So here are some of my first few minutes on the new skates:
First Skate in Edeas from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.
Now, I understand that this is completely and objectively unimpressive, but for me, it represents several minor victories.
Backing up, I ended up needing counseling over these boots! Not psychological counseling, but boot expertise. I had been wearing them around the house and they were just KILL.ING.ME. So much foot pain! And I was completely depressed and thought I had made a terrible decision and blah, blah, blah.
So, I talked with an online pro tech guy, who schooled me about the difference with Edeas and what everyone gets wrong about lacing their skates. He said I was lacing them too tight and that I was causing potentially permanent damage to my foot. But, I argued, when I lace them loose, I can’t even walk in them! I’m wobbling all around like a newbie on rentals! He says the problem is with my weakling, wobbling ankles, not the skates. And if I would just lace the skates right, eventually I would be able to stand in them and skate in them comfortably as my ankles and legs got stronger.
This corresponded, interestingly enough, with a guy I met at Valley last week. His daughter came up to me to ask about my guide dog, and I ended up getting into this whole conversation with him about speed skates. He was wearing speed skates, and I had never really seen them before. Maybe I knew the they did not come above the ankles??? But this is the kind of detail I can’t see on TV. So he totally let me check out his skates by touching them and he was explaining them to me, the very, very long blades, the “slap” part where the blades disconnect from the back heal, and the low, shoe-like boot. I was all, “how do you STAND in them?” I pretty much thought skates had to put your ankles in a head-lock of death to work and that is just the way it was. He said that you just do after a while. Your ankles get strong enough to support regular skating on them. They would not be good for jumps, where you need to land with a lot of support, but you can skate without ankle support.
This, apparently, is what you are supposed to do with the Edeas. Be like Maya Usova, said the skate pro guy. Apparently she wouldn’t even lace her skates up the hooks so she had more foot freedom. You are supposed to keep the toes loose, the bend of the ankle tight but not strangled, and the hooks loose.
Well, I was too chicken to do it at first, and I went around the whole rink with my feet hurting so bad, I couldn’t get off and unlace them fast enough. Then I decided to be brave. I laced them like they said, I walked to the ice as wobbly as a person wearing broken down rentals. And I skated! And that is what you see above. It feels quite weird, I can’t hardly pick up my feet. But I can tell that if I work on it, I will develop the muscles to do it. It started hurting different muscles after a while. Like my shins and quadriceps. But it was the kind of pain like, I’m sore because I haven’t used these muscles in awhile, not like I’m going to get gangrene. It was a pain I could handle. I can tell it puts me in a deeper knee bend in the skates, which is good for everything.
The blades weren’t that hard to get used to…yet. I mean, I’m not doing anything. So they aren’t really being tested. I can tell that they are different. I was trying 3-turns and Mohawks on the wall and I could tell that they are much more maneuverable than my old blades. So glad I’m going to relearn on these from the beginning now.
Another minor victory was that I was very sick that day and I went out anyway and still completed my goals. When you have a chronic illness, this is a constant management issue. How much do you push yourself when you feel lousy? I grew up thinking I was lazy and useless and I skipped a lot of school, so I have this constant thing in my head that if I don’t meet a commitment or show up for something it is because I am being lazy and taking the easy way out. But, then one day a long time ago, I was in my office job in such kidney pain from chronic kidney stones I was awaiting one of many surgeries on, and I was laying on my office floor doing work because it was the only position I could stand. And I thought, all those people who called me lazy NEVER went to work like this, and I do regularly. So screw them.
It was still a balance that was hard to find. I have always had orthostatic hypotension. Most of the time, its not a big deal. I manage it without anyone noticing several times a day, every day. But sometimes, when I have other stuff going on, it gets pretty bad. Once, I was in a meeting (with important outsider types) and I got up and was so dizzy and about to pass out that I slammed into a wall. Just a few minutes later, I was fine. But my co workers (after making sure I was ok) were really upset with me. They were saying how bad it looked and how I looked drunk and how I need to be responsible and stay home if I am that sick. But orthostatic hypotension is not really being ‘sick” I argued, its just a few minutes out of my day where I need to take a few seconds of extra time. But you LOOK really sick, they said. Oh. So that is what counts. Got it.
Its hard to balance how you look, how you feel, what you could do in a different, less socially acceptable position (laying down) or with a flexible schedule and short breaks. Its hard to be really honest with yourself and know when to push and when to stay home as to not get any worse. Its hard to commit to people when you don’t know from day to day if you will be able to meet the commitment. This is probably why I’ve arranged my life so that my schedule is very flexible and I can work from home and take on projects that I know I can do as they come up.
But sometimes I wonder, since I’ve been fortunate enough to make this flexible schedule for myself if I still can push through or if I’ve gotten too soft. I want to keep that muscle of being able to push through. And on this day, I did. I had hardly slept because I had a really bad headache to the point where I was nauseous, but I got up and went anyway, and it was difficult, but I accomplished my goal of getting over my fear of these skates.
Skating is a metaphor for pushing myself socially, physically, and emotionally outside of my comfort zone. And this was a day I did all of those things. Funnily enough, 2 other people there were breaking in new skates, too. I was having a really tough time communicating with them because the sicker I feel, the worse I see and hear, but we did manage to bond a bit over our silly little boot crises.
I have a lot of work ahead to build the muscles to get used to these boots, but this was a major hurdle, with a lot of tiny victories.