broken ankles, roller derby, and The Fear

The Fear. It’s not something you come across in roller derby until you break your ankle (or other body part). Then when you explain to people that when you watch a bout all you see is ANKLES EVERYWHERE they think you’ve gone bonkers. But The Fear is a real thing, and any broken – or fixed up – skater has felt it. I went to Oldham yesterday to watch five of our girls in the Northern Sur5al tournament.

broken ankles roller derby

Basically I spent the first few jams with my hands over my eyes going EEEEEEK every time someone fell. I wasn’t even sure I *liked* derby any more, let alone loved it. Why on earth would I want to be involved in a sport where mad people hurtle around knocking each over whilst wearing skates?

And then it started to happen. My teamies Badderbing (still in crutches but a couple of months ahead of me) and Aoife Epic (recovered from a really bad sprain last year and came back) both talked me down, reminding me that it was totally normal to see ankles everywhere. And then one of the skaters did an amazing apex jump and then our Tinkerhell was lead jammer and slicing through the pack like they were invisible and I was imagining myself on the track. And then I was talking with my matching smiley toe owner, Rachel, about how I really hoped my underpush would come back stronger because my dominant right leg being broken might give me a chance to work on my left and I was swooning over some gorgeous laterals and whoosh – back in love with derby. And The Fear was gone. I’m sure it’ll come and go over the next few months, but I think yesterday was a big step forward.

In the interval I met up with some of the girls from the Facebook group for broken derby skaters and it was SO lovely to have a hug and a chat (and to have loads of people from all over the room laughing at us for being the worst advert for derby ever). At 3am when we can’t sleep it’s so good to have somewhere to let off steam… and our grumbles almost always end up with us all laughing about something.

crutchlings gathering

I was warned by fellow limpy girl Dawn of the Dreads (pink crutches above!) that I’d be exhausted today after a long day watching the tournament and I am. Instead of staying home and resting though I got a bit over excited at having my new hired wheelchair and we went to the Southport food festival (yum) but now, having stubbornly insisted on wheeling myself around the park and then crutching around all over the festival field I’m now so sleepy I’m half-expecting to wake up with my face on the laptop keyboard.

Oh… and the results? We came a very close second to Rainy City, with only 3 points in it. Go Liverpool Roller Birds!


yes, I did break my ankle on roller skates.

Yes I did. My own skates, yes. Yes, I was wearing full safety kit. No, I wasn’t skating outside. Not with my children, no. Not in a race, no. Roller derby. Yep, it’s a full contact sport like – no, there’s no ball. Not blades, no. Just girls, yes. Yep, even forty year olds. No, I wasn’t actually in a bout, I was just turning round…

(I’m going to get a t-shirt printed for hospital visits)

So basically for those of you who asked, here’s a handy diagram. The line-bits on the bone are the bits that are broken and shouldn’t be. The talar shift (which in my pain addled state I thought was Taylor Swift) which is the dislocated bit is basically the upside down U shape. There should be an equal amount of space all around it, instead of that sort of fuzzy bit on the left of the upside-down U. After two manipulations – they call it reducing, instead of relocating which seems a bit weird to me but then I’ve had so many painkillers in the last week that everything seems a bit weird – it was still out of line.

broken ankle roller derby

So the consultant took a look at my x-ray and said hmm, and then consulted with another doctor and they decided to try and put it back in place again because the ankle is still too swollen to operate. So they cut the cast off (bit sore, very scary) and said right, if it falls apart we know we have to operate (eep).

broken ankle roller derby

It didn’t fall apart. It did, however, look pretty sorry for itself and I felt really vulnerable and a bit frightened with it sitting there all bare and bruised.

With visions of my whole foot falling off and a foot technician promising me gas and air if I could just relax (you try relaxing when your foot’s all broken and someone’s just told you it might fall apart) I lay on the bed. And then the lovely gas and air made everything sparkly and it actually didn’t hurt as much as I’d expected. Except there was a point where I inhaled the gas and air and felt her pushing sideways on the ankle as she wrapped the cast round and I heard the local Liverpool radio station. The flashback to last week was really vivid and I remembered just how frightened I was in the hospital when I first got there.

