National Athletic Training Month

As National Athletic Training Month comes to a close I would like to take a moment and reflect on why I am so privileged to be an athletic trainer. There are days that I have been working for 12 hours and all I can picture is a cup of coffee and my couch….well lets be honest there are a lot of those days, but usually around 9pm when you are on your out the door you find yourself amidst a conversation with an athlete that makes you realize you can stay just a little longer. Whether it is a problem with mom and dad, or a class, or an injury we take the extra 10 minutes to stop and talk. This week I had a mom come to a track meet specifically to meet me and thank me for taking care of her daughter who had an anaphylactic reaction a few weeks before. She told me she was happy that I was the one taking care of her daughter not her and the meant a lot coming from a mom. As tired as I was at that track meet, I knew I was on the right path in life, because instantly life is great after a simple, genuine thank you. We aren’t heroes, we are just people who are so lucky to influence individuals everyday. Whether its injury prevention, evaluation, rehab, helping patients who are suicide risks to help, working with disordered eating patients, being a listening ear, a hand to hold, a voice of reason, a life saver……the list goes on. Knowing that we have the pleasure of positively influencing people everyday makes going to work pretty easy after all.

Happy National Athletic Training Month to all of my fellow athletic trainers out there who do amazing work each and every day, saving lives and make a difference. I am lucky to share a profession with such generous, caring, heartfelt individuals. Here is to another year of keeping athletes safe!


Fairytale

“At the end of the day, faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don’t really expect it. It’s like one day you realize that the fairytale may be slightly different than you dreamed.

The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it’s not so important, happily ever after, just that it’s happy right now.

See once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you, and once in a while people may even take your breath away”

This sums up where I am in life today. As graduate school and my athletic training position come to an end, I look forward to other things. I dont think I am quite living the life I thought I would, but the life I am privileged to live is pretty damn great. I didnt think I would have fallen in love with the man of my dreams while working a job that was full of surprises. I never knew what it would feel like to wake up next to my best friend every morning. He taught me that there was more to my life than simply my job. He was able to see me work…..and then realize why I love what I do so much.

As I move on to this new chapter in life I have no clue what is ahead. I dont have a job quite lined up here in a few months, yet I am so happy in life…..I have faith. I am completely confident it all will work out, it always does. This year a few things took my breath away. The athletes, the parents, the coworkers, and my incredible boyfriend. I am here….in this great place. With a little faith, this is my fairytale.


Year One

My first year as an ATC has flown by so quickly I cant even believe it. While there are some days it feels like I have been doing this forever, there are still so many days I realize I am so very new to this profession and I still have so much to learn. As I reflect back on my first year there are so many memories that come to mind. Some of which I wish I could go back and change a few things, but many more that are wonderful memories that I hope to never forget. A year ago I would never have guessed where I would be in life. I have to say though that the greatest lesson I think I have learned this year is to appreciate the little things in life. When I am working with a patient during a long rehab it is easy to get frustrated, but what I have to appreciate and celebrate are the little things like doing a perfect straight leg raise for the first time. Some days I forget that I am their cheerleader and their support system. As athletic trainers we get so darn busy with our many responsibilities that we forget to celebrate the little things that we love so much about our jobs. The simple conversations we have with our athletes everyday are many times much more influential that we realize. I had an athletes remind me of something that I had told her over 2 weeks prior, she proceeded to tell me how much she had been thinking about that simple sentence of advice that I had given her. Dont ever forget how influential you are as an athletic trainer and for that matter as a person. You dont have to say the most profound words, you just have to speak from your heart because you care about them. I have gotten so many opportunities to learn from others and even myself this year. Somethings I thought I knew things that turned out to be very different. And really I learned a hell of a lot about myself….both good and bad. I think I realized that being an athletic trainer strengthens my character, which is why it is so challenging. But I also realized that I dont want athletic training to become who I am, because for a few moments this year I think I lost myself in my job. I think athletic trainers have a really hard time being “done with work” for the day. Although being an athletic trainer is one of the best parts of my life, I dont want it to be my whole life. Just because work isnt your whole life doesnt mean that you arent good at your job, it means that you realize that in order to continue to be good at your job you cant lose yourself in the process. Go home a little early and cuddle up on the couch with the one you love and enjoy the moment, work will still be there tomorrow and you will be just as good at your job tomorrow. This holiday season spend some time with those that matter to you the most because they matter and sometimes we forget about them in the craziness of our jobs. Enjoy the little moments….you deserve them.

Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.
Orison Swett Marden


Success

We all grow up thinking that if we work hard success will just come to us. But the truth is that the road to success is paved with a bumpy road. It is full of days of feeling inadequate, exhaustion, and sometimes wanting to give up. But its the days that we make a conscious decision to keep going and try harder than we did the day before is how we truly reach success. I measure success in making a difference. Sometimes that can not be seen by many, but in those moments of silence right before you fall asleep at night you have to know that you gave life your all today. There is a purpose for why you woke up today, take a moment and figure out what that purpose is and give it everything that you have. Today, you get the chance to be somebody great, dont waste it being exhausted or unhappy…..be somebody that someone will never forget.


Perspective

This weekend part of our athletic training family went through one of the worst events that can happen as an athletic trainer. As many of us have read over and over, the Tulane University sports medicine team had to revive, spine board, and perform a tracheotomy on one of their athletes. This is the moment that we all have played over and over in our heads and hope to God that we never have to use those skills that we practice time and time again. My hearts sinks just thinking for a moment what it would be like to be put in that situation. As athletic trainers, we have gone through years of schooling preparing for any sort of emergency situation that could occur, but nothing truly prepares you for the real deal. The moment you are giving chest compressions to the kid you see come in and out of your office every morning must be an all time low. I don’t know about you but I don’t necessarily enjoy holding a c-spine still in my hands….quite possibly holding someone’s life in my very hands. Some say its heroic, but I think instead it is one of the scariest moments in life. Sure, as athletic trainers we stay calm, we create solutions. But when all of the chaos disappears and you drive home that night….it hits you. You relive that moment over and over in your head before you fall asleep that night. You wonder what you could have done different, you wonder if you screwed up, your mind runs rapid. The image of the eyes that looked up at you never leaves your mind. The thousands of people in the stands see a job well done, but we see the mental take that these events take on athletic trainers. So my hats go off to the Tulane University sports medicine team….you saved a life, never ever forget that. There has been a lot of talk about whether or not protocol was followed during the event, but my response to that is simple…it all about perspective. From the perspective of watching a replay on video we don’t know what was really going on. We are as bad as the commentators on tv that we all hate to listen to. The fact is that in the heat of the moment, no protocol spells out these events. Each one is unique and differs in sequence of events.

Perspective is one of the words I have been using a lot lately. I think it is such a vital part of athletic training in fact. You see as athletic trainers we have a very unique perspective. We are the medical side of athletics and that is the perspective that not many people have. On the side lines we have the job of looking at what are within the athlete’s best interest, which can be difficult with coaches breathing down your throat and the game on the line. Our perspective on an injury is usually quite different that the athlete, the coach, and even the parent sometimes.

Sometimes in fact I find myself needing to change my perspective to try and communicate my perspective to coaches. One of the things that I struggle with is trying to explain things to coaches, parents, even coworkers sometimes. Sometimes I just can’t understand why they don’t see what I see. I even struggle with that in my life outside of work. It is truly my egotism that comes out. One of my goals for myself lately is to stop and change my perspective when before I communicate with others. It is so easy to just look at things from your own angle, instead of taking into account the thoughts of those around you. I am trying to look at things from a more “team perspective”. What is the best solution for all involved? The solution from my perspective alone may not always be the way to go. Even the thought of discussing with coaches the fact that you are trying to understand their perspective and taking into account their angle when discussing issues with them. Currently, I am having a lot of difficulty with one of the coaching staffs I work with. Communication is usually something I excel at, but at this moment in time it isn’t working with this group. I am learning quite the lesson in patience and adaptability. I am one that always wants to win the fight, but what I learning is that sometimes its not about winning the battle as much a getting the job done. I can’t be everyone’ s best friend, but I can do my job to the best of my abilities. Sure, there are days I feel like I am sucking it up at my job. Somedays I feel like I can’t give all of my patients the individual attention they need and deserve. That is why I am still learning something everyday. If I do nothing else in life I hope that I wake up everyday and try to do better than the day before. Just like I tell my athletes and students, “I will never…ever give up on you”. Knowing that everyday I wake up I am incredibly blessed to live the life I live.


