Wash out

I’ve been putting this post off and avoiding this blog for several weeks.  I kept hoping that the situation would change before tonight; but, here we are.  Three months after sucking it up and hauling my cookies out onto the track, tonight is the skills testing night.

And, I’m not there.

Several weeks have passed since my urgent care visit.  My foot, though definitely better with no skating, is not back to where I can strap my skates on again.

The other night, while the home alone, I put my skates on.  I just rolled around a bit on what little tile we have.  The nagging pain that I’d experienced before sharply reintroduced itself.

I’ll admit it…I cried.

I don’t know what to feel.  Part of me is so disappointed to be missing the skills test…so disappointed that it almost chokes me.  As I follow the progress of my fellow Cherries on Facebook, I am jealous and I feel left out.

The other part of me – the scared, really bad skater part of me – is relieved.  Derby is hard.  It’s one of the most physically and emotionally demanding things that I’ve ever done.

Several of the trainers and other Cherries have encouraged me to try again with an upcoming group and that originally was my intention.

However, as the weeks go by, and my foot is not showing enough improvement, I’m worried that it will never cooperate.  It’s not like this was a new injury.  The only time that I can remember suffering a broken bone in my foot was in college.  That was almost twenty-five years ago.  Pressure is never going to improve with more skating.

So, if I can’t skate, what?

The league is always looking for non-skating officials (NSOs) and I could do that, but, that’s not why I started this whole thing in the first place.  I wanted to be a derby diva, crashing through the pack, not standing in the middle with a clipboard.

I am torn.

I’m going to have to think long and hard about this.  As my mother says, “When the mom goes down, it’s hard on the whole family.”  Is it really worth pretty certain additional damage to my foot to be scared out of my mind, yet exhilarated beyond belief?  There are still several things demanding attention, with family, work, the other hobbies that I’ve taken up.  Derby is a huge commitment, and I would need to invest a lot of myself to get better than I am.

Tonight, the Cherry Posse is skating their 25 laps in 5 minutes, running the obstacle course, jumping, falling, sliding and celebrating.

To my fellow Cherries, KICK ASS!  I am so proud of all of you!  To the trainers of our league, you are my heroes.  Even if I’m cheering you on from the cheap seats, I am your number one fan.

Wipeout!

Ooo! That’s a beauty!

Behold…my first, official derby bruises!  They don’t hurt, and they certainly won’t be the last ones I sport.  Probably the best part, though, is that I feel like I earned them.  Each bruise or floor burn represents getting out and doing something that scares me.  They are reminders that I’m challenging myself and getting better with each attempt.

Last week, the Cherry Posse had one long practice Wednesday night, rather than two shorter practices over two days.  The league was holding tryouts for their new traveling team, and needed the rink on Thursday.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was worried.  Regular practices run an hour and a half.  By the end of that time, not only am I soaked with sweat, but, I’m also exhausted.  A three-hour run would be tough.

I was also nervous, because I felt that there were some things that I was falling behind on.

Credit is due to our awesome trainers.  They knew to plan well, and structured the practice so that we were changing things up constantly and taking water breaks about every ten minutes.

While it was tough, I’m happy (proud!) to say that I was able to keep up and improved on some skills that I’d been having trouble with.

The last thing we did was to establish a baseline for one of our skills test.  We have to be able to skate twenty-five laps in five minutes.

The trick to building up speed is to really use crossovers as you go around the ends of the rink.  Though I used to do them without a thought on ice skates, I’ve had a rough time with them on roller skates.  Heavy roller skates and big , bulky kneepads make the movements more difficult; and, I’ve not really trusted myself to be able to go that fast.

We partnered up with a teammate and one person skated first while the partner counted laps.  I paired with MoMo, a tall blond with a great attitude.  She was awesome!  She managed twenty laps and made it look so easy.

Then, it was my turn.  As I got going, I built up some speed and really tried to focus on picking up my feet, staying low and turning into the curves.  I got a rhythm going and suddenly, I was crossing over.

