Magic Marcel to the Rescue 11/06

November 2006

For many years I’ve spent Friday nights, summer and winter, playing soccer in a competitive ladies league called the “Classics” (classic, as in old cars).

Soccer meets a lot of needs for me. It’s physical, social and non-stop fun. A sense of belonging, contribution, individual and team success all contribute to the team experience that is an integral part of my life.

Who would have thought one tiny incident in August would cause me to question the whole thing?

Here’s what happened. I’m winding up for a shot on net. It’s just the keeper and me. I plant my left foot, getting ready to swing with my right, when – Bam! A pain shoots down the outside of my left knee and I crumple to the ground.

After many weeks, Magic Marcel, our team physiotherapist, dangles a cautious approval to get back in the game. What? No guarantee? Apparently this isn’t black or white and the decision rests with me. Rats! With a healthy dose of fear and trepidation I step onto the field and re-injure my knee the first time I touch the ball.

Violins please. I start to wonder if I’m ready for the scrap pile. Was I not diligent with the prescribed exercises? I have to consider the rest of my life beyond soccer. Is it worth it? Is there a life beyond soccer? Is there a point to this story? Yes. We’re almost there.

With another chip in my paint I’m off for more bodywork. Before I’m road-worthy an old neck injury flares up. No kidding. More exercises, more questions and finally an “aha.” It occurs to me I just want someone to tell me exactly what to do. I don’t want to have to think or make any decisions. I want to be told that everything will be okay when I just do what I’m told. Someone, please, tell me what to do!

And we all have good intentions about doing what we’re told. Think about diets. With the passing of the honeymoon phase, you snub the carrot sticks and opt for cheezies. They’re both orange.

The reason for diets and other weight loss plans, for many people who are attracted to them, is some people want to be told exactly what to do so they can give up responsibility for the tough decisions, hard work and possibly avoid reality, as I did. For example, “Just drink this and you will lose weight.” The bubble can only last so long. When it bursts we’re often back to square one because we really haven’t learned or changed anything.

I have learned I am totally responsible for my recovery and the long-term health of my knee, through the required exercises, for starters. And then there’s my neck. As long as I use a computer I need to exercise my neck and shoulders – not just when the pain occurs. Like carrot sticks, there’s nothing sexy about it. It’s just a means to an end.

When you clarify your desired end result, the actions often become abundantly clear. For what area of your life do you need to take responsibility? Your career? Your weight? What pain have you gotten used to? What’s preventing you from being 100%? What do you need to learn?

So many problems/health issues are preventable and are a direct result of our choices. By not acting or making a choice you’re still making a choice. We need to think of the medical profession, like coaches, as part of the support system, not the solution. If you want to be fixed or rescued as I did, give it up. You are resourceful and capable and know just what to do. Come on; get in the driver’s seat.

Be it a sports injury or any other weakness, the process is the same. Learn what you need to know, act in a way that supports your goals and build in support to help you get there.

As for me? Only 8 more lunges and I’m feeling strong and confident, ready for the Friday night Classics.