Being an athlete is not always easy. Every sport is hard in their own way, however I can only talk as a figure skater since that is the only sport I have continued to do for 18 years and counting, (done: ballet/dance, swimming, field hockey, track and field-but none ever stuck).
As you know from the article “Skating my way through pain,” you know that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2014 and that doctors advised me to not skate with this condition. In early 2016 after years of chronic pain and millions of medical tests they discovered Ankylosing Spondylitis and Osteoarthritis and the doctor told me that skating and training is what was saving my body from deterioration.
2015-2016 season I decided to restart competing in Figure Skating just for the hell of it to see the reaction it would have on my body…and knowing it would be a good section to add to the website (I was building at the time) as well as the book I am currently writing.
*Note: The book is about training with chronic illnesses. It will share my story but give detailed descriptions in many categories for those suffering and trying to piece their life together/as well as ways to help those who don’t live with these issues, understand us.
**Note: Projected Due Date is September 3rd 2016…but due to many sections I have yet to complete, it will likely be postponed, so keep an eye out for updates.
The first competition was just an ice-breaker to get myself in. It was invitation Gaetan Boucher. I have already talked a bit about this competition in the previous article but I will go into a little more detail.
This competition I came 3/3 with about 17 points. I don’t remember much from it-as every time I am under a lot of pressure, I forget a lot once the task is done. I know the routine was one of my better run-throughs then I had in practice. I remember the beginning was solid and near the end I thought I was going to pass out. When I finished the routine I made my way off the ice with blurry vision. I went straight to the dressing room and sat down beside my coach.
I don’t remember much of what happened the rest of the night but the next day was clearer. Even though I was purely exhausted, the pain was not as severe as it has been over the days leading up to the competition.
I remember this lasted about three days before the pain made my body fully crash. It hurt so bad, I was almost unwilling to compete again. My body was already a rollercoaster and this was an open-invitation to allow the roller-coaster to fly off the tracks.
It was not even two weeks after the first competition (even after saying that I did not want to do another one), I decided I wanted to keep going. So I registered for Competition Rosemere.
Now if competing was not stressful enough, I put myself through more stress. I went to the Dominican Republic and returned 4 days before the competition. But when I returned from the vacation I became really ill. The Monday night (night I returned, I had a major headache). The Tuesday night I went to a hockey game and the first period I was okay but by the second period I was unable to stand from the pain. By the end of the game, my friend who is used to seeing my body flare became really worried. I was curled over and having trouble walking. The bus ride home was brutal, the pain got so bad I took two heavy pain killers in hopes to just cut down the pain (not the proper dose). The rest of the week I missed classes, skating sessions were cut-I only did an hour of practice in the four days leading up to the competition.
The competition came, I left about three hours early (an hour drive to the rink). In the same night I had to compete two routines with an already flared body, with very little practice the week leading up and missing time due to holidays and my vacation.
The first routine was freestyle AKA jumping and spinning. It started off okay. I landed my first jump with ease. Then my second jump came and as I was going into it, I knew it was going to be under-rotated…and it was. Third jump was supposed to be a combination jump but I crashed into the ice on the landing of the first one. However in the heat of the moment I thought the crash was on the second jump, so later on when I had to do my final jump, I did the same one (that I actually crashed on) and got 0 points because it was a repetition. And my final spin was also not counted…
When I got off the ice, my coach admitted he did not think I was getting up after that fall. Now, I had about an hour to get ready for the next routine-which would be my Chicago Interpretation.
That performance was just as bad as the other one. I was dead tired and in pain from the first performance but I still went through with it. But with this one, I knew my marks were reduced immensely. I barely covered the ice, forgot parts of the routine and at the end I ended the routine away from the judges…and I was so delusional I actually thought the judges got up and walked away until I turned around at the very end and noticed them.
Now even though it was a bad competition (3/3 in Freestyle and 4/4 in Interpretation). I noticed the pain was reduced the following day. But this time it lasted about a week before the pain came back. Now the only difference was, this one was gradual compared to the first competition and I was able to manage it more.
I don’t remember how many days I had off before the next competition. But I remember between both it was not long at all…Maybe 10 days at most? The competition was Regionals. I again decided to do two routines (same ones as last competition) and again both were in the same night. I did the freestyle competition first. I don’t remember much of the competition but I do remember that my body was cooperating for once. I missed one jump and one spin but still had enough points to come 3/4 place.
The interpretation was not even 30 minutes later. I was exhausted but I relaxed as much as I could and stayed hydrated. I went on the ice and did the second routine. Already a lot better then the last competition but was still not as good as the first competition of the season. I was disappointed with the results, but realized I was placed in a higher category then we asked for. (This competition I came 3/3).