Our teammates were cheering us on, and a couple of the trainers could see that I was picking my foot up and placing it correctly for the crossover.  They started calling, “You’ve got it!  Good job!”

With that, I my focus evaporated, and I was just barreling around the corners, out of control.  The next thing that I knew, I was sliding sideways.  I crashed into the long wall, laughing, but frustrated.  This was slowing me down!

I shook my head and got to my feet.  I wasn’t hurt… I just needed to get back into the rhythm.

I definitely lost time with the fall…I lost one or two laps’ worth.  When the whistle blew, I was rounding the corner on my fourteenth lap.  From an endurance standpoint, I was fine.  I just need to get faster.  I’d love to be one of those already at twenty laps; but, considering where I started, I know that I will only get better.

Below are some pictures of my “brain bucket.”  I messed around with a silver marker.  The trainers asked us to put our names on our helmets, so that they don’t have to refer to us as “Hey, YOU!”  When I get drafted to a particular team, I’ll upgrade to a helmet that is coordinated to our team colors.  For now, it’s got a “Desert Rose,” inspired by M.A. Brotherton.

Showmee de Monet

Desert Rose, inspired by M. Brotherton

Lucky #5…why not three of them?

Showmee de Monet

I’m four days into Cherries training.  Last Wednesday night, as I packed up my gear and headed to practice, I had a few butterflies.  I know that the trainers and the other Cherries would be nothing but encouraging; but, as is always the case, fear of the unknown can paralyze you if you let it.  I practiced lots of deep breathing, distracting myself on the ride to the Castle, blared loud music…anything I could come up with to just suck it up and get down to it.

Last weekend, the Desert Dolls had a booth at Phoenix ComicCon.  They picked up several new recruits, some of whom have never skated.  They joined us on Thursday night for their first practice…scared, unsure of what to expect and some even wobblier than me.

Suddenly, I was no longer the slowest, weakest or most hesitant.  I was the one high-fiving girls and encouraging them.

Don’t get me wrong…I still have a very long way to go before I’m smacking into anybody; but, the last two nights of practice were better than the two before, and a huge boost to my confidence.

In addition, I’m making friends with the other Cherries and the trainers.  The league’s founder set up a Facebook group specific to our Cherries training set.  We are setting up time to meet outside of practice, to work on skating other nights of the week.  One skater, upon hearing that I want to swap out my wheels, offered and then showed up with extras that she’s not using.

Some girls already have derby names picked out.  I’ve been kicking around several options, checking them against the international registry.

I thought about the fact that my ultra-conservative boss refers to me as his “favorite little Bolshevik,” thanks to my liberal tendencies.  I toyed with variations of that and emailed my mother.  She suggested “Belle Shevik” and I added “Bomber.”  I also considered “Belle Throttling” after Belle Wattling, in “Gone With the Wind.” 

The one that I’ve submitted to the league is a play on my ancestry.  I’m related to Claude Monet on my grandfather’s side.  I fancy myself a sort of artist, so I came up with “Showmee de Monet.” 

I kind of like that…I think that I’ll sit with it for a while.

Don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.

You’ve Got Mail

There it sits.  It hit my inbox last night.

The call to arms…the announcement for the first sign up/practice for the Cherries with the Desert Dolls Roller Derby League.

Next Wednesday, all of this talking will be done, and it will be time for me to walk the walk…or skate the skate, as it were.

I knew to expect it sometime toward the end of the month.  I’ve been excited about it; and, I’ve been dreading it, too.  Against my better judgement, I’ve continued to talk about it, write about it, and think about derby non-stop.  I started working with a trainer at the gym late last year, so that I could get into some sort of shape to be able to try out.

After spending all day with derby on the brain, and a stomach in knots, Dave, Ben and I headed to the gym.  My trainer, Jill, was excited to hear that the date had been set, and took Ben and I out onto the floor.  She came up with some new exercises to try, geared toward helping with balance and agility.

