Yesterday I reached another milestone in my derby career - my first trip to the ER with an injured rollergirl. Now, I've already seen loads of injuries. My first couple of months on the league, there was an injury nearly every week at scrimmage practice. Broken leg, torn ACL, broken collarbone, etc. It was completely terrifying to us freshies, and even though we knew injuries tend to happen in derby, it was freaky to see it happen that often. After a couple months the curse seemed to lift and it's been a while since I've witnessed anyone get seriously hurt again. ... Until yesterday. One of my teammates jarred her shoulder last week, but has been to a few practices since and has been doing fine. We were doing a simple drill concentrating on two blockers and one jammer rotating through who was the offense and who the defense. I was rounding the corner behind my teammate's group when she got knocked down and then flattened by the jammer. Her fall didn't look weird or out of the ordinary - but as soon as she hit she screamed. It seemed to take forever for everyone to notice and stop and one of our league's nurses to rush over, and I couldn't understand why - she kept crying out in pain. We flocked around her and tried to stabilize her with ice and padding and soothing words but it took a while before she stopped screaming. When I saw a rollergirl get her collarbone broken, I thought that was the worst - all we could hear was her crying and all we could see was her flailing her skates up and down. But seeing my teammate -- who I already knew to be particularly tough -- be in so much pain was startling.
Eventually we got her calm and the medics came to transport her to the hospital. She kept apologizing - apologizing! - for getting hurt. Two of my other teammates and I followed her ambulance to the ER, and navigated the maze of hallways in our booty shorts and galloshes (it was a rainy morning). They wouldn't let us see her right away, so we texted and facebooked information to the rest of our league and promised to keep everyone in the know. Inbetween bouts of silence we discussed league news, but didn't talk about injuries. After an hour of waiting, we decided to check if we could see her and surprise! They sent us right back. Which probably meant we could've been back there with her a lot sooner. Grrr. As it was, she was waiting all alone, holding her arm and trying not to focus on the pain. We crowded her with happy thoughts until her husband arrived. The nurses let us get away with being way too many visitors for one person for a little while, but eventually had to kick us out.
On our way out, the two security guards commented, "There go the dancers!" We set them straight about the reason behind our tights and they were shocked and intrigued. I love the moment on people's faces when they've already decided something about you and then you completely shatter their opinion. I love people looking at me and assuming I'm tough, or that I can kick ass in any way, shape, or form. (It's not exactly a regular occurence for me). But I guess with all things, there is a price to pay. If you're going to play at being tough, you're going to get hurt.
The injury verdict was that she tore her AC ligament. To me, it's sad on so many levels - all her hard work she put in to get to this point, her excitement at just starting to bout, her anticipation of a derby career. Now she'll be out for months in recovery and we'll miss her terribly. I'm not sure if I'll be able to come back if (when) I get injured. Derby injuries seem to do so much more than stall your athletic career - they sever the connection you've formed with all your derby friends, fans, teammates, committee members until you can get back to the routine. Derby is intensely demanding and rewarding, but it's unfair it can be so heartbreaking too. Maybe I'm taking this too hard - loads of rollergirls have shared their injury stories with me and they came back and kept playing. But out of the 30+ girls I made the league with, less than half are left. After this incident, I don't want to lose any more.