Immersion

If last weeks theme was feeling overwhelmed, this weeks theme is “I think I got this?”

Note the slight lack of certainty.

There is something about being surrounded by the student AT family who are all equally stressed about pretty much all the same things constantly that has brought back my cool, calmness.

So much about what we do as athletic therapy students (and graduates) is about jumping right in and just taking it as it comes. Really. You can’t fight against the current here. When you find yourself on field with no certified to answer your questions in person, and you have one athlete with a dislocated shoulder calmly (surprisingly) laying on the ground saying he can’t move his arm, two others waiting less patiently to be taped, 25 other players grouped around the first kid gawking, a currently injured athlete standing on the field yelling “you’re a wimp, you’re not actually hurt!” at players who come off the field injured (usually significantly) in between flirting with the water girls, coaches yelling things like “you are not brothers today.. you’re enemies! Let’s see what you can do!”, and kids getting absolutely smoked, getting up, coming off the field, and matter-of-factly stating “what happened? I can’t remember..?”…. all within an hour… you have to acknowledge this as a normal wednesday, go with the flow, and deal with it. Don’t worry about the numb hands, you can tape just fine with them. Palpating an acute injury doubles as icing when it’s 10deg and windy on a Manitoba fall evening. Jump in there… awkward injured teenagers are waiting.

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So far this week has been all about immersing myself back into a routine. I’ve found myself in many positions (partly volunteered) of leadership already, between being head therapist with football, c0-president of KSA, and just generally being a final year student. People ask more of you, people expect more of you, and you expect more of you. The first week of this new realisation terrified me, but so far the second week has reminded me that I’m ready to tackle all this (and hopefully fare better then my football players).

As classes got rolling this week, I thanked summer me for pushing myself to almost crazy squeezing all the extra reading, clinic time, and field work that I did manage to. It’s already made 4 super intimidating courses seem a little less mental. The switch back to super-human scheduler has begun. I’ve noticed that (so far) I don’t find myself feeling like prep reading for class is as dreaded. I actually just do it without thinking. And I usually actually find it quite interesting. Which in turn also helps to make these courses seem more manageable. Studying is so much easier when it doesn’t feel like work! Now I just have to figure out a way to get my brain to shut off for bed time. It wants to just keep on rolling 24hrs a day! Luckily, I never really find myself low on energy (again, so far). I still manage to find time to have car naps, a habit a started this summer too. And, as my boss at the gym pointed out one day after coming in stressed as I could be (during week 1)… “you still have time to work out, so things must not be too bad). I’m making a conscious effort this year to take time each day for me, even if that’s just a car nap. This is in an attempt to keep myself from the colossal melt down that usually happens around January.

This past weekend we welcomed home the newest addition to the hobby farm… Lucy (already sometimes “Lucifer”)! She will the the new project, now the Felix is almost all grown up. Of course he isn’t going anywhere fast, and Lucy has a few years yet before we’re riding her as she’s only just 4mos old now. What we’ve learned so far is that she loves people, but not in the mornings.

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The rest of this week brings another football game (on my birthday of course), plans to spend time with friends and family over the weekend bringing in the 22nd year, and hopefully a continued progression of immersing myself into a comfortable stress/study/function level for this semester.

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A super productive weekend.. studying.. (…sleeping)

If one dreams about reading notes and making study guides.. does that count?

This week seemed both really long, and like it disappeared way too quickly. I’m going to keep this one brief, as I can’t really remember many events from the week right now anyway. Here are some of the memorable moments:

