New Beginnings and Minor Setbacks

A few things have happened since my last blog post. Here is a short Instavideo of last night’s training:

What you’re seeing is a treatment and mobility exercise to break down an intramuscular hematoma, which was the result of an injury which I incurred in training on Monday night. An intramuscular hematoma as basically a bleed that is contained within a muscle, and although it’s usually caused by trauma (everyone assumed that I had copped a leg-kick) it can also be caused (as in my case) by an elongation injury.

The injury was acute and there was intense and unrelenting pain when it happened, and I was immediately unable to extend my hip or flex my knee due to the pain, which meant that I had to try and stay in a semi-seated position. Coach Hughes had to fireman-carry me to the car as it was the only way I could be moved without extending my hip, and the Turners took me to hospital.

The injury hurt to be moved at all, so every movement of the car put me in extra pain, as did my body’s rather useless reaction (which was to start trembling incontrollably, presumably in response to the pain.) It also happens that both Mike Turner and I deal with stress by laughing uncontrollably at everything, and that I also have the tendency to laugh uncontrollably specifically in situations where I’m trying to stop myself from laughing because it’s inappropriate. (This has seen me in fits of laughter at funerals, death-beds and emergency wards. Sometimes I cover my mouth and try to pretend that I’m crying. I can’t help it.) So the laughter also caused more movement to the site of the injury, causing more pain. I tried to stop myself from laughing, which only made it worse.

When we got to the hospital, we then had to face to dilemma of how to get into the ward. We thought that Turner fireman-carrying me over his shoulder would probably have been the easiest but would have looked a little dramatic, so Natalie Turner went to fetch some paramedics and a stretcher. Mike coached me through my breathing and we laughed about the irony of the fact that I had tried so hard my entire adult life not to end up in a hospital car-park breathing in this way. (“Look on the bright side!” Turner said, “At least when you go home tonight, you won’t have a baby!”)

Once inside, I was ignored for several hours before being given some codeine and anti-inflammatories, when I finally stopped shaking, which was a great relief. Natalie tried to distract me by engaging me in my usual soap-box topics of conversation, such as the social disease of fake food-that-isn’t-food (McDonald’s, I’m looking at you). Meanwhile Hughes and Tom Crosby showed up, and Turner provided some entertainment with stories of his childhood, which involved running through glass doors, accidentally KO’ing his brother and subsequently fleeing from said brother, who punched through locked doors to get to him.

It was really nice to have my friends and team-mates around me, but I don’t know if the combination of my over-all healthiness, my athlete-level pain tolerance, my laughter-in-response-to-stress mechanism, and the Turner-Hughes noise levels helped me to be taken very seriously as a patient. A few hours later, a nurse tried to send me home, but since I couldn’t walk I stayed (it wasn’t really a choice!)

At around 2am I was finally seen by a doctor, who told me that he suspected either a hematoma or a tear, and sent me home with pain-killers and crutches. It took a series of days to get seen by a GP for an ultrasound referral, get an ultrasound appointment, come back to see a GP again to get the ultrasound report and then get referred for an MRI to assess the extent of muscle damage.

During these four days I was in constant pain and was unable to move from the semi-seated position that I’d collapsed into when the injury happened. I had to rely on my team-mates, a friend, my house-mate and later my mum for almost everything. I could hobble around in a bent-over position on crutches, but it hurt a lot. I definitely couldn’t drive or take buses, and carrying things around was impossible. It made me realise how easily we can lose our ability to do even the things that we take for granted – like getting up to get a glass of water, or making a pot of tea and bringing it over to the couch.

Fortunately I have a cousin who is a physio – unfortunately she lives in Singapore. It was reassuring to be able to communicate with her through this process, as she gave me the sense that someone was overseeing my progress, and she was able to guide me to use ice, elevation and compression – which no one else did.

Fortunately I also have a great sports physio here in Adelaide, so once I had finally got my hands on the ultrasound report I went straight to his clinic, and he began administering treatment to break down the hematoma and reduce the risk of calcification (which is when the hematoma basically turns into bone, which obviously lacks the contractile properties of muscle fibre and results in a permanent loss of function.)

When he told me that he would have me walking out of the clinic that night, it sounded too good to be true, but that is what happened! We progressed from the treatment and exercise in the video above, to being able to walk forwards and backwards, raise my knees, and perform body-weight squats on a vibrating platform. It felt so good to be able to move relatively freely, to be able to stand up straight, to sit properly with my knee bent, and to be able to perform some kind of an exercise, no matter how regressed it seemed for me.

I have another session scheduled today, and I can’t wait!

In other news, Hughes and Turner have recently started their own dedicated MMA team, Trinity MMA, with Hughes as head coach. The training schedule currently includes MMA training (including cage work), MMA sparring, wrestling and NoGi BJJ for MMA, with more training opportunities expected to be added soon. Beginners and people from all disciplines are welcome to train with us so if you’re in or around Adelaide please feel free to check it out.

Trinity MMA

Also, if you got up today and you weren’t in debilitating pain, and you could walk around and make your own coffee and feed yourself, do take a moment to be grateful for the fact. Being healthy and whole is a blessing – life isn’t all about achieving, and it’s ok to appreciate the basic state of being healthy and alive while you’re still working towards your goals.

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