Planning Your Post-Injury Return to Martial Arts

Enjoy this month’s article from Martial Journal! After taking a year and a half off to recover from two knee surgeries, I’m back in taekwondo and feeling great. Returning to your sport and avoiding re-injury takes some thought and planning that is well worth the time and effort. Click the link to read my tips on returning to your sport, and of course, consult with your healthcare providers.

 

Planning Your Post-Injury Return to Martial Arts

Taking My Own Advice on Feeling Unstuck

Part Two

July 24, 2022, was the two year “an-knee-versary” (yes, I’m going to keep using that word) of my ACL reconstruction surgery.

I had a great weekend using my reconstructed and rehabbed knee. My partner and I swam in our pool Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Saturday after my first post-op Body Combat class, we walked about half a mile to a local pub to play pool, have drinks, and eat delicious street tacos, and we did strength training on Sunday before our afternoon swim. Unlike this time last summer, I was not recovering from another arthroscopy. I haven’t reached 100% flexion and extension, but I’m so much closer than I was a year ago.

Despite the current state of the world, I’m feeling more relaxed and optimistic about my future than I have in a long time.

This time last year I wrote a post about “feeling unstuck when there’s no end in sight.” I’d made a lot of progress with my knee, but, progress was still difficult, slow, and at times felt as if it were moving backward.

My life felt like that too. 

I had plenty of moments of feeling pretty bad, but overall I did take the advice I shared in last year’s article. I learned to be patient with my frustration and not get caught in an emotional spiral. I worked on what I could control. I very slowly let go of the need for everything to be perfect and “right.”

The most helpful and yet most infuriating factor: time. I just had to keep doing what I could do to stay sane and get more physically fit and let things work out in time. The deus ex machina I prayed for never came other than a big change at work, and even then, that has required several months of learning and adjusting.

My old therapist Ramona, who is mentioned in my memoir, used to say, “One day at a time…It. Will All. Work. Out.”

So, how to get unstuck? Go back to last year’s article and read the tips. Do what you can, give yourself grace when you can’t, and be patient.

The Pain of a Pretty Facade: Becoming More Authentic

These pictures were taken about two years and five months apart. I am smiling in both and seem to have gotten my hair to cooperate.

The first photo was taken by a professional photographer as part of a photo shoot package to use for my upcoming book promotion. The second was taken by my partner after we had a delicious dinner to celebrate my upcoming birthday. One photo was taken pre-knee injury, pre-mental breakdown, and pre-weight gain.

Guess which one shows the happier, more authentic me?

Continue reading “The Pain of a Pretty Facade: Becoming More Authentic”

From Therapy Every Damn Day to Making It On My Own

Two weeks ago I saw my orthopedic surgeon for a six-month check up. We wanted to see my progress after I’d returned to taekwondo training, took up strength training (not the first time in my life, but the first time since my injury), and continued deep tissue massage treatment from a chiropractor. The possibility of a third surgery to remove additional scar tissue still hung in the balance.

He was so happy with my progress he shook my hand and all but released me from care unless I just wanted to visit the office again.

The following week the counselor I’d been seeing shared she was leaving the practice and wondered if I needed to continue sessions with another counselor. We’d gotten down from sessions once a week to once a month, and I admitted to feeling much better overall about my personal and professional woes. I still have lingering depression sometimes, but I am much better at recognizing and addressing it.

We decided to end my therapy knowing I could always come back if I needed help again.

Today I saw my chiropractor for more torment–I mean treatment, and he reduced our visit cadence from every two weeks to once a month.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed some recent reader traction on last year’s post Therapy Every Damn Day. 

In that post I wondered if the “down for maintenance time” was necessary for rest and renewal. I spent so much money on healthcare last year that I was able to get a tax break. Was it worth it?

Short answer–yes.

Nearly a year after I wrote that post I have to appreciate how far I’ve come: I DON’T need another scar tissue surgery and am finally seeing more movement with knee extension and flexion–scar tissue build up has been the bane of my existence since ACL reconstruction in July 2020. I don’t hate my job or my life any more, and when I do feel down I have better ways of coping. I’m NOT starving myself any more and pretty much kicked the habits of a thirty-year-old eating disorder.

Life is good. I’m doing well and am able to fully enjoy being back in taekwondo. Third dan test, here I come.

 

Little Black Belt is Eight!

