Archive for the 'healing' Category

March 16, 2009: A New Beginning

Norquay, Canada – Today’s first day back in gates was a mini roller coaster of emotions. I started the day feeling confident because I had been freeriding on my raceboard for several days and felt comfortable on it, forgetting that I even had a brace on.

My shoulder is intact and generally feels good. It doesn’t hurt when I ride; if it wasn’t for the risk of my arm re-dislocating (and then having to have surgery for sure) I wouldn’t have to wear the brace. Wearing the brace is a precaution against dislocating it in the same manner as before (arm overhead and popping out of the socket), and it makes me feel a little more secure. However, if I were to fall on my toesides and stick my arm out to brake my fall, I could still dislocate in a different manner since it isn’t as strong as it used to be.

My first run was extremely awkward. Not like freeriding at all. I was riding with my upper body, flinging myself around to get the board to turn to make the gates instead of powering the board with my legs. There wasn’t a lot of feeling with my feet and legs. But I just chalked that run up to first run jitters.

My second run was a tad better and I was really focusing on driving with my lower body and not throwing my upper body around to compensate for lack of feeling. Still not feeling confident, especially on my toesides. I was able to get down the steep section fairly comfortably, but adjusting to the flats and the rhythm changes of those gates was difficult and I was unable to generate speed at each gate. I kept looking down directly at the gate out of nervousness instead of looking two gates ahead. I didn’t feel like I could trust the board or myself.

On the third run the assistant coach told me to tighten up my line on the steep section so I tried that and got too straight and was jamming on each gate just to make it (a bad habit from before). On one of the toesides  I jammed too hard on it and fell onto my bad shoulder. But to my surprise I instinctively and quickly pulled my arm into my body so that when I fell I slid on the outside of my shoulder and helmet! So no damage there. I was pretty relieved that my reaction to a fall was to pull my arm in close to my body. But I was bummed that I couldn’t trust my board and my confidence wasn’t there. I wallowed a bit on the chair ride back up thinking it’ll take a long time to get back to where I was before the injury, and that I don’t have enough time to get there.

But I got my head back into it and my fourth run was better. At the third gate I started to get pissed off about how poorly I was riding and turned on my ‘aggressive’ button and forgot about things and just rode and not let the course get the best of me. I wasn’t fighting the course as much, just flowing with it and I noticed that at the end of the course I wasn’t breathing as hard as the first few runs. It was actually getting easier and that run felt way better. The assistant coach even said it was like night and day from my first couple of runs to that one. So I was psyched.

Before the next few runs I talked to Mark (head coach) and he said that I should do what feels more solid (e.g. taking a rounder line in the steeps) and we are focusing on getting my confidence back. He also said I should focus on slowly building up pressure in each turn. And that’s what I focused on and it worked! My turns still felt solid but were faster than my earlier runs, and I was getting the snap out of the end of the turns by using my back foot more. And things came together and felt like the old Eden.

For my last run of the day I let it all hang out in the steeps. I focused on building pressure and snapping the board at the end and I was going pretty fast and felt slightly out of  control (a good thing). But I wasn’t ready for the transition to the flats with all speed and crashed at the gate, a toeside. But once again I had curled up almost into the fetal position so my shoulder was safe. Unfortunately those falls aren’t quick to recover so I did lose a lot of time. I got up and finished the course and felt confident.

Afterwards my coach said that overall I had a really good first day back training and that even within a few runs things clicked and I made a few steps up. He also said that the last run (top section) was better than I had been riding before the injury, the fastest he’d ever seen me ride! I was soooo happy about that! I really felt the speed in that last run and my confidence was back by the end of the day.  And my teammate said it was the fastest she’d seen me ride.  Yay!

So phew! The day that I’ve been waiting for with nervous anticipation is over and it’s taught me something. It showed me that the start of the day does not dictate the rest of it; despite a rocky start I am in control of how the day’s going to play out, and I have the power to turn it around and make it a great day. Now that the I’ve cleared the shoulder hurdle (knock on wood) I can really focus on going as fast as I can.

