Getting Stronger! And On the Ice

by Mary on January 8, 2017

A few weeks ago I showed Dr. C. my improved heel-walking at my six-week visit. He commented that “You couldn’t do that before!” I made a video for you yesterday:

The left foot is not yet as strong as the right but it works much better than before. Besides being worth it for the pain relief, my surgery was worth it for the improved function. I’ll follow up with a post on the technical details for anyone making their own decision.

Next question with my new, improved abilities: when to skate? Back at my consult Dr. C. had said I could skate at six weeks after my surgery, but no falling until three months. His reasoning was that he lets his patients walk, walking has a falling risk too, and I’m a skater, so? I spent a fair amount of time during my recovery pondering this conundrum he’d set me and wondering whether I’d take him up on skating at six weeks.

I tried to get details at my six-week visit, pointing out to him that while I can skate easily, that doesn’t mean my falling risk while skating is the same as the falling risk of walking. He said that for his football players, he starts them working out in a pool “so they will be more comfortable.” That gave me a good comparison. Skating on holiday ice with every newbie in town was not going to make me comfortable, so I decided to wait for calmer, safer ice in January.

Dr. C. told me that my risk for re-herniating never goes down to the same as everyone else. The disc scars up eventually, which makes it stronger, but the hole in it never heals over, so more disc matter can escape. So what activities I want to do are up to me and my personal risk/benefit ratio. When his football players ask him whether they should play, he tells them that yeah, there’s a risk that this can happen again, especially when 300 pound people are falling on you. But “they’re paying you a lot of money to play football, so?”

Skating is a passion for me, not a job. I told Dr. C. that I do love it. And the purpose of the surgery was to return me to the things that I love.

I did end up falling– on my lawn. There was a layer of snow on top of the still-green grass, it was slippery. And this after weeks of avoiding walking around the neighborhood during a long freeze to avoid any risk of encountering ice. No harm done, but it gave me more of a “que sera, sera” attitude about avoiding falling. So I decided to try a skate.

…and my good skates were missing. No telling what happened with the passage of time since I last used them, though of course I’ve speculated a lot. I looked everywhere, I cried, I got mad, but the universe didn’t cough up my skates, Probably it’s waiting until I order my new pair. Eventually I decided that not having my skates was a much better species of problem than not having a good enough leg to skate on. And booked a skate fitting.

Meanwhile I still have my old pair. This is the first time I’ve ever had a decent spare pair of skates: I had them relined by Harlick when I got my new ones two and a half years ago. It sure is saving my bacon now.

After such a long break, did I want to skate in old boots with different balance points than I was used to? Finally, eight weeks after my surgery I decided yes. I got out there, slaloming on two feet and progressing to a little basic stroking around the rink. It didn’t hurt. It felt really, really good to be back.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

George A. January 8, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Good to hear that you’re back on the ice doing stuff that makes you happy!

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Mary January 8, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Thanks George! It’s good that skating itself is pretty rewarding no matter what we are working on: otherwise we probably wouldn’t do it!

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Eva at Eva Bakes January 8, 2017 at 7:23 pm

I was sad to read about your fall but am happy that you are back on the ice. Welcome back!
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Mary January 8, 2017 at 10:56 pm

Thanks! The fall was inconsequential so no worries. It was just a piece of evidence that a) I’m not that fragile, and b) it’s not possible to avoid falling risk even off the ice.

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Melissa January 9, 2017 at 6:19 pm

I am so happy you got back on the ice! It’s been 1 year since my surgery and I had the same worries about falling. And I did end up toepicking but I think I was past the ‘really bad things can happen if you fall’ part of healing. It felt SO good just to do the 2-foot slaloms and stroking for a few weeks. Yes, skating is worth it even when that’s what we are capable of doing. Just to be on that ice…

I wonder what happened to your skates? So glad you have a fairly decent backup pair. Congrats on your return to the ice!!!!

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Mary January 14, 2017 at 8:17 am

Thanks Melissa! Yes it is a joy even to be doing the simple things. I still feel engaged and learning, and there’s that basic pleasure of just being out there. The last time I remember seeing the skates for sure was when they were in the back of my car at the parking lot at the gym, so that does suggest some possibilities. But I’m not going to torture myself about it.

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Jo January 9, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Mary, that is so exciting hear about your return to the ice! Thanks for sharing the video of your heel-walking–that is quite a difference in your strength and your confidence. And what a mystery–the missing skates! I wonder if your house is anything like mine–too many nooks and crannies to put things in, and then they just sort of disappear. You are just powering through both the challenges and annoyances–such an inspiring attitude. Slalom on! Yay!
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Mary January 12, 2017 at 4:30 am

Thanks Jo, it’s good to get the feedback that it seems really improved to you too. I’m trying not to torture myself too much about the mystery of the missing skates. I just went to Harlick and ordered a new pair. It was fun to see the factory for the first time. Not sure I will get time to write about it, but I should!

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