Back on the Ice! (For a Moment)

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Today I am taking a cue from Christine’s post encouraging us to revisit moments of success, and thinking about a very special, if scary, moment for me last month.

I have written in the past about my hip surgeries to repair tears in my cartilage. Before those tears started, I enjoyed ice skating. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but since I was a little girl I loved the feeling of skating. Until I was 6, I lived in a tiny town on the Alaska Highway, and skating was one of the only activities around for kids. I started skating when I was 3 and sadly for me, stopped when we moved to a small, coastal logging town where the nearest ice rink was 40 minutes drive. My mom wasn’t comfortable driving me that far and my life as a skater ended. (Somehow my parents found a way to take my younger brother to play ice hockey though, a fact that has been hard to figure out for me).

Selfie of woman looking at the camera, you just barely see she is wearing skates, standing next to a couch.

I didn’t have a chance to skate again until, as a young adult, I moved to Montréal. I enjoyed skating on ponds there in winter, and when I moved later to Toronto, I continued to skate on the free public rinks. It was a thrill.

My husband is from Edmonton and he grew up skating outdoors. His first Christmas gift to me was pair of lovely figure skates – he gave them to me when he took me home to meet his family, and we had a magical time skating on the frozen downtown ponds, actually skating around islands! I was dazzled that my skates had brown (not black) heels, just like the young women casually practicing single axel jumps on the ice around us.

We continued that love of skating when we moved to London, Ontario, where we are now. We skated at the downtown rinks and I felt pretty comfortable. Our first son was born and we got him bob-skates (kiddie skates that strap onto their shoes) and we would skate around with him between us.

The first sign of my hip injury appeared when I was pregnant with our second son, and by the time he was born skating was pretty unimaginable for me. Between the pain and having a three year old AND a newborn, I just couldn’t do it. Over time my hips got worse and it took more than 10 years to get proper diagnoses and then surgeries. I think I got on skates twice in those years. The second time it was like I forgot how to skate. I couldn’t even stand on my skates on the rubber pads at the rink. I was pretty heartbroken, and have continued to be for years.

Happily though, I have now had two hip repairs and I have recovered a number of activities, including hiking and canoeing. This winter our church rented a rink and I felt brave enough to put on my skates. My plan was just to try them on at home and see if I could stand. I was literally shaking!

I managed to get them on and felt totally fine walking around on our carpet, so I got braver and took them the next day to the rink. It was really scary, but I got on the ice! I actually felt alright! I think I was most comfortable just standing on my own – it felt better than holding someone’s hand or trying to hold on to the boards of the rink… In the end though, I was really worried about falling hard and putting out my back or neck. I had this moment where I though “I think this is enough for today.” I tried to hang back a little bit more to see if it would shift (because really, I was dying to make one round of the rink!).

GIF of person in red jacket stepping onto the ice at a hockey rink. Next to them a man is holding their hand as they step on

I had this feeling like I didn’t want to push my luck… I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I just called it quits for the day. Ultimately I was totally thrilled to just shuffle around for a bit. I would love to recover my ice-legs enough to enjoy a casual skate.

For now though, I’m celebrating. Thanks Christine for the encouragement to do that! I will be making myself a gold star!

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