Day 2: Gaining Confidence and Weight Shifting

Today was about gaining confidence on my skates and shifting weight between legs.

I still couldn’t take any steps or push off properly from any side, but I imagine that’s still a few practice days away before any progress on that front.

Simply standing on skates, without holding onto the blue skating assistant, and shifting weight between the left leg and right leg was my goal. In doing so, I was able to gain more confidence in my skates.

The feeling wasn’t terrifying anymore.

Eventually, I was able to slide by thrusting forward between legs, without taking any steps.

The video below is a glimpse of the progress made today, and a reminder that I always need to keep my focus levels high. The second my mind drifted slightly, I lost balance and my prosthetic side started running on me.

Day 1: First time on the Ice. Oh Boy!

10579173_10204336127397982_875339212_o
Can you sense the terrified feeling inside?

Today was the big day!

In the morning, we made our way to the skating areas beside Scadding Court Community Centre. I was joined by two of my brothers, two friends, and one cousin.

Having put on the boots, I made my way to the ice without much trouble but with a body and mind nervously vibrating.

Walk to the ice. Check.

Now to step onto the ice. That went… (I’ll let you determine that based on the video).

Props to Nayan Kabir for enduring that fall. Sorry for weighing almost twice as much as you!

Oh boy. Those moments were terrifying. Not only was I struggling to control my left leg (the actual leg), but my right leg (prosthetic side) was even worse. It kept running on me. I quickly realized gaining some control over the leg would be my greatest challenge.

In saying that, it felt pretty cool to fall at the end. It’s a part of the process, I need to understand that and embrace it. I didn’t get hurt and most importantly it gave me a chance to reset and breathe. However, getting up off the ground would be the next challenge…

I said earlier gaining control over my prosthetic leg will be my biggest challenge. I certainly have the confidence to believe I’ll overcome it.

But getting up off the ground, right now I don’t feel confident that one day I’ll be able to do it properly. I’ve been encouraged by my brother, advising me I’ll be able to once I learn how to dig into the ice with my prosthetic. But I can’t help shake off the sensation of doubt.

My right leg just doesn’t bend enough for me to get up on that side. The only way I’ve been doing it outside of the ice is on my left side with both hands on the ground. I guess we’ll have to leave that one up to time and see what comes of it.

After the first round on the ice, one of the rink managers came over and suggested a blue, walker-like tool to help me take some steps on the ice.

989512_10204335970514060_119265275_o

I didn’t know such a thing existed. I still don’t even know what it’s called. But once I started using it the motions began turning the right way.

Overall, it was a great day.

A few things went well, most things didn’t. But what’s important was if progress was made. Did I feel better?  Was I able to do some things I couldn’t do upon arrival?  Based on the clip below, I’d say progress was made.

I’m thankful to have brothers and friends who are committed to helping me through this process. There wasn’t much else I could have asked for.

Credit to Anin Tafader for the work behind the camera.

Five Potential Points of Conflict

Getting closer and closer to the day I step onto the ice for the first time. I still need to make another trip to Sportcheck to pick up a few more items to add some protection.

Right now what’s going through my mind are potential problems I’ll face on the ice. Some are issues specifically related to my situation and some are general issues everyone faces when learning to skate.

Here are five potential points of conflict:

Prosthetic Side 

There are a slew of things I’ll need to pay close attention to that are only related to my prosthetic.

  • I don’t have a great deal of knee bend on my prosthetic side. Definitely not as much as some of the other amputees I’ve seen. So the limited flexibility will be a concern.
  • “Stepping off” in the skate isn’t possible with the prosthetic side, so I will need to drive myself forward relying solely on pushing off in the “socket” of the prosthetic.
  • When I get fatigued, I sometimes fail to bend my knee to the fullest, which usually results in a slight trip-up when alternating steps. If that happens on the ice, I’m definitely going for a tumble!

12388252_10204303007169997_2139468625_n

The middle section is where my foot goes inside the socket. All foot related movements will have to be done there as opposed to inside the skate.

Skating Partner 

I’m going to need someone who knows how to skate well and understands my situation to teach me. Right now, that person can be one of my brothers. However, my plans are to skate frequently, ideally every other day, and I just can’t expect that same commitment from my brothers who are busy with their jobs.

One of my closest friends’ is set to return from school on Saturday for winter break. I’m thinking about doing  most of the skating with him, since he should be able to allocate the type of time commitment I need.

Falling Properly 

4909753834_28591d8765_b

Falling is an essential part of learning to skate. Or so I have been told.

Therefore, doing your best to fall properly is crucial to protecting yourself from injury. If you have some control when you slip or trip, you can go down in a manner where most of the fall is absorbed by a part of your body less vulnerable to injure.

Getting up off the Ground 

Probably a problem every new skater is faced with.  While getting up off the ground, the skates will run underneath. The only way to combat it is what I assume is gaining better control over the skate and placing it in a sturdy position.

However, for me getting off the ground from any surface is extra challenging due to the fact I can’t bend my leg enough on the prosthetic side. The way I get up right now is only on my actual leg side with support from both hands on the ground.

