It’s interesting in life when details in common come to light that you can’t help but notice the coincidence.
Monday, my Facebook newsfeed had pictures of Evgeni Plushenko back on the ice… the first time after his surgery (two months ago today).
Yesterday, the people that post news about him on Facebook and Twitter were kind enough to post a video about a TV show he did for a Japanese station where he spends time with one of their young stars, Miyu Honda, giving her tips on her skating and showing off his AMAZING house.
And also yesterday, the next movie I was discussing on my blog was “The Karate Kid.”
Bringing me back to the short time in my life where I considered myself something of an athlete.
And my own surgery was the reason I winded up stopping.
Having surgery for my scoliosis isn’t something I really brag about nor is it something I’m ashamed to bring up. My family knows about it all too well. My friends know about it. We’ve accepted it as a fact. Except for maybe one time a couple of years ago, where I was feeling some pain in my back, I hardly remember that the titanium is there.
In general, surgery and I have never really gotten along, so I do consider myself lucky that I haven’t had to go under the knife more than I’ve absolutely had to.
And by not getting along, I’m talking exclusively about the drugs used to knock me out. No matter what it is, I have a weak stomach and I spend the next couple days being unable to keep any food down.
And to be fair, none of the surgeries I ever had were anything major. I’ve had tubes put in my ear twice and I’ve had my wisdom teeth out.
My back surgery, that is something that could be considered major, but compared to anything Plushenko endured, it was still something pretty routine.
Only people have a curvature in their spine have to go the extreme route of having surgery to fix it. I wish I remembered the degrees of my curvature so I could post about it. I believe it was somewhere between 35°-40°, the curvature in my lower [lumbar] region being a tad more extreme. It wasn’t like it was super notice about either. My folks only notice it because my shoulders seemed oddly uneven. Like my right shoulder was slightly higher than my left and my growth spurt suddenly stopped.
So yeah, it was pretty terrifying getting the news that I had to have major surgery. The only bright side I could really find (other than the fact I’d miss school for a couple months) was that I had an excuse to stop taking karate.
I originally got into it for probably one of the silliest reasons imaginable: I was a Power Rangers kid. And I’m talking the original Mighty Morphin generation with Kimberly, Billy, Zack, Trini, Jason and Tommy (and later, Adam, Aisha and Rocky).
I wanted to emulate them so much that I wanted to take karate (and in the back of my mind, gymnastics because I wanted to learn how to do one of those kick-ass backflips).
My dad finally said yes, but impressed on me that I had to do it for more than just that. I had to want to learn self-defense, discipline and improving myself. Plus he wanted to research schools instead of just settling for the one flyer I brought home from school :shrug:
I think I started when I was 8. Don’t quite remember, but I was in it until I was 12 or 13. By that time, I’d already had my blackbelt for a year.
Yep, I have a black belt in Tang Soo Do. One corner of my room still remains dedicated to do that. My belt are hanging on the wall as are my old target practice targets, lots of medals and my two third place trophies (one for sparing and one for forms… everyone else on the freaking planet knows those as katas… don’t know why we never called them that or why we never called our uniforms gi’s… I still find that a strange word so I don’t use it).
Of course, the whole process was tough, but I did get enjoyment out of the structure of it. Learning new moves and such. None of which I’ve ever had to use, thankfully, but at the time, it was pretty cool. We also learned how to use bongs (what everyone else calls bo-staffs… I still have mine) and self-defense with knives.
Throughout those years, we impressed on ourselves the 7 tenants that later came to be written on our walls:
integrity, concentration, discipline, self-control, perseverance, humility, and indomitable spirit.
I still hold true to a lot of these, but in the last three years I was unemployed, it was really hard to persevere to change that. For the most part, though, I do have a handle on self-control. Sometimes I have too much of a handle on it and I don’t allow myself to live out in the open as much as I’d like. Humility is something I’ve become good at, again, sometimes I’m too good at it.
The only parts I really didn’t like about it was the social aspect. I still have trouble making friends to do this and that certainly didn’t help matters. It was difficult when we had to partner up for sparing because I was afraid to make the first move. That was also part of the reason I wanted to quit. Not just because I wasn’t having fun anymore, but also because I was getting too old for my class and had to make the transition to the teen class, which had a host of new faces. Even having my friend Sam join up with me wasn’t enough incentive to make me want to keep going with it.
Getting that black belt will always go down as one of my most prized achievements. It was super hard getting through the ranks, but going through the tests and trials for the belt itself…. one of the toughest things I’d ever accomplished.
The first part was physical. I had to run 3 miles in 30 minutes: we used the circular road leading to and from my future high school. Never mind the 500 jumping jacks, 100 sit-ups and push-ups I had to do, THAT part was the toughest by far. Getting my stamina to that point where I could do that.
Then came the test with all the bells and whistles. There were two low points for me that day where I broke down on the side-lines because I thought not fully accomplishing those steps would keep me from getting my belt. The first was the series of self-defense moves. I only knew up to 11 or 12 and after that, I think I stood there for three minutes before I could say I didn’t know anymore… yeah, I spent a good deal of that year I had my blue belt helping warm-up the class and such so I was getting some leadership training out of it, but I still have trouble speaking up when I’m completely lost in something.
