I had a really bad knee injury in March of 2012. Then surgery. Then rehab, rehab rehab. When they first told me it would take a year to get back to the mat I didn’t believe them. I thought maybe they were exaggerating.
But here’s the thing about doctors —- they go to medical school for a reason. And, as it turns out, they know stuff.
It took a year, almost to the day.
My surgery was May 2, 2012. My first class back was May 11, 2013.
It was kind of terrifying when I came back, but I did it. I navigated that space between being terrified and really enjoying myself, and (lets face it) sometimes not enjoying myself.
And then I didn’t have a real injury again for several years. Sure, I broke a toe here or there, and got a good bruise, but there was nothing that sent me to the doctor.
Two months ago I hurt my shoulder —- and it wasn’t even on the mat ! I was muscling my heavy backpack into the passenger seat of my car, my arm was extended and my shoulder just twisted wrong. It hurt like hell. And it hurt all the time, in odd ways.
I ended up going to a shoulder specialist, who told me I had a tear in my rotator cuff, but that it was minor and I wouldn’t need surgery. I would only need time.
So, I’ve been hanging back. I come to class and I’ll drill and learn, but I won’t train just yet. And, slowly, my shoulder has gotten better. I’m not back to normal, but I’m feeling better every day. I’m feeling good enough that I should be able to start training live again soon.
Sure, I love it. I have a great time when I do train, but that’s not all I feel. I also feel scared. Real injuries will do that to you. The emotional waters are, at turns, exhilarating and terrifying.
A few years ago I talked to Art, our Sensei Emeritus (and a 5th degree Blackbelt), about this. It was as I was returning to the mat after my knee surgery. He said that fear was like stones in the river, it never really goes away but you do find ways around it. I think that’s true. At least, that’s how I experience it. Now, that’s what I tell myself when the fear comes up for me. It’s just stones in the river.