One of the first ones she wanted me to do was an easy one.  I was to stand facing a pedestal.  It was a small one…only about a foot high.  She wanted me to jump up onto the stand, landing as lightly as I could with both feet.  Suddenly, the fear that had been clawing at the edges of my psyche all of this time over derby ripped through and I got stuck.  I couldn’t make my feet move off of the floor.  I started sweating, and tried to will myself to do it.

I knew that it wasn’t going to tip over.  I’ve watched people do the same exact thing.  Ben can jump up onto the higher ones with no hesitation.  In my mind, I kept picturing a guy that we’d seen jumping several months ago.  He’d been jumping up onto one of the stands that was much higher…maybe four feet high.  Suddenly, he missed, and hit his shin on the way down.  He hit so hard that it raised a huge knot immediately, and he couldn’t get up off of the floor.  The pain was incredible and they had to half-carry him out.

Jill could see that I was having a hard time, and wanted to move on to something else.  She’s good at adapting to my skill level, while still pushing me.

I took a deep breath and jumped up.  I did it!

She had me do it nine more times, and it took a lot of mental scolding, telling myself that there was no reason I couldn’t do it.  If I had just done it, rather than stand there thinking about it, I would have been fine.

This is a lesson that I am going to have to remember.  It’s like that line in Bull Durham:

Tim Robbins & Kevin Costner in Bull Durham

“You just got lesson number one.  Don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.”

About a week ago, I found a group on Facebook, called Derby Over 40.  I started reading the posts and I was blown away.  like so many other people who I’ve “met” online, this community is full of some truly inspirational people.

Suddenly, I have a place where I can pose a serious question and, rather than the “Rah!  Rah!  You can do it!” responses (which are great in their own way) I get honest, thoughtful advice, tips, reassurance and support.

Posting that I am feeling absolutely terrified because I was never a great skater as a kid, because I haven’t been on skates in years and years and because the first time I put on skates in years, I ended up with a broken elbow earned countless comments about how many had never skated at all before derby, or who went to their first practice with their skates in the box they’d come in.

I got links to YouTube videos and all sorts of tips.  My favorite was, “Don’t look at the floor.  It’s not going anywhere and if you watch it, you’ll end up kissing it!”

I’m a little distressed at how many broken bones people have had; but, they all healed and went right back to skating.

The best part is that every single person in this group is over the age of forty.  Many didn’t even start derby until after forty.  Time and again,  I saw, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number!”

With one kid graduating from high school on Tuesday, and the other getting promoted from eighth grade on Thursday next week, I’ve got plenty of reasons to try to forget my age and try something new…just in time for my 44th birthday on the 28th!

P.S.  Once I get my derby name, I’ll get to update my signature.  I have some ideas; but, they have to be cleared through the Derby Name Register.  Stay tuned!

We can rebuild her!

Seven weeks, post-break. 

We can rebuild her!

There hasn’t been much to report over the past several weeks.  I’d been going to physical therapy a couple of times a week, right up until last Tuesday.  During my last therapy appointment, I complained of additional soreness on the spot above and over from my funny bone.  Increased stress, whether with exercises that I’ve been doing, pressure on the spot or ultra-sound in that area all caused my arm to really ache.

The weekend prior to that, I’d absent-mindedly picked up my little cousin, to put her in my lap.  She weighs about thirty pounds, and it wouldn’t be unusual for me to just swing her up.  The moment that I lifted her, I knew something wasn’t right.  From that point, my arm really hurt.

When I saw my PT, he decided to suspend therapy until I had been back to my doctor.  He was worried that perhaps there was a hairline fracture or something that had been missed with the initial x-rays.

Today, I went back for my follow-up with my doctor.  They took new x-rays, and thankfully, I was able to extend my arm and bend it so that they could get good pictures.  Dr. R. reviewed the films, and then came in to meet with me.  She spent a lot of time manipulating the elbow, checking strength and pressure points.