The other part was where I couldn’t break a board with my fist. I could do it with my foot, yeah, but I couldn’t do it with my fist. I don’t think we practiced that at home as much as we should have, maybe that’s why.
Either way, though, I did succeed and I’ll never forget it. I may have forgotten all my forms and self-defense steps (other than the eye-poking and bear-hug approach), but I do remember the various punches and kicks. And I do remember working super hard to get that belt.
I’ve come to embrace that fast that life has a natural progression and things do happen for a reason.
The fact I needed surgery on my back gave me the excuse I needed to end my karate career when it was no longer something I wanted to aspire to… it wasn’t as if I’d become an instructor at a school or I’d go to college on a scholarship… plus what happened next set me on the path I’m still following.
Which is the path of a writer.
When I was laid up for my surgery, I started doing pretty vividly and those dreams blossomed into fanfiction. Which gave way to more fanfiction. Which eventually gave way to my own original writing. Which also gave way to my blogging, first about Prince, then about movies, music, American Idol, and as of late, Plushenko.
The progression of his recovery continues to astonish me, but part of that is because I don’t know what to expect. I’m still trying to break this illusion I have that he’s this porcelain doll that’s going to break when he does his first quadruple jump 😛 but getting to see his first steps on the ice after the surgery, I think I start putting that fear out of my mind because it’s unnecessary and untrue. The American commentators, when they’re not criticizing his technique, always say how mentally tough he is.
But when I saw that first moment, him skating after, I almost cried. It was like he never left, which is a case that can be made whenever he returns to competition after months/years off and owns the ice the same way. It was a momentous occasion for sure and I feel privileged we live in an age where that’s something all of his fans around the world get to witness. It certainly puts their minds at ease, especially any ones like me who are nervous about him going too fast and such. I held my breath at any possibility he was going to try to jump and to my relief, he hasn’t taken it to that level yet.
Word is that he’ll start training June 16th after a much deserved vacation with his family.
Another moment that got me choked up was when they came to his trophy room. All those medals made my head explode 😛
and then there was the plastic container he emptied on the floor that contains the screws removed from his back.
Actually, I think I almost lost it and burst into tears right there. As that wasn’t enough, it was coupled with footage of February 13th. I absolutely understand why he keeps them with his trophies because they’re an important reminder.
There was also a moment where he showed off the scare on his back. It made me sad, but also made me uneasy watching him move his hand along it. That along with the screws makes the situation all the more real and tangible for my mind to comprehend.
On a whim, I had a look at my own scar in the mirror. This year, my surgery will be going back 15 years. Naturally, given my procedure, my scar is longer. It runs from just a few inches above my coccyx to a few inches below my shoulder blades…
It’s never been something I’ve been super self-conscious about it and I really don’t show it off.
Right now, all I can think is that the size of it doesn’t matter because to me, it resembles the beginning of a new age in my life and in the back of my mind, the slightest possibility that if my back went unchecked, it could have done serious damage. But I’ll never know how valid a point that is because it never got to that point.
I try to think about my post-surgery recovery. I don’t remember how long he was in Tel Aviv for this latest procedure. I believe it was about a week :shrug:
I had my surgery on a Monday and went home on Saturday.
The first day was HORRIBLE and not just the vomiting. I felt super weak, completely unable to move on my own. And I was in excoriating pain for what felt like an eternity. I was getting morphine, yes, but I didn’t feel like it was enough 😛 I felt like I was stuck on my back for ages and I desperately wanted to get off it. I understand now why that was nervous, so the healing could start and such.
Man, I’m cringing right now just thinking about it.
I never told anyone this, but I was on my feet and walking maybe a day or two afterwards… and it was because I had to use the facilities in the middle of the night and didn’t feel like waking anyone up to help me with something so trivial.
Boy did I feel heavy and weighed down, but I did manage it quite well :shrug: and yeah, I’ll admit I feel proud about being able to do that.
Other than that first day, the one other moment of excoriating pain I remember was either one of my first nights home from the hospital or a couple weeks after. I was sleeping on the sofa either because it was too soon for me to go upstairs into my own bed or I wanted to be downstairs for a show I wanted to watch in the morning. Either way, I woke up in the middle of the night suddenly in a lot of pain. The only one that came downstairs to check on me was my dog, Dodger 😛 I don’t remember how long he stayed with me, but he was there for me to pet him so my stress level could go down.
That’s always felt like a really significant moment for me and one of the most beautiful I experienced, even if extreme pain was needed for it occur.
Perhaps when I do somehow get published one day and I have my first best-seller, I embrace this story about my surgery and safely say that if it hadn’t been for it, I might never have become inspired to write.
But until then, no matter the degree of the scarring, the amount of pain and so on, it’s always going to feel insignificant because Plushenko has less scarring, but the scarring resembles a procedure that may have saved his life.
That’s something I’m never going to forget. And perhaps more than his skill when he’s at his best, that’s probably what I’m going to admire most about him when I think about him in the future.