Trust me, I've been there, I've looked, I've searched and I know now, that there are no answers to be found in the bottom of a bottle or on the edge of a blade! Fighting Hard, Recovering, Rebuilding, REBORN. Moving on from addiction to a new life.
It’s been over five months since my accident at work and the muscles in my legs aren’t getting much better. I still have limited movement in my left foot, which means I can’t jog or jump on it. It teaching karate is still not easy.
To make matter worse, two years ago I had significant physio on my calf muscles after tearing the left calf quite badly, now it seams that the same injury has flared up once more. I guess as I am struggling for correct movement it has put further strain on a muscle that may not have fully healed before. The limp I have is also putting strain on my right leg and hip also.
I am waiting for the Doctor’s referral to the hospital for physiotherapy, hopefully I can get an appointment soon and begin to get back some of the movement I’ve lost. I am not sure why I wasn’t referred to the Physiotherapist by the hospital when I had the accident, but at least things are moving forward now.
It gets me down every now and again, if I’ve been sat around for a while everything stiffens up and it takes me a while to get moving again, but once I’ve been moving around the aching mostly subsides. I can live with it, but it’s hard to teach karate the way that I used to and that’s what gets me down.
Still, when you consider the nature of my accident, I should still consider myself thankful that my Lord was looking out for me. Anybody I know that is involved with fork lift trucks still cannot believe that no bones in my legs were broken. Fork lift trucks aren’t forgiving, they are a 3½ tonne beast that usually crushes everything beneath it, to climb out from underneath it with just muscle damage is a minor miracle.
So for now I will keep thanking God for His protection and trust in Him that in time everything will work out fine.
NOBODY LIKE YOU by RED ROCKS WORSHIP You speak and waters crash upon the sand The oceans push and pull at Your command You hold the moon and stars within Your hands And all with just a breath, the world began We sing…
God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be There will never be anyone like You, Jesus
When nothing we could do would be enough From Heaven’s highest place, You reached for us My sin and shame forever overcome Oh the grave was overwhelmed by perfect love Yeah, we sing…
God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be There’ll never be
There will never be
Anyone like You, Jesus
‘Cause Your Name is greater, than any name I know Your Throne is higher, than any other throne You are the Author, the Creator of it all You stand alone, You stand alone
Oh God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be There’ll never be
No one like You There’s no one like You
There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You, God There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You, God There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You, God There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You, God There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You, God There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You There will never be anyone like You, God
Your Name is greater, than any name I know Your Throne is higher, than any other throne You are the Author, the Creator of it all You stand alone, You stand alone
God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be God, there is nobody like You, God There is nobody like You, God And there will never be Will never be
It was my first day back at work in over 11 days, I must say it took some getting up this morning when the alarm went off, my body just didn’t want to get up and my mind seemed to be in agreement.
As I walked to work this morning, I was surprised how good I felt, there was only a dull ache in my heel, unfortunately that didn’t last as the day wore on.
I’ve had this pain in my left heel for almost seven months now, after a three hour training session last November, the pain went from dull ache and occasional sharp pain to all out sharp pain, the only way I can describe it is like continually walking on a piece of lego.
Those who have kids will probably know what that’s like, that moment when you tread on a piece of lego or any other small sharp toy, you will know that pain the bottom of the foot, it’s an occupational hazard when you have young kids.
After that training session it was like I had that piece of lego in my shoe, every footstep was a sharp pain. So I had two choices, see the Doctor to see what they recommend or just pay for physio, so I booked a physio session. I had seen this guy a number of years ago about a torn muscle I had in my back, he sorted it out back then, so I was confident he could get to the bottom of the problem this time around.
I booked in but had to wait a number of weeks to get an appointment, that was a couple of weeks before Christmas, what I found out was that is wasn’t my heel that was injured or the bottom of the foot, it wasn’t the ankle, but it turned out to be a torn calf muscle!
He said it had been done some time ago, but it had failed to heal properly, instead the muscle fibres had knotted, because of this the muscle was tightening and shortening which in turn was stretching the Achilles tendon, causing the pain in the heel.
