Yes, I did just use that oh-so-cliche saying as the title for this post. But the name fits perfectly with the concern of this post. One of the few definitions of cliche is "something that has become overly familiar or commonplace." Well unfortunately, me being hurt is overly familiar to just about anyone that knows me. Here I am again, maybe more than slightly broken.
My tendency to be covered in bumps, bruises, and scars is not a new one. I broke my arm at my elbow when I was three, they put me in a cast and I was immediately trying to figure out a way to climb the fence in my back yard and any tree in sight. I think I broke each of my pinkie fingers twice before I was 10 from crashing on my bike, jumping out of trees and off of swings, or sledding. I broke my other arm when I was eleven when I crashed on my bike. I cut my cast off with a pair of tin-snips and was back to climbing two weeks after. Court burn and dislocated thumbs were abundant from years of volleyball. However, most of my injuries were relatively minor until I blew my knee to pieces racing the downhill at U.S. Nationals in 2011. Two surgeries and seven months later I returned to sports and my knee has been happy ever since.
I finally quit ski racing in 2013 and immediately started riding and racing mountain bikes. The cross-over between ski racing and biking is massive so I picked it up rather quickly. Unfortunately I also decided that going fast downhill was what I liked the most, so I immediately started flinging myself down fast, steep, and gnarly stuff without really having ever acquired the skill to navigate safely. Luckily it wasn't long before I started riding with the guys from Bike Rev and I began to build my skill set. Three years into my biking career I'd like to think I'm a pretty good rider.
That doesn't seem to matter though--there is no avoiding injury. Its the nature of the beast. I was a pretty good ski racer who had a lot of success. But I crashed all the time, I got hit in the face by gates, I was covered in bruises, and I tore almost every ligament in my left knee. Now I am a pretty good biker. Still, I crash a lot, I have a lot of scars, I'm typically covered in cuts and bruises, I've been to the ER and plastic surgeon for stitches numerous times, and every ENT and Ortho knows me by name. Despite what everyone thinks, I am not just an out-of-control maniac who just tries to go as fast a possible all time no matter what. Yes, I like going fast, but I am not an idiot. It's also not bad luck. Shit just happens. It's just part of being an athlete.
That being said, not every athlete is going to have a serious injury. Lucky me, I'm on super-surgery serious-injury number two. Almost four months ago I crashed and completely dislocated my right elbow. Ulna and radius. Fortunately for me, I didn't break any bones or have any serious tissue damage as far as the doctors could tell. I had a pretty short recovery: I was off my bike for 7 weeks and then right back to it. Bikes, gym, yoga. Until a couple weeks ago when a crash, if you could even call it a crash, landed me back in my ortho's office. I dislocated my right elbow again. Though the dislocation was not nearly as severe, I somehow managed to tear the anterior bundle of my ulnar collateral ligament and tear my radial collateral ligament off my humerus. Now my humerus is not sitting in the cradle of my ulna correctly and I'm having reconstructive surgery next Wednesday.
When it happened I knew it was bad. I didn't know it was this bad. So you can imagine my shock when my ortho told me how severe my injury was and how long the recovery was going to be. I was thinking maybe a minor surgery to tighten things up and then 6-8 weeks off. Nope. Try reconstruction, an autograph from each of my forearms and 3-6 months off. I was heart broken and it has taken me three days to come to terms with it. But the fact of the matter is that there is no avoiding getting my elbow fixed; it will be better in the long run. I know that the world isn't actually ending and that I'll be back on my mountain bike before I know it. I know I'll come back stronger, faster, and more motivated. I know that I'm not going to get fat. I know I have the support of my family, my friends, my coaches, my doctors, and my physical therapist. How do I know this? Because I've here before. Twice.
I have come to terms with my injury, my surgery, and my recovery. I have found peace of mind looking at the track records of some of my biggest idols. Lindsey Vonn sustained serious knee injuries two years in a row and came back this year to break the record of most world cup wins by a female and took third in the super-g at world championships just a couple weeks ago. Aksel Svindal tore his achilles tendon in October and missed three months of the season, had a week of training going into world champs and got two 6th place finishes. Bode Miller had back surgery at the beginning of this season, missed three months, made it to world champs and was set to take the win in the men's super-g before crashing. All of these people are physically and mentally tough, that's why they made it back. That's why I know I'll be back. May 20th is the goal.
On the brighter side of things, I have some super awesome news to announce regarding this season. But it has to wait a couple more weeks ;). For now, I am thankful for my family, my friends, good doctors, the fact that I'm still on my parents health insurance, and the fact that I am twenty years old. I'll heal quicker ;).
P.S.: I really just wrote this to convince myself that I'll be fine. It worked. So if you read this, thanks :)
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!