How to be your own “spin doctor”.

Apologies to anyone who actually knows me personally but I want to preface this post by giving a little background story. Feel  free to skim this introduction if you like, or bear with me while I get to the point – your choice!

Looking back, I have not always treated my body with the respect it deserves. Previously,  I have tried to justify my diet and lifestyle choices as being healthy because comparatively they were when looked at alongside my family and most people I knew. I exercised but not long enough or hard enough. And going to the gym was an excuse to eat more (of not necessarily the right fuel for my body); I was deluded into thinking what I ate was healthy.

There have been a few turning points for me, most of them started after I started a family.  Pregnancy, childbearing and childrearing change your body; no denying that. I was determined that for me it would by and large be a positive change if I could help it. Fortunately that has been my experience. The other factor is that having kids makes you think about the values you would like to instill in them and the choices you would prefer them to make.

Anyway various seeds were planted in my mind by various people along the way, various books were read, various dietary changes were made, various exercise regimes were tried and over a period of about 2 years I found myself feeling and looking (at least so I am told), fitter and healthier (and younger) than I had since before university.

Fast forward to a year ago, nearly to the day (and about 3 years post the “new”me) and my husband and I (mostly my husband) decided it was time for our then 5 year old to start Karate. My husband did all the chasing and took him to his first class. I took him to his second. The sensei asked me to join in and try a class. I figured I had nothing to lose (and let’s face it when a guy with a black belt in karate who towers over you asks you to jump……welllllll…..). So there began a new chapter in my book. Pretty soon I found myself getting really into it and I find myself training at least twice if not 3 or 4 times a week because it makes me feel fantastic (and I am not just talking physically, but mentally too)… here I am now, a “new” new me!

Anyway, things were chugging along ok. I had survived my first couple of gradings, participated in a tournament, started really getting into kumite (sparring) and even branched into learning across a few different styles when at my regular class a couple of Sundays ago we were doing some sweeps / throws / grappling / break falls and in the midst of being swept my right little toe got caught in my partner’s foot. It went one way and I went the other…..ouch….toe broken.

My reaction was text book grief (DABDA – Denial,  Anger / Agression, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance)

My first response was Denial. I taped it up and kept training for another hour. By the end of the class though, even though I suspected it was broken I was still kind of hoping it wasn’t. By that afternoon when I was in a lot of pain (if I take NSAIDs and sit down for more than 5 minutes it fair to say the pain is bad) and not able to walk I was kind of moving on to the next response.

My second response was Anger. I was angry with myself for letting it happen. I was angry that I would have to take time off training (or so I thought).

Actually the Bargaining stage was pretty short lived. I bargained with myself about exactly how long I would need to take off training.

I quickly moved on to Depression. How was I going to cope without exercise? How much hard work would it be to get back into shape? Would I just revert to being the old me? Would I even be able to go back to training again.

Then, instead of wallowing in the doldrums (as I probably would have 10 or so years ago), I sought expert advice from a couple of good sources….no I didn’t go to a doctor or get an Xray. One of the sources was me: I know enough about fracture healing rates and weight bearing regimes and I knew what  the doctors would say: “Stay off it for 6-8 weeks and then gradually get back walking in 12 weeks and then worry about training” (which frankly I didn’t want to hear). I broke my other toe when I was about 12 and I sure as hell didn’t stay off it then and it’s healed just fine, thanks all the same, but (a) I was a kid and (b) I wasn’t doing a high impact / probably contact “sport” (Karate is an art rather than a sport), like I am now.

So the second source(s) were my Sensei. I know at least one of them has broken a few toes in his time. I asked the scary question of him: “So how long to I NEED to take off training?” You can’t imagine my relief to hear that it was ok to train (obviously within limits) as soon as I wanted to. By the Wednesday of my next usual class I was still not walking well but otherwise not in too much pain and my mind needed to go and train as much as my body would cooperate… I went…..and it was fine. I went to all my classes that week and the next and even though I had to modify some things and leave out some things that might risk more damage, he was right, it was WAY better for me than not going at all.

The final stage of grieving (over what seems now like an embarrassingly small, though granted quite annoying injury) was Acceptance. Instead of taking me several months to reach this stage, it took about a week.  In this stage I have accepted that I won’t be running my kids to school this term or possibly most of next term and I won’t be doing my walks with my walking partners for at least another month. I will probably have to continue to modify my workouts and my karate training for another 10 or so weeks whilst I allow my fracture to fully consolidate. I accept the challenge that it will be in 10 weeks to start to regain my flexibility and strength in my leg / foot, relearn my normal gait and get back to things like running and high impact training activities and workouts.

It is now 12 days since I sustained my first real “sports” injury and had the experience of being the impatient patient rather than treating the impatient patient. I have moved beyond acceptance, beyond grief entirely, and into a new phase. This phase I would like to call the thankful phase.

This is where I have become my own spin doctor to my impatient patient, putting a positive spin on this experience and seeing opportunities in it for growth and development.

  1. I am thankful for the experience of being put in the shoes of my patient (well initially I couldn’t have been put in shoes but you know what I mean).
  2. I am thankful for my professional background knowledge of healing, anatomy and injury mechanisms which have been given an airing.
  3. I am thankful for the opportunity to look even further into diet and activity impact on healing and apply new knowledge gained.
  4. I am thankful for the support of my Sensei(s) and training buddies and their collective experiences, having trodden the path for longer with a few blips along the way…..and obviously for their care in not treading on my injured toe while they and I continue along the path!
  5. I am thankful that this injury will not hold me back indefinitely and even though it is currently an inconvenience, it is ultimately a blessing, because:
  6. Healed bones are stronger!!
  7. Slowing down will give me time to focus on precision and other important aspects of training.

6 thoughts on “How to be your own “spin doctor”.

  1. Pingback: Second Blogoversary: A Song without (many) words | A work in progress

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  3. Yes. Saam, I feel your pain…..although in your case it must have been a whole lot more scary knowing that your fingers are way more important (and that you are actually accomplished at your skill!!). Good news though that it’s improving. My toe is definitely feeling better – I trained pretty hard today for 3 hours – enough to be pretty drenched with sweat (read dripping it!!) by the end of the class. I could probably manage about 90-95% today. I still need to pull myself back a bit but I can see the light. I have so much work to do on muscle stretching / strength and gait reeducation though…..lucky I “know” a halfway decent physio……lol.


  4. This is very close to my finger saga which you’ve heard about. I was very depressed at the thought that I wouldn’t be able to play again. It’s taken almost 6 months for me to come good and realise that I’ll be able to go on playing – good work with the weeks you’ve taken to go through the stages!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on your blog, Rach! Thanks for putting the “share” buttons on so I could pass this along to the Google+ crowd I hang with. Great writing on moving past disappointment. I’m proud of you!


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