Acceptance

I wish I could put into words the roller coaster the last year has been. I am as type A as they get, I always have a plan, but if the last year has taught me one thing it is that you don’t get to plan your life out. One year ago I could never had anticipated all the events that have happened in the past 12 months. I have had some of the greatest highs of my life this year, but also had the lowest points of my life. I don’t think I have ever cried so much and laughed so hard in the 22 years of living until the past year. I have saved a life this year and seen a life be lost. Saw my best friend battle and beat cancer. I myself have had many failures this past year, but that was accompanied by many successes as well. I hit rock bottom at one moment and it took a long while for me to realize that I had forgotten to let myself start really to be happy again. I took a job that was a challenge for me. That challenge lead me to screwing up a few times, but along the way I think I did a few things right. I got to see for a few moments at a time that I made an impact on people. They were athletes, students, parents. But I didn’t realize how much all of them would have an impact on me. I think in the moments where I was truly down at my lowest, it was my job and the patients I treat that really kept me going. When I felt like there was nothing left to give, they were a constant reminder of the multitude that I had left to give. And when I thought all I wanted to do was just practice athletic training I realized a huge piece of my heart loved sharing athletic training with my students. I love teaching about all the things that I love. I want to teach them how to have compassion and complete dedication when they become athletic trainers. Funny how things come full circle. I had wanted to be a second grade teacher for years until right before college. And here I am….an athletic trainer….and a teacher. For being such a know it all sometimes….I really don’t know shit some days. Life is humbling like that sometimes. 

“God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”


Beneath the eyes

While working a high school boys lacrosse state playoff game I had to spine board an athlete. Now while this was actually a very good experience for me I have to admit it was a bit nerve racking for a moment or two. This was actually the first time I ever had to spine board anyone for real. Yes, I had practiced plenty of times, but never when it was actually necessary. Even in undergrad I was never in a situation that I even needed to assist in spine boarding someone. So when the moment came when I was knelt down evaluating an athlete and I knew he had suffered a c-spine injury I took a breath and instantly knew what to do. I realized that when it came right down to it I was a totally different person when I was working. I was calm, cool and collected and used what my athletes call my “trainer voice”.  That voice that makes them know they are going to be ok. As I sat there with my hands clenching this kids neck I couldnt hear the crowd, nor could I feel that the turf was about 115 degrees beneath my knees…all I saw was the fear that laid within the eyes of the patient beneath me. The first thing I did after I told someone to call 911 was had one of the coaches take my sunglasses off of my eyes so that the athlete could see my eyes. It was that simple…when I looked him in the eye he took a breathe and trusted me.

Now there was a parent in the stands who was a physican who came down to “help”, in reality he was actually the least helpful out of every person there. Once he tried to move the athletes head I was sure to remove  him from the situation. However the biggest thing that surprised he was not his lack of help or understanding of the situation it was in fact his demeanor in the situation. The tone in his voice was angry and argumentative. When a kid was laying in front of him clearly scared and his frightened parents looking down upon him. How could someone as qualified as a physician not know that the tone in which we speak with patients and their families are sometimes more important than the words that come from our mouths. This is when I realized that it isnt the letters behind your name that make you a good clinician…instead it is the way we treat our patients day in and day out. We dont need all of the thank you’s and good job’s somedays as much the moments of realizing that we did a good thing…that in it of itself is the best thing someone could give us. And how perfect of this to occur about a month away from NATA. A time for all of us athletic trainers to come together and make ourselves even better than before. Never stop being proud of the job you do.