Tag Archives: recovery

(Non)Judgement

Sitting looking over the downtown Calgary cityscape late this morning, reading Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road” – I was routinely interrupted by thoughts of what felt like passive self judgement passing through my mind.

“You should be working on something”

“Go outside and move”

“Come up with some ideas”

?

^^ Yes, that last one was word for word a thought that crossed my mind. Which then made me stop and laugh- as if my mind stating “come up with some ideas” was going to help me “come up with some ideas”. Ideas for what? Where was this pressure coming from? Why MUST I be doing something on my first (albeit scheduled) day off.

I’ve often stopped and thought to myself while working with training clients to think “it might actually be harder for this person if I asked them to pause and do nothing for a few minutes (or, the horror, a full 45-an hour) instead of pushing them physically”.

The last few days I’ve been networking away at Spruce Meadows and around Calgary, with the next few days bringing me to other areas Alberta. My first venture into out of province work for one of my businesses, RideWell Performance, and taking steps for myself to get uncomfortable again with networking, branding, and see how far I can go with my dreams. Rebranding RideWell over the winter was essentially an attempt to keep my brain busy while my other business, Integrative Movement, went through some expansions that required patience. Now, here in Calgary, with some free time and the bulk of the immediate work for now done, I sit scouring my brain for things to do.

My response to those thoughts? A conscious amusement and then a two hour nap.

Thankfully, it wasn’t hard for me to balance those judgement-like thoughts with things like “the knowledge you’re absorbing from this book is going to serve you later on”, “this rest will mean more energy for the rest of the week”, “you absolutely need a day like today to catch up after the last few weeks”, “my body says this is right and I know to listen to that”.

It’s been observed many times that entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, and business owners are always hustling. I mentioned last post about how I’ve come to cringe at being labelled a “hustler” or as someone who is “always on the grind”. I understand most people mean those labels as a positive thing, and are often incredulous when they hear about what entrepreneurs do routinely to chase down their goals.. but it also skews the optics of success towards burn out levels of time management. It also makes it difficult for, especially younger, self-starters to internally justify rest days, days to be human, and days to just chill t f out.

Was I doing nothing today? Absolutely not. I was reading, learning, and resting. It’s become absolutely crystal clear to me that business development and success largely depends, if not solely depends, on it’s leaders and teams personal development.

What makes or breaks brands in today’s world is the culture that surrounds them, and the association it’s customers makes between the people within the business and their goals.

I’ve had business owners and high level managers as clients both in terms of therapy and training- and while they have a higher tolerance for stress (positive and negative), they often struggle to monitor their inner dialogue around self care and compassion- and this feeds into their decisions around business and people management. It’s easy to look from the outside in and say “if you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to help others” but when you’re that person trying to do it all and be it all, the pressure can seem more then logic.

I think many of us have already learned the hard way that burning out, getting sick, or just getting discouraged by fatigue and pressure is REAL and is a real dream crusher. I’ve experienced more scary level moments of “why am I doing this” leading towards “I do not want to be doing this anymore” in the last couple years. Luckily for me, I have figured out a way to change my scenery up (both physically and mentally) when this happens to keep me obscenely passionate about what I do. Moments like this have forced me to be creative and pursue lateral thinking for all my ventures and the people within them. It’s why I’m in Calgary now, and it’s why some expansions have happened. However if I had followed the alternate route down a more negative burn out road- I might not be where I am now.

We’ve been conditioned as a society to always be on the go- to always be pushing for more. To the point where we’ve seen the birth of industries based around scheduled and invested in down time (think meditation classes, certain styles of yoga, spas, etc etc). These are not bad things- but why can’t we accept for ourselves a simple quiet day to develop in others ways, instead of what is perceived as “the hustle”.

The great Thomas Plummer said it well:

“What made you successful is often the very thing that prevents you from staying successful.”. Hard, endless pursuit of more needs to be contrasted with recovery, rest, and time spent inwards. Without that, you may find you lose the purpose behind what you think you want.

We do not HAVE to do anything. Not in the societies most of us live in, with the afforded comforts we’ve been given. There is ALWAYS a choice and choices do not have to be concrete. Doing or thinking something because it’s always been perceived to be the way things are, or because others around you are seemingly doing the same thing is not a reason to hold the same expectation for yourselves.. and, more then likely, those perceptions aren’t the entire reality. We all generally think and go through similar things- and rarely do you find judgment for taking care of yourself if you are honestly doing just that.

