Down but far from out

So, I’ve agreed to let someone stick me with a knife on Wednesday. That’s not something you hear every day is it? Well, we can all take comfort in knowing, it will be in a hospital and that this someone has a lot of skill and experience stabbing people. 

Unfortunately, the knee injury I spoke about in my previous blog, is still an injury, despite three cortisone injections and a range of physiotherapy treatments. In trying to describe the issue, the only feeling I can relate the pain to, is cramp. I’ll be fine one moment, then occasionally with the standard movement of lifting my foot up behind me, I suddenly experience debilitating pain from somewhere deep in my left leg, just below the knee. The first few times, I’d turn into a not-so-graceful contortionist, as I bent and stretched every which way trying to ‘release’ the pain. If there is a way of ‘releasing’ pain, I haven’t work it out and relief has instead only been achieved by keeping my leg dead straight and waiting for the pain to subside. The real kicker (pun intended) is after these ‘episodes’ I can’t bend my leg at all for about 24 hours. I can bend it to a standard walking gait between 24 and 48 hours, then to 90° between 48-72 hours. So instead of sitting in a boat, on a bike, or throwing tin around in the gym, I am waddling around the house like a very irritable zombie for a few days. If you’ve ever spent time with me, you’ll know I don’t handle being unable to train at least once a day very well. About as well as child eating their brussel sprouts. 

The good news is that my MRI revealed a cyst towards the end of the cartilage, in the Tibiofibular Joint. The cyst may be what’s causing the pain, but it’s what has caused the cyst that’s the real issue. The surgeon and I have agreed on excising the cyst, chipping away a bit of the fibular to the point where the cyst emanates, as we believe the cartilage is likely be compromised at the point. Fortunately, there is very little movement at this joint (they will sometimes fuse it for… less active patients) so it shouldn’t compromise my mobility. Think C-3PO going in for a service, except I intend on keeping all my original parts. 
The surgeon has strictly told me that following the tune up, I’m not allowed to exercise the leg for 2 weeks, exercise it very lightly (aqua jogging with the local grey power squad) between 2 and 4 weeks, then build steady and strong from there towards being ready to put 100% into the racing season by December. Who will I be representing? Well, we’re about to find out. Rowing New Zealand are set to announce the NZ Summer Squad and the development teams (Regional Performance Centres or RPC’s) this week. In a standard year, all members of the Elite Team have automatic selection for the Summer Squad but for those crews that didn’t qualify for the Olympics, we’ve been told our selection will be made in reference to our performances. I’m not a selector but I’d imagine factors like the potential funding cut and imminent changes to the Olympic rowing program will also come into play. We’ll all get to share the news together when Rowing New Zealand post the teams on their website.  Whatever team I’m selected for, the goal remains the same, to make whatever boat I’m in go damn fast, and have fun doing it. 

Despite recent restrictions, I’ve tried to make the most of time spent waiting for the rest of the team to return from their Olympic Campaign. I joined Fletch, Vaugh and Megan to be a part of their renewable energy project, powering their studios with ergs (and bike for me) with Takapuna Grammar School Rowing Club. I got to meet the awesome team behind Make A Wish Foundation after teaming up with them earlier this year to make Jacob West’s wish come true and more recently, I’ve been collaborating with Laszlo Boats NZ on a very exciting project. 

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely seen a rowing boat or two before. Incredible works of technology but pretty standard in appearance. Almost always a standard base colour with a couple strips thrown in somewhere. Well Laszlo and I think rowing boats haven’t been done justice and want to literally change the game when it comes to the look of a rowing skiff. We are looking for a creative creature, who shares our passion and vision for this initiative, to collaborate with us in creating a boat that’s not only built for speed, but is original and captivating to look at. If you think that might be you, go to the ‘Design My Boat’ page to get the template and start designing. A rainbow the length of the deck, rubber duckies swimming along the side, whatever your imagination can think up, I want to see your ideas. Watch this space!