Thursday, December 29, 2011

"[Insert Lame Excuse]"

So due to the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I took a little bit of a blogging break!  Actually, there’s more to it than just me being busy.  For awhile, there was just no new news in [my] gymnastics world.  And considering the last piece of news I got was good, I was not complaining.

The last week or so, I spent going to practice in the morning, swinging bars (no dismounts), rehabbing my knee with the physical therapy my trainer gave me, conditioning arms and abs, and biking until my knee hurt.  Oh, then icing.  Lots and lots of ice.  Boy, am I thankful for the automatic ice machine that my parents have.  Nothing really changed from that routine because I knew I couldn’t get fitted for my official brace until I came back to Davis.  So in a way, I was just killing time until I went back to school.

On the 26th, my parents took me to the airport, and two flights (and ten hours) later, I sat back in the Sacramento airport waiting for my ride back to my apartment.  Practice started up again in the afternoon on the next day.  Call it jet lag, or the off balance from my brace, or whatever excuse you can come up with, but my bars were sub-par.  Normally when I come back to Davis practice after a break, I’m so jacked up on adrenaline, that I actually do pretty well.  But for some reason, these last two days I haven’t even been able to get to some of my skills.  And on the second practice of the week, my coach just told me to be done after falling over and over again on this one particular skill.

My trainer, Missy, was watching practice that day, and saw that I was getting frustrated.  I couldn’t help it.  It’s annoying to me, because I KNOW I can do this skill.  Even with the brace, I was doing it last week.  It’s not hard for me.  But no matter what I did, no matter how hard I wanted it, I couldn’t get to the skill I needed to do.  After bars Missy talked to me and reminded me that the path that I’ve chosen this season, isn’t going to be an easy one.  Sometimes I’ll have days where I get frustrated, and I’ll be able to pick myself up and keep going—but sometimes I’ll have days where I can’t do it alone, and I’ll need the help of my teammates.  She reminded me that that’s okay.  Be patient and give it time.  It’ll come back. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride

Finally.  This is my mood.  And to be honest, these last couple weeks have been kind of crazy.  Metaphorically, they’ve been a roller coaster.   Not to mention, I think my roommates would really appreciate the reference.  I guess this is my shout out to them, because I miss them.

I hinted at it before, but being home at first, was a little weird.  I kept telling myself it was because no one was home yet, and I was still stuck in a wait-and-see period.  Nevertheless, now I’m not. J  I have officially received the approval from my old surgeon in North Carolina, and I’ve been approved by the team doctor in Davis and both of the team surgeons!  All of them are pretty much saying, that there’s no way that I’ll know if the brace is going to protect my knee enough until I just start trying bars.  Finally hearing that and being able to swing some bars, made my day yesterday!  Which is hard to do because I got to go shopping with my dad, and learned a new pen twirling trick… so it was a pretty good day.

People may still call me crazy, but after long talks with my parents, old coaches, and a few of my friends, I’ve decided that this is really what I want.  The doctor said, I’ll be able to tell if the brace isn’t working, so I’ll know if I am actually damaging my meniscus.  It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision.  If the brace can’t keep my knee stable enough for a bar routine, I’ll get the surgery.  But at least I will have tried and won’t have to wonder, “What if?”  Twelve weeks: that’s really all I’m asking for.  After season, I’ll get the surgery right away and go back to having a fixed knee.

Back to being home—now that I’ve been able to catch up with coaches and a few old teammates, I’m glad to be home.  I’ve missed them.  And now that I have a plan (and I’m not waiting to hear from doctors anymore), I’m free to just enjoy my Christmas break. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finally Back in the South

I’m home.  For the first time since the beginning of September, and it feels like it’s been forever.  But I guess I need to be prepared for that, considering I’m probably not coming home again until summer… I guess that’s the price I pay for going to school in California—and for growing up. 