I can only think that I tore this muscle walking in preparation for coming out of retirement for the National’s back in June. I’m a kind of all or nothing sort of guy, instead of slowly getting back into training and building up, I just jump in and go for it where I left of, the pain started during that training, so I have carried the injury since then.
I have a certain stretch to do everyday, designed to stretch out this muscle, but this hurts to do and aggravates the heel, but when I went back to physio last week, I was reprimanded for not doing enough.
So far I have had two lots of treatment and am already booked in for another, it doesn’t seem like a quick fix like I had before with the back muscle, this one is way more complicated.
If I’m up on my feet it’s not to bad, if I’m moving around it’s generally okay, just the dull ache that very rarely goes away, but I’ve managed to tune out to that. If I sit down for just a couple of minutes and then get back up, then the pain returns immediately, it pulls on the heel really hard, so I hobble about for a while.
This morning I thought everything was fine, at work I managed to stretch the calf whilst I was up and about, but that just aggravates the problem for a while as it’s stretching it out and the pain returned for most of the day.
The physio said until this is fully stretched out, so the stretching no longer hurts and the muscle doesn’t hurt when he works it, we cannot move on to strengthening the calf, so the stretches have to stay and I suppose for the time being the pain has to stay, but hopefully it gradually fades away as each day passes.
I really want to get out walking again in the mornings, but until this problem is sorted I can’t do that. My plan is compete again this year, so I want to get ready with months to go, not weeks this time, so the sooner I can move forward the better, but for the time being, I just keep going with the painful stretching and wait to see what the next physio session is like in two weeks.
So for now, I have to keep walking with that piece of lego in my shoe!!!
INVINCIBLE by HEDLEY Took a long hard look at my life Lost my way while I was fighting the time A big black cloud, stormy sky Followed me while I was living a lie So heartless, so selfish, so in darkness When all your nights are starless You’re running outta hope
But I found the strength inside to see Found the better part of me And I’ll never let it go
I’ve come a long, long way Made a lot of mistakes But I’m breathing, breathing That’s right And I mean it, mean it This time I’m a little run down I’ve been living out loud I can beat it, beat it That’s right ’cause I’m feeling, feeling Invincible Whoa-oh-oh-oh [x3]
When you’re gone for a day on your own Tear your heart out just to find your way home I’ve been so high, I’ve sunk so low I’ve come so far with nothing to show For it mistaken, I got so good at taking But now I’m tired of faking This story’s getting old
So I found the strength inside to see From the better part of me And I’ll never let it go
I’ve come a long, long way Made a lot of mistakes But I’m breathing, breathing That’s right And I mean it, mean it This time I’m a little run down I’ve been living out loud I can beat it, beat it That’s right ’cause I’m feeling, feeling Invincible Whoa-oh-oh-oh [x3] Invincible
I’m not the only one To crash into the sun and live to fight another day Like a super nova, that old life is over I’m here to stay
Now I’m gonna be Invincible Whoa-oh-oh-oh [x3] Invincible
I’ve come a long, long way Made a lot of mistakes But I’m breathing, breathing That’s right And I mean it, mean it This time I’m a little run down I’ve been living out loud I can beat it, beat it That’s right ’cause I’m feeling, feeling Invincible Whoa-oh-oh-oh [x3] Invincible. Whoa-oh-oh-oh [x3] Invincible
So 1988 finished on a high after recovery from an injury, then 1989 should have been plain sailing, continued growth, I guess it was but for wholly different reasons.
An injury that happens due to an accident or an incident, like my ruptured ankle is one thing, but an injury that can’t be seen or can’t be explained is another thing. As the new year moved on, I was still training five times a week, Sunday was the busiest by far, it was a three and half hour slog every week, firstly teaching beginners for one hour, then two hours training in the general class and then an additional half an hour for just the brown and black belts, it was a hard day.
In early 89, I found that I would wake in the early hours of Monday morning, suddenly wake in pain, my shins just below my knees would be screaming in pain, when this happened there was no getting back to sleep, there was no position I could find to ease the pain, nothing I could do, I would just lie in bed crying with the pain, for weeks I kept it to myself, but then eventually I told my Mum and she arranged an appointment with a Doctor.