See the source image

You guys…for the first time in eight years I forgot to do my anniversary post!

My blog turned eight on April 15, 2022. Since I began my blog I have made new martial arts friends, shared both my triumphs and struggles, and have been able to promote my first book and many media appearances!

I also started writing for the online magazine Martial Journal–you can find links to all my featured articles here.

Thank you all for your support.

As is tradition, here are my ten favorite posts from the past year:

  1. First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks–scary AND exciting!
  2. What’s More Motivating: a Trigger or a Goal?–in the midst of a stressful year, I was beginning to figure out what drove me.
  3. How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health–this was a big step for me personally, professionally, and in my role as a mental health advocate.
  4. My Post-Pandemic Body is Different. And That’s Okay–it’s still okay.
  5. Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You: Marie Kondo, My Knee, and Me–some wise words from my sister-in-law help me make a choice to move forward.
  6. How to Feel Unstuck When There’s No End in Sight–burnout, depression, boredom were all the bane of my existence. In the midst of the frustration, I learned a lesson.
  7. My Top Ten Pieces of Advice for New Authors–boy, is there a lot to learn when you publish a book.
  8. The Way Forward is Through: a Meditation on Depression–did I mention that 2021 was a stressful year? I had a long-lasting mental health crisis, but unlike my earlier struggles, I had lessons and tools to get me through it. I got through it.
  9. Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster–2020 was the ignition for collective and individual crises, challenges, and trauma. After two years of struggle (and a lot of therapy), I’m coming out on the other side feeling better.
  10. Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist–you can’t keep an old black belt down. I’m still learning, growing, and succeeding.

Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster

My life since March 2020.

Some time in late November, my publisher advertised a webinar focused on preparing authors to give a TED Talk or TED Talk-like speech. 

want to give a TED Talk!” I thought. Why not? My book is interesting; talking about mental health is very timely; and I have ten years of public speaking experience. 

The problem was…I wasn’t really living my imaginary TED Talk. With my memoir and various articles and podcasts I’ve told a compelling beginning and middle of a story, but I find myself further from the end (or a picturesque “happy ending”) than I thought I’d be. 

Continue reading “Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster”

Bonus Book Chapter: That Time I Was a Big Baby About Getting an MRI

Dear Reader: For the remainder of 2021, to continue celebrating the release of my first book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, I will be posting a monthly bonus chapter. While these stories didn’t make the final cut, they were still important moments in my life and in my black belt journey.

Enjoy the final chapter in this series!

[Note: This would have occurred after the Epilogue]

In early 2016, I had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor to check on my hip and hamstring. As I waited in the brightly lit and comfortable waiting room I grew more and more excited to tell him about how well I was doing in therapy. By that point, unless I pushed extra hard in taekwondo or had an unusually long commute, my aching right hamstring stayed fairly quiet. My physical therapist added more advanced exercises like stepping up on a box to jump with one leg or squats on an upended Bosu ball, so I’d gotten a lot stronger over the past month. My hip and sometimes the back part at the top of the hamstring still popped and clicked, but there’s something oddly satisfying about that feeling.

Continue reading “Bonus Book Chapter: That Time I Was a Big Baby About Getting an MRI”

My Guest Post: Four Things Injured and Recovering Athletes Want You To Know

I’m pleased to announce my debut as a writer for Martial Journal! This site is a collective of martial artists from different backgrounds sharing knowledge, opinions, tips, and thoughts about what they love.

My article “Recovering From an Injury: Four Things Athletes Want You To Know” is written by an athlete for athletes and those who love them. Recovering from an injury can be a long, frustrating, and lonely process. We need the people who care about us to understand how we’re feeling and what we need along the way.

To read, click here.

Therapy Every Damn Day

The other day I was chatting with my dad about the new house he’s renovating. He suggested I go to a mattress store and pick out a brand I like that he can buy for “my” room that I stay in when I visit.

“Dad, that’s low on my priority list,” I told him. “I do some kind of therapy five days a week either for my knee or my head, I’m still working, and I’m still doing book stuff [podcasts, articles, interviews, etc.]. I don’t have time to look for a mattress. I’ll just trust your judgement.”

Up until very recently, I was rehabbing either my body or mind five days a week. It sounded like a lot when I said it out loud.

Continue reading “Therapy Every Damn Day”