Steroids and ownership

My grandparents are from Italy and Venezuela (maybe Argentina but I’m pretty sure Venezuela). My brother is very dark skinned and although I’m kinda olive toned, I’ve NEVER had an issue with sunburns or not tanning nicely. I rarely lather on sunscreen, I never wear sun hats and I have yet to experience sun poisoning.

On Wednesday, the high was mid 70’s and the sun was out but mixed with clouds. I invited two friends over for some poolside hangs and was so elated to just relax and have some downtime and enjoy the vitamin D therapy. We sat around for maybe an hour before we were warm enough to embrace the barely tolerable, ice cold pool water. Once in the pool, after our squealing and whining subsided, we chatted for another 30 minutes or so. Our afternoon of fun was over, we had things to do and adult life to return to.

I noticed a severe burn line form my bathing suit and sent a text to my friends stating, “don’t worry, it will turn to tan by tomorrow.” Confident in my statement because I had never seen a burn on me that didn’t turn to tan and I was sure my 90 minute sun exposure wasn’t enough to kill me.

The next day, my burn was still evident, no brown tones had set in, my shoulders were tender and my chin felt burnt. I’m not talking about hot, but actually burnt. I felt perplexed but continued to believe (with slightly less confidence) in the tan tones coming shortly. I began applying home remedies of lavender and oils and lotions and creams in an attempt to coerce my skin into tanning. At minimum, I was hoping to alleviate the redness and bumps that were beginning to form.

Enter Saturday night…. I woke up to itching skin, bumps all over my chest, neck, face. I wanted to rip my skin off. I was placing ice packs on myself. My face had a similarity to an orange peel and my chest was on fire. I couldn’t sleep (which is somewhat a regular occurrence these days) and began scouring the internet for sunburn rash websites.

I found myself wondering what had happened? My skin had never been so unpredictable. Was I now so sensitive to the sun that I couldn’t adventure without sunscreen? I mean, maybe I’m dumb for even thinking that but when you experience minimal to no issues for 38 years, it’s definitely confusing to suddenly have your body react in a totally opposing manner.

I ended up being put on steroids to reduce the inflammation and rash and had to spend Memorial Day hiding out from the terrors of UVA/UVB rays. I’m bathing in aloe and drinking water obsessively. I’m itchy and red and irritated but most of all, I’m aggravated with myself. Why did I care so much about wanting a tan? Why did I ignore everything and person that suggests sunscreen is important?

All of this got me thinking back to my ankle and how I knew my right ankle was weaker before I broke it. I had right knee surgery 11 years ago and have had trouble activating my glute on the right side for a little while now. My right leg has been my less stable, weaker side ever since my surgery in 2007. I have known this and seen it as a problem anytime I do single leg exercises. I started seeing a therapist for my right knee maybe six months before I broke my ankle. I was doing my therapy exercises but pretty lazily, not with a huge level of commitment.

After breaking my ankle, I HAVE TO FIX MY RIGHT LEG ISSUES. If I don’t activate my butt and track my knee/quad correctly, my ankle hurts where my plate is. Maybe this is too technical talk but the point is, I could’ve been proactive and possibly fixed this issue a long time ago and maybe, just maybe, avoided an ankle breaking. So why didn’t I? Why was I not fully committed to proactive care of myself? Why did I not take it seriously? I see this all too often with my clients also, they come in with an ache or pain and we discuss a protocol for fixing the issue yet the true motivation for change usually doesn’t come until they’re desperate and non functional.

I have found myself full of gratitude for these forced behavior changes even though they come with some extreme discomfort. I’d prefer to learn from these experiences and become better at taking care of myself BEFORE I’m broken and itching and on medication or in the hospital. Yes, it would be nice if I could just magically be healed or if I could function better without any effort but the line says, “get up, pick up your mat and walk!” There’s an active part involved in our healing. I am to partner with my God whether that be in prayer and faith or in tangible behaviors like putting on sunscreen and doing physical therapy exercises. Whatever it is, whatever it looks like, I play a part, or it’s better if I participate.

So tonight, I am grateful for my sunburned rash and itching skin and my butt that doesn’t fire well because they are going to be my motivation and reminder anytime I want to be lazy or irresponsible. And any other thing I want to accomplish in my life, will be better because I will know that I ALWAYS have a choice to make smart decisions and I am never truly a victim to circumstances. I challenge anyone reading this to trace backwards something in their life and find the areas that could be improved and just maybe, see how life is trying to discipline you to be the best version of yourself. And then be grateful for those broken bones and failed attempts because they are way more of an asset than liability. ❤️

Oh, and here’s just a magical picture of my dog playing in the snow.

