But I’ve never… never mind. The story of a AT student.

“Kathlyn is going to do your hip-flexor work today, and then she’ll stretch you”

What I hear as I walk in the door to work on Tuesday.

“Are you good with that?” directed at me, with a smirk.

“Yeah uh, sure– but.. I’ve never done a hip massage before…” –Me, sounding super intelligent.

“Oh.. I know.” Walks away chuckling and leaves me in a room with a client.

And that is basically how SO many of my hours as an AT student are spent lately. Just yesterday at football a similar thing happened. Except with less details given and a little bit higher intensity.

In pre-game, pretty much as soon as we started taping we were over run by players wanting the perfect taping for their first play-off game- which meant Nikki was tied up with the QB and her form of dealing with the “swarm” is to shoot people off my direction. I normally cover ankles and thumbs, with the occasional wrist thrown in there. However today there was an elbow hyperextension that needed taping (a tape job I haven’t done since the very preliminary version they taught us a year ago in P&C- funny enough something they were reviewing in the part of class I left early from to make football), and NIkki asked if I knew how to do it. I kinda mumbled a sorta, I guess- and then promptly got thrown a roll of tape and was told to “go!”. The fun part about taping is that you can make a lot of stuff up on the fly, as long as it prevents what it’s supposed to prevent. What I came up with even got a compliment from Nikki when she saw it run by her on field later on.

Later on, a player had come off the field complaining of pain to the quad and iliotibial band just above the knee, and Nikki was running him through a quick assessment while I observed. His strength was good, and his movement was also fine- so we came the conclusion he just had a contusion (bruise) to the muscles in the area. She was just about to start compression wrapping and return to play functional testing when we hear “TRAINER, TRAINER!!!” from the field and see one our players rolling on the ground. All I got that time was Nikki throwing the elastic tape at me and yelling “compression!” as she ran onto the field. So, with an athlete anxious to get going standing infront of me I did my first on field quad contusion compression wrap (really not a big deal..) and ran my first athlete through functional return to play testing (bigger deal) and made the decision he was good to go back into play (and confirmed it of course). 20131025-144454.jpg The boys ended up winning their quarter final game, and so we head off to semis next week! At least one more week of shivering for us!

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Needless to say we didn’t have too many players lingering on the table last night… Little bit chilly..

Luckily, for me, I love learning this way. For one, it really prevents procrastination. When someone is throwing you into a situation, you can’t really put it off. Your brain is forced to recall information and put it to use, ASAP. Also, so far anyway, it has a way of giving  a little boost of confidence- which is often needed. A lot of what we cover in class is often hard to grasp when all you have to practice on is your pretty healthy and functional lab partners. The amount of times I’ve walked into work and had the AT there say “have you ever done this before” or “when’s the last time you did this?” and my response is “um.. never..” (highly educated response, I know) is off the charts- but equal with the amount of times he throws me in there anyway. Of course giving a super quick demo that looks effortless and easy- only to be the opposite for my rookie hands. It only took a few weeks of doing some deep-tissue work on clients to get a feel for what was actually happening underneath my touch. It took me months to get my angles right in some tape jobs. But that’s what this kind of learning does to a person like me- it fuels that dedication to get it right- and I took it as a great compliment when Nikki referred to me as a perfectionist when helping me prep for my Taping practical.

Those “getting thrown into the deep end” lessons, although terrifying, are also really good for helping to teach how to put things into context. I shouldn’t say they are terrifying, they used to be.. but now they are pretty much expected. It’s kind of like, oh- I haven’t done that before- you’re going to make me do it, aren’t you… well, why not. Each client/athlete is so different, and you can’t throw a textbook assessment, tape job, or symptom at them and expect them to fit the mould (but you still have to have a more than solid appreciation for what those textbooks have inside them). I’m really seeing the value of getting a variety of different experiences under my belt- working with different therapists and athletes as much as possible. The AT at work always stresses how each therapist has their own style, and how it takes learning from a few different people to really get a feel for how you want to work.

It’s very true, just having seen the way a few therapists work so far. They all have different ways of being in whatever they are doing- and no way is more effective than another. When the basics are there, everything else falls into place. It’s the trial of an AT student to try and keep the basics floating around long enough that they actually become basic, instead of this huge mass of information that seems incomprehensible and overwhelming at first glance. “Use it or lose it” might be a good phrase. “Practice makes perfect” and “Try, try again” are also applicable.

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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