Hello to my family, friends, sponsors, and supporters!
I hope this update finds you enjoying the transition from spring to summer as we approach the Solstice. It has been 13 weeks since I last filled everyone in on sport and life in general, which means it's been 12 weeks since I had shoulder surgery...wow. Sometimes, caught up in the daily of minutiae of things, life creeps by painfully slowly...but then you zoom out to the bigger picture and BAM! a whole season is gone...flowers bloomed, rain fell, shoulder healed nice and tight, and through it all the mountains never changed!
I get the feeling I last left you all with a distinctly downcast vibe (most unlike me), as I was facing the most uncertainty I'd ever known from the lowest place I'd ever been. It's funny how in working through the night you eventually muddle your way through to the dawn... In every darkness lies the seed of light and growth.
I went in for shoulder anterior stabilization surgery at the Banff Hospital on March 7th, under the careful precision of Dr. Heard (the best shoulder surgeon in the country, I'm told - thank you Dr. Heard, from the bottom of my heart). I will do a concise(ish) capture of that time until now, thanking those who got me from there to here...as I could not have done it without each and every one of them (plus many more not mentioned). On March 7th I had 6 anchors put in my shoulder (3x the usual number) to re-attach the labrum to the humeral head and glenoid capsule, and they also "roughed up" the bone in there and "wove" the labrum to help it catch...I also had a 1.5cm x 1cm Hill-Sachs Lesion (deep dent in the bone from when it dislocated). I went into the surgery almost equally strong on both sides, thanks to 4 weeks of heavy pre-surgery prep (thanks Hugh!).
The first 10 days post surgery: Survival mode, extremely well taken care of thanks to my sister Madeline...I literally could not stomach the opioids so relied heavily on the ice machine (thank you Lodges!), purica recovery (thank you Cindy!) and acetaminophen, and the distraction of some slow walks/good books/Fast & Female work via voice command and left handed typing/Mads's company. I was lucky enough to be able to handle 30-60min walks a few days in, and 4 days in was sitting on the spin bike for 30min and doing some basic lower body band work. I truly do not know what I would have done with you there, Madeline, and I can't thank you enough for your generosity, empathy, epic cooking, and patience with many sleepless nights and grumpy afternoons. I can only hope to someday somehow repay your kindness. Words also cannot describe my gratitude for my sponsors at Windtower, providing me my amazing place to live in Canmore...I was able to walk down he street to physio and the gym, walk for groceries, and recover happily in my cute little condo...a picture-perfect scenario. ❤
The first 4 weeks post surgery: My dad came to visit for 5 days and did lots of helpful dad-things (such as giving me messy ponytails, freezing a bunch of meals, cleaning, and taking me out on the town)....so lucky to have a family ready to help at the drop of a hat! I also did more and more physio sessions with Hugh at One Wellness; I can't thank him enough for carefully reining me in while still pushing me just the right amount to make steady progress. I got better and better at doing things with my left hand, got a bit frustrated not driving or chopping food or doing my own hair at all, and watched my right side atrophy away! By this time I was also getting extremely tight in my upper back, and out of alignment thanks to the sling. Lucky for me, I have the best massage therapist in town, Cheyenne at Wildflower...and I have the very special help of Karen Barker's magic hands in visceral therapy!
The first 6 weeks: I did more and more spin bike work and gym work thanks to Functional Rehab Therapy with Jake at One Wellness, feeling some actual GAINS in my legs (not easy to find safe moves when you're in a sling!)...I also can't thank the community at Athletic Evolution Gym in Canmore enough, as you al put up with my sweating profusely and laboured breathing on the spin bike and uphill treadmill day in and day out. Around 6 weeks I also was well enough to travel to Vancouver to visit my dear friend Julie and her daughter Ella, and play tourist for a weekend...we did SO MUCH in just a few short days, and it was a lovely way to kickoff the spring and feel like the worst was behind me! Thank you two for a special time together, and thank you Georgie and Roland for a lovely night in Port Moody - amazing food, and even better conversation.