First of all, it’s freezing here.  Really was not prepared for it.  My mom told me to “pack light, freeze at night” since it wasn’t going to be exactly easy for me to lug a suitcase around.  But literally, I’m freezing at night.  Ha ok not literally.

I go to the doctor today, and I’m still a little worried.  I have hope that my knee is strong enough to compete bars, but I might be too hopeful.  I can’t deal with the disappointment anymore.  But regardless of what the doctor says, I will probably be forced to make a decision at some point.

I have never, ever been this good at gymnastics in my life.  Last year, I felt like I got this spot on the team because of who I knew, and who I was related to—not because of my skills.  And so I worked hard, to prove that I belonged on this team.  And in my opinion, I did it.  In the last couple months especially, I proved that I was not only good enough to be on the team, but I was good enough to compete for the team.  But then I got hurt.  Now I’m worried that if I don’t compete this season, I’ll never be the gymnast I was two weeks ago.  I’m worried that if I get the surgery now, that I just won’t bounce back like I used to.  Especially because it took me two years to really be good again.  I’m worried that even if I get my surgery after season, I still won’t make it back to full health in time.  But at least if that is the case, I will have had one last season filled with memories that I could never find anywhere else.

Again, one step at a time.  I need to see what the doctor(s) says, I need to see what my trainer says, and I need to see what my parents think.  In the meantime, I’m just holding strong to the hope that God will protect me and prepare me for whatever His plan may be.  Pray that I can keep that hope and attitude. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The "Optimistic" Plan

So after getting my hopes up before my last doctors appointment, I once again find myself (naively) getting my hopes up.  People live normal lives without an ACL all the time.  They just usually aren’t gymnasts.  Although apparently there is a girl that competes all-around for Oklahoma or some school like that, and she has no ACL.  What a psycho?

But seriously.  I’ve already pointed out how much mobility and control I feel like I have in my knee.  And I only want to compete one event: bars.  So why wouldn’t  I be able to just do a few board mounts to the high bar and a dismount every once in awhile.  Put me in a brace, tape me up—I  think I can do it.

Obviously my coaches are all for that idea.  After all, I worked so hard all year and all summer.  I improved so much, I just want a chance to show what I can do.  But then I think about the reality of doing gymnastics without an ACL, and it’s a little scary. 

In my opinion, being ACL deficient would not have too many short term risks.  My trainer said that the “action” braces are good enough that they would protect me from completely blowing out my knee or something.  Which is definitely something I would like to avoid.  What it may not be able to prevent is the damage to my meniscus.  Sometimes you can fix a damaged meniscus, but sometimes you just have to cut it out.  So I’m looking at potential for some serious arthritis in the (not so distant) future. 

I have some friends that don’t really approve of this “ACL deficient” plan.  Even if I do compete bars this season, I would get the ACL surgery after season.  But 10 weeks is a long time for things to go wrong.  Some are concerned that I’m maybe doing it for the wrong reasons, or that it’s just flat out not the best idea for ME and my body.  I’m thankful that today my friend told me that while I can hope for the best, I need to be prepared for the worst.  So she asked me, if I was faced with the worst case scenario, would I regret my decision to compete?  To be honest, I don’t know if I would or would not.  I had been looking at the whole situation with the mindset that I would probably be just fine—and if I wasn’t, they could probably just fix it when I get the surgery in the spring.  But if it’s something that can’t be fixed so simply, it scares me a little bit more.

Still.  Even with these risks and fears, I know what I want (at this moment).  I want to compete a year without the ACL.  I want to train just bars, and I want to get the surgery in the spring.  I have all the confidence in the world in my body and my knee.  Maybe even too much… Either way, it’s not my decision at the moment.  I still have to get the “plan” approved by the doctor(s).  One day at a time. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Violet Bouquet

It’s a brand new day.  Last night I attempted to study for my French final, but instead once I calculated that I needed an 81 in order to keep my A in the class, my study habits deteriorated.  But here I am.  However many hours later, and I’m done.  And I’m 90% sure it was really easy.  On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I was .23% away from getting a B+ in Econ this quarter.  Isn’t that annoying?