As the weeks went by I began to get aches and pains in my knees too, during training and after, it never really went away, but that pain on Sunday nights/Monday mornings was the worst.
Up until I was 15 I was under 5ft in height, suddenly in the first few months of 89 I had grown to pretty much my current height of 5ft 4½ inches, when I saw the Doctor he explained that I had Osgood-Schlatter Disease, it sounds severe, but essentially is severe growing pains. He explained that the growth plates within my lower legs were not growing at the same rate and the pressure of my training was causing the pain, even the pain that would wake me in the middle of the night. There wasn’t much that he could do, other than prescribe painkillers, it would eventually go, in other words I would grow out of it too, but it could be sometime, he advised that when the pain became severe to take time off training.
Over the coming months I would skip training for weeks at a time when it became bad, I tried to train through it, but it wasn’t always possible.
In terms of competition, I still competed, but for the fighting my growth changed the category I was in. At that time competition was catorised by height with under 5 feet and over 5 feet, all my success had come at under 5 feet, everyone was pretty much my height, we were all well matched, now it wasn’t so. My first competition in the new height group was the Nationals, although I didn’t change the way I fought, I still waited and counter attacked, it made it harder, the distance changed because most of my opponents were now inches taller and so this changed my timing, that first competition I got through to the quarter finals, but lost to the eventual champion, he must have been almost six foot, his reach was way beyond mine and he just picked me off at random, it was a learning experience to say the least and from there I had to re-assess my style of fighting.
Over the summer I took more time off training, the pain wasn’t going away and at times it got worse, especially those Sunday nights, I came to dread going to sleep on Sunday night and not because it was school the next day, because I knew it was going to be painful.
Then one evening during the early summer Alan asked if he could speak with my Dad and me after a class, he took us aside and then dropped the bombshell. He had decided that he was going to emigrate to Australia, only it would be this coming October, but he needed to organise the people who he wanted to continue running the club. My Dad had been helping take the money at the club for some time, he helped Alan out where he could, which allowed Alan to concentrate on just teaching, so Alan asked if Dad could keep doing this, but it was his choice of instructors that was the big bombshell. I was only fifteen and my club mate Darren was only seventeen, but Alan had decided we were the two people he wanted to continue the teaching at the club, Darren being older would be Senior Instructor and I would be Assistant Instructor, Darren’s Mum would become Secretary and handle the admin and my Dad would collect the money and help Julia organise things.
I don’t think it was so much as a request from Alan, I’m not sure he really offered me a choice, but I didn’t refuse and neither did my Dad, he had already approached Darren and Julia by this point and they had agreed, so did we, so it was all set. After the next club grading at the end of September Alan would step down and leave the country just a few weeks later. He had arranged for a couple of other junior students to run the Lincoln club with the help of their parents, but at the last minute those plans changed and a couple of other seniors who ran other clubs in the Lincoln area took over that club.
I don’t think at that time I really realised what that would mean in terms of my life, I was fifteen, it was just karate, although a big part of my life, I didn’t see it having such a big influence on the direction that my life would follow from that point. From this point on, my life would begin to revolve around the club, my life choices were formed around what was best for the club and it’s students, although I didn’t have much of a plan for my life at that point, they would all have to revolve around the club I was now tied to.
My main apprehension at that point was how I would be received by other members of the club, mainly by our adult section. I was senior than most of them in terms of grade and experience, but I was a junior in terms of age, our adult section ranged from ages 18 through to people in their 50s and 60s, if I was to be taken seriously by them and other club instructors, I had a lot of growing up to do.
But in those early months, my fears were all for nothing, the seniors seemed to understand the pressure both myself and Darren found ourselves in and helped us as much as they could, they stood by us and the transition went smoothly. If anything is was our peers, the other guys that were of a similar age and grades, they were the ones that fell away, some left to go to college or university, others I guess found it difficult to adjust to us teaching, they simply left overtime, but the seniors, they stayed with us and encouraged us, I will never forget that, the respect they showed us both.
