So, what happened on Friday of Week 3 that has potentially killed me for the rest of the RDWC challenge?
After a week of taping my ankle to help with support, I’d had the tape off for about 2 days, giving it a chance to prove itself before derby on Sunday. My quadriceps were still pretty sore from the previous weekend, but I was still stubbornly believing that there was nothing to worry about, and that I’d be fine by Sunday. Then, on the way to watch the football with some friends at the pub, my ankle gave out. I landed heavily on my knee (thankfully not the dodgy one!), and all of my weight went back. Those crazy tight quads screamed, and so did I.
It took me almost 10 minutes to limp the 30m from where I fell to the pub. A skinned knee dripping blood down my leg was the least of my worries. My right leg couldn’t bear weight without feeling like I’d been stabbed in the thigh. I was fairly convinced I had ripped the muscle from the bone. I spent 2 hours sitting on one bar-stool, my leg supported on another, with ice wrapped around my quad, before I felt like I could put any weight back on it. Thankfully, my favourite team was playing their pre-season game, so in between growling, yelping and crying, I got to see them play. After hobbling to the car, and then from car to boyfriend’s couch, I spent the rest of the night with ice on and off. The pain localized, and seemed to be focused on my vastus intermedius, the middle section of the quadriceps, the type of pain suggesting partial tear, rather than full snap. Despite being good friend’s with my physio, and knowing he was open the next morning, I decided to wait it out until my appointment Monday afternoon. I knew the drill: RICE. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Saturday, could weight-bear for short distances, but rested up as much as possible. Sunday, the first day of RDWC’s Week 4, I decided to test myself.
I couldn’t strap anything but my ankle, thanks to the amount of sweat that appears on a 38C day. I got 3 laps of the track at a teeth-clenching jog before having to pull out in pure agony. No luck with squats, even less with lunges. 50 wall push-ups and about the same of crutches later, and the uninjured Fresh Meat had finished their warm-up. Threw on the skates, made it halfway around the track before having to rip everything off. I was in tears, and not just because of the pain.
The following three hours were seriously depressing. I watched as my fellow Fresh Meat worked on their falls and slides, learnt the fine art of the slalom, and practiced their hops. I didn’t want to be sitting on the side-lines, I wanted to be out there, falling on my arse, laughing, learning. Instead, I watched, and I listened, and I tried to remember everything that was said, in the vain hope I’d be back the next week. Once the Fresh Meat had finished, I was the only one to stay behind for the level 2 and up training, like I do every week, even getting the opportunity to act as penalty timer for scrimmage. It was great, I learnt a lot, and our Fresh Meat coaches were fantastic, encouraging me to come along next week even if I was off skates, and telling me they’d run me through a one-on-one catch-up session when I was back on my wheels. That made me feel better (Thanks Ace and Fink!), but I still couldn’t shake the sinking feeling that in the space of one week, I had blown a year of physio and hard work. Home to more ice and an early night.
Today, I saw my physiotherapist.
“A Grade Strain”. After 15 minutes of explaining what happened, how it felt at the time of the injury and since, discussing my suspicions, and having a bit of a poke around (Ok, actually more technical than that, but you don’t want details of my screaming and crying), those three words were a sweet relief. A strain I can handle, as long as the muscle is intact. An intact muscle doesn’t need surgery, it just needs some gentle love and attention until it is healed.
The verdict? Minimum two weeks recovery. I have set exercises I have to do 3 or 4 times a day, and am restricted to walking, with a reassessment in one week. In the words of my physio “No running, no jumping, no hopping or skipping or lunges, and for gods sake, no skates!” Any core work involving my legs is out, so no planks, wall sits or push-ups (unless they’re one legged, against an upright surface, on my good leg). It’s boring, and it’s horrible, and I’m annoyed, but you know what? I’ll do it. I’ll take the weeks off skates until I’m approved again. I’ll research a million-and-one ways to work my core, back and upper body without engaging my quads. Because I want it. Because derby is worth fighting for. And because I’ll be damned if I’m letting my body get the better of me again.