So then they x-rayed it again and pronounced themselves really pleased with it. I’ve to go back in a week, when they’ll have another look to see how it’s doing, and hopefully I’ll be able to avoid surgery which the consultant said would be a good thing.

So it’s another week of resting with my foot elevated for me, and right now it’s time for a cup of tea and a little snooze. It’s been a long day. D’you like my posh new cast? Black’s very in this summer…

broken ankle roller derby cast pic

the ouch diary

Might not be more than a record of what I’m doing every day but I think I need somewhere to keep this stuff, so I’ve set up a new category on here called ‘derby hurts’. It might be handy for other ailing roller derby people when they break their ankles. I know I was googling madly as soon as it happened.

On the way to the loo this morning I did a little bit of something. It’s really hard when you’re used to doing exercise to suddenly do nothing.

10 wall press ups
10 one-legged squats
10 backwards leg raising glute thingies (I’m sure they have a name)

I’m going to try and do some more this afternoon. It’ll be easier when I’ve had the bones pinned back together but in the meantime these were just to keep me from going insane. And they were bloody hard work.

Can’t believe I passed mins, was all set for tryouts for the B team, was working SO hard on fitness and skills and this happened. Stupid ankle.

Anyway here are my exciting things for today. When I say exciting, I mean they’re what we call Derby Exciting around here (which is the best kind), as opposed to Normal Exciting (you know like kittens and flowers and a new series of something exciting on television).

Thing one: KNEE SCOOTERS. Who knew. Look at this. Once I’m post-op, and have my proper cast on, I can scootle around with a little basket and go to the shops and buy stuff. Or at least make dinner and do something constructive.

Thing two: Tell the derby world you’ve broken yourself and you make a whole new gang of friends who’re in the same boat. It’s like a secret club.

Thing three: I had a shower. GO ME. I am clean and shiny and smell of butterflies and happy things. Previous to this I smelled of hospitals and manky old shoes and grub.

gin and fishnets and ALL OF THE DRUGS

In the interests of making this a fully rounded roller derby blog, I’m currently undertaking some research into dislocated and broken ankles. This research has so far been conducted from the floor of our training hall (not that comfortable), from an ambulance (well, hello morphine, it’s lovely to meet you) and from a hospital bed.

What nobody mentions about derby injuries is that you’re more than likely going to end up on the orthopaedic ward of the hospital alongside lots of elderly ladies with broken hips. Turns out elderly ladies don’t much like having broken hips, and will spend many hours each day trying to escape from bed, shouting crossly at the nurses that they’ve had enough of this and want to go home, and in one case screaming blue murder and throwing custard as a protest. And we have the reputation as derby girls? I sat peacefully in bed drinking cups of tea and taking all the good drugs.

So what happened? Well, we were in training. I wasn’t even skating, I was chatting to a friend and turned around to talk to the coach and my legs just sort of tangled up and floomp I was falling and I never, ever want to hear that crack again. I knew straight away that it was broken. Everyone was amazing. My lovely Irn Bru’ises came to hospital in the ambulance with my derby wife Cali Floor’Ya following by car. They kept my spirits up (a lot easier to keep your spirits up when you’re on major pain relief) and held my hand whilst I waited to be examined. Then they held me down whilst the doctor put my ankle back in place (I’d take childbirth over a broken ankle any day, and one of my four was over 9lb and born at home).

Next day I was back to the fracture clinic where the consultant told me I’d made a pretty good job of breaking my ankle – two breaks and a dislocation. And they can’t operate yet because they have to wait for the swelling to go down, so I’m home now and on bed rest with my foot raised until the end of the week.

I was going to write more but codeine has made my brain go all fizzly. So I’ll keep you posted. Ow.

Bonnie D. Stroir’s Agility for Roller Derby DVD review

Bonnie D. Stroir’s Agility for Roller Derby DVD review

Okay. First confession. I watched this first time round whilst eating cake with a fellow freshmeatling, with a slight hangover.

Second confession: we’d already spent maybe four hours watching derby on YouTube. So it’s possible that we’re slightly obsessive. But you probably already get that, or you’d be reading intellectual literature during your lunch break, and not another blog about derby. Right?