As the year came to a close there were once more a number of competitions, the first of which was just a week or so before Alan left at the Regionals, as a club we had our best competition yet, we returned with numerous trophies. For me I had a break through, this time in kata, for the first time I made the individual final for kata at a Regional level, I finished fourth, but it was a break through, especially as my effectiveness in the fighting was now challenged by my lack of height.
As November came around my, knees were still causing trouble, when I returned to the Newark Open, I made the finals of the kata and the kumite, but in the last round of the kumite I clashed knees with my opponent, my knees were already aching, but due to the pain and bruising, I decided to withdraw, I regret it now, I should have just gone for it, but at the time I sat out and watched the others compete in the finals, thinking that I could have beaten them.
A week later I went back to the Ipswich Open, once more in the morning I made the kata final and then in the afternoon competed in the kumite. I made it through to the quarter finals and then faced the tallest guy in the competition. I remember the early exchanges, I waited and he attacked, again he out reached me and I wasn’t quiet as quick as I was due to the lack of training over the last few months, so it was hard, I just couldn’t match him. Then he came in with a punch to the face, I tried to get underneath it, to block and counter as he came in, but he hit me full in the face, I just remember everything happening in slow motion as I slowly fell to the ground.
When I came around I was flat on my back and it seemed there was blood everywhere, the referees rushed over to me and then the first aiders came over, my mouth felt numb and I put my tongue to the left side of my mouth and realised I had a large hole in my top lip, it was torn wide open.
The first aiders helped me back to their station, while the referees disqualified my opponent. I had made it through to the finals, but first there was the small problem of the hole in my lip. The first aiders said they couldn’t do anything for me and it would have to be stitched at the hospital. One of the local volunteers agreed to drive myself and my Mum to the hospital. I was helped up to go to his car, I took a few steps across the hall and once again everything went into slow motion and I found myself once again slowly slipping to the floor, I had collapsed again, by this point it was obvious I was going to take no further part in the competition.
I was taken to hospital and eventually had six stitches in my lip. I made it back to the venue just in time to collect my two trophies, still in my blood soaked suit. For the second time in two weeks I made the finals, but couldn’t compete in the final, I regretted the decision not to compete in the finals the previous week even more.
I couldn’t eat properly for a number of days, it felt like half my mouth was closed due to the swelling, my parents kept me off school for a few days, by the time I went back to school it looked a mess, the dried blood had scabbed around the stitches and it was still swollen, it didn’t look good at all. They told us at the hospital that the stitches would dissolve after a week or so, almost three weeks later I still had four stitches still in there, the other two I had managed to get out with my tongue and my teeth, eventually a parent of one of my students, who used to be a nurse, cut them out for me. I still have the scar on my lip, in time I would add to it, I’ve only had two sets of stitches in my life and the second set would be in the very same place as the first!
So 1989 came and went, the nineties approached and the growing up was to continue. When you take responsibility for something, especially at the age that I did, I guess you have no choice but to grow up quickly, what I originally found daunting I would begin to grow into, I would begin to grow as a person and a student myself.
BRAND NEW START by ALTER BRIDGE Against the sky Streams of light Call out to me and you
We leave as one We’ve just begun To find the solace we’re due This is the life we must choose
We will make a brand new start From the pieces torn apart The break of day is before us
Cast your sorrows to the wind Let the highway take us in As we escape the disorder
This desert road That we call home This is our destiny We’ll chase the setting sun As we outrun A life of agony God how we ache to be free
We will make a brand new start From the pieces torn apart The break of day is before us
We will make a brand new start From the pieces torn apart The break of day is before us
We’ll make our way We’ll make our way We’ll make our way We’ll make our way
These are mine, these size seven hairy hobbit feet belong to me, even the black and blue, bruised one!
The Black Foot
Now you’re asking, what the heck?
One Good Foot at Least
How did you end up with a foot that colour and shape? Ouch!!!!
This misshapen mess happen back in August 2009, just two months before I took these battered feet and started a journey into complete and utter darkness and despair, it was a result of the last great thing I achieved before slipping from reality for a while.
