These last few weeks have been some of the more difficult moments in my life, just over three weeks ago I fractured my fibula (Weber B for my fellow anatomy nerds) and received a shiny new plate and screws in my ankle. I sustained this break after a bad fall at Roller Derby practice late on Sunday night. St. John's was called and I was loaded up for my first ever ride in an ambulance (shout out to the incredible team that helped me that night, they were all amazing and had the difficult job of removing my expensive skate without cutting it off while my team stared them down). What followed was one of my most difficult nights as I was informed that it was not a sprain like we had initially thought (another shout to the fantastic people in the Christchurch Hospital "Bone Room." I have never experienced such compassion and support in a hospital before, you are all amazing).
I was casted and have been non weight bearing since. This is the first time in my life that I have been restricted from all of the physical things I love to do and it has been taking a toll. As a yoga teacher and massage therapist I have been unable to work, so during this time I have been trying to find ways to stay occupied to prevent further deterioration of my mental health. Mental health has always been a point of struggle with me. I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression in my early 20s, yoga and exercise have always been a key tool in my kit when it comes to my mental wellbeing. When those were taken away after my injury the dark clouds moved in quickly and I knew I needed to act quick before I was sucked under.
Health has always been a major factor of my life, but it wasn’t until this injury that I realized how drastically different the healing process could be for some depending on their health and wellness before an injury. Vitamin D deficiency in my home country (the United States) has been on the rise in the past decade with a huge jump to every 3 in 4 adolescents and adults in America having low levels of vitamin D and there is an even greater amount in people of color (1). Vitamin D plays a massive part in our internal health, it effects everything from our brains to our bones. People that are Vitamin D deficient before and after a break can experience a delay in bone healing, even 6 months after the initial injury (2). Symptoms of depression have also been linked to low levels of Vitamin D (3) as well as exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and changes in apatite. Vitamin D is also know to promote absorption of calcium, another building block to bone health, in the gut (4).
The ways that I have been trying to up my Vitamin D intake (especially since I was diagnosed with low levels last year) while mending are:
Sitting in the sun: I am lucky enough to live in a flat that has full sun exposure into our living room and onto our deck for most of the day
Vitamin D supplements: I have upped my intake to 5,000 IU a day at the recommendation of my doctor
Eating foods rich in Vitamin D: oranges, soy milk, and egg yolks; and calcium: yogurt, lentils, and almonds
As for my physical health I have found some incredible, no weight bearing exercise routines on Youtube (the internet is an incredible thing) designed by personal trainers for people with injuries or disabilities (5). Staying moving and healthy have been pivotal in maintaining a balanced body and mind for me. My depression always gets worst when I am unable to do physical activates and finding sequences and routines to increase my cardio as well as eating healthy has been the bases to my schedule since the injury.
This doesn’t mean that the dark days stay away. At first I would beat myself up in those moments of vulnerability, but now I allow myself to have those feelings, acknowledge them, and cry if I need to. Every day isn’t going to be easy or fun and when you experience an injury you’re allowed to feel whatever it is you’re feeling about it. Being kind to ourselves and allowing the emotions to come, acknowledging them, and healing from them is how we grow as humans. I’m also guilty of saying to myself, “I shouldn’t feel this way, so many people have it worst!” That doesn’t invalidate the experience or emotions. Everyone’s journey is different and we are allowed to feel and express the emotions that come along with those journeys. That being said, if at any moment you find yourself in a dark place that you can’t seem to get out of or experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide please seek the support of an individual that can help you through those moments. MHAPS is a group that I have worked with and has done many great things for the people of Christchurch.
1. Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH; Mark C. Liu, MD; Carlos A. Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH. Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988-2004. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-632. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.604
2. E.A. Gorter,⁎ P. Krijnen, and I.B. Schipper. Vitamin D status and adult fracture healing. J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2017 Jan-Mar; 8(1): 34–37. doi: 10.1016/j.jcot.2016.09.003
3. John Cannell, MD. Depression. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/depression/#.XX7qdygzaM8
4. National Instatute of Health. Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
5. One of my favorite Personal Trainers is Caroline Jordan