What does self-care and non-judgement towards yourself look like?

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Chill with what my body tells me: another lesson in maturity

So I’ve been trying this new thing lately. Something I have maybe not done as much as I should’ve in the past.. and I’ve learned the hard way that doing it every once in a while is a good thing. It’s that whole “listening to and respecting what your body is telling you” thing.

Turns out mine has a lot to say.

Shocker.

We’ve had our differences in opinion, my body and I. Whether it be through injuries, spontaneous tailbone cysts, impromptu illness and food intolerances, or just reacting to the stress of what I try to pass as a sane schedule- we’ve had to learn how to learn to listen to and tolerate each other in some interesting situations. Almost a year ago now I started the journey of modifying my eating habits to better serve my body, and while there have been some ups and downs with that- I’ve been rewarded in more ways then one for my choices.

Any athlete, at one point, has to learn to deal with injuries in a more productive way then letting the injury control who they are/want to be, and I am very thankful I learned that lesson before this most recent injury. Being one of the first injuries directly related to sport that has knocked me out of commission for a long recovery, I’ve managed to not let it get into my head too much. Whether it’s maturity, or years spent figuring out coping mechanisms (are those things the same thing?).. I’ve treated myself with moderate patience so far through the rehab process, and because of that made pretty significant gains in month following my accident.

Last summer and into the fall when I was recovering from a concussion, I struggled with listening to what I needed. Anyone who has had a concussion will likely have gone through the same experiences. Tasks that were once no big deal become Mt. Everest, yet you are the only one who can see that mountain. There is no cast on your leg telling those around you that you can’t climb.. all there is is symptoms within your head that only you experience. It’s lonely, it’s depressing, and it’s scary. It is an impossible task for those go-getters among us to not try to push through those signs telling us to stop.

Going to a prof (especially one who may not know your regular personality), or a classmate, or a friend- and saying things like “studying for this exam makes me dizzy and nauseous, and I can’t follow even the simplest material…I don’t think I can do this right now” can be absolutely terrifying.  What will people think of you? Will they see me as a flake? Am I not trying hard enough? The conversations I had during this period were some of the scariest of my life. Symptoms of this injury can seem so ridiculous.. until you experience them first hand. Those experiences are partly responsible for giving me some respect for what my body tells me.

Being a student in a health field brings a whole new side into things. Talk about overthinking, try knowing every possible outcome to injuries- and then having said injury, or having someone close to you have that injury. Then you will really understand overthinking. However, again maybe it’s maturity coming into play, there comes a point where you recognise that all you can do is what you can do- that’s it. Control is relative, and intuition is a fantastic thing to utilise. Being honest with yourself about how you’re doing is a really healthy skill. Not trying to micromanage yourself is another beauty of a talent.

I spent most of last week studying for the exam I wrote on Monday: Ergonomics. This is a challenging applied biomechanics course I quite enjoy, and it’s a subject I’ve chosen to do a directed study on next year with a focus on rider mechanics and fitness. That being said, I put a lot of weight into doing well on this exam- because it would be a tad awkward if I didn’t get a good mark in this course- yet wanted to pursue research in the area. I planned it so that I could spend my study time during reading week on this course, and then use the remainder of this week to study for my other heavy exam on Thursday (Exercise Physiology- not a course I particularly enjoy).

The first half of my plan worked quite well. I walked away from my Ergo exam feeling like I managed a half decent mark (for me that’s a B ish), and ended up with an A (!!!). The second half of my plan.. not so much. Over the weekend I started getting sick (viral like symptoms)- and then got better for Monday. After my exam Monday, it all came back (damn you reading week for slowing down my immune system!!!!). My whole body felt weak, headaches, dizziness, faintness, all of which got worse when I tried to study..or move.

After day two of trying to study and only making myself sicker- and then stressing myself out thinking about how writing this exam on no preparation could only mean I was a failure….I decided to listen to my body and see a doctor (What? Me? See a doctor voluntarily?). When rolling over in bed causes me to feel like I had recently run a marathon- I reach my limit. Lets not talk about how stairs make me feel right now, and that’s not even from a busted leg perspective.

