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Author: Jaana Nuku

Roller derby broke my foot.

Injuries at roller derby.

They happen, they hurt, and the journey to recovery can be a long, physically and emotionally stressful time.

Having played roller derby for 8 years, I have seen my fair share of injuries. We do roll around on wheels and hit each other as hard as we can... pretty ridiculous if you ask me!

And so it happened to me.

A couple of weeks after moving to Finland, joining Helsinki roller derby and getting excited about being part of the team to go play in Montreal, I broke my ankle.

It was a nice spring day, i spent the afternoon at Jam in the Box, tried on many boots and ordered my new plates. New skates for Montreal, yay!

Super excited for training I headed in and went through the drills.

I was not particularly tired or fatigued and was playing the same position I have played for the past 3 years.

This time though, for no particular reason I managed to trip, fold my ankle to the inside and there it went. Shiiiiit!

I heard a crack, and screamed as I hit the floor. That was even before the pain hit.

‘No no no it’s my ankle oh no please!!!’

Thinking back to that moment still makes me tear up.

Luckily my team mates from Helsinki roller derby were all over it.

I immediately had first aid around me. My gear was off, foot bandaged and iced in no time.

While waiting for the ambulance to come my thoughts drifted to logistics...

How am I going to pay for this? Am I insured? What about flying to Montreal?

In the ambulance, things went pretty smoothly, my ankle was straight, not swollen or bruised. The medics seemed relaxed and really not too worried. All I wanted is for them to take the pain away.

Finally, many drugs, a few more screams during check up, 2 hospitals and 3 X-rays later we knew the results.

Broken ankle at the Fibula.

It was a clean cut, without displacement and my joint was stable so the good news was no surgery required.

Small tip: when you need to pee after breaking your ankle, you have the choice to do this in a metal bowl they offer you.

If you decline, you have to wait until your results are in and the cast is fitted. It was a long wait!!

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Many hours later we arrived home. Two of our team mates were generous enough to spend their whole evening at the hospital and even take us in as we didn’t have a place to stay yet.

At about 4am, full of pain meds and with swollen, bloodshot eyes I finally fell asleep. What a night.

After a very short sleep I woke up, hoping it was all a bad dream. I opened my eyes to see that big, red cast propped up on a stack of pillows and realised it was all too real.

—————-

Now the hard work began.

Anyone who has broken their ankle before will agree, the physical limitations during the first week are bloody annoying.

From showering to getting a glass of water (impossible!) to getting dressed, it’s all a challenge.

Quite the change to the independent, always on-the-go person I usually am.

The first two days passed by quickly, they were the most painful and emotional days but many messages from friends and team mates helped a lot.

After that initial attention though, the messages stop, the emotional excitement dies down and it’s easy to lose motivation. You start to feel alone in this and useless to the team.

The realisation that I won’t make my first tournament with HRD settled in. I might not even be able to fly which means I wouldn’t see my friends from Vrdl that I’ve been looking forward to hang out with.

Everything I planned for the next few weeks needs to be modified or cancelled.

By day 5 all I wanted was to hide in my PJs, under my blanket and watch Netflix.

There was no motivation to deal with things and for a day or two I allowed myself to sulk.

I then decided enough is enough and I will tackle this injury like I would any challenge in my life.

I researched what food I should eat to heal a bone, involved myself in all the team chats to stay included and stayed active on social media.

I think it’s easy to feel excluded from the team or even your sport when you’re injured and I was not going to let that happen.

Connecting with people on Instagram it was crazy to hear how many skaters have gone through the same thing or even much worse breaks than mine. So many people that have tackled this journey before me, it really out things into perspective.

Everything is temporary.

—————

The first week done, I was able to start putting a little bit of weight on my foot. Helped keep my balance when brushing my teeth or buttering my bread.

Now the swelling kept me off my feet though. I could only go for about 5 minutes before my toes turned dark red and swelled up like a balloon. Apparently that’s normal but a slap in the face nevertheless. It did not match my energy levels at all, I was about ready to go for a run!! But luckily that only lasted a couple of days.

9 days post injury I did my first workout.

Abs, shoulders and as some leg movements with resistance band. I realised I’m not as useless as i felt and it was an amazing, liberating feeling!!

FINvitational came around and I was up and about hobbling around the tournament like the happy little injured skater I was.

I also got the great news that I can fly to Montreal, with blood thinner injections of course but I can go! Yay!

—————

We are now at 2 weeks post injury and I haven’t taken any pain killers in quite a few days. Waking is getting easier, putting more weight onto the injured foot.

Emotionally I’m also doing good 90% of the time.

I still burst out into tears at random times but i think that’s totally ok.

I’m celebrating every small step as a victory. 2 days ago I cooked my own home made meal on my own.

Yesterday I took my cast off and showered all on my own without help from my husband. Baby steps!

The first 2 weeks are done, the next 2 weeks will come with new challenges.

In 4 days I’m flying to Canada.

I’m excited but very scared.

Will my foot swell up too much during the flight? And how am I going to get through 2 stopovers on my crutches?

I’m also nervous about the tournament.

How am I going to feel during the VRDL vs HRD game, seeing my old team play my new team and not be on the track with either of them?

All I can do is take things as they come and stay positive.

It’s all part of the journey.

Injuries are part of roller derby.

They happen, they hurt, and the journey to recovery can be a long, physically and emotionally stressful time.

I know that now.

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