Weeks 6-10: I left the sling behind and slowly started using my right side more and more again. I used up the last of my out-of-country insurance (thank you Biathlon Canada for taking care of your athletes so well when we're traveling the world!) and had to start paying out-of-pocket again for all the types of therapy sessions, so lessened their frequency. I went home to Ontario for two weeks to visit family and work and rehab from there...and it was so incredibly wonderful to see my Mom on actual Mother's day, spend time with my parents, Mads, and Tristopher at the lake, and see Emily and Aaron's store in action again! Thanks to the careful guidance of Bill and Mark at Glassier's Physiotherapy in Wingham, my shoulder progressed extremely fast during that time period...thank you guys! I also have been extremely productive during my working hours for Fast and Female, using my friend Peter's new co-working space in Canmore, the Fuzebox!
Weeks 10-12 (now): I progressed further with my training in that I've finally left that *#&% spin bike behind and am now able to run for as long as I wish (21km of intervals and intensity at the quarry/berms uphill, anyone?!) as well as use two poles to ski stride up mountains thanks to a posture correcting brace from EC3D...it reduces the jostling and also allowed me to start road biking and legs-only roller-skiing already! Folks, I am doing full pushups again, after leaning against a wall at 5 weeks and crying thinking I never would! I even did some standing shooting this week, and my first target only had two shots outside the prone ring (still hits)...I guess I haven't lost much there, haha. My strength training has also increased more and more, and my legs are by far and away the strongest they've ever been. If it weren't for a turtle on one of them, I would hardly recognize them...
I am so happy and grateful to be back training with my Rocky Mountain Racer teammates the past two weeks, and soon will be hopping in some biathlon workouts with the biathlon ladies again once I'm roller skiing with two poles. I have an epic crew to train with this year - some extremely fast women across both ski techniques and all distances - and some very dedicated coaches and IST team (ski and technique coaching, shooting practice, strength training, nutrition, physiotherapy, massage, visceral therapy, sports psychology, hypnotherapy and more), whose faith in me and determination to help me master this sport, all its intricacies, and myself along the way, is deeply appreciated. I have healed some other deeper issues during these past 12 weeks that I will discuss in another post soon...for now, I'll leave it at, I cannot believe how lucky I am to have so many amazing people around me guiding me through sport and life in general. I thank my lucky stars every day for how well this massive obstacle has gone, and how much I've learned through it all. I cannot wait to see how much strength I can gain in my whole body, as a fully functional unit this summer, and continue my pursuit of mastery for another year. I know I left my last update uncertain of whether I should continue on this path, as it had felt like the universe was telling me to "stop already and move on!"...but I realized for as many "signs" I thought were telling me to go, there were an equal number telling me to keep fighting, and once I admitted to myself what my heart and gut really wanted, the decision was easy. The only thing I prayed for during this time was clarity, and it did come..not as a sudden lightning bolt, but like water slowly turning clear as the sand and silt settled.
I had to sit in that impossibly painful place of not knowing what was going to happen for about 2.5 months; that liminal space of discomfort, but in doing so I felt the truth of what I needed to do - which was see this sport through to its bitter and glorious end, and go out on my own terms - not with a DNF next to my name and a shoulder hanging from its joint. I am also making some major changes this year that I will delve into greater detail on my next piece, but I am certain I am still turning over some massive logs (not just little stones) in my pursuit of mastery. I owe it to myself to see what I can do after a few season of hardships - I honestly don't know that the result-outcomes will be this winter (I guess we never know), but I'm ok with the worst case scenario (my international results don't improve) and I'm still motivated as hell for the best case scenario.
I've been so lucky that I don't wish for much right now, but two things would be that I'd updated you all throughout the first 12 weeks of this healing process, and that I'd taken some photos of my progression during that time because it was pretty damn badass...but I think it was really good for me to take a step back from the nordic world for a bit and focus purely on recovery, my work for Fast and Female, and family and friends. Those are are the only things that actually matter. Now, I'm SO ready to go SO hard and see what the next few months bring. I promise to update you every 6 weeks in the training season, and delve into greater detail what I'm working on and enjoying through this process. I also promise to be slightly less wordy 😊
I see Dr Heard for the 13 week follow up later this week, and I think he's going to be impressed with his work, if I do say so myself. I know I am proud of myself (I don't say that often) for fighting through this storm with my roots still deeply embedded and fresh new scars to remind me of all I learned. I am so grateful for my family, friends, teammates, and supporters each and every day...I hope to touch base with you all over the coming months.
"Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering. " - Paulo Coelho
Onwards, upwards, and with a little more mobility and strength every day!
A few reads that I helped me/I enjoyed over the past 12 weeks: