If the title of this post seems conflicted, it’s because I’m learning one of those lessons that the mind is quicker to pick up than the heart. The story starts like this: I slipped and fell down a flight of stairs. I wanted to help the UPS man carry some boxes down the back steps of the gym on a rainy day, and there you go. I don’t even know how I fell or how I traveled down so many steps, but all I know is that I thought my right elbow was smashed to smithereens (it wasn’t) and that my lower back was screwed (it was).
Though it’s not my first reaction, I have to consider myself lucky! I didn’t hit my head, I didn’t break any bones, and I’m not paralyzed. There are a hundred ways a fall like that could’ve been worse. Still, my first reaction was: OOWWW! Followed by hysterical tears, followed by ice and ibuprofen, followed by shattered expectations for the summer amateur boxing season.
I fell on the 17th of March, 2014 (to be exact), which was less than a week before the Georgia Golden Gloves tournament that I’d been preparing for. With six novice bouts under my belt, I was pumped to fight all summer, go open, and fight some more. I wanted to close the fall and waltz into winter with a nice stack of wins and oodles of experience. Right? Wrong!
Initially, we thought I’d still be able to box that weekend after the swelling and inflammation went down. The problem is, the inflammation never went down! My elbow healed up and that pain gradually disappeared after a few months. The lower-back-and-butt injury, however, did not. First, my uninsured self tried a slew of treatments:
- Chiropractic adjustments.
- Icing my back multiple times a day (every day for months).
- Using a TENS unit.
- Self-massage with a lacrosse ball.
- Massage therapy.
I don’t know about the acupuncture, but the chiropractic adjustments were helpful for quick pain relief. Icing my back numbs the pain and the TENS unit covers up the pain, but the best treatment that has encouraged healing is the massage therapy. Not just any massage therapy, but the fantastic work by Jeff Trotti at Comprehensive Bodyworks. Side note: he ROCKS! A lady at the gym recommended him to me and I’m so glad. If you need help, go to Jeff. Now. (What, you live in another state? What’s the problem?! When I’m famous, I’m going to fly him around with me. He doesn’t know that, though, so don’t tell him yet.)
So June rolls around (almost three months after the fall), and I’m thinking that this is starting to get ridiculous and I just have to suck it up and go to a medical doctor. I’m pretty sure that ordeal was a colossal waste of money, but maybe it wasn’t. I got an MRI that showed good results, so at least there wasn’t a herniated or ruptured disc. And I tried some medications that didn’t work… The doctor’s conclusion was that I shouldn’t be hurting. (Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Orthopedic Specialist.) I think he dismissed me because I didn’t have insurance. It was definitely the worst experience I’ve had with a doctor. I recently got health insurance (hooray!), so I’m trying again with a different orthopedic doctor this week. Wish me luck!
From April through October, I tried my best to train around the injury. I rested for weeks at a time here and there, but never more than 2-3 weeks at once. I would get so restless and upset! When I say I was still training, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m talking about low-impact, six-round workouts that sometimes didn’t even require gloves. Nothing near the intensity of even average training sessions, and definitely nowhere near the conditioning needed for sparring and/or fighting. No running, either.
Meanwhile, I felt like everyone around me was training and fighting and having the time of their boxing lives. But this was a lesson in itself. Instead of being in the ring at the fights, I was snapping pictures of our fighters, filming their fights so they could watch themselves later, and cheering from the sidelines. It stunk, but it taught me about supporting my friends and teammates. I was supportive before, too, but this time I didn’t have my own matches to worry about. (That isn’t even true, because I was still thinking about when I would finally be able to compete again…) Ok, so I’m trying to sound all wise and learn-ed, but really I was just jealous.
Even at home in the gym, I felt left out. When I could box, working in the gym was fabulous because it kept me close to what I love. When I couldn’t box, though, it was torture because it felt like all of the work with none of the fun. (It wasn’t so bad once I readjusted my attitude. Again.) It’s amazing how something physical can affect my emotions so much. I know many people have been through so much more physical trouble than I have and for much longer, but I still feel like this has been a long nightmare that still isn’t over. You can tell, right? Even though I’m trying to be logical and level-headed, you can hear that I’ve still got whine and boohoos under there. It’s all about perspective. So many other people are feeling much worse pain, but I’m not feeling their pain… I’m feeling mine.
Just as a pick-me-up even though I still wasn’t in good shape, I did have a fight on November 1st at my home gym and won! That was a bright, happy spot that capped off the worst and shortest training period I’ve ever had before a fight. Whew! Tell you more about that later.
My hope right now is that I can start training again within the next couple of weeks and build up my conditioning and strength to fight and go open this summer. Just a year later than I was hoping for.
Happy New Year!
Ha! I thought I should liven things up. Here I am on my third anniversary of boxing (Jan. 4th), with entirely different thoughts and lessons than I hoped I would. But who’s to say one lesson is better than another, especially when there’s no telling what’s coming in the future?
I re-read my post from my first anniversary of boxing, and I’m proud that I can see so much growth in myself since then. Those lessons are still important basics for me, but I’ve learned so much more. Here are three big ideas that I’m still trying hard to digest:
Keep dreaming big dreams.
Keep dreaming big dreams, but don’t let your impatience to get there spoil what you have here and now. In this song by the Eli Young Band, the main line is: “Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.” I’m not an aspiring country music artist, but I can relate to the lyrics because they tell me about reaching and reaching and reaching because you don’t have a choice. Scratch that! You do have a choice, and you’ve chosen this one thing, no matter what.
Get to work and expect fun.
When I return to training (whenever that may be), it’s going to hurt. My trainer and I will work together to make sure I ease into it the best way possible, but there’s no getting around the aches and pains that even healthy bodies have when getting back into something like boxing. I don’t care about that. What I’m excited about is boxing, and no pain is going to take the joy of that away. (Remind me of that when I’m complaining about it later!!) I’m serious about my boxing and I will focus and train hard, but I fully expect it to be fun and good because this is what I want and what I’ve chosen.
THIS: I can always learn and advance.
This is my number one boxing lesson for the year. For a while, I thought I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t train hard. In reality, when I shifted my attitude, I could do more than I realized. I watched a whole lot of boxing (in the gym, on TV, on YouTube, at tournaments…) and imagined myself doing everything impressive I observed. Everything sharp, slick and devastating—I can do all that. I practiced on lighter and faster bags, danced around with footwork here and there, and played around.
Not kidding: even though I trained so little this year, the few times I sparred or even moved around a little bit throwing jabs, I’ve felt and looked way better than before. Progress! Don’t get me wrong, the above activities were NOT a satisfying replacement for full-on training, but it was something. Involuntary resting absolutely sucks, but you don’t have to rest your mind.
Which leads right into that lesson I mentioned at the beginning: that I “know” in my mind, but still struggle with in my heart. This period hasn’t been a waste of time. It’s a set-back, no doubt, but I’ve still grown. It delayed my plans in terms of fights and advancing into the amateurs and eventually the pros… But the year wasn’t a wash. It didn’t go down the drain. I don’t know all the reasons yet, and I don’t know the end of the story! But I sure do have big dreams for it.
Next time, on a happier note, I’ll tell you about my fight in November, how I became a Mexican, and how I got a new ring-name! :)
P.S. I’m not allowed to carry anything down those steps anymore.