The way I get up off the ice will be…to be determined.

It’s Not Cold Enough Outside 

2180409863_44ce65ebb1_b

Um, last I checked, I live in Toronto.

You know, a place where it snows and stuff and is cold?  However, we’re nearing Christmas and the temperature has been consistently in the positives.

With the weather avoiding minus fronts, it’s hard for the ice in outdoor rinks to be anything but slushy. For someone learning for the first time, you’d want the ice conditions in your favour.

Just two days ago it was 14 degrees! Crazy.

Step One: Picking up a pair of Skates

I’m shocked.

If someone were to tell me shopping for skates would be one of the easiest shopping experiences of my life, I’d have told them they were as crazy as those who thought Garret Sparks would be 3-1-0 in the NHL by December 12th, 2015.

With the many troubles I’ve had in the past shopping for clothes/shoes, my prosthetic leg has always been a variable to account for. Finding the right size, establishing some control, standing up on both sides, these were issues I projected to be of conflict.

At the end of the day, there weren’t many issues at all.

Yesterday night I went down to Sportcheck with my brother and a friend. The very first skate I put on would be the one I left the store with.

We were quickly greeted by some awesome customer service. A sales rep for Sportcheck by the name of Jordan measured my foot size and suggested a pair of skates generally meant for beginners. The Ribcor SC87-26 pump.

IMG_20151211_220325.jpg

Best of all, usually priced at $199.99, they were on sale for $69.99 and there was only one remaining for my size. He engaged with me really well, genuinely committed to understanding my situation and providing all the help I needed. That’s more than I could have asked for.

Usually I’ve had difficulty with new shoes since the artificial foot isn’t able to flex and move like my regular foot does. So when putting on shoes, I’m more so ramming the foot in as opposed to sliding it in.

To my surprise, the foot popped in right away without any trouble. I kept pushing the bottom of the skate towards the foot thinking it wasn’t in!

The skate felt a little loose since the artificial foot didn’t have the width that my real foot did, but thanks to the pressure pump features on the skates I could help compensate for that. Also, a pair of wax laces should help “lock” it in place, especially since I won’t have to worry about blocking blood flow by tightening as hard as possible!

IMG_20151211_204929.jpg
I sat with the skates fresh out of the oven! Jordan offered to give them a good bake to help with the “breaking in” process. I gladly obliged.

The skates felt as great as new skates can feel on someone’s feet.

I was sweating a little bit from nerves, but standing up proved to be easy. There was a bit of a problem with weight transferring while getting up and down but once I got there it felt fine. Hopefully with more experience I’ll learn to better balance the weight on both sides.

Step one is out of the way. The next step is hopefully hitting the ice for the first skate. Right now I plan on it later in the week.

IMG_20151211_220308.jpg
Unfortunately, this man’s production is dropping in the NHL but he remains one of the best to ever play the game. 

 

You can email me at RaihanH95@gmail.com 

The Journey: Learning to Ice Skate

This series of blog posts will chronicle my experience learning to ice skate and play ice hockey for the first time in my life.

At this moment, I’m a 20 year old who has never stepped onto the ice despite being a die hard hockey fan for most of my life. How that happens doesn’t resonate with a lot of people, and it doesn’t with me until the situation is understood.

I’ve had a mobile disability. In 2008, when I was approximately 13 years old, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (or bone cancer) in my right leg and had to undergo an amputation. Here is the type of surgery I chose:

Rotationplasty1It’s called rotationplasty surgery. My knee had to be replaced, and although seemingly unconventional to the average person, the ankle provided a joint that functions like the knee.

The reason I chose this path was because it left room for opportunities like this, where I can one day learn to skate and and live out the physical possibilities that are dear to my heart. The limits would be based on how hard I work.

Today, after over seven years removed from surgery and the chemotherapy recovery process, I’m finally ready to take on this daunting challenge. Setbacks have significantly delayed the process, but with lengthy physiotherapy and general growing I’ve reached the point where I’ve overcome those hurdles. I feel comfortable enough to put to my leg to the test and see what I can achieve.

I’m chronicling this experience for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, to add to the experience of putting together a blog and continually writing. I’m studying Sports Media at Ryerson University and this would be a great way to increase my value as a student. I also intend to use this site as something more than a place to house my personal experience.

Secondly, this will be a social challenge for me. For those that know me, I’m not the most social person and often times don’t prefer talking vs silence. But working this blog will force me to train some abilities connected to one’s social abilities and help me grow socially.

I’m not looking for a readership, but trying to deal with the fact this is open to anyone who stumbles upon it. Sure, if it can help build confidence in others who are in a situation similar to mine, I’d be very glad. But I’m focused on building my confidence for the time being.

Hopefully the best comes out of it.

Picking up a pair of skates is the first step. And it begins tonight!

10155610_10201252683473811_4288677066672506499_n
Ball hockey is the only type of hockey I’ve been able to play for the last few years. I love it, cause it’s hockey. But it’s about time we take it to the ice.

 

My email is RaihanH95@gmail.com