In the very beginning of the season I felt something wasn’t right with my body. My back hurt and the muscles in my right leg felt really tight all the time. Nothing to worry about. I kept going to my physiotherapist. We tried a lot of different things but nothing seemed to work out. So, we decided to wait till Christmas and give it some time before I’d go and see a doctor. Well, it was more me who decided that as I hate those appointments, and I didn’t want to be a wimp. It also meant that the first 3 months of the season were mentally hard. It just sucks when your body isn’t working the way you want it to. And it was affecting my daily activities as well.
When they did the MRI the reason was found quickly. I had a torn labrum which was ‘falling’ into my hip joint and had already caused edema on my bones. Looking back, I wish I had known earlier as the following off ice sessions were changed and helped me stabilize the hip. The big tournaments were still a challenge as skating and especially lacing up my skates caused a lot of pain. And in those tournaments, you have to do both of it a lot. But hey, I am sure most of the girls reading this article have done the same. All I want to say is that I don’t want to sound heroic. Another kid on my team had problems with her shoulder since January and totally sprained it in the semifinal game. Did she play the Bronze game? Of course she did! And I’m sure at the World Championships in Plymouth, there were ten other players who played with an injury (Florence Schelling played with a torn meniscus). I think it’s quite common in women’s hockey as an in men’s hockey.
I am really very thankful for my physiotherapist at home, my athletic coach and also our physiotherapist from the National Team – they were the reason I could finish the season. The true heroes. They were never tired of thinking about new drills or doing long hours. And I’m quite happy our doc brought enough Ibuprofen to the US as well.
The day after we arrived from the Worlds I had the last preparations for the surgery which was scheduled two days later. It may sound strange but I was somewhat excited for it because I couldn’t wait to play without pain and I was really relieved that the season was over. I couldn’t wait to sit longer than 10 minutes without being in pain. I know this surgery is going to work because it’s this kind of procedure where you get the guarantee it will work – if you are patient and put the right work in.
My doctor said that if he hadn’t known me, he rated my age over 70 years by just seeing my labrum. Maybe I am 16 years now. He used 4 clips to put it back together and removed the extra bone mass on my femur. But everything went well and I was allowed to leave the hospital after six days.
The following seven weeks I had to walk on crutches, wear the uncomfortable compression socks and wasn’t allowed to contract any muscle connected to the hip. I had to learn to manage daily activities like putting on socks (luckily, I received a special device for this but it still took me about ten minutes and some sweat), climbing into the shower or how to put lotion on my legs (I used a painter roller for that).
But the thing that sucked the most was that I couldn’t drive my car. I was kind of stuck at home with only little things to do. Lucky for me that my friends, family and my pets were keeping me company. But it’s the little things you get excited about. When you notice the swelling going away, removing the stitches, or you want to throw a party because putting on the compression sock worked with your first try.
I live in a small city, luckily, we have buses and a train station but going to the physiotherapist and back took me almost six hours, strong arms and patience. My dog had to learn to walk slower as well and I was very happy I engaged a dog walker as my arms were sore after just ten minutes. After the first seven weeks, I was finally cleared to start the real rehab – and it felt so good. Even though I wasn’t moving at all, some muscles were working really hard which is typical after most of surgeries. Time to teach them what they really should be doing. I received an extra motivational boost from “Deutsche Sporthilfe”, a foundation which supports German athletes. The “Comebackstronger – Shirt” is loyal companion ever since.
It’s crazy where you start. First I had to walk without crutches, and not looking like an old lady while doing so. I never thought that this would be so hard. As my body was already used to walking the wrong way because of the time before the surgery it was – and still is – a big thing. Next thing was to use the right muscles for the right movements and never forget about your foot, knee, hip and back being in the correct angle. There are so many little things in a rehab process but they are so so so important.
I also spend a lot of time in the pool – thanks to the old ladies for the motivation.
Three months’ post-surgery the progress is working better than expected. And I hope it will continue this way. There is still a lot of work to do but I have awesome surroundings and even better people by my side who will never stop pushing me. There are days where it sucks when putting on socks is still giving me hard time, or when you see your teammates start to skate already. But after two concussions in the past two season and a friend who is currently battling cancer, I know there are worse things than a hip surgery. I know I will come back stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. And I can’t wait to lace up my skates again!