Thankfully the doctor confirmed my suspicion of just a frustrating virus being the culprit (although a blood panel is being run to rule anything else out, of course).. and decided for me that anything involving school tomorrow (including the monster exam) is out of the question. Sometimes me listening to me is really just me finding someone who will indirectly push me to make the right decision for me. This is why I surround myself with wise people. They indirectly make me smart… occasionally.

Pretty much as soon as I emailed my profs explaining what the doctor had told me, and acquiring the note to back all that up if need be- I felt so much more relaxed. The monster exam seems less big and scary now that I will have a chance to prepare for it. Sometimes being a dedicated student (or athlete) means knowing when to slow down and take the time to recover so you can perform your best.

Why did it take me so long to learn this??

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Photo cred to Jenaya MacKinnon of Out of Focus Photography (click pic for link)

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Why does this feel familiar?

So how long has it been since I last wrote? Years? Yeah. Sorry about that. You should feel special, though, as I’m choosing to write instead of work on my case study. Because its so abnormal for me to choose writing instead of school work….

I can’t even blame it on being busy. I will, however, blame it on attempting to not be busy. No, that is not a phrase that grooves with my style of living, and yes it was painful to write. I’ve been harshly reminded by my own brain lately that when I try and do too much (my regular amount) that what happens is not in my control. Wait, was it ever?
I’ve been back at work full time the past two weeks, mostly successfully. I’ve ran a couple times, which still isn’t producing symptom free results. BUT, it has been improving. I have hope that one day soon I will be able to run and not have a head ache. I’ve done a couple almost regular strength work outs as well, and those are surprisingly not as bad as running. What else have I been doing? I’ve been making an honest effort to do what is right for me in the moment.

This isn’t new.. I always try to do this, not just after I hit my head.

Doing that, for me, has always been more difficult when my regular routine of insanity and running about from one thing to the next is taken from me. It’s happened a few times, so you’d think I’d be more comfortable with it. Turns out, my comfort zone is pushing myself to the limits of comfort. I’m always looking for more, something new to achieve, or how to better myself. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s an important part of our human nature. If we weren’t always looking for more, for something else, where would we be today? So take away my option to be busy and involved, and I feel lost. It happened to me a few times when I was traveling, again when I got home and had surgery last summer, another time when my second surgery was cancelled (that might have just been more general frustration with the Universe), and now- right after a very optimistic start to my summer, followed by a head injury. I should be the boss at recovery by now.
This time has been different, slightly. Initially it was the same panic and “seriously, universe? Again?”, then it was the acceptance and “fine, I’ll take a week off”, and then it was “okay a weeks over lets get on with it”, and finally the realization that maybe it’s going to be more than a few weeks til I’m “normal” again. Looking back, I’m starting to realize that the one thing that is common in each of the situations I’ve been in where I’m forced to slow down, or worried about the way my life is going, is riding. It was a major factor in why I went to NZ and took that first job. Riding was the reason (one of them) why I left LC finally, because I knew it would ruin the sport for me if I stayed. Riding was the reason I took the next 4 months mostly off being in the saddle, the longest amount of time I’ve spent out of the tack probably ever. Because of that I was able to realize that my love for the sport wouldn’t disappear if I didn’t do it all the time (which was a huge fear for me). Riding (and my new career choice, AT) is what brought me home again.
Last summer the thought of getting back in the saddle kept me mostly optimistic through recovery, and the first show back (and the last show of the year) was one of my best- proving to me again that I can step away and still feel welcome when I come back again. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point- riding is a huge part of what my life orbits around, and what anchors me.
This time, like I said, something felt different. After the initial head hits ground event, I just couldn’t go out to the barn. I honestly did not feel up to it, and I didn’t go out until a week or two later. Even then I didn’t ride. I knew I couldn’t, and shouldn’t. Most of the panic and anxiety for me was around work and school. At first, realizing this scared me a little. Did it mean that riding was less of my life now? Was I losing hold of something that’s held onto me for so long? Then I got on my horse, because I felt ready to, and everything became a little clearer.
I wasn’t supposed to ride until after I could successfully run and weight train. But, in order to be me, I have to bend some rules. I did it 100% feeling ready to. And I’m not just saying that.
Last week I had my first jumping lesson in over a month. I was so nervous. I’d had 3 rides on my horse in the past month, he’d been fresh for all of them, and I was still far from normal. This lesson was going to be my deciding factor on whether to go to the Beach Party Show this coming weekend. All day at work I’d had the worst headache of my life, and I wasn’t feeling very well at all. At the end of a long week.. it had been my second week back full time, and I had also taken on two evening shifts along side my full time hours. I had pushed it a bit. I was so close to cancelling my lesson. When I left the office, my head ache dissipated a little- and I decided that I was going to try riding, staying honest with myself and stopping if anything got worse. Want to know something really awesome? Of course you do. As soon as I sat in the tack, everything else melted away. No headache, no anxiety over money, school, or my health. No excess thoughts. Just the current moment. Relying on pure instinct and learned muscle memory for the next hour, it was the best lesson I’ve had. My horse was perfect, I felt amazing in the tack, and nothing was disturbing that. It was truly one of those surreal moments. C was extremely pleased with us as well, confessing that she was also a little worried about how the night was going to go, but very pleasantly surprised by both my riding and my horse. Needless to say I am planning on competing this weekend, and I’m really hoping the heat doesn’t absolutely ruin me. Look forward to what I’m sure is going to be some interesting days ahead!