I’ve decided to walk without the brace from now on.  If anything, it really just annoys me, and people look at me funny.  So I’m over it.  But now that finals and school is over, (and I’m still not home) I have little to distract me from my knee.  As much as I hate school work and studying, it keeps me productive when I don’t feel like I can sleep or I don’t want to go to bed.  But I’m hoping once I go home, that’ll get better.  I really, really can’t wait. 

Also forgot to mention the best part about yesterday.  My sister, Samantha, texted me asking if there was anything she could do for me.  Immdeiately I thought of Woodstock’s BBQ Chicken Pizza.  Most delicious thing ever.  She called from San Jose, ordered it and had it paid for and delivered.  Thanks S.  It served as dinner last night, a midnight snack for my roommate, Maddy, breakfast this morning, and there’s STILL leftovers.  Dinner tonight?  Probably.

Anyways, headed to practice soon.  Things will look up.

Now Playing: Violet Bouquet by Jeremy Current

I sure hope you like the view.
One day time will make some sense of you…

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Truth Comes Out

I told myself that not knowing was worse than whatever the doctor could’ve told me.  I’m not sure that’s entirely true anymore.  I kept waiting and waiting all day today, to know if this season was going to happen or not.  There were so many thoughts going through my head, and can you really blame me?  Over and over again in the last 24 hours, one of my roommates kept asking me if I was alright… if everything was okay.  But every time she asked, I simply said “yes” because I didn’t have a reason for things to not be all right… yet.  I guess that would explain why I may have just appeared to be slightly out of it all day.  I was worried. And scared.  Scared that everything I had been working  so hard for in the last nine months was simply going to be thrown out the window.

Our team trainer, Missy, finally texted me at around 2:30 p.m., saying that I had an appointment at 4 with the doctor.  In the words of our coach, John, “Lucky [me].”  I was (naively) too hopeful.  The doctor and my trainer both told me that my ACL was probably torn, but I just didn’t honestly believe it.  I was walking.  I didn’t need the brace.  I was balancing on one leg.   I was biking.  I had full extension.  It hurt.  All of these characteristics seemed to scream at me that my ACL was NOT torn.  So when Dr. Cosca came in to talk to me and started by saying, “I wish I had good news for you,”  I was waiting for him to throw me a smile or a chuckle and say, “Just kidding.  It’s a minor fix that we can do by _________.”  Someone else can fill in the blank here.  In hindsight, this logic really doesn’t make sense.  A doctor would have to be extremely cruel to play that kind of trick on a person.

So there it is.  My ACL is torn.  The graft is just gone at this point.  And as I said before, it caught me entirely off guard.  I held myself together pretty well at first, because deep down, I knew that this was a giant possibility.  But then once the doctor turned around, I started to really struggle with keeping a straight face.  As I started to tear up, Dr. Cosca turned to me and said, “Oh, I thought this would’ve sunk in by now.”  Yes, thanks dude.  Ha I guess it would’ve sunk in, but knowing that it’s torn now and hearing those words were two things no one ever wants to hear.

The shock has alleviated a little, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed.  I know so many people who were pulling for me, thinking of me, and people who I never considered religious were praying for me.  Finding God’s plan for me in all this is not going to be easy.  (Understatement of the… week.)  But in some ways, I have already seen Him working through the situation.  I guess I just need to hold on to that hope that it’ll all work out for the best in the end.

“Rejoice in our confident hope.
Be patient in trouble,
And keep on praying.”
Romans 12:12

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MRI and 2 Finals. 3 Tests to Pass.

With one final out of the way, I technically feel productive enough to update the blog.  And update anyone who’s reading it I guess.

