I woke to text messages from more friends getting the news of my injury. Tears continued to flow, I felt exhausted. People I didn't want to say goodbye to, I had unfinished business and cried at their individual responses. Such generous, genuine people I was so fortunate to call my friends. I had let my emotions run free until the early morning knowing today I needed to start the healing process. I wasn't improving my situation moping around being sad and didn't want to feel like I had the day before. My knee was sore this morning, more so than other days, it may have been the side I slept on. Last night both Allie and Chrisdell snored. I wondered if I snored when I was asleep? I listened to their snores with appreciation and gratitude. Just to be there in the same apartment as them I was thankful for. Every little part of them I wasn't ready to let go of.
About to go to war, the game day that changed our existence
I had begun to review my diet to optimize my healing. I made 3 basic changes anytime I was injured;
1. Reduce grains. Digesting grains caused tiny perforations in the lining of the stomach. Essentially the more energy your body used repairing those, the less were available to heal the injury 2. Increase water intake.
3. Increase Fish Oil. The omega-3 fats worked to produce beneficial anti-inflammatory hormones.
Additionally to prepare for surgery I ate plenty of nutrient rich leafy greens like spinach. Also included fats, garlic, turmeric, green tea and pineapples since they were rich in nutrients helpful for combatting inflammation.
Chrisdell sat with me before she left for work, hand on my knee she looked at my weary head, bloodshot eyes curled up in bed and said 'I let coach know how I feel. You've sacrificed your body for us, you changed your whole life to come over here and play for us and spent so much money to get here. You are more of a vocal leader than anybody else who could travel to support and we need you on the sideline on Vegas. It wouldn't be fair if we didn't take you.'
Wrapped in a blanket stitched from Allies team jerseys collected over her career I played music from her iTunes, Sam Smith, Josh Kaufman. Normally these tracks wouldn't be high on my rotation list, their not in my library at all but I wanted to savour every part of my experience with Dr Bert. My wife, my roommate, we had developed such a bond. A woman that if you ask others they would say she is scary, volatile. But underneath it all she was a big softie, just like me. She had amazed me since meeting her, such a walking, talking contradiction. In her residency as a dentist she famously fixed my chipped tooth after my Costa Rican white water rafting accident with such gentle hands I fell asleep in the chair. Yet watch her locked and loaded on the field coming up making plays like a maniac, or hear her roar viscously at whichever team mate had fucked up their assignment you'd swear it was a different human. Hybrids they called us.
Just being together was all we needed
Allie, Deena and I were like three musketeers, we would do everything together. With Deena and I rocking statuesque, visibly intimidating physiques Bert would constantly get called out ' oh do you play football too?' She would respond by screaming something like ' do you want me to fucking choke you?' She was 100% serious too. When we met new groups of guys I would set them up and encourage them to ask her if she played. She took the bait every time, would tear shreds off her victim, even after she saw me giggling in the corner. My dear Dr Bert said it exactly how she saw it, raw and blunt.
A unique beast, with blonde locks beautifully cascading behind her. By her own admission she would win a loogie competition, hocking from deep in the throat looking a million dollars while she did it. She would pick up chips she dropped on the footpath while still holding a full uneaten pack in hand and quip 'I'm not wasteful you know, waste not want not.' The bridesmaid who would almost break her neck falling off a cliff trying to rail slide.
Allie literally thought she was invincible
Her and I could sit at a bar and be so totally engrossed in each other's conversation for hours and hours. No fire, disease outbreak or gaggle of men could penetrate the force field around us. We were all each other needed right at that time, both yearning to learn about one another - how did the US beast operate VS queen beast from Oz. I was from a land far far away but aside from some minor operating differences but we were hardwired so damn similarly, she passed my Klokov Expirement.
A team player like no other
She was assertive borderline aggressive, comical and precious to me, she amazed me everyday. It didn't surprise me when she came home having concocted a plan to solve my visa issues, we bear a child in a lesbian union, since gay marriage was legal in the state of Illinois. She'd already thought through a response to her parents who would declare it a ridiculous idea. Whatever it took, we'd get the job done.
