By Haley Daniels
I have just returned from the World Cup Circuit in Europe! (World Cup #1 Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia; World Cup #2 Krakow, Poland; World Cup #3 Augsburg, Germany). The start of the season is always exciting and nerve wracking at the same time – as you stack up against your worldly competition and see if all the hard training you have done all year has paid off.
As an athlete you try to stay in the moment and ask yourself
“what is happening right now?”
Although I have developed routines and many tactics to help perform under pressure, these past few months admittedly have been taxing with many things out of my control.
I am still learning how much training, traveling and racing my body can actually handle. It’s a balancing act that’s unique for each athlete. While in Australia I was really pushing my limits, packing 3 sessions a day for 3 days of the week and 2 sessions a day, 3 days a week, with 1 recovery day. During this, noticed a sharp pain in my left shoulder which was giving me some trouble. Luckily I found some strength to ignore it and raced fairly well in the Australian Open – mind you it was not a 100% performance. I finished the training camp strong and headed home to Calgary for some much-needed recovery time.
When I returned home I went to see my long-time physiotherapist and she recommended I pursue getting PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) which is your own blood, resynthesized and then re-injected back in the affected area. The purpose of this type of treatment is to build a new neuro pathway to promote healing in an area that has stopped healing. I got an appointment at EFW Radiology where I went in for an assessment, Ultra Sound and X-ray. The doctor said he was not 100% sure, but he suspected there was a tear in my tendon. He then sent me for an MRI just to be sure.
At this point I was in and out of doctor’s appointments for almost 2 weeks trying to understand what was going on with my shoulder and to add to all this stress, my departure date for the World Cups was approaching!
The MRI results came back and the doctor gave me some unfortunate news that I had two small tears, Tendonitis in my Bursa Sack from over use and discovered my Collar Bone was still broken. (in 2005 I broke my collar bone while snowboarding). Ouch!
We did a Cortisone injection in the Bursa to help manage the swelling and pain which was more painful than I thought, and it forced me to take about 3 days off training before leaving for some of the most important races of the year.
I was then booked for a surgical consult, which I had about 2 days before departing to Europe. The surgeon confirmed my fears about the severity of my injury. She indicated that we could try PRP, but its most likely that without surgery I am going to have consistent loss of range of motion and strength and the pain will continue especially in the harder training months.
The doctor gave me the okay to head to the World Cup races, which was a relief. Being able to continue training was a plus, but it was hard and heavy news to receive and I was not feeling comfortable especially when paddling on my left side.
Paddling requires upper body stability and my shoulder is the most important joint to be stable.
I was in shock; how could my bone have been broken for 13 years and I had no idea?
A million questions suddenly needed answers. Do I choose to get surgery? If I get surgery when do I get it? Right now? After the season? Or in the middle of the season? Could I just push through the pain and get surgery after this Olympic cycle?
This news was a shot to my confidence. I knew I could overcome this and I kept on telling myself “this will not define me, this is just a speed bump” but after racing the 1stthree World Cups I was unable to compartmentalize my thoughts and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and did not perform to my personal expectations.
I am still working with an amazing team of professionals to come up with what the best strategy moving forward. I want to focus on what I can control and look at the positives of this situation. Really, if I get surgery it will benefit me and make me a better athlete.
This decision takes guts. I have some pretty big audacious goals and I want them so bad I can taste them. It stings to know that this is my reality and the unknown really scares me, but I am determined to take on whatever comes my way. My goal is to HAVE FUN and enjoy this journey and remember I am so lucky to be doing what I love every day.
I will finish the season before I undergo any treatment, which means I have 5 more races ahead of me. The national races are close to home on the newly opened Harvie Passage in downtown Calgary and the Kananaskis River for Nationals. The international races are in Pemberton, BC (international ranking race), La Seu d’Urgell, Spain for World Cup #5 and the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
I am working with my sport psych and coach’s to strengthen my mental game and I am confident that I can bounce back for the second half of the season.
I love the process and I am ready to do some serious emotional digging, to be brave and grow from this.
Thank you so much to Harmony for believing in me, I am truly grateful to be a part of this amazing community.