Injuries, MMA, going Dutch and the return to the ring
It’s been a frustrating few months being out of the ring, losing fitness and gaining weight! Especially given my first two years you couldn’t get me out of the ring! Unfortunately at the end of my time at AKA, I had done significant damage to my left knee. Surprisingly no stress fractures in my ankles from all the running, but something was seriously wrong. When I went to UTFF, we originally agreed to stick with the Muay Thai and expand my horizons. We were looking at fights, mostly in Europe, and the offers were a plenty. While we knew this was the path we were going to take for the immediate future, we were still training my grappling game in preparation for my transition to MMA in the new year. The change from Thai style to Dutch style was significant. Dutch style was more suited for MMA and for fights in western countries. It completely opened my eyes to the way I look at Muay Thai and fighting. It was so great learning different things every day as most of our classes were spent drilling with a partner. A nice change from the same routine that I had been in for the past 2 years. The aggressive Dutch style suits me, but there is still a lot about the traditional style that I will always love and I really hope moving forward, I can try to merge the two styles together a little. As my training load increased, so did the pain in my knee. I was training though a ridiculous amount of pain and was beginning to have issues in everyday movements such as sitting, and walking. We booked a fight locally for me, just to test out how the Dutch style was working for me and what was in my “DNA” (as my coach liked to say). As we got closer to the fight date, I was still awaiting information and then eventually my coach tells me he has pulled me from my fight. He didn’t want me fighting injured and the pain in my knee was affecting my basic movement in training. In that moment I had a mini meltdown. I was so frustrated, and homesick – my best friend had just visited and her return home sparked an insanely emotional response. I was due to go home for Christmas anyway and he tells me to take a break, don’t train while I’m at home, just rest my mind and my body and come back ready to work. I agreed that it was the best thing for me. I had scheduled an appointment with a sports doctor for my first week home. I wanted to try some PRP treatments in my shoulder and my knee to alleviate some of the pain. After a round of MRI’s and other sporadic testing, we discovered the problem with my knee was worse than I had expected. Immediately the doctor advises that I need surgery. To repair the meniscus (a common injury in athletes) and to shave off the back part of the knee cap to create more space for me knee to move, to prevent the knee cap grinding against the meniscus. On top of that I had a crack in the left side of the knee, what he described as the “shock absorber” most likely damaged from all the running I had been doing that year. PRP was an appropriate, but temporary remedy. My shoulder, as I have been told a few times before, needs a reconstruction, but more notably, there was cyst sitting near a nerve which was affecting my range of movement. A very intimate gathering with a very long needle (to aspirate the cyst) followed by two shots of cortisone, saw me a week later lifting my arms above my head and having both my biceps touch my shoulders. Magic! After some much needed R&R, time with my family and friends, a few extra kgs from Christmas, and a renewed sense of motivation, I was ready to come back to Thailand. We hit the ground running and agreed it was best that I take an MMA fight at this stage. We were set to go to Sydney, March 12, to make my debut. I was nervous, but ready for the change. As we pushed the pace in training, I fell victim to my first injury for the year. In a round of touch sparring (exactly as it sounds, because no one is wearing any protective gear, not even gloves) I threw my ‘jab’ out only to be kicked in the hand. A sharp pain ran up my hand and I looked down at my hand. My little finger was bent back behind my other fingers at a 90 degree angle. I won’t lie. I screamed. I clutched my hand and I screamed as I dropped to my knees. My coach ran to me and everyone was at a loss as to what to do. Neither of my coaches wanted to touch it, but leaving it at such an extreme angle while we waited for an ambulance could have made it worse. Along comes one of our students; a Danish man, and also a coach. He is confident he can put the digit back into place and I’m not arguing. I will never forget the sensation of my finger, popping back into its socket. It was such a bizarre feeling, yet oddly enough, not extremely painful. As we went to ice my hand, I could help but cry. “What about my fight!?!?!” Confident that my finger would heal itself, my coach tells me not to worry and that I will still be able to fight. A week later my finger is still extremely swollen and blue. I head off to have some x-rays and the damage was more extensive than we had anticipated. I was requested to wait to see the Orthopedic Surgeon. I turns out that I had broken off the top part of the base bone and fractured the middle bone. I was being told I could potentially need surgery. I know what you’re thinking… it’s just a pinky… wouldn’t it be easier if we just cut it off? (My thoughts exactly!) 8 weeks of not using my hand. Fortnightly x-rays and visits with the surgeon along with a sexy white plaster to boot. Great. I kept training to the best of my ability but staying motivated was difficult. I gave myself specific goals to work on that didn’t require the use of the left hand. I worked on my south paw stance, and I worked on my head movement. Both of which have improved significantly over the past two months, but it has been a frustrating time. I’m finally back training at full capacity. I’m getting my cross training in at Unit 27 and am thoroughly enjoying CrossFit (I don’t know how it took me so long to get into it!) and I am kicking pads at Dragon Muay Thai. I’m finally scheduled to fight again, April 12 and it could not come any sooner. I’m a little nervous about returning to the ring. My conditioning and fitness is not great so we are pushing as hard as we can. Nevertheless I’m excited. To get back to what I came here for. These past 6 months have been a bit of a detour for me, but like always, I have no regrets. MMA is not off the cards for me, but for right now I just need to be fighting again. Bring on April 12!