Monday Memories-The Cartwheel Catastrophe of 2016

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.

Me and the Marlboro Man

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!




53 thoughts on “Monday Memories-The Cartwheel Catastrophe of 2016

  1. It’s not the age, it’s the spontaneity that goes. The need to properly warm up before doing anything rash (like impromptu cartwheels) is needed, so you end up tiring yourself out with that and not doing the rash thing… 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh I’ve had to give up so much due to my bad back and dodgy knees. Running, dancing, sitting on the floor, baths (I literally can’t get out of them). Basically, the only activity I can do now is walking. Evening swimming is too much for my knees. Anyway, I still don’t think 45 is too old to do cartwheels though, but bloody hell that injury sounded sooooo painful. Poor you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OMG. I think baths may be the next thing to go fort me too! I totally “Butterballed” in the bath last week. (This is a term coined by my family. It is referencing the way a Butterball Turkey slips and slides in the sink when you are fixing a Thanksgiving Dinner. That is what I looked like in the bath tub the other day as I slipped and slid around like a big Butterball Turkey.)
      Aging is not for the weak.
      It was honestly the worst sports related injury that I have ever had. Ugh.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This sounds absolutely horrifying–not just because of the pain and the sound, but because I see myself in every word. I am coming to that place in life (as I ponder the MRI appointment I have later on today) that cartwheels and long trail runs are no longer in my future. But, I do love you and the Marlboro man. And love that a can-do spirit won’t let a little thing like age and tendon snapping keeping her down!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I won’t list all the stuff I’ve had to give up, I’d rather leave room for more people to comment, haha. Personally, I think a 45 year-old has EVERY business doing a damn cartwheel if she wants to. What’s the matter with those people? I hope your hammie continues to improve & you post a photo of yourself doing a cartwheel (after proper warmup, I suppose) on your 50th birthday!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am so impressed. I could never do a cartwheel (no matter how much I tried!) So the fact you COULD do a perfect one is awesome! It’s just a shame that it hurt so much afterwards. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really did. The surprise everyone had was not something that I expected. It felt like they thought that I sat at home and knitted in a rocking chair each day. (Not that there is anything wrong with knitting). It was a shock to realize that my outsides no longer matched how I viewed myself.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a part of getting older I think sadly. I’m afraid of more things now I’m older which annoys me! I’ve never been great at anything like cartwheels so I wouldn’t try to do one now!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. At 56, I still feel like I can do a cartwheel…if this back would ever stop hurting and when I’m completely recovered from the shoulder surgery and bicep repair. Yeah. I’m sure I could do it. LOL!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Cherie that story made me laugh and brought back some memories for me – I too thought I was still the goddess of cartwheels – I remember doing one when I was around 40 and I heard every.single.joint crack,groan and grind – I thought I was going to die. Fortunately I had no major injury from the experience, but it was a real eye opener as to the fact that I’m not 16 any more and my body didn’t enjoy the “fun” of it at all! It’s weird when our bodies and mental image of ourselves are so out of line isn’t it? I’m glad you recovered (the image of your buttock on the ground next to you made me snort!) Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had to laugh about you doing cartwheels and feeling old my mother did cartwheels for as long as I can remember. I honestly can’t remember when she stopped. It was so much a part of our lives I never gave a thought to her being too old. Neither I nor my sisters could cartwheel. I know the lasting effects of an accident though and it does make you stop and think.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I NEVER learn from mistakes like that!! Lol! I actually just tried to do a cartwheel on the beach in Cuba… Funny what many rum and cokes will do to all sensibilities.. I didn’t pull or sprain anything, thankfully, but I had tried this before and I don’t know why I thought this would work out so much better! Apparently, gravity and I are no longer on speaking terms. Lol! But, I’m sure in a year or so I’ll forget that and try it again! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. HI Cherie I can feel your pain as I was reading this. However, it was only yesterday I was talking to a lady who becomes very indignant at the term ‘for your age’. Of course, we need to adjust to our bodies aging but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on having fun. We just need to listen to our bodies more. I still run at 60 but no, I don’t think I could do a cartwheel successfully that is for sure. Thanks for stopping by at #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh dear! I tried so hard not to laugh but I certainly feel your pain. I have given up my desire to leap frog everything in sight because I’m sure that will happen to be one day. When asked by my family I reply that the pole (or whatever) is too loose, too high, too low, I’m not dressed appropriately..,,, they keep expecting me to perform my leapfrogging act despite my advanced age!!
    I did enjoy your story and have shared. #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I didn’t find the story at all funny – and was most indignant about the behaviour of the young Physical Therapy person. However I’ve found that they have this attitude to everyone, whatever your age. If they could have their way we wouldn’t walk, lift bags, jump or do anything that could damage our joints. Hope you’re doing cartwheels again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look back and find it very funny , now. I also think that the Athletic Trainers at that office are really remarkable, but young. So, they tend to focus on other young athletes, and do not understand the older people. They just aren’t old enough to have had the experience, yet. But they will.
      I hope I can do cart wheels again too, maybe someday. Or, I may need to take up a new activity!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I never could get the hang of doing a cartwheel, so I guess that’s one thing I won’t have to give up. I have had to give up sleeping all night uninterrupted and reading the fine print on anything without glasses. And if I ever hear “at your age” coming from a doctor half my age again, it will be too soon! But as my grandmother used to tell me, “Getting old is hell, but it beats the alternative.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This made me crack up. I, former gymnast, got a funny joke from friend about doing cartwheels. So, this 56 year old tried on right in my family room on the wooden floor. I did it, but it was ugly. Fortunately no consequences. Parts just don’t work like they used to! Entertaining read.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m 45 and I tripped and fell a couple of weeks ago taking the garbage can up the driveway. I scraped my knees, hands, and face. I still have to wear a brace on my sprained wrist occasionally. So I can’t imagine what I’d do to myself if I attempted a cartwheel.


  16. What a story! I mean its awful that you broke your leg, but if you’re young at heart people can’t limit your life. Life is short and if you want to have fun do it as long as you’re not hurting anyone else. I must say though….for future references try to aim for zero injuries.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve never been able to do proper cartwheels, never mind perfect ones – I reckon you could still do them… as long as you stretched first to warm up.

    BTW your Dad is Cool AF!

    Liked by 1 person

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