Redemption

This past weekend was the home opener for Ohio Roller Derby. Had I not broken my ankle, it would’ve been my return to derby, my first bout back. I had no idea what I would feel like attending the game, watching everyone play and not being able to participate. I know when I played derby before, from 2007-2012, it would have made me crazy and angry and jealous to sit on the sidelines. I couldn’t even handle being on the bench and sitting out one play. Back then, I truly believed I was valuable in every moment and if others didn’t agree, then they were in the wrong and just didn’t know what was best.

Wow….. who was that person? So full of pride and ego. That attitude led me to leave my league full of unhappy feelings and with a trail of hurt teammates. I said a bunch of things that came from a place of control and contempt. I was so unaware of myself that I didn’t even see what I was doing. I believed I had good intentions but I saw years later what was really going on. Yes, I loved my team and league. Yes, I wanted us to be successful. But because my feelings were leading me and I was selfish, I know my words came out wrong.

When I rejoined Ohio Roller Derby this past year, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted back. I was worried that maybe I couldn’t be forgiven. I wasn’t sure what had been said after I left and I had no idea how much I had negatively impacted my team, my friends. I felt uneasy for a while, encountering people who had been with the league since I left. People who knew me back then. Wondering if they really were smiling inside about my return or if that was a facade and deep down they wanted me gone.

Here’s what I’ve found, and it’s beyond surprising: none of those things happened. No one treated me poorly. Everyone was kind. I was able to apologize to people and ask for forgiveness. I didn’t even know I needed that and you never know how remorse will be received.

Redemption is an interesting thing because often times you don’t know you need it until you have it. I didn’t consciously feel like I needed to redeem myself to the league but I quickly found myself yearning for that and realized that my return was less about skating and more about reconciliation. I love skating and I love derby but more than any of that, I am eternally grateful for the chance to make things right.

I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I will probably mention that in a lot of my posts because it’s just so true. I used to be so selfish and wanted to promote myself above all others. I was quick to speak, careless with my words and self righteous when confronted. I couldn’t celebrate others successes because I was too busy critiquing them or feeling envious.

As I’ve processed this whole experience, breaking my ankle playing derby, missing the home opener, knowing I’m going to miss the whole season, I’ve found peace easily with the circumstances. I’m not as upset as I would’ve been in years past because this wasn’t even about me. This whole thing that I thought initially was me returning to a sport I adore was really about the new me being a part of a team, truly being happy for others and joyfully humbling myself. I am obviously sad to not skate but my unhappy feelings are quickly overtaken by the pride I felt watching my teammates play and by the joy I feel knowing that I will not be remembered for my harsh words or controlling nature.

The changing of the seasons

Have you ever thought it would be nice to just start over from the exact moment you are at right now? Take all the life experiences and knowledge you have now and start things fresh? Not redo your life, but be your current age and just erase all the “bad” things in your life and refresh? A new job, new friends, maybe keep some of the old friends, but just begin anew. At times I’ve thought it would be easier to just pack up and move, to run away from my life. Who I am now is so radically different than who I used to think I was. And sometimes, because that old me creeps in, I make old me decisions. Inevitably, I wish I could take them back.

When I tell people I’m an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs test, they’re shocked to hear that I’m introverted. Heck, when I took the test, it kinda surprised me. I suppose when you spend years and years partying and on drugs, it’s easy to seem to be or be outgoing. When you’re so detached from your true self, that you just get lost in your surroundings. Sure, I will be a hype girl on stage for a DJ, yes, I will take those pills even though I don’t know what they are, sure I will boldly talk to strangers and make friends everywhere I go, and yes, I will attend every social gathering and stay out all night day after day. Until I grew up, not just in age, but in maturity. Until I realized that all those things were ways to avoid my real life. Until I woke up one day and saw my value and decided I wanted more for myself and for my son.

The journey to becoming my true self has been interesting and it’s by far not over. I imagine it’s an adventure I will hike along until I die. I will constantly be learning new things about myself and what really makes me come alive.

