My first training session with the reapers was on Friday April 4th last year. My boyfriend had introduced me to roller derby and I had been to two wreck skates before my first beginners’ session. After my first hour of Wreck Skate I fell completely head over heels in love with roller derby. I had my new skates and I couldn’t wait until I started skating with the team, it was the hobby I needed and was looking for. Something I thoroughly enjoyed and meeting new people at the same time. Friday came around and I could not wait to finish work. I was so excited! My nerves were all over the place but I couldn’t wait to put my skates on that night.
8 o’clock came and before I knew it I was standing on track with everyone, newbies and team. I felt like I was going to explode with excitement. They showed us the basics of roller derby, explained a lot of things and then it came to getting on track and skating. This was it! This is what I was looking forward too. It started well, for the first minute on track. I managed to get round half of the track before I slipped and lost my footing and landed heavily on my left leg. I heard my leg crack and crunch underneath me, I knew something bad had happened but unsure of what. I can remember just laying on the floor, surrounded by the girls making sure I was okay. I was laughing and joking, not really knowing what I had actually done. I didn’t imagine my first training session lasting all of 15 minutes. Shortest roller derby career ever!
I was taken out in an ambulance, where everyone cheered and clapped. It was so lovely yet so embarrassing! From there it all gets pretty foggy. I was pumped full of morphine and gas and air, Craig (my boyfriend) had recorded me in the ambulance singing and dancing to The Bee Gees – Staying Alive. I was having a great time apparently! I can remember being taken out of the ambulance and into a room where the consultant came to see me. He took me for an X-ray to see exactly what I’d done. I was expecting to go home that night, can’t have been that bad surely! The consultant came back and he told me what I had done. This is when panic set in, no more laughing, just pure fear. I’d broken both bones in my leg, my tibia was snapped completely and my fibula had broken, but had four other breaks spreading off that break. I had never broken a bone in 22 years, this was the first time and I managed to break both bones in five places. They then started talking about manipulating the bones and possibly putting pins in the following morning. I felt sick and numb. I couldn’t quite get my head around what they were saying. That night they manipulated my bones back into place and took me back to the ward. I woke up with a really big and heavy white plaster cast on my leg, from toes to hip. That finalised it: I had broken my leg and I cried. I was in hospital for four days. It was mentally hard, I was an hour and a half away from my family and home. I missed everyone, I’d get upset every time they left. I just wanted to go home. Craig spent every day there with me, he made it more bearable, with it being my first time having to stay in hospital.
On the Tuesday I was finally allowed home, I was excited to be home and finally start recovering with my family. I was in cast for 14 weeks and then I had the weight bearing boot for a further 2 weeks, but I was unable to walk properly for a further couple of months. I lost 6 months of my life. I was stuck in the house, I lost my business, I lost friends and realised who my true friends were. I was contemplating going back skating once I was healed. My family were against it, but they were right – why would I go back to something that hurt me physically and mentally?
For some reason, I had talked myself into trying a Wreck Skate towards the end of September. Surprisingly I was excited! I had Craig, Aeyshea – my best friend/derby wife and even one of the coaches came to help me; I was so happy to have support there. I turned up early to kit up, I put my pads and helmet on and I felt excited! I took my skates into the hall to put them on. Then the nerves started to kick in, I tried to push them to the back of my head. The girls helped me stand and I froze. Panic set in and all my emotions came flooding out. I stood there in front of everyone and cried. I kept thinking ‘what am I doing? Why am I doing this? Stop being so stupid and take your skates off before you break your leg again!’ I spent the whole session going at a snail’s pace, going back and forth at the side of the hall, I had the girls either side of me and Craig behind me to make me feel safe. I started to settle down the more skating I did. The hour seemed to fly by, but our coach, Block Ness, asked if I wanted to do a lap before I left once everyone was off the track. I felt panicked again. The last time I was on track I fell and broke, but I knew I needed to face that fear. Accompanied by Aeyshea by my side and Craig who was behind me, I managed to do one lap before I left. It might have taken me about a minute to do but I had done it! No holding on, no falling and no breaking! A wave of emotion just hit me and I literally cried with happiness. I had got back on skates and done it! After that I went to Wreck Skate every week and just tried getting my confidence back. I was determined to go back to beginners in January and smash it.
So my team had set a date for beginners and I was a mix of emotions! I was ecstatic that I could finally take part in a session without feeling like I’m in the way or feeling like a spare part, but I also felt a lot of anxiety and was quite petrified. How did I know I wasn’t going to end up the same as the last session. Before I knew it I was in the beginners session with lots of new people who were so eager and excited to skate. All I could think about was how I felt like those when I first started, now I all I felt was fear. The session went fast, my fear had subsided and it was replaced with happiness! I had survived a session! That’s how I felt – like I had survived. I was so happy that I hadn’t fallen, I hadn’t broken and that I didn’t need an ambulance to take me home! I finished my first session and couldn’t have been happier!
Now it’s nearly a year post break and I’m still skating. I’m slowly but surely ticking my minimum skills off, I’m doing 21 laps in 5 minutes and I’m getting more and more comfortable on my skates.
This past year has been one of my worst years by far, but without the constant support of my fellow team mates, family and friends It would have been a lot worse. They supported me when I needed it and kept me going through the harder times. They didn’t let me forget what I loved and that if I wanted to play derby after my break that I am more than capable of playing derby.
I am thankful for my team and I encourage anyone who wants to play derby to go and do it! It was one of the best decisions I have ever made! Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from doing something you love!