Am I done yet?

Just kidding, I love school. Most of the time. Sort of? Ask me again when I’ve recovered from midterms.

It’s been one thing after another, as usual, this week. Between midterms, my car breaking down, and then being fixed, but actually not being fixed and breaking down again, not getting to work, taking two too many cabs, midterms midterms midterms, awards banquets, more Thanksgiving, wanting more sleep, assignments….. and everything else… Lets just say I’m tired.

I just finished my last midterm (of 5) today.. Last Wednesday I had two of my bigger ones. That was lots, by half way through the second one of the day I was starting to wind down. I haven’t quite been able to get my studying mojo back. My brain is in full rebellion mode, and I don’t really feel like fighting it to be honest.

Now that midterms are over with, it’s time to really stop procrastinating on some of the assignments I have. Instead, what do you think I’m thinking about? Riding. I think I have the MHJA year end awards banquet to thank for that one. Hanging out with the McMullan Team this weekend, seeing many fellow riders get well deserved recognition for accomplishments this season, and discussing goals for next year- how could I not just want to jump back into training full time and forget about school? While I am getting some of my barn fix with Horse Connection, I’m really craving that feeling you get after a great course, or after a lesson. Or just after a good ride on my own horse. I know I would miss my “other life” in school and all these other goals I have. But, grass is always greener.. right?

IMG_4821

IMG_4820

M&C. The impact these two people have had on my life, and the lives of countless others is astounding.

As much as I can’t really be riding as much right now, I’m being presented with a few opportunities to tie in my career goals in the AT world with my goals in the riding world. A proposal from a prof in regards to brainstorming ideas around a functional training program based around things one does on a farm came about around the same time my boss at MORfit proposed that each staff member come up with some sort of class to teach, or event to run. This combined with my longstanding plan to form a fitness program tailored to the equestrian athlete is definitely causing some ideas to float around. If anyone reading this has some specific things they would like to work on, or questions about how a training program could help your riding- please let me know! I’m very much still in the brain storming phase.

The thing that’s becoming painfully obvious about this year in Uni is that, for me anyway, we’re getting to do just enough hands on stuff to make you want to do more and be done with all the lectures and in-between things.  Especially because I am able to integrate what I’m learning into more than one of my work places and volunteer opportunities. Sitting in assessment lecture just is not quite the same as actually getting to do an assessment. Just like practicing in taping lab just doesn’t cut it when you have been doing it in real life. At the same time, all these classes make us realize how much there is to know.. and how little of it we actually know.

This past week a classmate and I ended up accepting the position of Vice Presidents of the Kinesiology Student’s Association, which is a partner of our other student association, WATSA (Wesmen Athletic Therapy Student Assoc.). We had been wanting for a while to become more involved, so this was kind of a “go big or go home” response. I’ve had very minimal experience in student politics, with small roles in high school. Nothing, however, to this scale of responsibilities. I’m both looking forward to the new role, but also hoping it doesn’t completely overload my schedule. Another thing I said yes to was a paid research assistant position with the same prof mentioned above, who I have been working with the older adults fitness class. He received a grant to continue with research, and I gratefully accepted the chance to be a part of it. Why not, right?

I’m hoping this week brings some time to get my feet back under me. I’m pretty much headed to bed once I push publish on this sucker.. it’s 9:30. Here’s hoping I get my car back tomorrow (9 business days and counting it’s been at the shop), and that I also find some of my energy too.

Monty at Horse Connection

Monty at Horse Connection

 

 

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. 

20130929-173324.jpg 20130929-173355.jpg 20130929-173212.jpg

  • 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.

20130929-173227.jpg

  • 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.

 

 

20130929-173113.jpg

 

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

20130929-173147.jpg

My new nickname and somehow achieving goals

I’ve had such an up and down couple weeks! One day I can come home completely exhausted and de-motivated, and then the next I will have absolutely everything completely inspire me and tell me I’m exactly where I want to be. Between it all I turned 21, and am managing to stay on track and achieve little goals everyday. Somehow.

I just finished writing a blog post for my practicum requirements- it had “surviving” in the the title. Which should give you a good idea of how I feel about everything right now. I’m making it happen, sometimes barely. Don’t get me wrong, my perspective on surviving is a good one. I’m somehow keeping up to my plans. Which is huge- because my plans are big and daunting and scare me most of the time.

