The tale of a cursed AT.. School post #3 (or 4?)

Long time no post. Football took off like a rocket and had me running for the last month or so. Injuries galore!! My poor rookie team took a beating this season, and their first and last playoff game was no piece of cake.

About three weeks ago in a game we used every single splint we had, and one kid we thought fractured his already casted hand… again. After that game I had a week or so of absolutely nothing, which was odd. Turns out it was just the calm before the storm. My next week started with an ambulance call for c-spine at practice. I had been driving away from the tail-end of practice when I saw a kid go down and not get up before I drove away. So I backed back into my parking spot and headed over where a coach had been and left him sitting in the field alone. He was sitting up and had his helmet off when I got to him so I began chatting with him. His helmet had been slammed into the back of his neck when he was forced into extension in a tackle. All his pain was around C3-4. No neurological symptoms or referred pain, and good strength in the extremities. At this point in time I was sitting on the field with him, one hand on his head half stabilizing c-spine, while trying to get a coach’s attention (they were on the far side of the field and not listening). So finally I just told the kid to stay as still as he could and went and consulted with the coaches. My only option really was to call an ambulance as I didn’t want to just send the kid home, but was pretty sure he was just bruised too. So, thats what we did. In a weird, unorganized way, I got the kid to my table, got his equipment off and had him laying down while I had one of my injured kids run around and get my phone from my car (which was full of laundry… awkward), and called an ambulance. The coach called the mom while I stabilized, dealt with the fire fighters (who were cute but clueless), and then finally the paramedics. Luckily I ended up knowing one of the EMTs, as the other one who didn’t know me tried to boot me out of the boarding process at c-spine.. the paramedic I knew stuck up for me and I ended up getting to lead the boarding process! The kid ended up being just fine and was back into play a week later.

Our final game brought two more splint and referrals, plus many runs onto the field. A friend of mine who is a photographer came and took quite a few trainer shots- which was pretty fun!

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My most embarrasing moment EVER occured in this game when I got a player off the field with a possible tib/fib fx and was beginning my assessement by taking off his cleat and sock (super carefully as this kid was losing his mind with pain). I finally get everything off and ask him to wiggle his toes.. and he sits up and looks at me and says.. Sure, I can do that. this foot feels fine.. it’s the other one.

-_-

Of course the entire team, plus Nikki, plus the doctor were all standing there. After this it all went smoothly until I was trying to tput together a new splint… Those things are not as easy as the old ones we use for practice! Not much of a “speed” splint.

I also had a pretty sweet dislocated thumb.. The athlete was generous enough to let me take a picture of it!

**I’ll post later pic later…my phone is dying!**

After all this I had a couple days off, where I had all of my stuff stolen (stupid downtown), and then got to attend my first hockey game with a new team no fanny pack (I felt naked). There was no such thing as an easing in peirod as within 3 minutes I was out on the ice for the other team. As the ref escorted me the players surrounding the kid down kept yelling “his leg is broken, it’s his femur!!!”. All I could think was “there is no flipping way this kid broke his femur.”. Granted, I am under some sort of curse currently, that would still be a stretch. So I get to him, and he’s freaking out. He slid knee first into the boards and was now having severe pain mid-proximal thigh. He had very limited will to move, and after talking to him for a couple minutes and palpating what I could I called the “team doc” out onto the ice. This is a parent who told me all his credentials about 4 times upon meeting me. Anyway, he came out and agreed that it was unlikely it was broken but maybe x-rays were a good idea anyway. I love when the doc agrees with me! So we got him off the ice and into a change-room and an ambulance was called. I thne left the doc and parents with him and went back to my bench where I got to deal with a VMO strain, a puck to the thumb, and a likely trap strain. Apparently this is the most injuries they’ve had in one game ever. Usually this amount is spread over 6 games. Cursed, I tell you!

So now I have a couple weeks to unwind, as they don’t play until November again.. and football is done (I miss it already..). What do I plan on doing? Catching up on all the school work I’ve neglected, replace all the things I had stolen (all my ID and personal info, my business cards, my medical equipment…sigh), and maybe even taking a couple mental health days to get rid of this “curse” I’m apparently under.

Beginning the End

After my last first day in the undergrad… it’s safe to say my brain is mush already.  

To end off my summer, I really made a point of relaxing and just doing the things I wanted to. This gave me a total of 5 days of summer. The last few days of my summer job were spent doing next to nothing due to sketchy weather. Then J and I took off for a few days out to the country, and then to my cousin’s hobby ranch (if you can call thousands of acres of farm and pasture land a hobby farm) up in Horod, MB with Mom and Gord, and the rest of the Rance crew for some off the grid relaxation and family time. The scenery in the area of the province is like a slightly less condensed and tropical north NZ.. so pretty perfect. Over this time my immune system also relaxed and I got a cold, of course. The only way to bring in the school year! 
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The first two days of school have already completely exhausted my mental capacity. Between KSA promotions and organisation, a tough roster of classes, football 24/7, and catching up with familiar faces… it’s been a non-stop week so far. The last two days I’ve had to take an hour or so to just turn off my phone and stop the bombardment of texts, emails, and to-do lists. This, I think, is going to be a regular strategy.. at least until my head clicks back into super student mode (hopefully soon.). 

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Some of the Kin/Watsa execs a O-week!

Usually I’m much more enthusiastic about the first couple weeks of school. Whether it’s the fact that I’m very ready for this to be the last go-around, or like all the other final year AT students am feeling the burden of field and clinic hours crushing my soul.. there isn’t as much crisp new school supplies excitement floating around right now. I have become the jaded AT student, who begrudgingly dedicates majority of any free time to practical hours and somehow manages to study and work paying jobs in between commitments. It’s a interesting place to be, and I’m glad I have a few other students in the same situation as me to battle through this semester with. One thing I did miss was ranting about AT student sorrows and stresses to fellow AT students. 

I’m also looking forward to getting back into the routine. Once I settle back into the grind, I usually find a decent balance in my schedule. Or at least accept it. Acceptance is the key to not mentally imploding. 

If I could tell first year me what I would be handling in my 4th year.. First year me might have permanently stayed in NZ. However.. looking back at all my hard work and stress, the pattern would suggest that I can handle this one last crazy semester.. and once I get through it, I just have another semester left until I’m degreed. The CATA certification stress doesn’t start until after that. So we’re not even going to start talking about that for a few months yet. 

Stay tuned for more brain fried rants as the semester continues! 

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20 written exams, 8 practicals, and 6 papers later…

Another academic year has come to a close (FINALLY), and I am a proud survivor (sometimes thriver) of third year athletic therapy- a year renowned for being among the toughest. 27 exams total, in 10 courses- with countless hours spent practicing- on top of balancing field work in the clinic and the football fields, and somehow finding time to read stuff. It’s safe to see why year 3 is a little (in)famous.

Within this year I got my first taste of the practical side of things, real patient interaction and real emergency response.  Less then 6 months ago if you had put me in a room and told me to effectively assess an injury, deal with it appropriately, and create a rehab program to properly return the patient to appropriate function- there is no way I would have known where to start. If you had thrown me into an emergency scenario and told me to manage it? Disaster might have ensued!

The amount that I’ve learned in what is relatively a very short period of time continues to stun me.  At the same time the amount that I still need to learn, mainly just through experience, is equally as stunning. I set some goals for myself at the beginning of both semesters, and managed to achieve them for the most part. I definitely did much better in the first part of the year, with second semester burnout (and a broken leg) catching me off guard.

Where first semester brought me the self-discipline to get the tough work done efficiently and the ability to be examined practically- second semester taught me to take a step back and do what my body needed to get things done. By the time I got to finals this term, there wasn’t much discipline left- but thankfully there was enough practical and stored knowledge left over to get me through. Practical exams by the end of this year turned into more fun then nerve wracking.

Third year also provided me with a ever growing network of fellow students and colleagues.  With so many opportunities to jump in and get involved, and so many practicals to practice for- it would have been difficult not to become close with classmates. Taking a chance and submitting one of my posts to the national athletic therapy association (CATA) ended up getting it published, which was pretty sweet! Click here for that post. The opportunity also came about for me to do some teaching, both in a fitness respect as well in formal courses with the University. This is definitely something I hope to do more of in the future!

It’s safe to say this year came with some ups and downs. Both time and stress management skills came into action, and one of the most important lessons I learned is probably managing myself under pressure. As an AT student, we deal with a lot of pressure- from our peers, our patients, our profs, the requirements of the degree, and most of all ourselves. Knowing how to micromanage our overwhelmed brains and still extract knowledge to perform is what we do best. It’s a skill we need to do well in our chosen profession, and we need to do it maintaining professionalism and reactivity to our client’s needs.

A concern for me in the past, and especially at the beginning of this year was how I was going to effectively manage to pursue a career in AT as well as continuing my pursuit of my athletic riding goals. Over the last few months I’ve discovered ways in which to optimize my knowledge and practical skills while building a business in the sport I have experience in.

What started as just a training class for riders is ever evolving into new ideas. Since implementing the class I’ve been able to brainstorm with profs over where I might go with this, and recently have begun work on setting up a position assessment program for equestrians- using my knowledge of orthopaedic assessment, biomechanics, and training. I feel very lucky to have endless resources to keep my ideas running, and look forward to developing a directed study on the topic of rider biomechanics and training. As this is an area of the sport not as commonly looked at- I have a chance to create something new to give back to my sport and build a business while maintaining involvement and continuing my own training.

This year I’ve also gotten the chance to step into student politics- and next year will be taking over leadership of the Kinesiology Students Association. I’m excited about the challenge of rebuilding our student involvement schemes in the inaugural year of the brand new athletic and health centre at the University of Winnipeg.

Some key lessons from this year:

  • Day planners are a glorious thing. Thank you moleskin.
  • Athletic tape can be used for many purposes, and should be on hand at all times
  • When people look at you like you’re the one in charge… you should probably do something.
  • It’s okay to not feel guilty about taking a day off.
  • Forgetting your wallet is the only way to ensure you won’t spend money on Starbucks.
  • Smile at the bus driver- because one day you will forget your bus pass and have no change… and it will be -40.
  • Being someone that gets along with everyone is handy.
  • Asking questions is never wrong.
  • Asking for help is never wrong.
  • Saying no is okay.
  • Using crutches to ensure a good spot on the bus is okay.
  • Every prof has a different idea of what APA format is, even if they all recommend the same source for formatting.  You can’t win that battle.
  • Practicals become less scary once you realize that everyone marking you was in the exact same spot as you not too long ago.
  • There is a limit to what you can do.

And so, after writing my last exam on Tuesday- I’ve been enjoying some quiet time. My schedule is dedicated to work, riding, training myself, mental breaks, and doing what I want. I have a week before spring term starts and I’m making the most of the slack schedule (filling it up quicker then I should). Tomorrow I have my first lesson with M&C of the year, and am both excited and nervous. I’ve been back in the saddle for a few weeks now and am feeling pretty good- but not all the way normal yet. However, each time I ride things get better. I’ve been given the okay to begin impact training again by my doctor and ATs- so will hopefully ease my way back into running and conditioning work (now that I’m not hella burnt out and a little motivated again).

 

Among other things I’ve begun writing for MORfit’s blog, and may be publishing pieces on another blog related to rider fitness in the near future. Stay tuned for more on that! Click here for my first post for MORfit, on time management. Hopefully I’ll be a little more motivated to write more for you readers as well, now that my head is out of it’s end of the semester grog.

I also will be working on ideas for the new stream of my functional training for the equestrian business over the next week or so, looking to set up clinics later in May. Funny- biomechanics has become a staple in my goals.. Upon faced with my first ever biomech course and respective project, I was in tears at what seemed to be such an impossible subject for me to grasp. Now it’s something regularly found in my daily vocabulary.

Until next time!

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