Broken Along the Way

Sometimes progress can be measured by how much we learn, other times it can be measured by how much it changes us.

And sometimes we measure progress by the damage it inflicts upon us.

Last night was another practice.  There was a lot of skating–a whole lot.  There was blocking and hitting and… well, it was pretty much a normal night.

How I look when I’m skating around: I look tired, don’t I?


But there were a couple of moments when I thought something “more than tired” was happening.  During one drill I fell and got someone’s skate under my shoulder before I hit the ground.  The shoulder stayed at a different elevation than my body and a lot of pain shot up through my body, which led me to not even go “ouch!” real loud, but to think that I may have dislocated my shoulder.  That wasn’t the case as I was able to start moving it some 30 seconds later, but I did imagine I might need to have it popped back in at some point.

Then we were doing a pace line hitting drill, and first time up my coach laid a great hip check against my left leg.  So good–and hard–that I let out a groan, but I didn’t fall.  When I got home didn’t notice anything, but this morning I spotted a bit of discoloration, and right around noon–

Please don’t mind the extra large belly above my thigh.


Yeah, it’s turning all sorts of crazy colors now and there’s just a bit of pain involved with the location.

But that wasn’t the worst.  While we were playing a game where the object is to hit out someone without getting hit out yourself–yes, we play games like this in derby–one of the freshies let out a horrible scream. And kept screaming. Because, it turned out, she’d broken her ankle.  It was so bad we had to call the ambulance to take her to the hospital, where she had surgery this morning and is now resting comfortably.  In fact, as soon as I post this I’m on my way over to visit her at the hospital.

In three months time I’ve seen three broken ankles, one broken wrist, two concussions–one of which I caused by falling on to the head of one of my teammates–two sets of torn ligaments in the ankle, and two badly bruised knees.  Yes, we wear protective gear, but that doesn’t mean people don’t get hurt badly.  As I was walking out last night, one of our refs who used to play with us last season commented to me that she’d hoped to never heard screaming like she heard last night again, as she’d been present during one of the aforementioned broken ankles, which happened during a bout and which I happened to capture on video.  And this ref knows about being hurt, as she was the person who broke her wrist–something that I also happened to catch on video as I was filming the bout.

Yes, I worry about getting hurt, but not enough that it keeps me from hitting another person with my body.  I know: crazy, right?  But this is the sport I choose and this is the risk under which I train and play.

The trick is not to wonder if it’s going to happen to you next time.