Shortly after my third child was born, I resumed training the senior moves in the field (MIF) test. I enjoyed coaching both freestyle and MIF and loved the insight I received when I trained for them myself. I had passed my senior free skate test at 27, and wanted the honor of earning a second U.S. Figure Skating Gold medal. I was already 44 years old, and the MIF tests were set to change, so time was of the essence. Now or never.
Six months in, I started to have intense hip pain. I pushed through, passed the test, and immediately had surgery to fix a labrum tear in my hip….which only partially fixed the problem. Two painful years went by, and then I had a total hip replacement…and I did not get better. I was trying to “Get Up,” but instead continued to fall even further. Four more years of grinding pain followed. I continued to coach though all of it, and I know how much it distressed my students to see me flinching in pain when I tried to demonstrate the simplest of skills. I was immobile and I missed skating.
It was finally determined that my hip replacement was put in the wrong place, a full ½ inch too far to the right. Unfortunately, the only way to fix a bad hip replacement is to take it out – with a hammer and chisel. I was warned that my leg might break when they took the old implant out. And break it did, shattering into four large pieces. It’s the kind of injury that you would get from being in a high speed car crash, without the added inconvenience of totaling your car. My leg is now titanium from my hip almost to my knee, and a cable holds the 2 largest pieces of my femur on to the implant. I have reached the very bottom of a very long fall.
My hope to skate again is what has pulled me through these last 10 months, and truthfully, the last seven years. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to “Get Up” as a skater and those hard-earned lessons have been invaluable. So far, getting up has included six months on crutches, 3 months with a cane, physical therapy throughout and not a single day without pain. I’ve moved on to thrice-weekly sessions with a trainer, hoping to gain enough strength to stop limping and to fully support my weight on my right leg.
“Getting Up” also meant not letting my injury stop me from taking my 83-year-old father on his dream trip to Ireland, less than 3 months after surgery. I crutched to the top of the Cliffs of Moher, out on to the Giant’s Causeway, and up spiral staircases in 17th century castles.
I’m still “Getting Up.”
I’m now back to standing on the ice while coaching, but for the time being my skating is limited to swizzles and LFO 3-turns. Recently, I coached two of my adult skaters to medals at the 2017 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, and I hope my story concludes with me joining them on the ice in the future.