The Injury That Killed my Kickboxing Goals
It has been many years since coming face to face with one of the most traumatic experiences of my sporting career. Still, it has left remnants of resentment and anger that continues to linger. There are moments that creep up and drag me down. It’s not unusual to have these feelings of course, and I am not the only one who goes through this hardship. Although, the story behind my accident was extremely bitter and left some pretty horrible memories.
2014 was the year that I was ready to take on the entire world. I was training more than I ever had in my life; 7 times a week and taking part in 3 to 4 classes daily. Complete dedication to the only thing that I cared about – Kickboxing. I had no job or other responsibilities at the time, so it was easy to invest myself on a daily basis.
For anyone that understands this level of dedication, you will also understand everything else that you can lose along with it – a social life, love life…basically anything else that doesn’t relate to the sport. I lost touch with close friends (thankfully they were strong friends and I never fully lost them, they were always there in the background routing for me), started to lose interest in my relationship with my then-boyfriend, became extremely egotistic, and truly believed that nothing and nobody was going to get in my way of what I wanted to do.
However, every ‘good’ thing must come to an end, hey? After discarding the advice given to me by my sensei, family, and friends; I continued to train for 7 days a week. Looking back years later, I realise how silly that was. I didn’t give my body time to recover and put way too much strain on it.
The World Championships Gave me Something Other Than Victory
The WKKC (World Karate and Kickboxing Commission) had opened to competitors to represent Ireland for the 2014 championship. I competed for the nationals and won, meaning that I was now to represent Ireland for the Worlds. It was harder than I anticipated and I fully realised that I had no control over my breathing patterns. “Ok, that’s something to work on”, I remember thinking. In the final, I was fighting a woman whose fitness completely surpassed mine. Although, I had more experience and used that to my advantage; I played on the defence to catch my bearings.
After the win, I was buzzed from head to toe. I began competing in every competition leading up to the World Championships. Win after win, you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t good enough; I was at my peak performance and trained really hard.
A week before the championship, before being picked up by my sensei for a class, I decided to do a home workout an hour prior…yes, I know, silly silly silly. Having just learned how to do the standing splits, I wanted to capture how it looked so that if it needed improving, I could do so. I set up my camera on a timer and ran over to lift my leg into the air whilst pulling it up with my right arm so that my leg was touching my face. I had done the movement way too fast, hit the floor and heard a pop. With no pain at that moment, I inspected my body and noticed that the lower part of my leg (femur) was in an unnatural position. It looked like it was in a 90-degree right angle.
At this, I began to scream in agony. My brain had fully realised what pain I should be feeling…and I felt every ounce of it. What’s worse is that there was no one in my house at the time, so I had to drag my entire body across the house to the nearest phone. Every push and every pull of my leg over the uneven surface of the floor made the pain excruciating.
After managing to call for an ambulance, my mother got home. “What are you laughing at?” she giggled. She genuinely thought that my hysterical screaming was laughter; that a joke got me so bad that I was laughing on the floor. “Look at my leg!” I managed to yell. Her eyes lit up and the blood drained from her face. “Don’t touch me, do not touch me!”
When the emergency services arrived, they tried to pop my dislocated knee back into place. With only an air mask. Nope, wasn’t going to happen. My knee had been fully ripped apart from where it should have been and they couldn’t push it back in. After copious amounts of morphine, I arrived at the hospital – where they gave me even more morphine. Apparently, the muscles around my knee made it too hard for the doctors to simply push it back into place.
The last thing that I remember is having about 6 doctors (I know that this sounds like an over-exaggeration, but it’s gospel truth) around me on the hospital bed until I was knocked out from the drugs.
The Aftermath: Fighting Forward
Upon waking, I was told that I would have to use crutches, be put in a cast, and would be out of activity for 6 months. “SIX MONTHS, This can’t be right, there’s no way” I’d thought. But that was the harsh reality that I struggled to come to terms with.
Evidently, I did not compete in the competition that I worked so hard for. My teammates and sensei came to visit me at home every now and again, but slowly I realised that I had nothing else in my life other than Kickboxing. I had not created a balance. It felt like I was caged in a prison to my own negative thoughts and self-hatred. I hated myself so badly that I took it out on my mum, which I regret to this day.
5 years later, I feel like I have never been the same fighter that I once was. I find myself at a mental block that tells me I will never be as good as I was. To this day, my knee is still fragile and could easily be dislocated again. My competitive side tells me to keep fighting, but my brain reminds me of the pain that could happen again. As lightly mentioned in previous articles, I currently take CBD to help with pain management and take it via vaping after training. Hopefully, this could be something that is brought forward as a recognised medical treatment in Ireland.
Kickboxing will always be my sport and I owe every piece of my spirit to it. It has molded me to be the person that I am today. This year, I hope to be competing at the level that I once was, whilst finding a steady balance of life. It’s vital to block out the negatives and the ‘what-ifs’ with combat sport. You are likely to get injured but it shouldn’t stop you from chasing your aspirations. Although the injury shook me, I refuse to let it own me and discourage my capabilities.
The thing I would regret the most in life is if I gave up on trying. Find it in yourself to gain your confidence back by the support of friends, your coach and team mates. Your skill is still there and your brain has wired your body to remember the movements that you were once able to do. It doesn’t take long to get back into, you just have to be determined and ready to allow that process to happen.