So, what have I been up to the past two weeks?

Everything. Legitimately go from one end of the spectrum to the next in a day. Absolute insanity.

Its not uncommon for me to start my day at the barn where Horse Connection is based working with some of their new horses. The horse I’ve been focusing on is Sonny, a 7 yr old paint who is relatively new to the program. He is also relatively new to all things balance, forward motion, collection, and anything faster then a jog. The program directer asked me to put some miles on him before we start with the kids in a few weeks, and the first time I rode him it was easy to tell he wasn’t lacking in brains- just in motivation. Our first ride was a lot of walking, figuring out what he knew and didn’t know. I realized quickly that nobody had really ever helped in out with balance. So, I spent time giving him guidance in that area. Circles, bending, transitions, serpentines, and more transitions.That first ride I was only able to keep him at a canter for one circle in each direction- and trotting was also pretty messy. He just wasn’t convinced about where to put his feet and how to hold his head. I came out of it with lots of ideas with what to do next with him. The next time I got on Sonny, it was clear I had made an impression on him. Right away he was walking with more confidence and putting himself in a gorgeous frame. His trot had more impulsion, he didn’t fall into our circles as much, and I didn’t have to encourage him as much to keep moving forward through the trot and walk. When I asked him to canter, he wasn’t overly motivated- but I kept him at a consistent pace for well over 6 circles in each direction, which he hasn’t done for anybody yet. I was pretty surprised with how quickly he made progress- and it was one of those beautiful horse-rider moments where you can feel progress happening. The director was around to see this ride, and was equally impressed with his progress. Which is always nice to hear!

So that’s the first major commitment I have. Next I head to school- where I listen and practice practical skills. This past week I started researching ideas for a pathology research paper. There are two options that interest me, one of which is hippotherapy as a intervention for cerebal palsy (might as well seeing as I’m going to be getting hands on experience with this once Horse Connection starts up), and the other on the pathology of post concussion syndrome. Also pretty relevant to my career as an AT. This past week I also helped with fitness testing in the older adults fitness class I’m working with. The testing we do now, and again at the end of the program, is going to be used in some research one of the profs is doing- and I’m hoping to get involved with- on the effects of exercise on an ageing population.  Among some of the other fun things I learned this week in classes were pre-event massage, which is exhausting to perform, and hilarious to receive. You find out very quickly where you are ticklish, and learn that you can make some pretty interesting noises when trying to stifle laughter and not kick your lab partner in the face. Later in the week I also learned how to make a orthotic cast and assess gait/foot postures. It was pretty fun to play with plaster, and I now have a lovely cast of my foot courtesy of my lab partner. Below is a picture of my looking way to happy while working on my partner’s foot.

IMG_4502

After classes finish for the day I can be headed one of many directions. Sometimes its to a yoga class, other times it’s cooking with my bestie. This week we made Chicken and bacon alfredo(made with coconut milk) spaghetti squash with sautéed spinach and asparagus with a side of gluten free garlic toast. Mostly paleo, all delicious.

IMG_4494

If it’s work I’m off to, I get to spend time watching and learning from the AT at the gym. This week he had me teach and supervise exercises with a couple clients as well as stretch them out. He gave me the complement of telling me my “flow” has greatly improved in the past few weeks, and I’m becoming much more confident and efficient. Eee!

On Friday’s I head to football, where I tape, stretch, watch, assess, and dress cuts and abrasions. And banter with the players. I’m no longer known as “trainer #2”, “other trainer”, “that girl”, or “not Nikki” anymore. I am now acknowledged as “Trainer Kat”. They can’t figure out my full name, which majority of the population can’t apparently. I’ll take it though, it has a good ring to it.

I had a big moment at this week’s game. Even though it was pretty chilly, I got 3 half-decent heel-locks in a row (if you don’t know what this is, just know that it’s a huge challenge for me) in my ankle taping (3/6 for that event- definite improvement!), and performed an assessment/referral on a wrist fracture and concussion testing on two players–by myself! I also didn’t forget any steps like I usually do! I also managed to tape an ankle at half with hands that were completely numb from cold. That was a challenge. And it’s not even that cold out yet. During the game, my supervisor and the head trainer for the team, nudged me on the shoulder and pointed to one of the players  I had taped and another player who I had dressed a cut on (and later assessed his wrist) and said “look, that’s your hard work out on the field- you can be proud of that”. After reading my reflections from the past couple weeks, she also let me know that she is really happy with me and has some more challenges for me in the next few weeks. I’m so lucky to be surrounded with teachers and peers who are willing to push me and challenge me exactly the way I need. It’s not uncommon for me to feel completely overwhelmed a lot of the time. But at the same time I have had so many feelings of accomplishment alongside the overwhelmed feeling.