Thanks for reading this long entry!

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March 13, 2009:

Vail, Colorado – After a good morning session on my raceboard, I went up to Vail with my freestyle board. The techniques for riding each board are significantly different so I wasn’t sure how my brace would affect my riding on my freestyle board.

Putting my bindings on was difficult. Because the brace is restrictive and I couldn’t reach down easily, I actually had to sit down on the snow (which I abhor)! But other than that it was great! Of course the beautiful day and awesome snow helped a lot but I was comfortable on the board and was going as fast as I normally ride. And my toesides were better than before since I am in better body position so I don’t tip over and put my hand down. Overall a happy day!

I’m heading up to Calgary next week to train in gates.  I’m actually pretty excited and anxious to see how my improved technique performs in the gates. Can’t wait!

March 12, 2009: Back on Track

Beaver Creek, Colorado – I’ve been freeriding for about six days now and it’s feeling really good! On most of the runs I totally forget about my shoulder and the what-used-to-be-restricting brace, and just focus on technique and getting comfortable at higher speeds. There are times where I revert to my old ways of riding and put my hand down on my toesides, but as soon as I do a reflex goes off and I immediately pull my hand up into my body. So far so good! It’ll be a different story when training gates but hopefully a lot of my freeriding, and my comfort level with freeriding, will translate.

Today was an exceptionally fun day because I rode with a group of hardbooters (those riding alpine boards like mine – a rarity!) that I just happen to run into. For the past few days here I’ve been riding alone for a few hours and while there are things I need to work on and I have my music to keep me busy and entertained, it does get a little lonely.  So it was a treat to ride around with about eight people who were all super nice and shared my passion. Thanks guys for making it such an awesome day!

I’ve also been seeing a really great physical therapist out here, Neil Masters, who has seen some improvement both in position and strength in my shoulder. He seems very confident that I’ll be in good shape for my next races.

I’m also very happy to report that my weird congestion/cough is almost gone! After 6 weeks of not feeling 100% healthy (and at some times only 50%) I am finally feeling back to normal! I think the clean mountain air helped.

There’s only a few more weeks of the season left! But my last trip will be a big one, going to France for two races, then to Montreal for 2 races, and then back to Europe for the French National Championships. The more opportunities to get points the better.

Thanks for all your support and well wishes!

March 5, 2009: Back on Snow!

Beaver Creek, Colorado – After a four week hiatus, I finally returned to the snow. I was a little nervous going up the lift; I wasn’t sure how different things were going to feel, not only because of a new fear of falling and reinjuring my arm, but also because my balance would be off and my legs aren’t used to snowboarding.

So far my shoulder therapy and rebuilding have been going well. My range of motion is still somewhat limited but the strength is coming back. I have one of those uber athletic braces that restrict my movement so my arm doesn’t go into the position of dislocation, but it also restricts my natural arm flow. With the brace I can lift my elbow away from my body only about 45 degrees, but I used to ride with it out at 90 degrees.

The first run was uncomfortable. Things didn’t feel natural and didn’t flow. I’m sure I was very tense and stiff, and I had a bit of fear in my head. On each toeside I thought, “don’t fall, don’t fall”. I didn’t realize how much I depended upon my upper body for balance! Taking away the one arm threw everything off and forced me to rely solely on my legs and core (which actually is how you’re supposed to ride but no one does or can). During that first run, I thought, “uh-oh, this is going to take longer than I thought.”

Going up the lift after the first run was pretty depressing. I thought of all the progress I made so far this season and how well things were coming together, and how one little thing ruined it and it’s like I have to start the season over again. But then I lifted my head up and took a look at the beautiful day and the beautiful scenery and reminded myself that while racing and results are important, it’s also important for me to have fun and enjoy the journey. And that when it comes down to it, the reason why I’m here is because I love snowboarding.

That relaxed me a lot and I just started focusing on ‘flowing like water’ and feeling the snow beneath my feet, the wind in my face, and reconnecting with nature and the love of the sport. I consciously put all the negative thoughts  out of my head and started smiling. And that worked! My riding began feeling more natural and effortless, and while I was still aware of the brace and its restrictiveness, I felt, “Yeah! It’s coming back!” I started riding more aggressively and taking a few more chances to see how my legs react when put in different types of situations. And slowly my old and solid toeside started coming back.

