Spoiler alert: my upcoming memoir is about mental illness as much as it is about training for my black belt.
I mean, you probably got the gist from the title, but I thought I’d go ahead and spell it out.
This is the most difficult post I’ve ever written, and I know once it’s published and shared I will be questioning my choice. I’ve tried several times to write this under different themes and different titles for the last several years, and until now I’ve never had the courage to click the “publish” button.
I’m a second degree black belt. I could have tested for third degree black belt at the end of this year.
I had to relearn how to walk after my July knee surgery. When you can’t walk very well or even stand up in the shower, all that fighting, jumping, and sprinting nonsense goes out the window for a while. It’s hard to feel like the athlete you were before your injury. It’s depressing to feel out of shape. It’s frustrating to go through so much pain as you heal and gain strength.
Recovering from a major injury when you used to do a high-level sport can feel overwhelming and a bit daunting.
As we move into the winter months, it can be tempting to snuggle up on the couch with a book or Netflix instead of doing our martial arts training. It’s extra tempting to skip a training session when we’re not feeling well, whether it’s physical or emotional. In this guest post, Steve Grogan, of Wing Chun Geek Inc., shares some tips for staying motivated when you want to stay home. If you would like to write a martial arts-related article for Little Black Belt, please review the submission guidelines for guest posts.
[Note: At the time of publication the United States is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, so please conduct your training with safety precautions in place, or in the privacy of your own home…and if you’re recovering from a major injury like me, check with your doctor or other healthcare providers before attempting your regular martial arts activities.]
Ten months and twenty-three days into what has been the most bizarre year of my and probably everyone else’s lifetime, I finally felt a deep, comfortable, settling sense of normalcy, if only for a few minutes.
Anesthesia will be billed separately, and be prepared to pay for six to eight months of physical therapy twice a week. You may also have to pay for one or two leg braces, not to mention that MRI that diagnosed your torn ACL in the first place. Some of your post-op visits with your doctor will be free, but only for a short grace period. You’ll go right back to specialist co-pays once the “post-op” period runs out.
Oh, and the giant bill was just for the “hospital encounter.” You may also have charges to the orthopedic clinic for your operating physician and an assistant for the same day as your surgery…same people, same patient, same procedure, but whatever, still separate charges.
If you went to an emergency center or hospital emergency room immediately after your injury, be prepared for a bill for that too.
The human body is a wonderful thing, but upkeep can be quite expensive.
“Playing to my strengths,” as we say in the corporate world, may very well have cost me my ACL. Let me explain…
I work in healthcare leadership development, so we arbiters of euphemisms rarely use the word “weakness.” We dance around “opportunities for development” or “areas of growth.” I involuntarily shivered when a client said she wanted her team to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) so they could “learn about their strengths and weaknesses.” My goodness, I positively had the vapors. Technically, as I gently hold her, the MBTI looks at preferences rather than true strengths and weaknesses, but…something about the word “weakness” was just too real for me.
Turns out, working on your weaknesses can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
I did something new in physical therapy this week: I rode a stationary bike.
I’m three weeks into ACL reconstruction surgery recovery. The sutures are out, leaving me with only a few small scars (thanks to arthroscopic surgery), and most of the time, I can walk around in my house with just my big leg brace, sometimes with one crutch if I’m tired. I still need a crutch to walk up and down my steep stairs, but I’m getting pretty good at that too.
I was a little surprised when my physical therapist told me to start with the bike when I entered the clinic Monday morning. I figured he’d want me to do my regular warm-ups to ease the morning stiffness out of my leg. It’s still very difficult to bend my knee beyond ninety degrees. This was going to be interesting.
To my surprise, my physical therapist casually mentioned that I should start doing slow-motion forms to work on balance and transferring weight back and forth on my legs. I’m nearly three weeks post-op from ACL reconstruction surgery, and, if I’m careful, I can move around the house with just my leg brace. I was excited about the prospect.
I’ve done forms as mental therapy. I’ve never done them as physical therapy, so this will be a new recovery/martial arts adventure for me.