – my physio Kerri. She gives me some tough love and tells me I have to ditch the boot.
  7. They give me a tick-sheet to track how I go with the physio exercises. It totally taps into my motivators and I do everything I’m asked religiously for about 10 days. Results are stellar.
  8. The crutches, boot, limping, extended working from home, weight-gain from lack of activity, and general lack of symmetry in my life lead to a secondary-effect…and I throw my back out. Badly. Luckily, my Osteo is a genius.
  9. last week or so? Getting the dreaded limp down to a minimum, rebuilding wasted muscles and spending an inordinate amount of time pretending to write the alphabet with my foot.

So where am I now? If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t notice the slight limp. The muscles are getting there and I can put on a pair of pants without sitting down. Stairs are not the daunting obstacle they were, and I can see myself starting to do things without thinking about them again. I’m at about 90% mobility and strength, and it only hurts a little bit a little of the time.  All the experts agree I should get back to 100% of what I was, with no ill-effects, and it shouldn’t be too far off. Good news all-round, really.

As for swimming?

Well, I’m getting back to the swing of things around here, so I might save that so I have something to write about tomorrow! Sorry for the cliff-hanger!

Well, the good news is that my flu has gone.

The bad news is that I’m a clutz and a possible danger to myself.

So yesterday (the day before the MS Megaswim) this happened:

20130622-112906.jpg

A seemingly minor drop off my bike on a wet road turned out to be a broken ankle. Far out.

It totally sucks and is atrocious timing.

There might be a slight change of focus here for a few weeks, but this weekend I’m choosing to see it is freeing me up to get carried away live blogging the MS Megaswim.

Stick around, join the conversation, and requests will be considered, if you drop them in the comments.

After that, well, swimming as rehab? Dry land training and upper body strength building for swimmers? Guess I’ll have to get a bit creative. Wish me luck (and a speedy recovery).

Finally. Finally!  Made it back to a weekday pool training session. It kind of feels like it’s been forever.

Funnily enough I did the same thing about the same time last year, for different reasons (tore an intercostal muscle….very difficult to swim with that. Or you know, breathe!) , but I kind of think for me it’s that same end-of-season thing where I’ve been pushing my body and getting up earlier on weekends than I do during the week for work for just long enough that I’m a bit worn out. Sometimes I need to be a bit kind to myself and stop putting quite so much pressure on (even though I still have the big goal swim to worry about) and take a bit of time to restore my energy.

The good news is, it worked! I’m feeling great and loving swimming and feeling like I want to do more again, instead of less.

It did get me thinking, though, about how much I need  to train.

It’s an interesting question. How much do I need to train for what exactly? To keep improving? To prepare for a big event? To maintain my current form? To keep from getting slower? To keep from forgetting how to swim altogether? To keep my love of the sport? To keep from going completely insane?*

The answer is as complicated as the question.

I have a couple (or quite a lot) of general rules that work for me….

  1. Three times a week is pretty much a bare minimum.
  2. Twice a week…I’ll be going backwards in terms of form and times, but pretty slowly.
  3. Once a week is better than nothing, but I will be going backwards nonetheless.
  4. 4-6 times a week and I’ll be making good progress and improving. More sessions=more progress.
  5. Sometimes other things happen. Guilt trips don’t do me any good. I like to aim for a certain number of training sessions per week, and (provided it’s more than 3) I give myself a “cheat” day I can use if I need for any session.
  6. Training has a seasonal aspect to it. I work on different things during the winter than the race season. I probably don’t need to train 6 times a week in winter…and should probably be focussing on different stuff.
  7. If I’m hurt or sick…forcing myself to go to training isn’t helping me get better. Appropriate treatment, and recognising the right time to get back to it is key.
  8. I’m allowed to forgive myself and move on if I’ve gotten a bit more sidetracked than I’d like. The important thing isn’t worrying about what I’ve missed, but getting on with it, and not feeling too daunted to get back to it.
  9. This is supposed to be FUN! I try to remember that.
  10. I’m not, nor will I ever be, an elite athlete in this (or any other) sport. My only competition is with myself. My only goals are my own. I need to figure out a good balance so that I can do this, and maintain the love and passion that will keep me doing this til a) I kick the bucket, b) they stop letting me enter (unlikely given the 85-year-old who swam at Cronulla on the weekend), or c)
  11. I try to remember, particularly on the tough days, that I pretty much never regret going to training. Being tired is not an excuse…I have more energy after training on a Saturday morning than I ever did the morning after Friday night drinks! All other dodgy excuses go pretty much down that same line of thinking if it really comes down to it.
  12. MOST IMPORTANT…training should be a habit not a choice. If there’s no good reason not to go, I go. And I mean a good reason. My mind plays tricks on me and tries to give me crappy excuses all the time. This rule, above all else, gets me there.

So ir you’re looking for an upshot, or a pithy conclusion…I’m not sure I have one. Except maybe…”find something you love, and do it as much as makes you happy”.

