Today was a beautiful day! I got to get outside and really enjoy it as I made my way to the tram station. The sun was shining and it was rather warm outside considering we just had snow 2 days ago. Spring is coming. I got to thinking about working in the garden, and how much I loved my garden in Michigan. As I was walking down the tree lined path, I started to think about the last garden I planted in Michigan. I can remember the day so clearly.
It was early Spring 2016, Dirk and Cheyenne spent the entire afternoon with me, clearing the weeds and starting to turn the soil. That year we were lucky and had an early Spring. I wanted to be sure we took full advantage and get the garden in early. We worked really hard that day and got the entire garden ready for planting in one afternoon. Dirk and Cheyenne were sitting on the old railroad ties that we used as borders for the garden plot. We were all sweating and tired from a hard day’s work. The sun was still shinning bright as Cheyenne asked me if I could still do a cartwheel.
“Do a cartwheel??!! Of course I can still do a cartwheel!!” I loudly and proudly explained. She had been asking if if I could still do cartwheels for as long as she could talk. “How old did she think I was??” Is what I was thinking whenever she asked.
I played several sports growing up. Softball, tennis and volleyball were my favorite sports to play. Although I enjoyed playing, I was never fantastic at any sport. I wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t a superstar either. But I could do a perfect cartwheel.
My daughters have never been able to do cartwheels. We would spend Spring and Summer days out in the green grass practicing cartwheels. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t do one. They usually gave up after several attempts, but I would continue turning cartwheels all around the yard. I loved to do cartwheels!
On that fateful Spring day, I gave my best “look at me, I am going to do a perfect cartwheel face”, it was very smug indeed. I may have acted like I was about to do a triple axle, double dog dare flip over croc infested waters too. I readied my self, giant smile in place, a little run, a jump, up in the air and OH Sweet Jesus, What THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY ASS???!!!! There was a terrible, loud, grinding sound, and then a LOUD POP. A VERY LOUD POP.
I completed the cartwheel and I landed on my Right leg. I stood on my right leg, with the left held up like I was a giant flamingo.(The cartwheel was perfect by the way, but my landing was marred by the one legged stance) I was afraid to bear any weight on the left leg, I was certain that if I looked down, my left butt cheek would be lying in the grass. I stood like that for what felt like an eternity.
With tears streaming down my face, I looked over at my family. They had looks of sheer horror on their faces, Cheyenne held her hands up to her face as if to block away the trauma she had just witnessed. Dirk was trying to get up quickly to come to my side. I just stood there in my flamingo stance, afraid to move an inch. My left butt cheek, lying next to me on the ground.
Cheyenne asked several times, “What was that popping sound? Did you break your leg? Mama!! Are you alright??” I was pretty certain that I was NOT alright.
Dirk got to my side, and let me lean on him. I slowly put my left leg down, and tried to bear weight. I was able, but with VERY SHARP pain in my thigh and butt cheek. We slowly limped up to the house. Turns out I could stand on it and walk, but I was unable to bend the leg or sit. The left thigh swelled up immediately. I also had sharp pain in the knee and the ankle. (all insertion points for the tendons).
I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on my stomach with ice packs strapped to my butt. I was popping Motrin and Tylenol like they were candy. It was miserable pain.
The next morning, I needed help getting out of the bed and getting to the shower, and getting dressed. My thigh/butt was very swollen, but no bruising. Getting into the car was beyond painful. Because I was unable to bend the leg at all, I had to put the seat all the way back, then ride while practically laying down. Dirk had to drive me to work.
I was working in a large Orthopedic office at the time. (How convenient for me!) After limping into the office, I quickly found one of the Athletic Trainers to find out what I had done to myself. So, I started to relay the event and I was interrupted by the
smug little shit very young Athletic Trainer. She wanted to know why on earth I was trying to do a cartwheel, at my age……
Really??Really?? At my age?? How Fucking old did she think I was?? I calmly explained that I was 45, and that I was perfectly capable of doing cartwheels, thank you very much! She seemed a bit shocked, and still thought it was very odd for someone of my advanced years to be trying to do cartwheels. I then explained that I wasn’t trying I was doing a very perfect cartwheel when it happened. She then reminded me that I wasn’t able to put my own shoes on anymore since doing the cartwheel. Point taken.
Well, she wanted me to talk with one of the Sports Medicine doctors about the injury. Supposedly to get his input and recommendations, but I think she just thought it was funny as hell.
As it turns out, I had a second degree hamstring tear. The sound we all heard when it happened was the tendon ripping. Rest, Ice, compression and NSAIDs were the immediate treatment. Then, physical therapy, and lots of time. The doctor also wanted to know why I was still doing cartwheels. So did the other Sports Medicine doctor that I talked to. Eventually, nearly everyone who heard about the Great Cartwheel Catastrophe wanted to know WHY?
Why was it such a surprise to everyone that I still did cartwheels? Why did it bother me so much that people thought that I shouldn’t be doing them? Those questions bothered me almost as much as the pain from the injury.
It seemed that people could no longer see me the way that I saw myself. When they looked at me, they saw a woman in her mid 40’s, that had no business doing cartwheels and this made me very sad.
The picture above represents the person that I feel like when I do a cartwheel. The picture is of me and The Marlboro Man, AKA my Dad circa 1976ish.
It took a full year for the pain to completely go away. I sometimes still get a stabbing pain when I start to stretch before yoga. I lost a great deal of flexibility with this injury, and no matter how hard I have tried to get it back, it is gone.
Fast forward to today. It was a perfect day to do a cartwheel, but I didn’t do it. I like to think that I have finally reached an age where I am able to learn from my mistakes, and I was really afraid I would hurt myself again. But more to the point, I didn’t want to hurt myself and then have to explain to everyone how I had hurt myself. I didn’t want to give anyone else a reason to view me as Too Old.
So, although the Cartwheel Catastrophe of 2016 is really funny to think about now(That’s what I get for being a show off), it has truly had a lasting effect on me and my thoughts on aging.
So, have any of you had to give up a much loved activity due to age or injury? How have you dealt with feeling too old to do something? I look forward to you thoughts!