model mirror
You can barely see her knee surgery scars from here.

The editing work for my upcoming memoir is finally done, and now I’m dipping my callused toes (from all the roundhouse kicks, of course) into publicity. I’m *thisclose* to selecting a publicist and very excited about the next step of my publishing journey.

The ACL injury and subsequent surgery seem like especially bad timing.
Here I am, about to promote a book about something that completely turned my life around, got my head on straight, gave me confidence and self-worth, and yet this very life-changing wondrous thing has also sidelined me with a very painful (and very expensive) injury. I did not plan to spend the rest of July lying on the floor for hours at a time while a loaned-out machine bends my recovering leg back and forth (I’m on it now as I write this).

I say in my book that “I’m no cautionary tale.” Well…what about now? Were it not for taekwondo I probably wouldn’t be in this physical pickle in the first place, right? I can just imagine people clucking their tongues and saying, “I guess you won’t be doing taekwondo anymore, huh?”

I’m putting on my black belt and coming back. I’m not sure in what capacity right now, but I’m coming back…I mean, there are hand strikes too.

I’ve always been an active person. I like feeling energetic and healthy, and on the more superficial side, I like how I look thanks to being active. My aches and pains are from sports, not being sedentary. But my main beacons for health are not my resting heart rate or dress size. They’re my grandparents.

Grandpa is 92, and if it were not for COVID quarantine, he would be swimming a mile every day at his gym and working in his yard. He didn’t even tell the family about a heart stent he had put in until after it was done, and he found that very amusing (the rest of us didn’t). Grandma is 91, has had two total knee replacements and a shoulder replacement, and is still moving around in their two-story house they’ve lived in since the 1960s. If it weren’t for COVID quarantine, she’d still be going to church and Bible study. They are sharp, funny, active, and still act like college sweethearts.

My grandparents kick ass, and I want to be as healthy as they are when I get to age ninety. (And have a few more tattoos. I have them beat on that one.) Right before I had my surgery my mom reminded me that Grandma had had most of her major surgeries over the age of eighty, and gave me the charge to go in and kick ass just like my Grandma.

And I did. But yeah, this injury is a setback, for a while anyway.

Taekwondo is rough on the body. I have had more strains, sprains, bruises, scratches, and soreness than I can name. I am also over forty. I’m kind of used to aching a little all the time, so I’m not very good about admitting or gauging pain. Case in point, by the time I got to the little ER the night I tore my ACL I reported my pain as around 3 or 4 when not 25 minutes earlier I was rolling around on the floor yelling in agony.

The day after or so after it happened I was texting with my Master and said cavalierly that I didn’t think it was a “career-ending injury.” That was before I knew the extent of what had happened and the treatment I’d need. Whenever I’m injured I go into a bit of denial about how bad it might be. I’d like to remind the audience that I am neither a doctor nor am I a physical therapist so I don’t know how much this will limit me. My doctor and PT do have faith that I’ll return to my sport, and I trust them completely, so things are looking up.

But what about taekwondo? What about my image as an author who upholds taekwondo as her saving grace? How will this affect book sales?

Taekwondo is still a positive force in my life. Injuries happen. ACL tears are common in high-level athletes and especially common in females. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It wasn’t because of carelessness or pushing myself too far. It just happened. The mental fortitude I’ve gained through taekwondo has helped me through my injury, surgery, and recovery the same way it has through other challenges I’ve faced over the last seven years that I’ve been in the dojang. (And to find out how, buy a copy of my book. :))

My memoir ends when I received my first degree black belt, but that’s not where my full taekwondo story has ended. Life after Black Belt has been even more interesting than before, and this is just another chapter in that unfinished book.

And won’t it be fun for me and my publicist to see how we can spin it? Won’t it be awesome when I can do a 360 kick again? Third dan test is put on hold, but it’s not canceled entirely.

I got back into taekwondo for my mental health, not my physical health, which was already pretty good. I wouldn’t trade what I’m going through now with my ACL injury and recovery for anything I went through when I was at the lowest point of suffering from untreated mental illness, emotional roller coasters, and bad relationship choices. I’m a stronger person now on crutches with a stitched-up, swollen knee than I was before I set foot in the dojang. I’m a badass and a survivor just like my grandparents.

And as I say in my book, “Every good sports story needs some kind of setback near the climax, right?”

Something awesome is going to follow this. I know it.


Stay tuned for my upcoming book– “Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts” published by She Writes Press. Coming to a bookseller near you April 20, 2021!

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5 thoughts on “Is My Injury Bad For My Image?

  1. Loved this update and insight. Reminded me of me. I’ve had 8 surgeries including 25 staples across my knee 5 yrs ago, back decompression for stenosis 7 years ago and a back fusion with 2 synthetic disc and a steel cage around it in 2017. My battle has been long and strenuous the last 10 years but I can say right now, today, I’m more ripped and vascular than I ever have been even with two upper biceps that have dropped/detached. Let me to you, bodybuilding/body sculpting is extremely hard on the body and still is but what choice do you have but to go forward and swim upstream like the salmon, and not float down stream In a sedentary Hell.

  2. And like you I get off a lot of credit to my mom and dad for joining the YMCA at 44 and committing themselves to fitness and opening the door for me two other things like racquetball and weightlifting and basketball. Mom and dad were huge in my drive to push my body far beyond what it was supposed to be pushed.

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