I bet you think I’m being a little bit dramatic with the title, thinking maybe I’m involved in this sport to escape my not so interesting life. Or I want to drop a dress size. Sorry to disappoint it’s neither of these. Being a part of roller derby has over and over again saved my little ol’ life.
Let’s rewind time and go back to when I was a spritely young 18 year old, most people at that age are thinking about their academic study or hanging out with their friends. For me I was sitting in the hospital waiting room with my Mother, waiting for my name to be called.
To cut it short, that day I was diagnosed with a heart condition, at that moment in time it had become worse. Hence why if I ran for the bus I would pass out. The cardiologist stated that I was at a potential high risk of passing out and not waking up.
I froze when this news hit me, then I giggled in disbelief.
My Mother looked at me bewildered, she didn’t realise how scared I was, I had to laugh to have a release or else I would have shut off and become a zombie or something. Before I entered that room I was a 18 year old thinking ‘what shall I wear for my night out at the weekend’, when I left that room I was an 18 year old thinking ‘oh my gosh, this can’t be happening to me? Why me? What have I done to deserve this?’
October 2007 and I am starting University, I receive a letter from the hospital informing me that I need to have an open heart surgery in January the following year.
After my surgery I stayed in the cardiac intensive care unit longer than usual as I wasn’t eating. I was getting weaker and couldn’t even keep liquids down. One morning a nurse came up to me and said ‘you have to try; if you don’t then we are going to have to feed you with a tube’.
The words the nurse spoke ‘you have to try’.
I thought yes I don’t want to give up, I have to try!
I was referred to a specialist gym where we had to do exercises to help strengthen the breast bone that had been opened up in surgery. I thoroughly enjoyed this gym and was sadden when my time came to an end. Afterwards I couldn’t get on with a ‘normal gym’ and at my annual hospital appointments it was always the same. No further improvement.
Then one night I came home from work and from out of nowhere an idea popped into my head, as a child I owned the coolest pair of inline skates.
I jumped onto the PC and looked for some skates I could use outdoors; by chance I found Nottingham Roller Girls website. I read through it and my mind was crazy with questions; what is this sport? This looks intense but fun nonetheless.
I got the go ahead from my doctor and from the first session I turned up to (with all my kit as I’m an eager beaver) I have never looked back.
Fast forward to the present, since I have been involved in Roller Derby I can say with a huge smile on my face it has been a massive stepping stone for my health. Last summer I had my annual appointment with my cardiologist, after I had the routine tests done on my chest I sat down in his office. He looked up from his notes and with the biggest smile he started saying I have improved immensely, he said I no longer have any murmurs, my effort tolerance is excellent and that my cardiac function is excellent. As I left the hospital I burst into tears of joy.
So many practices I had tried, failed, tried again, failed and tried again; who knew that all this time doing that would eventually help my heart become stronger and my condition improve. With the support of the league skaters, I don’t think I would have made this much progress.
I say roller derby has saved my life but in detail its the people I have met, the friendships I have made, the laughter, the dedication, the heartache, the motivation, the team-work, the pain, the struggle; all of these combined have helped me become who I am today… A stronger person with an unseen disability, who at the age of 18 didn’t think this would be possible, didn’t think she’d even have a life to be proud of.
Again I say Thank-you Roller Derby for saving my life, as my life is not over yet, it’s only just begun.