A week before I broke my ankle, I ended up in the ER with debilitating back spasms. A week prior to that, I somehow split jerked a barbell into my nose and a few weeks prior to that, I ended up in urgent care with moderate but fairly unenjoyable back spasms. My body was trying to tell me something. I wasn’t being true to myself. I wasn’t feeding the calm within me. I filled every moment of my day with exercise and work and activity and ignored the now clear signs: it was too much.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. In some strange way, I believe I needed to break my ankle or have something dramatic stop me because I was caught up and somewhat detached. I was going along, moving through my life but not really intentional or connected to myself. That may be a strange concept but humor me. I found myself spending less time at home, less time with family, less time at church, less time in silence, less time with worship, less time with prayer. All the things that I know feed me, nurture me, grow me and ultimately satisfy me, I had replaced with externally satisfying but surely less meaningful distractions. Now, I’m not saying that working out or playing a sport are meaningless but when they begin to take the place of more fundamentally important things, to me, that’s an issue.

Enter in the calm of sitting in a hospital bed alone for hours every day. I never turned on the TV. I just sat for three days. I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t miserable except for the pain in my ankle. I was full. It was the calm I’d been needing. The serenity I didn’t even know I wanted (I’m sure the pain meds helped a bit). All I’ve done for the last 10 days is think and pray and worship (and watch a bit of HGTV). I’ve written and talked to friends and sat in silence waiting for my Creators words. I am grateful for this time to reflect, to accept grace from others and to tap back into who I am. I do not know what this year will look like. It will look very different from what I thought previously. I do however know that it will be good.

This is not my ankle

If you told me I’d feel this way with surgery and hardware, it would’ve been hard for me to truly comprehend the notion. I can feel the screws in my ankle. I can feel the pressure of my muscles trying to figure out what this foreign body is inside me. The tightness, the discomfort, the throbbing. I know it will fade over time. I know my body will eventually surrender. I know this whole experience will become less and less clear as the years go by.

But the hardware, the screws, the plates, those are mine forever. My ankle feels like a stranger. I don’t know this ankle. I don’t trust this ankle. I don’t even like this ankle at all. I move my left ankle in every direction possible and it’s smooth and reliable. It makes me smile. That’s my body. My functional, strong body. Then, I turn my gaze to the stump of a right ankle and I feel anger and disgust.

I know I’m not paralyzed. I know my injury is so small compared to others. I know I will go through all the phases of grief and one day, transition into acceptance or maybe even appreciation but for now, I’m no where close. Future thinking is always dangerous. Getting caught up in the endless possibilities becomes torturous. Maybe I will be the exception and my healing will restore me back to my old self. Maybe I will be better and stronger and find a deep sense of gratitude for this break. Maybe I will never be the same, never skate again, never run a race again. I try to stop all those thoughts from consuming me. Nothing good comes from focusing on things I can’t control.

For now, I will mediate between myself and my ankle, try to keep the peace and not feel so betrayed.

Coming Home

Leaving the hospital was bittersweet. In my room, in the silence, I had nothing to distract me. I couldn’t focus on dirty dishes or taking care of the dogs. All I had to do was think about myself and I had nurses and aides to do everything for me. I had IV drugs when my pain was too much. I had fresh ice packs and a bed that accommodated my every comfort and need. I could just press a button and I was cared for.

The doctor who performed my surgery came in to say good bye to me. I hadn’t seen him since the pre op discussion. It made me cry a bit which was surprising. I felt a sense of gratitude that was unexpected. I mean, he was doing his job so I didn’t expect to feel so indebted to him, but I did. I realized that this experience felt healing to some past pains. I realized, in that moment, that I have experienced pain or trauma and have felt uncared for or undeserving of care. Today was different. Today I felt all the care and compassion pouring into me and it was good. I didn’t question my value. I was simply grateful for the people who put me back together.

When I arrived home, I found myself scared. Frozen at the front door. Terrified to jump the one step up on crutches. I felt silly. For all the brave things I’ve done, I wasn’t sure if I could make that one step. I thought about all the Crossfit workouts I’d done with box jumps and how much smaller this step was. I thought about tripping and falling and feeling pain and being embarrassed. I thought about how I didn’t want to be scared.

It’s so interesting to feel so confident, to show up to work, perform massages, go to a workout, lift a lot of weights, to walk around feeling untouchable in a sense and overnight, to be completely flipped upside down. To be scared to jump four inches. To be terrified of anyone touching my leg. To cringe at the thought of putting a skate on my foot.

I don’t want this journey to be about fear. I don’t want this experience to leave me full of reservation for life. I only began to dream big dreams in the past few years. I only began to truly feel strong and capable recently.

How much of this is real anyway? How much of this is the pain medication in my brain?? Will I forget this pain soon enough and be skating again? Will I forever be changed in a way that makes me proud?

Whatever it is, however this pans out, I know it will be good. It has to be.