This was the first time I walked out of a competition with completely no pain. The adrenaline was so high (probably because it was still lasting from the last competition and was added to this one). The adrenaline lasted a good few weeks and when it was starting to wear-off, it was time for another competition.
February 12th, 2016. Valentines Day weekend was my next competition and this was the only one I remember clearly. It was a good 40 minute drive and of course I had to compete right after rush hour ended-AKA traffic HELL and during a mega snowstorm. I got to the competition 25 minutes before I had to be on the ice-so essentially I was already stressed out. Even more-so that my coach was not around (stuck in the same traffic I was just in) and the competition was early because a lot of people were withdrawing due to the snowstorm.
I got ready and got my skates on. Warm-up time and there was still no coach. During the warm-up I decided to take it easy because I was the first one to compete in that group. I warmed up my spins and spirals. That is when I noticed my body was so stiff I had 0 flexibility and had to throw in an alternative for spirals.
Warm-up time ended. No coach still. I had to perform now the best I could. And to be honest this was the best I have done with this routine and probably the most fun I have had with it. I was not there to impress anyone and did not care how it ended. Once it was done I turned pale and was unable to breathe. I sat in the dressing room for a good 5 minutes. And then my coach showed up. A little late but knowing the weather it was understandable.
I came 4th place in that competition (out of 4) but highest points of the season. Again the adrenaline was kicking in and the pain was gone and lasted even longer this time.
It lasted just enough time to hit provincials. This competition would be a new test. Two routines in two day span. Freestyle Saturday and Interpretation Sunday. So this one I would have to spike the adrenaline for the freestyle (I missed one jump and one spin in the solo) but overall it was a strong routine. I left the rink that night and went home. The adrenaline was starting to wear off a bit. I went to sleep right away and the next day I had to leave at 10 to be at the rink. My body was burnt. I was barely able to stand up from bed. I just grabbed my stuff and went to the competition and just sat there watching previous groups. My skate was decent but it showed I was tired. I had no power no matter how hard I pushed. My score was not as low as I had been getting most of the season, but it was low enough to hit 8th position and last place.
Now essentially I was exhausted. Almost burnt out. Yet, very little pain. I had 5 days to recover from the competition and go into the final competition of the season. Invitation Vaudreuil-Dorion.
Two solos in the same day with an exhausted body and a lingering injury (from February) that was only getting worse. Leading up to the competition I took a lot of time that week to breathe and let my body relax. The adrenaline was still running from provincials that I had no fibro pain. Instead the pain was coming from the injury.
Friday night, the day before my competition. I sat down with my coach and we made a big decision.
Was I going to compete in the last competition?
My body screamed NO. My coach gave the pros and cons of competing and not competing but the ultimate decision was mine.
That same night I had some therapy done and even the next morning I was still unsure with whether I was going to go through with it.
I drove to the rink (again an hour away). When I got there I registered. Now there was no going back. The first routine of the day was interpretation. Overall it went decent. One of the better ones and I came 3/3.
The freestyle was later on that night. By that time I was lying on the bench almost sleeping. I was exhausted and did not feel well. During the warm-up I missed every jump and my spins travelled across the ice.
Now was the true test. Right before the music started all I could think about was ending the season on a good note. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and before I knew it, I was at the end of the choreography.
–I don’t remember anything that happened in there except that I threw in a jump at the end that I nearly forgot. Everything else went really well and I came 2/4.
After that the pain was gone for several weeks and even today it is starting to come back but it is not as fast in doing so as two years ago.
This is when I realized that being high off adrenaline became an addiction. I always wanted to be high off of it. I was in very little pain from it. Yes, I still had many symptoms like; exhaustion, numbness in the joints etc but there was NO pain.
However, right now it is June. I am currently in the off-season and suffering from flare-ups that are starting to get worse every week. Even though I try to have a consistent schedule, it is not helping. Except for last week (Friday 3rd). I was on the ice from 1:15-6:20 skating and near the end I was so high off adrenaline I was able to land jumps in full speed. But in order to get there I had to go through the rollercoaster of pain.
This is where I realized I need the adrenaline to live somewhat of a normal life. And I need to keep feeding it to my body.
After reading many articles on adrenaline; it is noted that the main symptoms include:
-Sudden increase of strength
-No feelings of pain
-Heightened senses (Smell/taste etc)
Also each article says to stay calm and be careful with the adrenaline rush. They can be dangerous. So in this case I know my limits…I know how to push the adrenaline up enough but for those who want to try it (at limitations) I will direct you to an article. But please be careful.