My team mate Heather Furr text me saying she loved me like crazy, had shivers up and down her spine when she heard the news, was so sorry and was there anytime I wanted to talk to her. She told me how much of an impact I'd had on the team in the short time I was there. Heather reminded me of myself back at the Surge, always organizing events, sponsors, networking, making sure we all had the best gear. At the LFL you look after your own. She has devoted her life to the team as I had back home. She was a unique leader one who no matter what the chaos on the sideline had the ability to calm the team and lead them onto the next series in battle. One of those irreplaceable team mates I hold in the highest regard. Happy to admit when she's wrong, no excuses just admission, progress and ultimately success. So sad there would be no more cubs games with Furrball.
My phone rang, I screened calls, I wasn't ready to speak with particular people. Unless they would pull me from where I was I'd speak with them later. I did take Staceys call, I had grown close to him. We met on my very first night out in Chicago. He'd been playing pro basketball in Israel for years so knew what I was going through being away from my blood, I'd spent holidays like Easter with him grateful for someone who took me in as his family. He reminded me about the cousin he'd introduced me to at the gym one day, played for the Bulls. 7 knee surgeries later and he's still dunking vertical. He would get me his rehab strength program to take a look at. Stacey never sugar coated it, always gave it to me blunt, sometimes to a fault, but this time, he soothed & settled me, he knew exactly what to say. It's no simple feat entertaining an alpha woman, whilst there's many loads of positives she's saucy, stubborn and can go from 0-100 in 2 secs flat! If the man says leave your bags, she won't, she's knows she's just as capable of carrying them. The man has to grab the bags first or sensitively but physically remove them from her. Knowing which moments are healthy to have her assert dominance, and which you need to interject is a damn fine art! I knew he would visit me before I left. He was a genuinely good guy, I would miss him and forever cherish the time I spent with him and his family.
I reached out to some substantial people in my life in Australia who gave me hope. Little feathers of hope which don't weigh much on their own but joined together can keep you floating until you are ready to come up for air on your own. The kinds of friends you will have forever. The kind who know just what to say in the right moments, they know I rarely yearn for any type of help. Ever. I'm the independent woman who thinks she can do it all on her own. I hit up a few locals in Chicago, who had become close to me and broke the news. Everyone as floored as the next. But I hadn't experienced the summer yet, the looong awaited summer the beautiful folk of Chicago had patiently been calling.
My coach Jason Gaffey at Surge told me to keep my chin up stay positive, something I always reminded him to do. We had build the Surge on positivity, constructive foundations. He admitted he selfishly wanted me back home anyway. There was a little glimmer of light when I thought of being back with my Surge family. Being home with them for some of the pre season I would have otherwise missed. Excited to see my coach Roger Fabri and re create those movement patterns, balance, something I had not sustained in Chicago. He was the expert, I felt a big loss not having him around to push me.
Overnight the NSW Blues had won the 2 of the 3 State of Origin matches. This was HUGE news in Oz to break QLDs 8 yr winning streak, a monumental achievement. I immediately thought of the bro Josh Reynolds, Rugby Leagues nicest guy who had supported every step of my journey in NSW. He had wished our season was longer so he could support at more games. I smiled at his achievement. Social media was going off but QLDers were very quiet.... 'Despicable elbows and facials by QLD. Thurston is a grub! Hayne is a try saver! Greg Bird what a player. ' Another posted 'Paul Gallen is one of the toughest athletes on the planet, I'm so convinced I'm on a website right now buying GHRP-6.' I laughed. I love Paul Gallen he is the epitome of what I want to be as an athlete. Tough, determined, no bullshit, authentic, a spartan like warrior, no frills, a leader by action. How would he deal with this? I was inspired. My supporter the one who had my image tattooed on her arm, how would she expect me to deal with this? Often I was motivated knowing others looked at me as their mentor. I sat up straight out of my slump and thought to myself, It's time to do what you do best. Go forth and conquer .... be the example.
Ironic where your own motivation can rise from
The official game recap was released, we had a sloppy game, full of turnovers, a real disappointment to the city of Chicago and ourselves. We were the champs and whole lot better than this BS. But if we could tie the game with that many turnovers it was only up from here. Damn shame I couldn't contribute to it. But I was healing.