The good news is that there are no additional breaks, and the radial head fracture has healed nicely.  The pain that I have been feeling in my wrist and up through my arm is normal, and to be expected when there’s been trauma to the elbow.  The ligaments take longer to heal & recover.

She decided that the soreness on the inside of my elbow is probably due to tendonitis.  To deal with it, she ordered a steroid injection.  She left the room, and the nurse came in to set up for the shot.  I KNOW that shots aren’t a big deal; but, sitting there, waiting for the doctor to come back in, staring at the needle and the big bottle of numbing spray made me really anxious.  By the time the doctor came back in, and figured out the angle that she needed to have me in to do the injection, I was sweating…a LOT.  The only thing remotely comforting was the bottle of numbing spray.

The next thing that I knew, she was swabbing my arm with alcohol, pinching my arm and saying, “You’ll feel a poke, a pinch and then a burn.”

Um, hello???  What happened to the numbing spray?

It was over faster than it took me to type that, and yes…I’m a huge baby about shots; but, really.  I guess she figured if I’m tough enough for derby, I should be able to handle a little shot.

We talked about skating, and how I should proceed.  She wants me to see how the steroid does.  I can start PT again, and can do some training at the gym; but, she wants to see me in a month.  If things aren’t better by then, she’ll order an MRI.  If my elbow is improving, I can start skating again…WITH pads.

Good grief.  What a joke this has become!

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been up and down.  Part of me sees that things take longer to heal, and that I have to seriously consider the risks of derby.  And then, I see pictures on Facebook from the Desert Dolls sight, and I could kick myself for not being there for the January start.  The new class is a month in, and from what I can tell, having a great time.

I just have to get to the point where I can put my skates on again, get over the fear and try this again.

Damaged goods #postaweek2012

Broken Derby Girl

It’s been roughly three and a half weeks since I broke my arm.  In that time, the new Cherry Posse has started training, I’ve had to lay off working out at the gym, and I’ve been suffering from a crisis of confidence.

Last week, the Desert Dolls posted a photo of the new Cherries on their Facebook wall.  I’ll admit, I did shed a tear or two out of pure disappointment.  To know that I was so close, had talked about going out, written about it and then blown the opportunity with a bad decision, I was kicking myself.

As more time has gone by and my arm is still hurting, I’m starting to doubt myself.  I worry that maybe I don’t really have what it takes to be a derby dame.  Knowing how unsteady I was, combined with the real consequences of an injury, I’m afraid.  I have to constantly convince myself that I can do it; but, there’s a little voice inside me, whispering that I’m way too old for this shit (to quote Danny Glover.)

The teasing that I’ve endured hasn’t helped.  I realize that this whole derby thing appears to be pretty ridiculous to some.  Even my mother will occasionally ask, “Are you SURE you want to do this?”  That’s usually after I’ve been whining about my arm hurting.  It’s also been suggested that there are plenty of hobbies better suited to someone my age…knitting being the most popular.

A broken arm and a sling make great props for insurance open enrollment meetings, though.  Standing in front of a group of employees, serving as a real life Show and Tell example of how things like urgent care visits, x-rays, durable medical equipment and physical therapy sessions are covered, I provide a better understanding of their benefits.  My partner loves to have me explain how I broke my arm.  I know she gets a kick out of the idea of me on skates.

This morning, I had my first physical therapy appointment.  After a pile of paperwork, full of redundant forms, I spent about an hour with the therapist.  He moved my arm around a lot, took measurements to determine loss of range of motion and had me do several exercised.  He also used ultrasound therapy.  He reassured me that my wrist is probably not fractured, based on how it felt during the ultrasound and with movement.  He gave me a list of exercised to do twice a day, and cleared me to start going to the gym to work on cardio.

For now, I’m going to work on healing, conditioning, and my bruised self-confidence.  As soon as I get cleared to skate again, I’m going to have to put them on (along with my pads & helmet) and try again.  Maybe if I don’t think about things too much, May will get here and I’ll just get myself to the next Cherry Posse start-up and make this happen.