For the rest of the day my runs got better and better and felt more solid. And surprisingly my legs didn’t get too tired – my off-snow training was good. While I’m not back 100% to where I was before the dislocation (it’ll still take days of freeriding to get there), I’m confident I’ll get there soon enough and can continue the progress I had earlier and finish out the remainder of the season strong. Overall a good day. Can’t wait to get back on the slopes tomorrow. Yay!

February 22, 2009: Starting Physical Therapy!

Home, California – It has been three weeks since I injured my shoulder. It has actually gone by rather quickly. I’ve also been fighting off a sinus infection so that hasn’t been fun but I’m definitely on the up and up with regards to the shoulder and sinus issues (knock on wood!).

This coming week I’ll be starting physical therapy. I’m very much looking forward to that not only because it gets me closer to being on snow, but also because my right arm is so puny! I’ve been working out regularly in the gym, focusing on lower body strength, but also beefing up my left arm and shoulder so it doesn’t happen to that side… ever. Needless to say my upper body is quite uneven and strange looking.

I’m headed to Colorado in a week to finish my therapy and get on snow as soon as I can. It’ll also be good for my conditioning to workout in the higher elevations and get used to the cold weather again. If all goes well with my therapy and freeriding, I’ll likely go to Poland in the middle of March for their national championships and two opportunities to get the points I need to qualify for the Olympics. After Poland are the Nor-Am Finals, a hefty points race, and then possibly a quick jaunt to France for their national championships. Because of my shoulder I have missed many races and thus many opportunities to get points so I need to get in as many races as possible before the season ends in April.

Thank you everyone for all your well wishes and inspirational stories! It means a lot to me and makes the recovery process much more bearable.

February 15, 2009: Slow Going

Home, California – It has been two weeks since my shoulder injury and each day seems to just drag on and on. The doctor reviewed my MRI and there is a tear of the anterior labrum. He said in cases such as these they normally recommend surgery, but a nonoperative rehabiliation may also be successful. Surgery would cost me another 4 weeks of immobilization, so I’m definitely going the other route at least for now.

I’ve returned to the gym and have been doing lower body work and left arm lifting. The only cardio I can do with minimal bouncing and jarring is the bike and eliptical machine. It’s a bit sad for me to look around at all the able-bodied people working out their entire upper body. I want to tell them to really strengthen their upper body and not take advantage of the fact that their shoulders are in proper working condition!

So it’s been a little tough and I’m definitely getting restless. It still amazes me how much we use both hands/arms in simple everyday things, like tying shoelaces and putting my hair back in a ponytail. (Using chopsticks lefty has been very challenging.) I’ve realized that most of my hobbies and things I enjoy doing revolve around sports and I can’t do any of them! My body is so ansy and wants to get moving and do things that it used to be able to do. I find myself pacing a lot. Of course I do have a lot of non-physical things to do (visualizations, updating my website, reading my sports psychology books, etc.) but I’m not used to being so sedentary. At least I am able to workout.

I’ll be going back to Colorado as soon as I’m cleared for physical therapy. I doubt I’ll be able to get back on snow right when I get there, but working out and just being in the high elevation will be beneficial. And seeing and living in the snow again will help me stay focused and motivated, and get me used to the cold temps again!

February 9, 2009: Fingers Crossed

Home, California – Got back from the doctor’s with potentially good news (knock on wood, fingers crossed, and everything else!). Because of my “advanced” age, I may only need three weeks of immobilization before starting rehab (versus six weeks if I was still a teenager). I also had a very expensive MRI and will know more after the doctor sees that. My x-rays show that my shoulder bones are back in alignment so hopefully my tendons, muscles, etc. are good too.

But I did get the go-ahead to work out so long as it’s lower body-focused and not too jarring to my shoulder, so I’ll be going back to the gym tomorrow. Can’t wait!