Photo: O-Jen Ishii Photography
My retirement from derby…
I’ve been reluctant to talk more about why I’m retiring from skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls this year. In the light of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I am starting to realize that while it’s my choice if I don’t want to talk about my health issues, if I don’t then there is no hope of people becoming more educated on the issue. The issue is that I have an auto-immune disease, Psoriatic Arthritis. I’m at a stage that most days I can carry on with my daily life without many people realizing what I’m going through. It’s not a condition that you can really see because it characterized primarily by varying levels of joint pain, inflammation, and damage. So if I’m able to hide the fact that it feels like my hands are in a vise, or I’m just run down from my system working overtime, then it appears as if everything is normal.
The reality though is that my “normal” changed significantly in 2009, and is still continuing to do so. I was diagnosed late 2008/early 2009 and it took almost a year to find a medication that would start working for me and my body to start stabilizing. I’ve experienced everything from the drugs having no impact at all to severe allergic reactions. I have a weekly injection that I now take, Enbrel, that so far is doing a good job of keeping major symptoms at bay and (hopefully) slowing my rate of joint damage. For those that didn’t know me prior to my diagnosis, you’d probably be surprised that one of the biggest impacts I experienced was a noticeable impact to my energy level (yes, I know! If you think I’m a border collie now, trust me, this is a “toned-down” version ) This also requires me to sleep more than I ever have in the past because I still like to do “all of the things” and it takes me longer to recover.
I’ve never really talked about my PsA because I never wanted it to factor into my derby career and because I’m stubborn as hell. I wasn’t going to let this disease dictate what I could and couldn’t do. But after 4+ years, you could say that things are starting to catch up with me and that my body is wanting a new “normal.” I take longer and longer to recover, and I sometimes have to sleep 12-14 hours a night on the weekend to make up for my output during the week. If I do have a flare up, that too takes a toll, as keeping such a hectic schedule makes it harder for my joints to recover and prolongs the episode. While I have pushed through these past years because of my love for the sport, my body is now telling me it wants to rest, and I know now I need to let it on its own schedule. Because resting while I have a team counting on me means I rest according to the season schedule, or my work schedule, not my body’s schedule! My body and I have come to the agreement though that rest will come after DSDG goes to Champs in November.
I still consider myself one of the lucky ones because while I may have to hang up my skates, I can still bike, hike, CrossFit, and so many other things. Not everyone with my condition is so lucky, and I may be living on borrowed time and not be able to do those things in the future. It’s a day by day thing to see what my body may have in store for me down the line, so I try to make the most of it while I can.
While it saddens me to be retiring, I am so very fortunate that over these couple of years I’ve had the chance to skate with and against so many different skaters, and against some of the best this sport has to offer. For that, I will forever be thankful. Those are memories no one, nor PsA can ever take away from me.
If you’d like to learn more, you can go to http://www.psoriasis.org/psoriatic-arthritis or please feel free to ask me. It’s time I started talking about Psoriatic Arthritis more in hopes of helping others understand if they know or come across someone in their life that is struggling with this condition.
And with all that said, watch DSDG in playoffs in Charleston, WV the first weekend in October as we pave our way to Champs! I want to end this season with a bang!!!!!