Thursday, November 13, 2008

How I Managed a Career Threatening Injury

About 3 years ago, I had gotten to a place in my life where I felt I was ready to take on more "risk". For 7 years I plunged headfirst into my career (which can be quite physically demanding) and put some ambitions aside. One morning I decided I had enough of that and subsequently went searching for something to learn. I decided upon figure skating. I love watching it, especially ice dancing and I wanted to give it a go.

The first year I skated, I did really well considering I had never learned to skate before and only suffered 1 fall. That one fall resulted in a few fractured ribs. It certainly wasn't easy to do my job. I had never experienced such pain in my life but I persevered and remember only one really bad day. I didn't miss any work nor any skating classes.

The year after, I went back for another season of learning and excelled. I decided to push myself further and move my skating to the outdoors. I was told that my figure skates (the blade) would be ruined if I used them outside so to purchase a pair of recreational skates instead. Being a neophyte in such matters, I purchase the best pair I could find and took them out. Needless to say, I had a huge surprise. I didn't realize how much of a difference they would feel and how much of a difference a shorter and more curved blade would make. My balance was off and I fell just after I thought I was doing well! I broke my wrist in 3 places.

Fast forward 4 months and 4 casts later, I was finally giving a clean bill of health and a script to start rehab to start a month after (due to the nature of the healing process of the small bones of the hand). Being that I am who I am, I had long started rehab while I was still casted. Having studied piano for 11 years and taught for 7 1/2, I had a good idea what my hands and wrists were supposed to be capable of. By the time I was assessed by a physiotherapist, she told me that she would not have known I had broken my wrist if she hadn't read it on the intake form. I felt pretty proud of myself.

During the time I was in a cast, it was impossible to do my full duties at work. The breaks were on my dominant side and the way the cast was formed, my thumb was completely hidden and the rest of my fingers only showed the tips. Luckily I have a decent sense of humour. I knew that the hours I spent as a kid practicing to be ambidextrous would come in handy someday! And it did. I wrote my notes with my left hand and realized quickly that I could do a lot with my left hand. Other than the first few days off (for shock), once I was comfortable driving, I returned to work part time for the 5 months and entered back full time for the remainder of the year.

As I am self employed, I do not get income if I don't work. Once I realized the potential disability of my injury, I immediately went to work with the calculator. Back 3 years ago, I was living in my condo and it was very very close to being paid for. I also owned a recreational property that could be sold if need be. If I were to have cashed in all of my investments and savings, I would have 5 years of expenses worth. My disability plan was not useful as I was going to recover before the requisite wait period. Because I work 3 days a week, it would take many, many weeks until I would reach my 90 working days minimum. So I figured that I would be fine in the short term and long term because I was able to work 2 days a weeks and by doing so, cover my portion of household and life expenses.

Ironically, this injury didn't have near the pain associated with it compared to the rib fractures from the year before. It allowed me to test the foundation of my security. Honestly, I enjoyed having the time off and that is where my goal of going back to 2 days a week comes from. I felt I weathered the challenge well. The following year I got back on the ice and I look forward to this season.

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