What am I taking from this?

You can plan all you want. You can think you’re in control all you want. You’ll almost always be proved wrong. So, what can you do to make sense of it all? Have something to come home to. Whether its a family, a career you’re passionate about, a hobby, or all of those things. I have a few of those things, all which come into play in keeping me grounded at one time or another. Right now, it’s riding. It’s giving me the confidence to relax. To take a step outside my anything but comfortable comfort zone. To trust that things are going to work out. Because they usually do, if you take time and trust your instincts.

Anyway, here are some snapshots for you….

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And some foodie pics!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies. Seriously the best EVER.

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Looped Conversations

Do you ever find yourself having the same conversation, over and over again? Whether it’s with others- or inside your own head. It could be about your goals, the latest thing to happen to you, where you plan to go next, what so and so did last weekend and how hilarious that thing was. Or maybe it’s that you have to work harder, things are happening and you can’t slow down otherwise they’ll stop. Anyone been there? How about  the classic “nobody will respect me if I don’t do this, or achieve this”. Along with this conversations, inwards and outwards, might be arguments. Differences of opinion, causing a ongoing discussion- many times within our own minds.

I’m not the only one to do this.. right?

It’s a good thing most of the time. Allowing us to push past the barriers we set for ourselves, break our own standards, and get closer to our goals. It’s what keeps determined people determined. It’s what helps us break bad habits. Whether it is people in our lives telling us that we can do something, even when our head is saying “no, I can’t”. It’s the opposite of that, the “yes, you can” voice when everyone else is saying “that’s impossible, you’re crazy”. I believe it’s important to have a balance between those two. They generally keep things in a good perspective, when utilized properly. Often it’s that inner voice that helps us to do what’s right for us, when that is the most important thing.

What about those conversations, those stories we end up telling day after day, to different people (or sometimes the same people again and again)? Are those words, those events we keep retelling, what make up who we are? I read somewhere once that our memories are reconstructed every time we think of them. I know from personal experience that memories I have seem to become different over time. Usually becoming more positive as I realize how I’ve grown and learnt from the original events. Things that once seemed like it was the worst thing ever turn into a good story and something to laugh at. Life is always changing, and so are we- therefore it’s pretty hard to let something like words describing an event, or a continuing debate or conversation define us. Who we are today is not necessarily who we were yesterday (coming from someone who is recovering from  concussion, I can vouch for the truth in that statement #moodswings).

Where am I going with this? I’m not really sure, I lost that train of thought 400 words ago.

I was having trouble thinking of what to write about this week, because my life has drastically slowed down as I’ve been doing my best to recover from this concussion. I would usually write about how crazy my life was, and what I did in the past week to work towards goals, or what new goals I’d set, or what crazy obstacle the universe had thrown at me. I’ve already covered the concussion issue a few times, so I didn’t want to focus on that for yet another week. Truthfully, I’m tired of thinking about concussions, and symptoms. As much fun as they are.