  • Coconut pumpkin cashew chicken curry, on sticky coconut rice noodles, courtesy of Wednesday night wine and dine with Emily. Probably the best recipe we’ve made yet!
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  • Walking onto the IG field for our final game on Friday! If you want to feel like a real badass, that is how to do it. Plus, they had sideline heaters. Seriously. I had to compete with players half the game for a spot in front of it.. I lost majority of the time.. because, well, they are twice my size.. BUT STILL. It was super cool to play on the “big kid field” under the lights. Makes one feel important!
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    And so my football season is over. I have Friday’s back, but I haven’t figured out what to fill the time with quite yet. While I don’t have the energy to reflect on it now, trust me- there will be a full katmah style reflective post on football coming soon.
  • Grandpa’s birthday dinner with the famjam. Always a good time when the Rance’s go out. 85 and looking young!
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  • My hair is long! Almost!
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  • Sonny at HC actually listened to me this week. Huh? It’s like we’re making progress or something. We’ve been working so hard on getting the left lead and balancing his canter out. This week we actually picked up the lead with little to no issue. While we did do more bucking then smooth cantering.. the bucking was at least on the correct lead. I’m taking that as a win.
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  • I accomplished nothing this weekend. Besides sleeping. And hanging out with a dog I’m dog sitting. I did open my Assessment textbook for almost 2 hrs today. Whether or not any of the information got off the page into my brain is another story. I also started to study my First Responder text, but then I fell asleep… Soo.. there’s always tomorrow.. right?
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    This coming week I’m looking forward to more studying, and practicing. I live such an exciting life! The countdown is on til the series of 9 final exams hit and my life becomes even more exciting. Can’t you wait to hear me whine about it?!
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Quarters (cold)-Semis (colder)-Finals (likely frozen)!

Copy and pasted from my student blog, I will be writing another post on the rest of my life the past week- but this will have to satisfy you until I finish this damn 12-pager paper I’m procrastinating on. Enjoy! 

Frozen toes and superman spats all the way to finals

The Clansmen have surprised many a doubter the past couple weeks and are on their way to finals! I love working with the underdog team. Frozen massage tables (and fingers/toes) aside- I’m really excited to see this team make it all this way (also to play in the IG stadium!!).

We assessed Frost the snowman just before this picture was taken…….
Me being a dork during our quarter-final game

So yeah, we won quarter finals. That game was a great game to watch, and we even had some injuries to deal with during! The first being a quad contusion, which I ended up doing return to play for as Nikki was called out to the field to another injured player. It basically went from me observing her assessing the quad injury to her hucking a roll of elastic tape at me and yelling “compression!” as she ran onto the field. That was how I ended up doing my first quad compression wrap and return to play functional testing. By the time I ran said contused (is that even a word?) player through testing and sent him back onto the field, Nikki had returned with a possible ankle fracture (x-rays resulted in only a severe bone bruise and sprain the the medial side). Here I got to help with my first on-field splinting. The rest of the game seemingly passed with no more notable injuries, until after the game when a player came up to us exclaiming he had a broken finger. As Nikki assessed him, it was pretty clear there was some sort of fracture present (he pretty much dropped with pain as she palpated the mid-phalange). He was referred for imaging (player was of age, so parents were not called). The next morning after finding out the player had gone in for surgery that night, we found out he had numerous fractures to the finger. Can anyone say burst fracture?

                                                                      So that was fun.
Taping before that game I got to practice some tape-jobs I hadn’t seen or done since P&C. Again, mostly because Nikki was being swarmed by anxious players pre-game- I got tape tossed at me and vague directions/reminders on how to do an elbow hyperextension and all-around wrist tape. I know, I know, not hard- but still somewhat new for me at that point!
This week brought semi-finals, which somehow we also won. Is it bad that I was pretty sure this was going to be my last game this season? Again, loving the underdogs! I noticed during pre-game taping this time that some players who I hadn’t taped too often were definitely more willing to come to me for taping instead of going to Nikki first, and then coming to me as a last resort. It was a nice confidence boost to be able to tape their ankles, thumbs, and wrists and have them be satisfied. Especially before an important game. Continuing with what worked for them in quarter finals, Nikki spatted one player with superman tape- which resulted in a pretty cool look (little did the player know, they sort of looked like polka dotted underwear pattern from field side lol)
Nikki and the (In)Famous Superman Spats
The boys showed their underdog spirit in this game, that was for certain. The two significant injuries we had in this game was a 2nd degree ish MCL sprain (maybe, jury is still out on that). Player came off complaining that his knee gave out and originally had pain on the posterior aspect of the knee. Strength was good, and no laxity. The pain then moved more to the medial aspect of the patella and was somewhat difficult to provoke with special tests. The on site doctor had a look at it and decided it was the inner portion of the MCL that was irritated. The other significant injury was a concussion- which I got to run an assessment/SCAT on (weooo look at me go) and after the game I even got to call the parents!
The athlete was definitely not quite feeling right, but still maintained his smiley and happy-go-lucky attitude through the whole thing. Luckily this was a player I had interacted with before, so it made assessing him a little easier. We decided to refer him to see a doctor that night, because while on the sidelines with me he started to develop more symptoms (dizziness/headache) which hadn’t been there when we first talked to him.
Headed to the field for the Semi Final game
I’m going to have to say the concussion assessment was probably my most significant moment over the past couple weeks. Assessing has been a source of panic for me in the past, but it’s getting easier for me to chill out and do my job. Related to this, this weekend I ran a shoulder assessment on my step-dad (classic RC tendinitis/pathy) and that combined with the concussion assessment I did on Friday were the first two assessments I’ve done where I haven’t A) blanked and had my thought process turned to profanities or B) ran the assessment and then realized afterwards I forgot something rather significant like PROM or palpation. Yeah, that seriously has happened. Please tell me I’m not the only one?
Another significant moment was remembering hot packs to have in my mitts this week. Oh my god can I hug whoever invented those?
Goals? Besides remembering hot packs for my toes next week, and getting a picture in the big kid stadium… I’d like to continue honing my assessment skills on whatever opportunities come up over the next week. It’s been really cool reflecting back on how much I’ve grown over the season. I’m really glad it’s not quite over yet, because I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Friday nights when football is over. It’s provided me with so many great learning experiences (most of them by literally being thrown into something and having to tape, assess, refer, or call Nikki, out of). Anyway, I’ll save all that fluffy stuff for next time.
If you see me before our game next Friday, remind me to pack my hand and toe warmers so I don’t forget!

Dates with Confidence and Humbleness

Below is an excerpt from the blog I keep for UW’s AT program, as part of my final grade in the practical aspect of the courses. I thought I’d share that with you as majority of my time this past week has been spent on school related things- most of which I encompass in that post. I am working on another post to put up here in the next few days (maaaybe even today) that will cover some of the other things going on in my life! Patience!

“Ah, the life of a student- especially an AT student. There is one word we can all identify with, I’m sure, by this point in the year. Exhaustion.

Between classes, football, work (where I’m getting to do some clinical things as well), and a few other extra curriculars- I’m learning a new definitely of tired; physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, even while being completely exhausted majority of the time- I’ve had a great couple weeks experience wise!

Football has been pretty quiet the past couple weeks. Unfortunately I am only able to be there game days right now, but I hear all about the week’s practices on Fridays while doing the pre-game taping. Our game last week came with a tough loss for the team, but a thrilling 5th digit PIP joint dislocation and an interesting contusion to lateral aspect of the knee with some irritation of the sub-patellar bursa. This week’s game was even quieter, with the only coming off the field was a decent ankle inversion sprain.

I know you’re all dying to know how my heel-locks are doing. Last weekend, since I’d been making slow progress, I decided to spend a good chunk of time dedicated to perfecting my heel-lock. So I stole a friend’s ankle and went to work. I’m happy to report that this week at football not only did I absolutely nail my heel-locks- but also incorporated some very nice figure-8 heel-locks into my ankle inversion taping. Maybe some of Ron O’Neil’s magic rubbed off on me, or maybe my muscle memory is starting to finally wake up- but I’m not having near as much trouble with angles as I was even a week ago. Yay!

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The most significant AT related moment for me the past two weeks came not from the football field, but rather from working with a few clients at work with the AT there. When I’m on shift at the same time as Claude he usually has me help out with a few clients, one of which I’ve been stretching for the past 4-5wks as well as helping with some exercises. This client is a rugby player and quite a bit bigger than I am, and Claude had me start doing stretches with him so I could gain some experience with how to get my biomechanics right when pnf-ing clients who have the size advantage. It’s definitely a more challenging experience- especially with a table that’s not adjustable. It took me a few weeks to figure out what positions worked best for me and still got the job done. The past two weeks the client himself has pointed out how much more effective I’ve gotten. My favourite quote thus far has been “either she’s getting stronger or I’m getting weaker every week”. Claude’s response to that was “she’s just gaining confidence in her abilities”. Fist pump moment. This experience has also helped me in stretching some of my footballers pre-game.

A more embarrassing moment from the past couple weeks, comes again from the clinic at work, where I was observing a new assessment on a shoulder with Claude. We had just covered this in assessment and I was following along quite easily. Until Claude started quizzing me. Simple questions like “what muscle does this?” or “what am I pointing to right now?” or “what’s your IOS based on what we’ve got so far?”. While part of my brain was saying “supraspinatus”, “teres minor”, and “ RC impingement or bursa issues”, the other part which was connected to my mouth was going “uhhhhhh…crap.. I know.. just give me a minute…”. #awkward

So that was good.. There’s always something to keep us humble, right?

My goals for the next couple weeks are to obviously have less “@#$% I don’t know” moments both at work and on the field. I feel like the only way to have less of those is to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone by saying yes to every opportunity I get to do an assessment, or at least be involved. Eventually my brain will hop on board the thinking train.”

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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Shakka! Aka, elephant.

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

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

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

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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.

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

Of goals and other fluffy things

So I’m officially in my third year of University. Does that trip anybody else out, or just me? On the outside I look like a put together jaded 3rd year student, scoffing at first years and way over waiting in lines for anything. On the inside I’m still trying to figure out how I’m almost finished my Bachelor’s degree, and what the real world is. Things are getting real. Fast.

Besides the fact that it feels like my summer was a week long (oh wait, it was), it feels nice to be back on campus. It’s a very familiar place to be, and seeing all the familiar faces of the faculty makes it even better. I am getting the feeling, however, that this year is going to be more focused on dealing with the unfamiliars and the new rather than the comfort of a classroom or lab. Third year is the year legendary for AT students. It’s make it or break it time.

It’s going to take some effort to get my brain back into full school mode. It’s still thinking concentration is optional. Which is less than ideal. I do have to give it some credit, though, as it’s handled many new experiences the past few weeks with regards to football and life in general- and for the most part taken them in stride. During said experience, anyway. My ability to deal with a laceration to the thigh of a player, or tape an ankle, or assess a new injury has grown so much over the past couple weeks. In the moment not much can phase me. I’m hoping that eventually the time it takes me to resume a normal thought process after practices comes down- as right now I’m pretty much a zombie for the remainder of the day. My big happy dance moment for today’s practice was absolutely nailing my ankle inversion tape job. I’ve been practicing it everyday as I tape a couple of the players on a regular basis- but today after a weekend off taping all together, the stars aligned and nothing could get in the way of my heel-locks. Heck yes!

We have our first game this Friday, and while I’m excited for yet another first experience in the AT world, that excitement also comes with an overwhelming sense of nervousness. Again, mostly because it’s new and a big first in my career. I’m so lucky to have a great AT supervising and teaching me, as well as a great Faculty behind me. Here’s hoping I’m able to keep my cool during and after Friday’s game!

I’ve been in the process of setting a few goals for myself for this school year, most of them are focused around my basic survival- some are just for fun.

1) Keep my nutrition on track. 

This is going to be an interesting one, mostly because it really will require me to be a big girl about buying groceries, planning meals, and cooking. Like, really cooking. Why is this important for my survival? Other than the basic human need to eat, I will function so much better if I put a little extra effort into eating the right things for what my body needs. I’ve learned the hard way that nothing goes well for me if I try and live off KD. The fact that I have scheduled Wednesday evenings to try new recipes with my bestie is going to help, I think. There won’t be any KD cooked on those nights, I can guarantee that.

2) Not over schedule my already over scheduled schedule. 

Say that one 5 times fast.

But seriously. Within this week, I’ve already said yes to one, potentially two (equally awesome) opportunities that while giving me great experience and connections have completely filled up my time table. One is still on the table, but the one I’ve said yes to came up sporadically, but was impossible to say no to (in this situation I need to really think about how nothing is impossible). Seriously though, I couldn’t really turn up working with three prominent profs, and researchers, teaching and assisting in their older adults exercise class… could I? Not only am I gaining clinical exercise prescription experience, but I’m getting to hang out with three talented and influential professors. The other opportunity would be volunteering with a local riding program, assisting with inner city and troubled youth while they learn how to care and ride horses. I’m meeting with the coordinator tomorrow to talk out some details before I make my decision on that one. Again, it’s going to be hard to say no to an opportunity like that!

3) Follow the work out program I designed

This one is just for fun. You may remember the case study I did this spring, focusing on a exercise program for the elite equestrian athlete. It’s based around an transition (off-season), pre-season, and competitive phase program, and loosely follows the school year (seeing as I designed it loosely based off my own schedule). I got an A on that case study, and I have a bad habit of training too hard in the off-season and burning out, or not training enough and having old injuries reappear (where I’m at currently). I figure seeing as I already put the effort into designing a progressive program, why not see how functional it actually is by following my own advice?

4) Use the text-books I spent a lot of money on. 

Students are notorious for this. I’m saying that because I’m in denial about the fact that I may be the only one who does this. Buying textbooks, having all the intention of studying from them and doing extra reading.. and then they never get opened. I honestly plan on not doing that this year- mostly because I think I wouldn’t get very far in many of my courses if I didn’t. Also because I am legitimately interested in all the topics they cover. It’s going to happen. Seriously, it is.

5) Ask questions

I tend to be the quietest person in class- and then end up emailing the prof asking a bunch of questions I could just have easily asked in person in class. Every year I seem to get more and more confident when it comes to speaking out in class- so maybe this year I’ll finally put on my big girl pants and not be afraid to engage in discussions as much. It will probably help that one of the profs I have for quite a few classes knows me well enough to call me out if I’m avoiding eye contact. Or looking confused. She also knows that I’ve had enough injuries of my own to have valid first had experience, which is nice when in classes like taping or assessment. Long story short, I think I’ll be learning to talk more this year.

 

That’s a very short list of some of the goals I have for myself, starting now. One of the biggest goals for me is to not burn out as hard as I did last year. That goal will be achieved by making an honest effort at the goals listed above, and some not listed. This year is going to be a challenge, mentally and physically. Day one was all that and more, and it was only day one. I never knew I could love something so much, but also just want to curl up in a dark place and hide/nap from the real world too. I’m interested to see how this plays out, and how I go about achieving the goals I have and am still in the process of setting. I always make them happen one way or another.

Right? Right.

Lessons, Habits, Progress

Decided to take a study break to write a post. And now I have writers block. THANKS BRAIN.

We’re in the home stretch. Only two exams left this week- after a quite successful run of five.  Found out today that I got a 94% on the psychology paper I wrote on the power dynamics Eric Lamaze used to influence the series of events surrounding the disqualification of Tiffany Foster from the olympics and FEI’s hypersensitivity protocol. I also got a B on my A&P lab exam, and a B+ on my P&C practical. Both those written exams felt very good as well, so hoping for good results there.

Besides studying like crazy, I’ve been working as much as I can, as well as riding and working out. So basically the past month all aspects of my life have been colliding into one big happy fun time. There were a couple weeks in there where I managed to pick up around 4-5 shifts in the week, as well as got out to the barn 5 times (as well as other forms of exercise), and wrote 1-2 exams. There is a reason “time-management skills”  has it’s own section on my resume. I’m getting used to living out of my car and using gas stations for wardrobe changes. Between driving across the city for work and play, and out to the country for training, I don’t have a lot of time to spend at Ainslie St. The time that used to be taken up by classes is quickly being replaced by five billion other things. Speaking of which I should really figure out when my spring class starts.

As of today I’ve had three lessons with M&C, and they have all brought significant improvements (for both me and Willard). The first lesson was really fun. We focused on grid work, and it was clear the Willard missed jumping over things. I felt great in the tack, confident and focused. The second lesson was a bit different. I was less focused to begin with, but that quickly changed as the lesson progressed. In the beginning I was sluggish in the saddle, my back hurt and my knee was not enjoying much of anything. Then I realized how much I was falling into old bad habits (hip angle too closed, shoulders forward, leg back). Then I thought about all that work I put into that biomechanics project I did my first term, and between that and Charlene manually adjusting my position in the saddle, I quickly fixed my own biomechanics and had quite a productive lesson after that. Just took me a while to wake up that time apparently. But it was an enlightening lesson for me in many ways, one of those ways seeing how my education- all those technical things about the human body I’ve been studying all year- are truly helping me to progress as a rider. It’s helping me change my perspective on things like those pesky old bad habits I’ve been trying to banish for so long. I stumbled across a quote the other day that fits this situation.. “When bad habits are hard to break, try bending them”. A lot of it is about perception.

That lesson showed me that I am well on my way to gaining new perspective, and that maybe those habits won’t always hinder me- but instead help me to progress further.

Oh, and the horse was good too.

My lesson today was much more focused (from my view anyway). Since Willard is still pretty enthusiastic about the whole jumping idea (sound effects included). We did quite a bit of transition work, before and after jumps. While is is very keen to jump, he is listening much better than even a few weeks ago. Where he used to grab the bit and launch himself at jumps, he was waiting with me for deeper distances and actually rounding himself over the jumps (of course followed by a squeal and a buck after because apparently it feels really good to jump oxers lately). Today there was only some of that, moreso after the jumps opposed to before. Charlene thinks that one more week and this “spring freshness” should be out of his system. Can’t blame him really, jumping IS pretty fun.

The biggest difference I’m noticing in my riding so far this season is that I am also better at waiting in the tack. Previously I had a tendancy to see a distance, and wait for it, but let myself fall forward in anticipation- which would throw the horse off, and lead to a chip or a extra stride before the jump. Whether it be my common sense progressing, my improved over all fitness, or M&C’s strategies working (probably all three), it brings a lot more confidence into my ride. For both horse and rider.

So that’s riding covered. The only other sort of interesting news I have that is fitness related is that I’ve finally started making ground with my pesky quad injury. After a few months arguing with it (especially during running), with the help of my ATs awesome/horribly painfully effective thumbs and elbows, as well as well planned rehab exercises, it has progressed from quitting at 1 mile, then to 2 miles, and now last week we were up to 3 miles before it started feeling like WWIII was taking place in my left leg and glutes. That day I also did a 5 miler maintaining a 10:30min/mile pace! Personal best for this kid! My training has kind of shifted from being in the gym 5 days a week to being in the barn 5 days a week mixed with more running and more body weight/pilates style exercises. I’ve found that for now, with my schedule and what is most effective for my lifestyle at the moment, this is the program that works right now. I still try and do a heavy lifting day 1-2 times a week, because it really is effective for me as a rider. I’m really looking forward to this summer to expand my training more with new ideas that come up!

Between everything else, the mission to solve my GI problems is continuing. The naturopath I consulted in March originally suspected parasite, while the Gastroenterologist recently suggested it definitely was not a parasite, and although I don’t have too many of the symptoms, Crohn’s might be the case and would like to proceed with a colonoscopy to confirm, which I said I would consider after all the other tests came back. I did stool and saliva testing for the Naturopath, and more blood tests for the Gastroenterologist. The GI guy was correct on the parasites, as I saw the naturopath today and got my test results back. The tests also showed some inflammation in my small intestines, but that could correlate with the high levels of yeast, bacterial growth, and gluten build-up also present. So while I wait the next 2 months for my Gastroenterologist to get blood test results, the naturopath has put me on 3 different herbal supplements to rid my gut of the bad bacteria, yeast, and gluten- as well as recommended I try out a restricted diet. Restricted being the understatement of the year.

Long story short (seriously though, I got a 100-page reference package), I am to avoid all gluten, dairy, and sugar- limit my fruit intake and bump up my veggie intake. I’m not sure how my Starbuck’s addiction feels about this. However, while I initially panicked because, lets face it, that is a lot of things I can’t eat, I then realized that my diet lately has been shifting that direction anyway. It will definitely take a little more time and effort on my part to make the complete shift, but I have been looking at the “paleo” way of life for a while, and this restricted diet is not too far off that line of thinking. The past month or so, I have been feeling really good, and during that past month I’ve been eating less starchy/processed stuff. So maybe, hopefully, the naturopath is onto something with this. Either way, it’s a new adventure.. or maybe challenge is a better word! I hope to make time to record some of how it goes on here, so if you’re interested make sure you stay tuned!

I finish exams Wednesday, where I will get approximately a 12hr break before I start full-time at the Manitoba Major Soccer League as their program coordinator for the summer. It’s sure to be a crazy summer (per usual), while I keep around 10 hrs a week in shifts at the gym, plus full time at MMSL, riding, showing, spring courses, and everything else in between. Bring it on!

 

 

That familiar-unfamiliar feeling

What a week! Classes are done finally and now it’s just wading through the 5 exams this month until I can shift my focus completely to work and riding (and my spring course..)!

Today I dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on my new summer job. This job will keep me in the city for the summer. While there is a certain amount of excitement about the job itself, and the experience it will give me, there is also a feeling quite similar to one I had frequently while overseas. The being outside of your comfort zone and growing up type feeling. Something new, something exciting, something maybe a little bit scary? It seems ridiculous to compare the two- staying in the city for the summer, somewhere already pretty familiar to travelling across the world, alone. But, is the first summer I will spend away (away is dramatic- its only an hour) from home. It seems to be eliciting some homesickness-like vibes.

So much of this past year has been about putting myself outside of my comfort zone- taking on the unfamiliar and the scary- and finding out where it takes me. That unfamiliarity is almost normal. Its starting to seem that just when I get used to one thing, I find a new challenge to take on. That’s what pursuing higher education is about though, right? Sometimes its not even an unfamiliar challenge that pops up- it quite often is something familiar to me, a challenge I have dealt with and worked through already, but presented in a new way. Demanding that I re-look at how I faced it before and develop a new game plan for how to deal with it now.

Those who know me best know that I love taking on a challenge. Which is why, although the unfamiliarity of stepping outside of that comfort zone is usually terrifying, I have been consciously making the effort to do it more and more. I can’t lie, it is completely exhausting, deflating, and runs me down some of the time. However, the changes I have noticed in myself as a student, friend, athlete, young professional, etc etc, show what that effort is providing me with. I am able to set goals and work towards them with confidence, even if the road along the way isn’t one I’ve travelled before.

Everyday is a new adventure, yadda yadda.

That got deep fast.

Apparently there are lots of things floating around in my head right now.

To summarize, summer job= staying in the city= mixed feelings.

I’ve had two rides on the grey beast since moving him to McMullans for some spring butt kicking. He has been exceptional both times. Tonight consisted of about 45 minutes of bending, and transition. His transitions are so so nice (miraculously) even now after the winter off- that is- until about the 30 minute mark when the energy levels start to dwindle. When we started our hack today he was floating around the ring in great balance, bending around my leg like nobody’s business. But as we continued to work- the whole floating thing went down the spectrum a bit, and he relied a little bit more my hands instead of carrying himself. It was good to spend a bit longer with him tonight, to see where we are at in terms of lateral work and general flat work. Fitness wise, he is way above my expectations. The biggest thing for the next little while is going to be reminding him how to balance himself, and getting some fluidity/impulsion back into his trot. And of course reminding my body what it is like to be in the saddle on a regular basis!

B for Brrr

Biomechanical Analysis of Rising Trot

Above you’ll find a link to the paper version of the project I worked on over the fall term for my Biomechanics class. If you have a moment, give it a read!

My winter term started off quite quietly, but soon enough reminded me how crazy my life can be. The most exciting part of the past week or so for me was getting back my marks from last term- passing stats (with a C even!) and most of all my big biomech project! I got a B in everything (except stats), and on the project we got an A.. plus my prof said it was one of the better presentations she’s seen. And that I was on the top end of the exam marks wise. Happy dance!!! Biomechanics is definitely one of the courses I had to work the hardest at, but it’s also the one I miss the most right now. My favourite class this term is definitely Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries. Mostly because yesterday we were learning massage in class- which meant practice time in lab. Nothing wrong with free massages.   It’s a good thing I like this class, as it is my Saturday 9-2:30. Exhausting, but awesome.

It didn’t take me long to get completely exhausted by my new schedule. Six days a week of classes, while being better then having evening classes, is still unbelievably tiring. Sundays I usually sleep. All day. I’m usually a zombie by about Thursday. So if you need something from me, talk to me before that. My life has literally only consisted of school lately, so I really don’t have much to write at the moment.I just wanted to post a link to that paper so anyone who is interested could take a read! To all the riders out there reading this, maybe it will help make sense out of why your coach tells you to do certain things! Or why you should listen to those suggestions. Working on this project definitely shed some light on a different perspective of the sport for me. It’s amazing what tweaking one seemingly little insignificant movement can do to improve or hinder.

Here’s me making a crazy face. Just for fun.

IMG_2056

 

Maybe I’ll come up with something interesting to write about one of these days. Until then, stay warm (if you’re in Winnipeg), and stay cool (if you’re somewhere warm).