Actually, that’s not bad. I’m going into edit mode an gonna put that in the title.

*Swimming helps, but there are definitely no guarantees for my sanity. Not now, not ever.

Urgh, I don’t say it very often, but I really didn’t enjoy training tonight. I’d had a kind of weird day at work, and the weather was crap (really crap) and as much as I’d like to blame it on those things, I think it just came down to the fact that I was just in a bit of a mood. I like to believe it happens to us all. Crickets? ? ??? ??? Just me then? *Sigh*

Anyway, I’ve had the odd day like this before, and usually I know myself well enough to know that if I make myself go to training, all those feeling seem to melt away as I dive under that divine first wave, and the quiet and the challenge and the focus on just keeping swimming take over…and I have never yet had that not work.

Not until tonight.

Well, it was working OK. I was swimming without a wetsuit, as usual at the moment…it’s too much of a hassle getting the thing on and off, the water is warm enough I don’t even miss it, and I have enough trouble carrying around stuff for work, for swimming, and stuff for motorcycle riding (including all the required wet-weather gear for today) that it was the last thing I wanted to pack.

So the training session would have been fine, except for the bluebottles. Yep, the nasty things, good for nothing other than the dubious honour of being turtle-food (and not even terribly good at that) were infesting the beach. Out of the group swimming today (8 of us, I think) Allison was the only one who wasn’t stung, and the ratio of wetsuits to news was 5:3.

I’m a bit lucky, I suppose, in that I don’t actually seem to react too badly to stings from the nasty blue guys. I’ve been stung plenty of times at Bondi, and plenty of times as a kid (perhaps that’s part of it) and it never seems to be too bad after the initial shock of the sting. Tonight, however, I discovered that getting stung in the underarm with the tentacles wrapped down around my arm, over my shoulder, and up around my neck, is a touch more painful than in other places. In fact, it hurts quite a lot!

I pulled the perpetrator off my skin, and I did keep swimming for the rest of the session…which I’m kind of glad to admit didn’t go for the full hour tonight (something about the rain and the recurring jellyfish stings, perhaps?). I can’t honestly tell you that I enjoyed the rest of the session though, The thing is, once you’ve been stung, the rest of the session you do have a bit of a tendency to get a bit jumpy and edgy at every bit of seaweed, and every stray wave that laps at your toes. I know it’s all a bit pathetic compared to some of the full-on marathon ocean swimmers who get stung repeatedly by much nastier creepy crawlies than that, but I’d like to make the disclaimer that I’m saying I didn’t enjoy myself, not that I couldn’t have kept going if I’d really had a good reason to.

Anyway, we did call the session off a bit short, and then everyone pretty much split and headed straight home. I had an equally miserable ride home in the pouring rain and freezing cold, and was feeling more on the verge of a Claire Danes Cry Face than my usual post-swim sense of happiness, joy, wellbeing and elation.

After a hot shower to help with the stings and thaw out, one I was perched on the couch in my dressing gown and slippers I did have a bit of a chance to reflect on the evening. Even though it was one bad session, it doesn’t mean there were no lessons in it. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. It’s interesting to note that even when you love something, it’s never perfect all the time. Helps put in perspective the things that are perfect less of the time.
  2. Ocean swimmers are tough! And brave! We kept going several rounds even after pretty much everyone had been stung and was hurting, and not one person gave up, stopped swimming or opted out til we called the session (admittedly a touch early) at the end.
  3. Tough training days like this help keep things in perspective during races. It may be a little rough or not as nice a weather as I hope or somehow suboptimal, but I’ll still know I’ve survived worse!
  4. Bluebottles are actually kind of interesting creatures when you’re out of reach of their tentacles. My trivia-loving partner had a bit to do with that one when he got home. He knew, for example, off the top of his head that they are actually made up of two different organisms, and that where the bubble part of their bodies (the sail, apparently) joins their tentacles, they can change the orientation to ‘sail’ with the wind. Also, according to the combined efforts of the 4SEASons crew, I now know that they are popular food for turtles (and a few other things).

Where’s Jacki?

Apologies for anyone wondering what’s become of me! I threw my neck out last after last Saturday and have had great difficulty with both swimming and typing…neither of which is much good for keeping up regular posts on a blog.

A week’s rest, a trip to the osteo and some time off work have done wonders, however, and things seem to be back to normal programming. Hope you managed to talk amongst yourselves while I was gone!

It’s never any fun being injured, hurt or sick, but the idea of being out of action this close to the start of the season was not giving me happy thoughts. It’s funny to think, as I’m not naturally an athletic person, but I had a week off  all swim and boxing training and I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin! these days I really can’t handle not exercising…it’s become so much a part of my routine I get seriously ansty if I can’t do it!

Ah well, despite what you want, sometime your body just needs rest. Luckily I’ve had mine now and am back in the water!

%d bloggers like this: