By Vanity Feral
I feel like I have given out this advice individually to a few fellow broken derby skaters, so I thought maybe it’s time to write about it.
Coming back to skating after suffering an injury is a difficult task. It’s difficult on your body and difficult on your mind. The first and most important thing to know and do is to not come back too soon. It sounds easy, like duh, make sure you’re healed, but most skaters itch to get back to the track as soon as possible. I did not listen to this and I will now be physically paying the price for the rest of my life. The best way I can get across how important this is is to just share my story.
On April 11th, 2015 I skated in my first bout, only having one scrimmage under my belt and maybe eight months of practice and no prior skating experience. Halfway through the first half, getting lead jammer and killing every single jam, I made a wrong move and broke both my tibia and fibula in my left leg. My first thought was not that I was broken, nor did I really feel the pain at first, I heard the break echo in my helmet and I still tried to get up and go. Obviously this did not happen, so then commence screaming and eventually getting hauled out by an ambulance.
That week I had surgery to place a titanium rod in my tibia and I was informed my fibula would remain broken until the end of time. I took care of myself while healing, taking all advice from my doctors and fellow members of the broken skater club, but the entire time all I could think about was hitting the track again so I could continue to be a badass tiny jammer. This is where I made my mistake.
I did not let my body heal, I did not keep up with physical therapy. I have two kids and a full time job and I wanted to skate so my excuse was there was no time for all of that. So eight weeks later I was back at practice on skates again. My team had reservations about this so I wasn’t going to be rostered for a bout. They were concerned for my safety and they were right to be. So I went elsewhere. I signed up for every scrimmage, female and coed, and practiced with every team I could including my own. My body wasn’t ready and my right leg was compensating way too much for the lack of strength in my left. This led to another injury.
In October 2015 I suffered a level 2 sprain in my right ankle. I simply thought it was no big deal, it’s a sprain, I already broke a leg, this will be cake.
I’m November I finally played a bout with my team again and sprained the same ankle. I also sprained it two more times in the next two months doing non skating thing simply because it was so weak and I was not letting it heal.
So in 2016 all I did was struggle. I found out I would eventually need surgery on my ankle to place a screw in it because I had simply torn everything away leaving nothing but bone for support. Not only was my body physically weaker and struggling to get through scrimmages and bouts, so was my mind. I hated every bout. I couldn’t do simple things, I couldn’t get through the easiest walls and I’m pretty sure I scored almost no points that entire season. This also led to several minor injuries because either my body was still not ready or because my mind wasn’t confident and I would hesitate or make mistakes on the track.
Two years later I still struggle from these injuries, and I recently found out that my original break has remodeled incorrectly around my hardware. Why? I CAME BACK TOO SOON!!!
People say it all the time to injured skaters or to skaters that simply need a break, “derby isn’t going anywhere”, and it’s true. I gained absolutely nothing by rushing back in except a lifetime of discomfort and more future surgeries. Don’t do this! Don’t be like Vanity!! Take the time your body needs to properly heal, and when you do come back, take it easy. Your team and trainers will understand and they are there for you and to work with you and not against you.
When it comes down to it, you skate for fun and you need your body to do it (and for the other things you do in life), so take care of that body. Take care of that mind of yours. Derby isn’t going anywhere.