Some exciting things I did this week (nerd alert)

Two posts in one day?? I’m impressed with myself. This never happens!

I’ll keep this one short and sweet, because most of it is super nerdy, and it’s my second post within 24 hrs. Also if I waited til next week either I’d forget half the stuff I wanted to write about, or you’d end up with a monster of a post.

I had an interesting week in many respects, and I’m not going to list all the interesting things because that would just be too much. In an attempt to keep it brief, I will now list some of the better aspects of the past 7 days:

  • Accepting a new job
    Okay, so maybe not that new. The volunteer position I took with Horse Connection turned into a paid assistant instructor position early this week. Which really only changes a few things- instead of one morning a week leading a horse around a ring and doing some assisting with students, I now am there two mornings a week and will assist in the lesson plans and eventually take over some of the theory classes with the kids. Kinda cool, pretty excited about it- a little unsure on how the extra time commitment will effect my sanity. This will be my third paying job. However, it is something I really want to be involved in- and upon discussing the basis of Horse Connection with a prof- I realized that this could also provide me with some potentially very interesting topics and experience to put towards my degree and eventual career.
  • Getting frustrated and working through it (on horseback)
    We’ve all had those rides. Where it feels like nothing you do is making a difference. This week I had two of them. Really boosting for the spirit… The horse I’ve been working with for the above listed job has been somewhat of a challenge this week. Last week when I recalled my experiences with him, you’ll remember I was quite happy with his progress. Horses keep us humble, of course, so clearly this meant we had to have a week of stubborness and frustration to follow up that excellent ride last week- right? That’s how it works in the riding business. One step forward, three steps back. The first ride of the week was just brutal. The horse I remembered from the previous week was long gone- I was now riding a straw bale with attitude. Probably didn’t help that I went into the arena with a negative attitude and a headache. Lets just say I didn’t do an awesome job of separating my own frustrations from my job as a rider that day. The horse wasn’t all to blame. The next time I got on this week I was prepared to deal with myself a little better. Sonny was still a stubborn brat. But instead of getting angry and taking it out on both of us, I made myself take a step back before we reached that point and only resumed work with Sonny when I was a little calmer. This helped, quite a bit. I won’t say we made a tonne of progress, but we made more then we had previously. As I was told by the owner at LC Farms once when I was working with a young horse in front of him.. “You must look at yourself before you can ask ze horse to listen” (imagine a heavy french accent, the quote is much more profound that way).
  • Bought a watch, felt like a grown up
    This one doesn’t need too much elaboration. It was a little bit of retail therapy mixed with actually needing to acquire a time piece for my wrist. To go along with the feeling like a grown up- I actually cooked some real meals this week! Squash and veggie medley with chickpeas and bacon, spinach pasta with meat sauce, and bison with rosemary and basil veggies. Look at me, acting all adult and stuff. 

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  • Got a little bit more hands on
    I was going to title this section “getting handsy” but then I figured that was a little creepy. Anyway. Classes have been getting much more practical lately, as mid-terms approach way to quickly. However, outside of the classroom I’ve been able to gain some exciting new experience in the clinic at work- as well as of course on the field at football. Thursday with the AT at MORfit I got a chance to practice my massage skills on real life patient for the first time! I had zero idea what I was doing, but it was great! Another patient who I’ve been stretching for the past 3 weeks or so also commented: “Either she’s getting stronger, or I’m getting weaker” to the AT- who responded with “that’s because she’s getting more experienced and doing a great job”. Yessss! The next day at football I was relaying some of those experiences to my supervisor there- regarding the massage and not knowing what I was doing, she had this to say: “that’s okay, you’ll soon get to the point where it’s like reading a book through your hands”. Speaking of football, we had an interesting game this Friday- the most exciting injury was a very dislocated distal interphalangeal joint on the 5th digit (aka the first joint of the pinky finger). I got to play shock control (aka distract the heck out of the poor guy) while we splinted it and got the player ready to head to a hospital. I also got to explain to the coaches many times why legally we cannot just “pop it back in”. The finisher to my argument was showing them a picture of the player’s hand (since we had already stabalized and covered it)- which generally resulted them in quickly agreeing with me and walking quickly in the other direction. Nothing like a little bit of gore to settle things. My supervisor said many times that she was so happy to have me around, and that her job is so much easier with another set of hands and another opinion on some of the more challenging issues we have come up more often now that the season is in full swing. Which was great to hear after a long week. Thursdays and Fridays always seem to be good days, even if the rest of the week is insanity.

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  • Practicing to make perfect
    I also made a point of thinking my way through the heel-lock portion of my ankle taping. For whatever reason this section of the tape job always gets me, and I swear I’m the only one- everyone else thinks they are simple. It’s all in the angles. And you cannot pick a fight with tape- you will never win. Friday I did my best on the ankles at football, but again just couldn’t get that perfection I want. My ankle taping is always very functional, it’s just the presentation side of it I’m wanting to perfect. Saturday I actually just sat down and thought my way through the physics of it a few times. Sunday I stole a friends ankle and practiced the crap out of the maneuver. I’m happy to report that I figured it out, I found the angle I need to make it simple. The picture below is literally an entire roll of tape put into heel-locks one on top of the other, trying to cement the technique I figured out into my hands. Now, I’m hoping muscle memory will start kicking in. It’s only taken me a year to wrap my head around the angles, it has to be only forward motion from here.

 

 

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So, there you go. A bunch of things crammed into a short post to sum up another week katmah style!