I have lots of those “looped conversations” in my life (you’ve probably noticed a few in my posts.. I natter about the same things over and over sometimes (sorry)). Whether it’s about school (which courses am I taking, what order, with who, planning the final years of my degree, etc), riding, working (you’re doing how many jobs?!), time management, diet, and it goes on. I often refer to my life as being 3 separate lives, my time being split between studies, riding, and work- with some time left over for my own fitness and friends and family. All those things kind of tie into each other though, and more and more I am finding ways to integrate all those different parts of me into one big me. The things I study not only have drastically improved my riding and fitness, but also changed the way I think about things. Work not only pays for riding, but more than one of my jobs also lets me use skills I’ve developed through both sport, school, and past experience. My friends and family are a big part of the reason I can handle all those different things at once. With all these things going on and feeding into each other, how could I not have lots to talk about to those around me- but also within myself. Those conversations didn’t necessarily stop when all the other things got put on hold. You may have picked up from the earlier posts regarding this injury (and other for that matter), that I wasn’t in the best state of mind.. necessarily.. when it came to accepting the whole rest and recovery idea. I looked for every excuse I could find- going as far as asking many of the people in my life for advice, somewhat hoping they would say something that I could interpret towards not slowing down and just pushing through. Luckily for me, I was only met with the answer I needed to hear (over and over again). So while those ongoing conversations inside my head are something that keep me moving and determined so much of the time, this week I had to work towards using them to do the exact opposite.

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Nothing.

Surprisingly, I actually was able to also quiet all those conversations in the process. Which was actually really nice. I spent a couple days just laying in the sun, on a dock, on the river. Listening to the birds, instagraming the crap out of the scenery, sprouting more freckles, and just doing and thinking nothing. Absolutely nothing. How’s that for brain rest? To steal a quote from a friend, being a “human being, not a human doing”.

When I wasn’t doing nothing, I was doing passive activities like making paleo cheesecake, napping, instagraming pictures of my food, testing my concentration levels, and visiting my horse (while being watched like a hawk by M- I swear, he thinks I’m going to somehow spontaneously melt). Speaking of the horse- A HUGE thank you to everyone at the barn who as gotten him out of the stall for me every once in a while (looking at you Lauren, Laura, Megg, and Marilyn). So comforting to know that he is in good hands.

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So now we’re entering Week 3 of recovery. Here is where I attempt a slow progression back into my regular lifestyle (don’t worry I have permission this time). Slow being key. I started by a short, easy 3 mile ride on the stationary bike while at work. Exercise progression starts with aerobic, once I am back to a higher intensity on that front I can move back into resistance training and riding. I worked a full day yesterday, and felt great.

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The absolute mountain of paperwork I was greeted with Monday morning. Just screams “welcome back” doesn’t it?

After work I made the mistake of trying to work on my case study- and had to stop after 20 minutes because of dizziness. I was only able to work half a day at my full time job this morning, as the dizzy spells were aggravated by my tasks at work. Should have seen that coming as when I woke up in the morning and was getting my stuff ready, I tried to pack my phone charger which I was convinced was my water bottle. Can’t explain that one. Tomorrow I’ll try a full day again. The only on-going symptom left over is fatigue. I just can’t seem to get my energy back. The doctor said that was likely, and that with time it would return. It’s still very much one day at a time. Definitely hit my head a lot harder then I originally thought.

How was that for writing about a week of nothing? I tell you I could make an essay out of just about anything. Mad talent.

Below you’ll find many snap shots of food, and random photography from the week. Just for fun.

Wish me luck with getting back to normal, or whatever you call my life!

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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”.

 

 

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

As most of you will know, just from reading this blog or through actually knowing me, I have had ongoing issues with my low back, hip, and shoulder. I’ve incurred most of these injuries if not all of them over the years through falls from riding. None of them overly bad falls, mind you, just because of the repetitive strain and growing weakness in different parts of my body I’ve ended up with constant, on going, problems. It really doesn’t help that up until November of this year (this goes about 5 years back), that I haven’t given my body a break to actually recover or get stronger. I’m sure I’ve annoyed many a physio/AT doing this. Sorry.