The strange thing is, I don’t remember actually doing the damage, not once apparently, but twice, I don’t remember a feeling of pain, not until hours later anyway, the occasion was greater than the pain, the mind was focused elsewhere, I was lost in the moment, a determination for the end goal suppressed everything else.
My karate is obviously something I have discussed on the odd occasion on this blog, although it is not a big part of my recovery, it has built my character, I started training in October 1980, shortly before my seventh birthday, incidentally a month before Victoria was even born, naturally it has formed a large part of who I am, therefore I share a little of my karate history.
I have previously written about passing my black belt at 10 years old, way back in 1984, I then passed my 2nd Dan (2nd degree black belt) in 1987 at 13, then a long wait, the rules of our association are such that you have to be 21 before taking your 3rd Dan grading.
So I waited, during that time my instructor emigrated to Australia in late 1989, he left myself, just 15 and my friend Darren, a little older at 17, in charge of a very successful club, we were young and the challenge was hard at times, but we worked together well, until Darren’s work and family commitments left me in sole charge a few years ago. When I turned 21 I started to prepare for the grading and passed at my first attempt in October 1995. From there the requirement was to wait a further four years until 4th Dan, at this point I felt no rush, I was still young.
To be honest I lost a little enthusiasm, not for karate or my club, but rather for the association we were in at the time, their emphasis was on a core of clubs close to the senior instructors, with just take and no real give for the rest of us small fry. I ran my club, attended the odd course, competed in their competitions, but found no encouragement for me, my training or my club, there was an extremely disappointing conversation with one senior instructor which put the nail in the coffin so to speak in terms of my attachment and loyalty to the association, this conversation I will cover at a later date, it shows the shallowness of those we sometimes look up to for leadership.
When the association suffered a split in 2003, I saw my chance to move on, the club met and we agreed to move to the new association that had been formed, I felt a renewed enthusiasm for something new, it wasn’t long before that enthusiasm was rewarded, I finally got recognition.
Within a year of joining this new association, I was invited onto the Squad, I was 30, I had been training almost 26 years, I felt like I had finally made it, I was selected for my first European Championships in 2005, I had never abroad at that point, I had to rush through a passport application, a year later I journeyed to Sydney, Australia, for the World Championships, a fantastic trip, which I still intend to write about one day.
I had just over four years on the squad, but the 300 mile round trip for training almost every weekend for most of the year took its toll, both financially and physically, so at the beginning of 2009 I took the decision to retire.
So upon retirement I began preparation for taking my 4th Dan, my squad instructors had been encouraging me to take it for some time, but I put it off, it was difficult enough for me to concentrate my training for the squad, I had no instructor to return to at my club, no one continuing my training like the other squad members, after the squad sessions finished I was on my own, it was hard, especially since my drinking was on the increase, not a problem or an excuse for numbing the pain at that point, but nonetheless I was drinking more than I should have been.
So August came around and to be honest I hadn’t trained anywhere near what I wanted to, but I decided to go for it, with the attitude that pass or fail, it didn’t matter, I was relaxed and just ready to go, I would accept the result whatever it maybe.
The grading takes the form of three parts, a series of basic combinations, then onto kumite or free fighting, then kata (a set routine of movements). I completed the basics, a little tight, but I was happy with them, then the kumite.
In our group I would be the second fight up, the first fight between two actual club mates took place and well, the taller of the two a six foot plus Nigeria hit his friend and concussed him, when the other guy was taken to first aid I was called to face the six footer, me just 5ft 4½, oh well, here goes!
I was pleased with my fight, I just took it to him, in fact he didn’t hit me until the last punch if the fight, he caught me a glancing blow on the nose, drawing a little blood, nothing to bad, I was allowed to sit back down, my fights were done for the time being, so I went to the first aid table just to get some tissue for my nose, then I saw it!!!
I looked down to see my ankle twice it’s normal size!
Where did that come from?