And then, the wheels fell off of the wagon… #postaweek2012

I was comtemplating a couple of posts before Christmas.  One had to do with the fun I’d had with my cousins, Rachael & Lisa.  We’d gone to a Desert Dolls bout and had a great time.  I had talke to more people with the league and had gotten contact info for sign-ups.  Lisa had customized t-shirts with our derby names.

The next post was going to be full of excitement.  I had emailed the league, and put myself on the list for the Cherry Posse training.  A response had come back and I was in!

With the holidays, and trying to keep up with reverb11 posts, I didn’t get either one written.  Christmas morning dawned, and Ben had adhered to our strict “Don’t wake us up before 6:00 a.m.” rule.  In the pile of presents was a brand new pair of sleek black quad skates!

You realize, of course, that I still hadn’t been up on skates in the entire six months since deciding to become a derby dame.  I figured that it would be just like riding a bike…I’d always been able to skate, so I’d have no trouble.

I was itching to skate, and I knew that the January 11th start date for training was looming.  I had the Tuesday after Christmas off, so Ben and I decided to head off to the skating rink next to the kids’ old daycare center.

We got a locker, and I stupidly put my elbow, knee & wrist pads in on top of my shoes.  I laced up my skates and stood up.  I was decidedly less graceful that I had expected.  I worked my way cautiously to the rink.  Because it was still Christmas vacation, there were a lot of little kids wobbling around the floor.

I successfully made it around the rink a couple of times, though I felt my confidence slipping.  I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t as easy to actually move as it was in my head.

As I came around toward the DJ booth, having successfully avoided a pile up of kids in front of the snack bar, a little girl fell in front of me.  I didn’t react correctly, and lost my balance.  I fell backwards, rather than to my knees, landing squarely on my left arm.   By the time I sat up, the little girl had popped back up and was merrily on her way.  The DJ came around from behind the counter and asked if I was all right.  “Yes,” I replied.  “Fine, except for my ego!”  He laughed and gave me a hand up.  I turned to make my way around to the seats.  I knew that something wasn’t right.

I met Ben over by the lockers…he wanted to change his skates.  I told him that I should probably sit down for a while.  He told me that he was fine with leaving, if I wanted to go.  We put our shoes on and walked out to the car.  The minute that I tried to pull the car door closed, I could tell that it was more than a bump.  Ben suggested that we go to urgent care.

We have a good urgent care office near our house.  With two active kids, and my susceptibility to pink eye, we’re well known there.

Taking x-rays turned out to be excruciating.  By the time we got to the x-ray room, it had been almost an hour and a half since I’d fallen.  I couldn’t extend my arm past a ninety degree angle, and my wrist and fingers had begun to swell.  The doctor mentioned to the nurse that they needed to get my wedding rings off, or else they would have to be cut off.  As soon as he left the room, I had Ben cover my hand in soap and help me pull the rings off.

The doctor showed me the x-rays.  The only fracture that he could see was at the top of my radius, just under the elbow.  It is a closed fracture, and the joint had filled with blood.  Because injuries like this can cause the elbow to freeze, they don’t put a cast or a splint on the arm.

I went home with a sling and a prescription for Tylenol 3.

Later that night, I emailed the Desert Dolls league president, Evol Starr.  I let her know what had happened and that I would need to be pulled from this round’s training team.  She was very nice about it, and said that she’d just bump me over to the May squad.  She also offered to let me come and meet the skaters and get to know the league.

I’ll admit…my confidence is shaken.  I’ve joked about broken bones, and tattoos in the shape of bruises.  I didn’t figure that it would happen this early in my journey.  I have learned a couple of important lessons, though.  I need to wear my pads.  Period.  If I’d been wearing my elbow and wrist guards, I might have come away with a bump or bruises…definitely a bruised ego, rather than a broken arm.  Also, I can’t quit…if, for no other reason, than to be able to say that I got hurt training for roller derby!