This summer was definitely the worst. I made next to no progress with therapy and exercises, but I also wasn’t willing to take a break from riding. Things got a little better after my last show, where I was finally able to take a few weeks and prepare for my trip to NZ and not worry about riding. Although things got better, I could tell the issue was still there. Nevertheless, I was determined to carry on with my plan to work at LC. No matter the cost to my body. After all, how much worse could it get? I’m so smart sometimes. The first while at LC, my back help up okay- it was more the shoulder that gave me problems. As I started riding more at the farm, however, the back issues kicked in again. By this point I had already decided that I hated it there and I wanted to leave. I still stuck it out another month, in which my back and hip got a whole lot worse. After I left the farm I was sure things would start improving again. And they did, for about 2 weeks. Then everything just went downhill again. The past 2-3 weeks, nothing I’ve done has deterred my back and hip from being constantly annoying. I was really hoping to avoid having to call in the pros while over here. Unfortunately though, I ended up going to a physio/osteotherapist today to get it checked out.. for the 5th time this year.

I’ve been told a couple different things over this year as to what’s going on with my body. I started out going to a Chiro in Carman, who basically told me nothing and fixed the problem for time periods of about 2 weeks. Useful. From there I say a physio in Carman, who told me I had a sprained hip. Sort of useful, but he also didn’t really tell me how to fix it, and stopped trying once he realized that I wasn’t going to quit riding in the meantime. This was around Xmas of 2010. After this, I started going to athletic therapy at the U of W. This is where I’ve had the most success. Here was the first time my SI joint was even brought up, and focused on. And I did start improving. I continued with this therapy all summer- as I refused to quit riding I never really progressed past the point of fixing the problem, but never actually fully recovering, and three weeks later ending back in the basement of the Duckworth being massaged and stretched. Because of this, I never really got a chance to purely strength train, without the added strain of riding consistently- which is what was needed. In August things started getting worse, really worse, and my AT sent me to Legacy Sports Clinic to get a second opinion. This was probably the most useless of them all. He basically told me that there was nothing wrong with me, and that I’m still at an age where I should be indestructible and all I need to do is up my strength training. He was probably right about the strength training, but when you’ve been in severe pain for a long time- you don’t really want somebody to tell you you’re fine. It makes you think you’re completely insane. So, for the rest of the summer I continued seeing my AT and making baby steps towards recovery.

This time around I was told something completely different, and useful. Instead of being told I have weakness in my core, and I need to strengthen that more to solve all my issues- it was my upper back and shoulders that were focused on. The weakness there is causing the issues in my left side SI and hip. Makes sense when you actually think about it. Especially when you look at riding form. The osteotherapist I saw explained to me that when one is riding, if they’re weak in there lat muscles it cause your shoulders to roll forward and the muscles in your seat are put through a lot more strain because of the position you’re in due to the poor posture. Weakness in your lat muscles can be cause from many different things, one of those being injuries in your rotator cuff (shoulder) muscles. He did some sort of cool muscle release, alignment, decompression stuff with me. The best way to describe it I guess would be something in between, or a love child of, traditional chiro and massage work. But it’s different from anything else I’ve had before. If you want more info on what Osteotherapy is, google provides quite a lot of info! I noticed immediate results. The day after seeing him was the first pain free day I’ve had in a very long time. Probably since I left home actually. It probably helps that I didn’t run off to ride or compete the day after (or the same day) as being treated.

Recovery is a choice. And it’s really starting to sink in that if I want to seriously pursue riding in the future, now is the time to get my shit together and make sure I have the body to do so. It just so happens that I’m 10,000 miles away from any temptation to ride my horse. How lucky! For years I’ve always had the view that the only way to advance in the sport was to do nothing but ride, and then ride some more. I wasn’t able to do that over the years because of other commitments, all of which improved me as an all-around athlete and person. It caused me a lot of stress to know that I was always going to be one, two, or three steps behind other riders who could commit all their time to the sport. And then when I was finally able to commit more to the sport, it caused me physical pain to do so. I really, really hope that I can use this time away from home to get stronger so that when I get home I can continue improving. Even though I’m not riding for the next 6 months, I’m training my body in different ways that will help in the long way. I have a great horse and great coaches waiting for me. It’s up to me now to make my goals happen.

5 days until I fly to Christchurch… 10 days until the big surprise! Ah! 

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