This didn’t look right, but I didn’t remember doing it, I remember throwing a few kicks, but don’t remember and significant impact or pain, I still to this day can’t pinpoint a moment when it happened.
A friend who was watching, whilst awaiting to take his 5th Dan, later told me later he had winced when I threw a kick which hit my opponent with some force on the point of his elbow, he then said he winced even harder when I did it again, a second time my foot collided with his bony elbow a second time at some force, a gluten for punishment or what?
So I looked down to see the swollen mass stuck to my foot, the bruising hadn’t appeared yet, just the swelling, so I asked the first aiders to take a look, immediately their conclusion was it was broken!
So as the others fought and the grading continued, I sat with my bust foot wrapped in ice! A paramedic turned up to check out George who had been concussed, he was to be taken to hospital just for a check up, the paramedic was asked to look at my foot, immediately he said it looked broken and I should go too!
But I still had part of my grading to do, I hadn’t finished yet, I can’t go!!!
Then Sensei Adel came over, he was on the grading panel that had just judged my basics and kumite, the two Senior Japanese instructors where almost done with everyone else’s kata grading, they would soon be waiting for me, could I continue or not? The first aiders did their job, they said no, so he turned to me!
At that point adrenalin was still in control, there was no pain, just a swollen mess, so I asked a question I shouldn’t really have asked of him at this point.
I asked if it was worth me continuing?
He shouldn’t really of answered, but we had a great relationship, we had roomed together on that trip to Australia, so he looked around to make sure no one was listening and simply said yes. That was it for me I had passed the first two parts, including the kumite, which isn’t my strong point and all that was left was kata, which was my speciality, so my answer was simple, let’s do it, I’m ready to continue!
So I was almost immediately called up for kata, first my kata of choice, that went okay, the foot held. Then kata of the examiners choice, oh joy, they’ve chosen one with a jump, a jump that will land with all my weight directly on my ballooning foot!
In actuality the jump went fine, it was a few moves later, when I simply had to stand up on that foot, that I wobbled, but other than that, I was pleased given the circumstances.
After deliberation between the examiners panel, the results were announced, to my relief I had passed, at the point there was still no pain, the adrenaline, the moment, the thrill, the nerves, all these feelings had blotted out any pain, the foot looked immensely painful, friends looked and quickly looked away in discomfort, but I still couldn’t feel it!!
Over the coming hours, as the excitement wore off the pain began to conquer all the other feelings, I then had to endure a 3 hours drive home, foot wrapped in ice, sat in the back of an incredibly small car, trying to stay comfortable!
The first aiders only let me continue on the agreement I would get it checked out at hospital the next day, when I returned home, but I didn’t actually bother, I was still high on success and I didn’t fancy a long wait in our hospital here in Newark, so I just got on with everything.
Over the next few days the bruising came out, the swelling increased and I wore so incredibly loose shoes and got on with my day to day life.
A friend of mine, a former nurse, took a look at my foot a few days latter, he said the bruising showed it was broken in two places, one at the front of the ankle, probably a chipped bone and the other a bone in the right of the foot, which explained the two kicks my friend spoke of, which I just don’t remember.
I guess at times our pain can be masked by our other feelings, we can suppress pain, both physical and emotional, it almost always hits us afterwards, sometimes when we think we’re gone far enough to be free from it.
Actually I think I’m experiencing this at the moment, my tiredness and physical exhaustion is kind of masking the emotional pain I should be feeling for my Nanna, I haven’t dealt with that yet, I haven’t had the uncontrollable tears yet, I’ve had tears, but not to the point where I just let go, lose control for a moment.
That time will come, I’ve felt the emotion come close to the surface over the last few days, but other feelings and circumstances are suppressing it, but I’m sure it will come.
For now, I continue to rest, a few more days off, then back to the grind stone again!
I’d rather forget and not slow down Than gather regret for the things I can’t change now If I become what I can’t accept Resurrect the saint from within the wretch Pour over me and wash my hands of it Cause I could spend my life just trying to sift through What I could’ve done better but what good do what ifs do Oh oh Oh oh There’s something I should tell you now (Forget And Not Slow Down by Relient K)