ISIA student Yasmin shares her experience of injury and the road to recovery.
Just over a week ago – it feels like a life time ago – I had a little tumble when I was skiing after training in and my ACL gave way…
In winter, I live to ski and I have been training for my Level 3 instructor’s qualification in Courchevel this season. I was so close to my goal with 2 major exams just around the corner. I was hoping to return to the Alps next season as a qualified Level 3 instructor, ready to start training for Level 4 – now I will have to wait until next season and do it all over again.
I am used to skiing with a dodgy knee, supported by a brace, as I ruptured my ACL when I was 14. Typically, it was a silly accident, one of those you wish you could rewind. I was just capering around with my brother, so we went a little bit wild. Somehow I made the decision to follow him on his snowboard over massive mounds of solid hard snow – man-made compacted jumps. I went over the first one without a problem, however classic me, I hadn’t actually assessed the jumps and, if I had, I would have seen that there were several in a row directly after one another. I didn’t see this and didn’t prepare myself from the first jump so the next thing I know is that I’m flying in mid-air, limbs flailing everywhere, poles almost poking out my eyes – it must have been a sight from the chair lift which was directly over the jumps – and the sound of a piercing-twisting-popping-ripping noise – for which I can’t find the right word – filled my ears as I landed, badly, with one leg at a funny angle and the ski still attached. Screaming in pain I lay there thinking about how my sport would be ruined – I loved my skiing and I was playing tennis at a competitive level at the time, as well as running in the hills and generally leading an active lifestyle which is so much part our lives at home in the Cairngorms.
So that was the start of the dreaded injury that is affecting me now and I’m sitting in bed…AGAIN… welcome to the active lifestyle I’m leading in the Alps! However not to worry as I am flopped in my boyfriend’s chalet. He goes skiing every day as he is also training to become a ski instructor so, in fact, I think it’s his duty to come back from the slopes and give me attention and let me lounge around in his lovely chalet that New Generation has provided, don’t you?! Instead of dirty dishes I have a freshly baked cake that is placed on the counter every day which I try to avoid but somehow I am always drawn to – just for a sneaky nibble – and then proceed to lurk around the kitchen looking for more food to cure my boredom as I spend my day sitting in bed like a lump of lard, leg raised and iced.
Drama aside, I’m trying to use the time to reflect and to find some inspiration. Everyone has that feeling sometimes and as my mum pointed out this is the time to be most inspired, to dig deep into my heart and mind and think about what I really want to do and how to go about it. Zeki and I have been raised by my mum, all by herself, in a remote part of Scotland. She is a writer and the most valuable inspiration in my life, so this morning I just decided to read through her website and blog to remind myself that life is in front of you so you need to grab it by b***s and take something positive from every experience, even it’s small or, in my case, bloody frustrating. Mum loves to tell me that everything is ‘character building’ and a ‘learning curve’ and I now see what she means.
When I first injured my knee, I worked through lots of physio and didn’t need surgery; in fact I was advised against it because of my age as I was still growing. Many people can function and still do sport without an ACL and that’s what I did. I went through a period where my knee would constantly collapse when I played tennis or just walked down the stairs but I strengthened my leg muscles mainly through hill running and skiing – my favourite things. Over the years, there have been moments when my knee has jolted out of place or I’ve had minor problems but nothing serious that prevented me from sport… not until now anyway. But if I managed once I can manage again.
The only thing I am 100 percent certain about in life at the moment is that I want to ski as a career and I want to go all the way, I want to train others like me and pass on the feelings inside me that drive me to get to the top. Having time to think can be an advantage – I can perhaps think in a way I might not have been able to if I wasn’t injured and make a tactical plan for after my recovery. The last inspiration of mine who I will mention is my ski trainer who told me to take my time and think like a tortoise – “the tortoise wins the race and you must aim to pass everything first time”. This is what I will do. I will try to be patient and take my time to come back stronger and hungrier for success – ‘talent needs trauma’! – Yasmin