Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back on the ice.

Last weekend diaristdaughter and I decided to return to the scene of my crime, the Bowie Ice Arena, for the Sunday 2 to 4 pm public session.  I went to my bedroom closet and dug out the two tote bags which held my skates and various bits of gear.  I hadn't looked at this stuff since the 7th of July: padded shorts, knee pads, bunga sleeves, elbow pads, wrist guards.  It all seemed so alien, so disconnected from my recent existence which featured emergency rooms, CT scans, operating rooms and IC units.  I found myself wondering if I really wanted to do this.  I didn't seem to have the same drive that I had after recovering from breaking my radius three years earlier.  I idly wondered if since my latest injuries included my brain, that perhaps my brain was making me hesitant in the attempt to protect itself from further injury.  Sort of like HAL trying to prevent Dave from interfering with the mission in 2001, a space odyssey.   I also struggled with the inertia from a wife who was not keen on having me resume skating.  After getting dressed I paused at the door for one bit of new kit: a green skateboard helmet.

We arrived at the rink later than I normally would since I normally like to get in every possible minute of ice time.  Value for money kind of thinking.  This time I figured I might have the gumption to skate for a half hour, so a few lost minutes wouldn't matter.  Was this my brain still trying to influence the outcome?

But once I walked into the lobby it seemed like every other person I saw was a skating pal and I'd taken them quite pleasantly by surprise--sort of like a surprise visit from a minor celebrity like the Keebler Elf.  I must admit it was good seeing some of my familiar peeps.  My hesitation started to evaporate.  The young woman at the counter smiled, gave me an ice pass and refused my money.  One of the rink directors came out of the office and half joking, asked me if I'd brought a release form from the surgeon clearing me to skate.  I told him I'd already given that form to the HR folks at work.  He asked me to not louse up his ice with blood again as he returned to his office.  It was good to be back!  I took my skates out of the bag and laced them up.  The session had started five minutes earlier and it was time to find out what skills I had retained before the ice got too chewed up.  I removed the terry cloth soakers from my blades and stepped through the entrance.

The first few glides told me that I hadn't lost everything.  After perimeter skating for five minutes I started to explore t-stops, 3-turns and inside Mohawks.  I still could do them and still had the annoying bias against left side/CW direction elements. For some reason inside forward 3s didn't want to happen at all (I eventually got them to work) and I also couldn't remember how to enter a single foot spin from an outside forward 3.  Little by little things started to come back.  Forward edge pulls were weak even on my normally good side. As I mentally took stock I decided to leave jumps to another day.  I finally remembered the entry for a single foot spin and after doing a couple, I fell out of a awkward slow spin and I think the entire ice rink exhaled as I quickly got back up on my skates. 

Mid way through the session I spied my dance coach.  We briefly exchanged hellos and she said she'd been watching me and I didn't look too wobbly.  Since she had another student in lesson I told her I'd be in touch about lessons once I'd knocked some of the rust off.  I tried to skate a couple of the low level pattern dances that I had known well only to discover that I couldn't recall the entire series of steps--most annoying since just before the fall that took me off the ice, I'd been very close to testing those dances.  Another thing to add to the "they'll come back"  department. 

After the session ended (I skated the entire session rather than the thirty minutes I'd planned) I called my wife to ask if we needed a bottle of wine for dinner.  I think she appreciated the call.  It served two purposes: she didn't have to wonder if she'd get a call from an emergency room, and we did need some wine.  No doubt about it, living with me leads a woman to strong drink.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Favorable Outcome.

So, where am I?  Back on the 10th of September I had my two weeks post-op look-see.  I was hoping to be permitted to drive again and to be told that I could return to work--actually I had already gone back to work, being driven to and picked up afterwards since the Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday.  I was taken aback when I was told that it would be another 4 weeks before I could do either!  I decided not to reveal the fact that, in the absence of a spelled out restriction, I'd already been back to the lab.  I was told that the brain heals very slowly.  On the positive side I could stop wearing the compression stockings, that I could readopt my old habit of crossing my legs and that I could have a small glass of wine or a beer with dinner.

Last Thursday, the 8th of October, I had my six week post-op examination and this time both the driving and work restrictions were lifted.  This is a good thing since I've blown through all my accumulated sick leave and have been covering my absence from work with annual leave (Fed Gov speak for vacation) for the last two weeks.  I can tell you sitting around watching day time TV and going for short walks makes for a lousy vacation!  I can now add back activities as tolerated, including skating.  A session with the Chiropractor revealed that my balance is OK but not as good as before my fall.  Reintroduction of skating will be slow.  I know I've gone backwards skill and ability-wise.  Yesterday I went back to my yoga group for the first time and was able to hang in for the entire hour rather than just camp out on the floor in corpse pose after the first ten minutes.

This leads me to thoughts about protective headgear for skating.  As some readers know, there are no industry or government standards for ice skating protective headgear.  I contacted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and they stated a need to be impartial and wouldn't name brands or models.  They suggested that I contact the manufacturers in question and ask if a given product is compliant with the following voluntary standards:  ASTM F1447,Snell B-90A, Snell B-95, Snell N-942.  

The ASTM info (which one must pay for) can be found here:

The info for Snell (free) can be found here:

I had previously purchased a Bern (Watts model) helmet with an EPS foam liner.  I planned to wear it when my skating got to the point where I was doing more demanding elements such as back threes.  In hindsight that was a huge mistake!  The EPS foam liner is good for one impact (which includes being careless and dropping the helmet on a hard floor) after which the helmet must be retired.  Although the Bern Watts EPS doesn't comply with the standards mentioned by the CPSC above, it does comply with the following standards:  ASTM F2040 and EN 1077 (for snow and ski sports) and EN 1078 (for bike and skate). The "skate" refers to skateboarding not ice skating but at least we're talking a standard which is deemed adequate for concrete sports.  More about EN 1078 can be read here 

This is what I plan to wear until I can learn more about the headgear which is marketed to figure skaters, like the Ice Halo and Crasche Middie.  So far I have found no mention of any of those products complying with with any standards at all.  If this is not so, please leave a comment with a link directing me to the standard(s) with which these products comply.