First of all, I am surrounded by people who not only love me and care about me, but they believe in me.  And that means more than I can explain.  They believe I’ll come back, they believe I’m strong enough, they believe I’ll keep fighting, they believe I’ll stay positive, and they believe I can handle whatever is thrown my way.  On the other hand, that is a lot to live up to.  People have expectations of me, and they compare my current situation to the similar ones from my past.  But a girl can only take so much before she gets too discouraged.  Just saying.

Today’s the MRI.  To say I’m nervous is a little bit of an understatement, but I’m encouraged by the fact that I have so many friends, family members and teammates all praying for me all day.  And I tell myself that I knowing what’s wrong is better than this waiting period… But technically that’s not entirely true.  Obviously if my knee is worse case scenario, I’d rather not know at this point…

On a positive note, I don’t know what to think.  I still don’t think it’s torn.  It hurts—especially from walking and standing so much.  But I’ve made so much progress in these last couple days.  I can ride a stationary bike… fast enough to at least keep the machine on.  I did a lot of balancing and full range of motion exercises yesterday.  (Again, it hurt, but it’s still impressive.)  And since yesterday alone, I think the swelling has gone down.  That seems important.

Anyways, with another final tonight, I should go back to studying.  But those are my thoughts.  Still relatively positive for now, and hanging in there.  And importantly still praying, and appreciating all those who are also still thinking and praying for me today.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Meanwhile, I Wait.

Yesterday was a pleasant distraction.  Because of our Blue and Gold Intraquad Meet today, we didn’t have practice (not that it’s completely required for me to go to it).  It may have been the first Friday all year that we had off.  Most of my teammates filled their day with copious amounts of studying and productivity, but I think I was only productive… I didn’t really study all that much.

Woke up in the morning, had my roommate, Kailyn, drive me to rehab, where I basically just iced and had my trainer try and push some of the swelling out of my knee.  Nothing to strenuous. Yet.  Fortunately, while I iced, I was able to study for the oral portion of my French final that was going to take place about 3 hours later.

After rehab, I went next door to Starbucks, where I attempted to study more.  But not with a whole lot of success.  I kept seeing people I knew, who said hi, and I would barely get through one page of vocabulaire.  Then the mother of all distraction walked in, and my friends Tre and Taryn joined me.  At that point, no studying was going to happen, so I was actually thankful for that.  After all, six years of French in middle school and high school, you’d think I’d be prepared for a simple French 2 oral exam.  Thirty minutes before my final, I started walking to my building that was clear on the other side of campus.

The exam really wasn’t too bad.  And I got a 90. I’m pleased.

With my free afternoon, I proceeded to completely finish and print my Design 16 final that isn’t due until Tuesday (bonus points?).  I guess that’s productive enough for the day.  Below is a picture because I'm super proud of it.

Best part of the day: I drove to Sacramento to visit my sister, Corey, and we went to Pizza Rock where we split the Apple and Gorgonzola salad and a New Yorker Pizza.  It was delicious.  And I would also like to point out that I’m simply not a picky eater anymore, and I’m super proud of that.  Plus I just like hanging out with Corey.

The rest of my night was spent attempting to study (with a brief intermission when Maddy and I split some Animal Fries from In n Out) because my knee hurt too much to try and go out.  Not to mention, I’m anticipating a lot of standing today at the meet.  I’m tough—I  think I can handle it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Teammates > Coaches

Coming into Davis my freshman year, I went through lots of changes.  Again, I’m not trying to make it sound like I don’t like it here in California, cause I do… but I just had to deal with a lot of adjustments.  Most significantly, college gymnastics was very different from club/ high school gymnastics.  Parts of it I liked more; others I liked less. 

For example, the team environment in college is unlike anything I experienced in high school.  I love every single one of them, and I love being apart of this team.  It really is my favorite part.  I love college meets, how loud, how energetic, and how supportive everyone is.  However last year when I first started working out with the team, I felt out of my league.  I knew that that was a strong possibility.  After all, I was a walk-on and on a team with a bunch of National Qualifiers and people who had been on significantly better club teams than me.  But as I have said over and over, I didn’t need to be the star of the team—the fact that I wasn’t the best wasn’t what bothered me.

No matter how out of my league I felt, I figured there were still at least three ways I could contribute on the team without actually making line-up come competition season.
1.     I could have the best attitude possible.
2.     I could cheer for my teammates and support them at all times.
3.     I could work my ass off at practice.

So last year, that’s what I did.  I worked hard every single practice, so that one day, I could make line up.  When that day would be, I had no idea.  But as long as I did my very best, and gave 100%, I had every hope in the world that it wouldn't matter.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Complicated History

So I think I little bit more background is necessary about now.  I did club gymnastics at International Gymnastics in Matthews, North Carolina for 10 years (3rd to 12th grade) and I am so thankful for them how they made me the gymnast I am today.

I have never been the star on the team—scoring the 9.7s, winning the meets, etc.—that was never me.  But what I can say, is that I have always loved gymnastics! And for the most part, it never even bothered me that I wasn’t the best.  I just wanted to be good enough to be doing gymnastics somewhere in college.

People always asked me why I chose Davis; why so far away?  To be honest, no other team wanted me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love California.  I knew I wanted to come out West, and I genuinely loved Davis, but they were seriously the only team to offer me a spot.  It was either Davis or no gymnastics.  I choose Davis.

Anyways, back to my days at International.  I said I always loved gymnastics, which was/is still true.  But it definitely wasn’t always easy.  For years I struggled with hip pains, and long story short, I had two hip arthroscopic surgeries my sophomore year of high school.  And they did not go as smoothly as the doctor (or I) had hoped.  Nevertheless after sufficient time, I came back from both of them and I surprised many by continuing my gymnastics career.  In fact, people said it behind my back, “Aw poor girl, she’ll never do gymnastics again…”  Well all I had to do was hear that, and then I knew I’d prove her wrong.

My sophomore year season was just a chance for me to get back into the “swing” of things.  But by the time I made it to my junior year season, I was back and fully healthy.  For the first time in a long time.  Then in typical Erin-Sayson fashion, I go to our end of the season regional meet, and on vault, I under rotated and hyperextend my knees.  Season finished.

Fast forwarding many months and doctors appointments, I find out that my ACL was stretched and partially torn.  I was going to have reconstruction surgery the summer before my senior year.

Three surgeries later, here I am.  But through it all, I still can’t say that I’ve never stopped loving the sport.  And I will never give up.  Call me crazy, but the feeling that I have when I’m healthy… when I’m doing the sport… makes me so happy that it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve hurt myself or fallen down.  The few good days makes all my struggles worthwhile.

The Most Scared I've Ever Been

So it’s finals week.  I should be studying.  But I’m going to be honest, I don’t want to study right now.  Instead, I’m creating this blog.

First, a little bit of background.  (But not too much right now…)  I’m a sophomore at the University of California at Davis, (yes the one with the pepper spray).  I’m a walk-on on the Davis gymnastics team from Charlotte, North Carolina.  I call it my hometown, even though technically I was born in San Antonio, Texas.  But that’s not important.

Today, it is December 1st, 2011.  Yesterday, I fell off the beam. Hard. But more importantly, before I even fell off the beam, I heard a loud pop.  Hit the beam, then the floor.  And grabbed my knee. 

On Thanksgiving, my family went on a wine train through Napa Valley (along with various extended family members).  To keep the ride interesting, one of our party members pulled out this “conversation creator” game.  Basically it was a bunch of questions similar to “Would you rather?” to questions as random as “Have you ever been escorted out by security?”  Most of these I found rather stupid, and to be honest, I really didn’t want to play the game.  But anyways, I was asked, “When is the most you’ve ever been scared?”

I did not know the answer to that question, until now.  Because on November 30th, when I heard that pop, it is/ was the most scared I've ever been.