When I’m not in school, working, taping footballers, cooking, reading, researching, riding, or sleeping- I’m working out, coaching, and practicing taping. This weekend I got back into the gym, and started lifting actual weights again for the first time since May. Oh my gosh did that feel good. Overhead BB press and hex bar Deadlifts 10×5 followed by pushing the sled for 3x3min intervals. That’s a welcome back.

IMG_4537

Afterwards I took some time and used my friends foot to perfect some taping. An AT’s tape job is their best advertisement- or so my supervisor likes to say- so I’m really working not only on functionality but also presentation. My ankle taping is getting better and better, it’s by far the one I do the most. I can now do it in under 3 minutes. I also worked on some taping for turf toe (hyperextension) and arch support. Here’s some pictures!

IMG_4538 IMG_4539 IMG_4540

The last thing I’ve filled my schedule with is coaching a new client- which is such a nice way to finish up my crazy weeks. Working with a horse and rider that are willing to learn on a crisp fall morning- how much better could it get?

IMG_4544

This year has already been so crazy, in so many ways. I’ve been able to integrate my life as an equestrian into my school schedule. I’m getting to ride and coach, alongside work towards goals in the other part of my life. I used to worry about how these two parts of my life would fit together, but currently I’m getting a glimpse at how they can work really well together. Did this recap of the past while leave your head spinning? Don’t worry, mine too. I’m starting to see my future in a much clearer perspective now as I get more involved in the last half of my degree and gain real life experience in the field. I’m having to work so hard and the most minute things, but I’m being rewarded for it in sometimes the most abstract ways. I feel very blessed to have found things in this life that I am head over heels in love with. I’m thriving on surviving (feel free to throw this back at me when I’m complaining about midterms).

Each day brings a new challenge and a new goal to achieve. I hope I can keep keeping up!

 

 

 

A long post for a long week

Look at me, posting on a Sunday like I intended to!

I had another one of those weeks where it felt like a month passed in 4 days. And I really don’t think that feeling is going to go away any time soon. The amount of things I’m fitting in right now qualifies me for the hypothetical over-scheduling olympics. Hypothetical only because they won’t ever happen due to scheduling conflicts.

I believe I mentioned the opportunity I received early last week to work alongside three profs and a few other students teaching and assisting in an older adults exercise class and research project on campus this year.  I feel pretty lucky to have been in the right place at the right time with this one, as it will be giving me loads of learning experience (and connections) in exercise prescription and working with a different age group. To go along side this, the AT that works at the gym I also work at has delegated me his Thursday night assistant. Literally 10-minutes after walking in the door for my shift Thursday he had me stretching out a client for him. He taught me a few new stretches that I hadn’t learnt yet and informed me that I would be learning many more over the next week or so as he has a large client list for Thursday nights and needs an extra set of hands doing things like stretching, supervising exercise, and whatever else he deems me able to do. And my hands need the experience. So, there we go. I have a nice contrast going right now, between working with high school athletes, seniors, and now also the in-between aged clients.

To add to this list, I also accepted a volunteer position with Horse Connection This organization is based around providing inner city/high risk youth with behavioural and now also physical disorders or disabilities a chance to work around horses and learn new skills in a structured and challenging environment.  They combine the benefits of both sport and working with animals to help change lives. How awesome is that? I’ve been a fan of this program for a while, knowing one of the co-founders, and was so happy when she asked if I would be interested in getting involved. My position right now will range from exercising the lesson horses, to basic instructing/supervising the kids around the horses, and handling/leading horses during lessons. It seems like the kind of position that can lead to more opportunities down the road, especially with my educational background.

Am I doing well on the “not overscheduling” goal I listed last post? Ehhhh… not really… Basically gained another 3 jobs, to add to my current part-time job, as well as a full course load- this week alone. Oh and lets not forget football. Here’s hoping the universe is done offering me schedule fillers, because we all know I have a serious problem with saying no to things. But, I am doing better with my nutrition goals, and I did open a text book yesterday and read a few pages. Win some you lose some, I guess.

What else can I tell you?

Friday was our first season game in Brandon, and my first ever football game. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s been a steep learning curve and a new perspective for me. As an athlete myself I’m not unfamiliar with the practice/game/team-sport atmosphere- but it is very different point of view as an AT student. As much as you are a part of the team, the AT is responsible for all things regarding player safety and because of this has to stay very objective in every situation. As much as you are involved, you are the one responsible for taking a step back and often making important decisions when it comes to an athletes’ well being.

We travelled to Brandon (thankfully on a coach bus, not a school bus like my high school athlete days). I had no idea what to expect going into the game, as I’ve only ever been to one football game in my life as a spectator- and never as a member of the team. True to my theme, Iearned fast on the go. On the bus my supervisor gave me the job of talking to all the athletes to find out what they needed, wanted, or felt they needed taped before the game. Her words upon handing me the pen and paper were “are you okay doing this?” and my response was “I’m going to be”. This basically sums up our working relationship. She hands me something out of my comfort zone, and I figure out how to handle it in a hurry. It’s comforting to know that she wouldn’t ever give me something out of my depth, but it doesn’t change the terrifying leap I end up taking out of my comfort zone. Great for learning.

So after roaming through a moving bus filled with football players, and arriving in Brandon, I set out on taping ankles and other pre-game tasks. Once the players were ready to go, we headed out on field and I was handed another unfamiliar task. Filling out the emergency action plan for the game location. This I was guided through, and it really isn’t too hard- just involves talking to the other teams trainer, finding out their qualifications (if any), and knowing the address and ambulance entrance directions in case of an emergency. Once that was done, and the game had started, I did a lot of observing. Thankfully there were no major injuries- the head trainer only had to go on field once for a bad case of bruised ribs. I watched a few assessments (bruised ribs, shoulder subluxation, wrist injury), and dealt with a few minor cuts and wardrobe malfunctions. Then the game was over, players showered, and we were back on the bus home. And I started breathing again.

Saturday brought a nice relaxing (what?!) day spent hacking with Lauren at the barn (got to hop on the by far biggest horse in the barn, Shakka), and then lounging around running errands the rest of the day. Sunday brought my first ever 10k run in the Winnipeg 10&10 for Winnipeg Harvest. When I say my first ever 10k, I mean it. I haven’t ever trained over 10k before. How’s that for spontaneous. I’m very proud to say I managed to finish in 1:01 hrs, a very respectable time for my circumstances/irresponsibility and ran the ENTIRE thing. 1184782_10151904625733086_220155402_n

That was week 1 of my the last 25% of my University degree. It is still so weird for me to be a third year. There are many moments when I feel like the jaded student that I am, but equally as many moments where I feel like I’m still a newbie. I guess that’s because this is the first year where all my classes are specific to my career choice, and much more challenging. Somedays it’s easy to imagine working in the real world, because I have already gained some experience actually doing it- and will gain much more by the time I’m done this year (or this semester even). All the things I’ve been planning for my future are actually starting to happen. Old goals and new goals are becoming even more clear. It seems like such a short time ago I was still unsure about where I was going or who I wanted to be, and yet I’m finding myself becoming more experienced in things I used to only dream about more and more each day.. especially when I fill the days up like I do. Time is flying, even when it feels like it’s dragging.

To end off, I’ll leave you with some pictures of the meals I’ve made to get me back on track with some good eating to keep me going and over scheduling (haha, I wish I was kidding), and some other random snapshots from the week.

IMG_4375

Shakka! Aka, elephant.

IMG_4380

Tried out Modern Taco Company, SO GOOD (and gluten free!).

IMG_4397

My creation- sweet potato and zucchini “pasta” cooked with basil, rosemary, onions and garlic- topped with farmer sausage and chickpeas.

IMG_4366

First in-class taping since last year. My football practicing is paying off!

IMG_4360

First day of school selfie. This is the last time I will dress this nicely for class until next September, it had to be documented.

IMG_4351

Blueberry Chai Muffins (grain free, dairy free, sugar free- but so delicious), recipe from http://www.paleomg.com!