There’s no point denying it. We have a massive derby crush on Bonnie. What’s great about this DVD (or download) is that she doesn’t mind getting things wrong, and in fact there’s quite a few moments where she messes up a bit, but says that’s all part of learning.

The fast footed moves she’s pushing for us to work on are those that have sneaked into the new WFTDA minimum skills. She gets you working on grapevine, cone drills which are lovely to look at but incredibly tricky to do in your kitchen (we tried) and jumping. Lots and lots of jumping.

Our coaches at Liverpool Roller Birds are constantly reminding us it’s all about core strength and balance. All over Merseyside, there are wannabe derby girls brushing their teeth each morning whilst standing on one leg. I was on the tube in London on the way to a very posh literary meeting with my eyes closed, balancing on one foot, trying to absorb the movement of the train without falling over. It didn’t end well. Yes, I did almost end up sitting on the lap of an unsuspecting commuter. (Oops.)

As self confessed nerdy newbies, we thought it was great. Bonnie explains everything in detail and if you’re into the geeky technical stuff it’s great because she talks though lots of that. Her drills for off skates are great and can be done anytime. It’s about getting used to jumping from side to side and back and forth, which as Bonnie points out we don’t really do as adults.

On skates, there are loads of drills which are great for working on alone, and as inspiration for training sessions – not just for us new girls, either. There are advanced drills which look really terrifying challenging.

Most of all Bonnie’s positivity and  attitude is what makes it a fab buy: “Where you are is a great place to start from. Keep reaching for those goals.” Ooh, the derby crush rages on.

the new WFTDA minimum skills

The new 2013 WFTDA minimum skills have been announced to much panic from Fresh Meat all around the world. Don’t panic, though, we’ve got them covered. 

Here is an exhaustive list of teh skillz which are required to pass minimums. 

1. Tapdancing on skates. Five minutes to a song of your choice. All eight wheels must be off the floor at all times. 

2. Skating backwards whilst juggling three giraffes, maintaining form and balance. Crossovers must be demonstrated. 

3. Cartwheeling across the straight in three even movements without stopping or crying and pushing off evenly with each ear, coming to a stop directly in the centre of her head.

4. Jumping, on both hands at least seven times. Jumping on left hand and right hand around each apex.

5. Demonstrate weaving in between a pace line of skaters whilst holding a tray of beers. 

6. Skater assumes derby stance – low to the ground with legs bent, chest wide, back straight, head on backwards, fashionable shade of lipstick and/or eye shadow, arms in the dying swan position. Skater alternates between smooth and even arm movements and the Funky Chicken. Forwards and backwards and upside down.

7. Skater must demonstrate effective use of Facebook and or Twitter as a medium to complain about/celebrate all derby related activity to a largely disinterested and or confused audience. 

8. Skater can bake a decent chocolate brownie with enough portions to feed all team mates and trainers, including examiners who shall receive larger portions.

9. Skater must demonstrate ability to take heavy blocks to the ego following terrible scrimmage. Use of effective recovery techniques such as gin or beer. This should be demonstrated both solo and in a pack situation.

10. Demonstrate use of a plow stop to stop another skater without breaking ankles or creating skittle effect. 

11. Skater demonstrates ability to switch between all positions quickly and smoothly and without stumbling including: helicopter arms, ungainly giraffe, Bambi on ice, drunken monkey and spitting llama*.

12. Skater demonstrates ability to knit stripey derby socks whilst skating backwards round corners on one leg. With one hand.

13. Demonstrate effective three point turn. Turning the skater around on the track using three toes only, without stopping, and without causing an obstruction to other toes.

14. Skater maintains balance on one skate, without additional push, at a speed equivalent to a chartered jet plane. Must transition from one foot to another without decreasing speed, although clown nose is optional.

15. Skater must create a puddle of piss at the top apex on falling, no smaller than a 10 cent coin and no larger than a wok.

*Spitting llama is an advanced position and for minimum skills it is only expected that a skater can perform this manoeuvre in one direction although both directions score extra points.


Composed by the Liverpool Roller Birds Hatchlings and compiled by me (shameless plug…you can buy my book here – please do, I’m saving up for a set of new skates!)



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