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I’m not me

Okay, so last week was one thing. I described it as topsy turvy. This week was just hard to handle.

I’ll start off by reiterating that concussions suck. Also that I am the worst at taking time off. Like, officially the worst.

When I wrote last week it was pretty close to when I started noticing initial symptoms of a concussion. Loss of concentration, sleeping more than usual, fatigue, headaches, etc etc. I had been to a doctor, who gave me not much instruction or useful advice. He suggested I maybe take some time off and then re-assess. Standard procedure for a concussive event is to take at least 7 days off (no work, no school, no exercise, nothing. Off off.). I know this. So my brilliant self decided to sort of take the weekend off (I saw the doctor on Thursday night) and then try and do half-work days throughout the week, as well as classes and practical exams. I managed to keep myself away from the barn, though, so high five for me? No. No high fives. Throughout the week, I noticed many new symptoms. The most predominant being going from sleeping WAY more than usual to not sleeping at all. 18hrs down to 3hrs. Not okay. Mood swings. Oh my goodness mood swings. Losing my patience with everything much more quickly then regular me would. Feeling sad. Feeling anxious. Feeling great. Feeling awful- in a time frame of under an hour. My concentration and focus has yet to return.

Trying to work was the worst idea, as my job is all computer focused and requires a high-degree of concentration. I can’t read for more than 5 minutes without getting distracted, dizzy, or having to look away. Class is the other thing that was an awful idea this week. Tuesday was the worst, coming back after missing the previous lecture. I absorbed approximately nothing from Tuesday’s class. I sat there in a fog for the entire time, and skipped the lab because I just couldn’t handle being there any longer. Physically and emotionally. Thursday’s class was better. My focus still wasn’t good, but the class was a little more engaging and less reading focused. Thursday I was also required to do two practical exams (one make-up and one new), both which required me to understand, teach, and guide a “client” through two different types of workouts while being video-taped. Anyone want to wager a guess at how well those went? Understanding what I was teaching wasn’t there, and I couldn’t concentrate long enough to really remember what I was doing through the tests. So not expecting good things on those reviews. Friday I saw another doctor. A much better doctor this time. One who has a concussion specialization, not one who was working a walk-in. I knew she was good, because she gave me news I didn’t want to hear- even if I knew it was coming. At least another 7 days off of my life. Serves me right, I guess, didn’t reeeeaaaaally take the first 7 days off.

I know, guys, it’ll end up being 14 days. Why am I getting all weird about it? Who wouldn’t want a break?

If you’ve had a concussion, or know someone who has- you know how important it is to rest. You’ll also know how hard that can be sometimes. With other injuries there is usually a physical, visible disability that comes a long with it. It’s quite obvious why you are taking time off. To you, and to those around you. This is a very invisible and mysterious injury. You can’t see it. You can’t predict it’s healing process. You can’t push it.

The perspective of taking time off now, so you don’t have lingering symptoms for months down the line that interfere with your life further, makes a lot of sense. So what is it that makes it so hard?

Part of it, I think, is that this sort of injury tricks you into viewing yourself as fine, and thinking others will view you as fine too- and by taking time off when you’re “fine” people might think you’re just being lazy. This isn’t true, of course, but it’s really hard not to see it that way. Concussions come with messed up self-perceptions. Those who know me know that I would never just take time off unless it was well-deserved. I like to be busy. I take on as much as I can because I love to. When time off is necessary, I try every trick in the book to convince myself that I don’t need time off. I know, ridiculous. I know other athletes to this too. That attitude towards life is what makes what we do possible. Never stop. But when it comes to flipping that determination around to successful recovery.. sometimes we get a little mixed up.

I’m blessed with being surrounded by people that constantly remind me to slow down when I’m doing too much. Rather then support my irrational decisions to push myself harder when I need to be taking pressure off the gas they constantly put things into perspective for me, or attempt to anyway. Do I listen all the time? No. Should I? Probably, yes. Do I try to? Yes. Always. There is no way that I would be as far and as successful in my endeavours if I hadn’t listened to the advice and wisdom coming from these people at least most of the time. When I have thoughts like “people will think less of me if I don’t do this…” or “my life is falling apart because I can’t do all this at once..” (that one was an exaggeration.. I don’t ever think that… do I??)- I am only met with acceptance of who I am, and reassurance that I am doing just fine. Usually I am given exactly what I need for that moment. What more could you as for in friends and family? 

Another difficult side to this, that I’m noticing, is that I don’t feel like myself. Partially because I’m not able to do many of the things that make up who I am. My normal motivation for everything is feeling a little tired (that is probably a good thing- a little easier to take a break with this mentality) and my frustration levels are much higher then they normally are (probably not a good thing). Also because the symptoms of this concussion like to play around with my emotions, making it hard to handle things I would normally not even blink at. It’s comforting to know that these are just symptoms, and they will pass. However, it’s also scary to not have control over my own head- and not knowing what is coming next a lot of the time. This feeds into the challenge of being able to perceive how those around me are viewing me. It’s a little confidence shaking.

On the plus side, I have a fantastic excuse for pretty much any stupid thing I say– Nobody can argue “concussion” as reason for not knowing something or those everyday face-palm moments!

What are your concussion experiences (personal, or someone you know)? How did you handle them?

I am hoping that next time I write I’ll be a little more “me” and a little less “concussion”! Until then, wish me luck at not concentrating (hopefully the only time I’ll be asking for luck in this) and “staying zen”.