Summer Fencing

Hi! I’m Julia, a Dragonwing ambassador. My summers have been known to be very busy, and this coming summer is no exception. I start by going to Dallas, Texas, for fencing summer nationals, where I will be fencing in four events. Each event is long and tiring, so I am lucky that they are each two days apart.

To help me survive the exhausting events, I wear my light, breathable Dragonwing clothes that keep me comfortable and performing my best. In Dallas, any time I don’t spend competing will be spent rehabilitating my knee injury or resting.

After Dallas, I have three days at home until I go to Massachusetts for a month for a journalism program and then a marine biology program, two of my favorite subjects. Lastly, I’ll be going to Poland for ten days for a fencing program with many fencers who belong to the same fencing club as me. There, we will do more intense training after a month-long break, and I will have my Dragonwing clothes to keep me cool and comfortable. 

In a previous blog post, I talked about my knee injury and my “Road to Recovery.” It took nearly a year, but I am now back to training and competing as much as I ever did. However, I will have to continue physical therapy in order to keep training as frequently and intensively as I can.

julia

Surprise Surgery & Another Recovery

April was one of the most surprisingly crazy months for me yet. Earlier in the month, I was at a climbing competition doing just fine and trying my hardest. But when the comp ended and my mom and I were driving home, I got a big headache, felt horrible, and started to throw up. I had lots of pain, especially on the right side of my stomach.

Sudden and unbearable pain on the right side made me think “appendicitis,” which made me feel even worse. Shortly after we got home, my parents decided I needed to go right to the Emergency Room. Everyone was super worried. I was in too much pain to get into the car, so my dad called an ambulance, both for the speed and because I’d get pain medication as soon as possible. At the hospital, I waited for five hours and couldn’t eat or drink anything, which was difficult since I’d just finished a competition. After an ultrasound and CT, the doctors decided to transfer me to the Children’s Hospital so I could have surgery. Yes, that’s right — surgery — but not on my appendix. They’d found a cyst on my ovary that was basically “exploding.” Three small incisions were needed to fix everything.

three small incisions on Madi's belly after emergency surgery

I’m happy to say the surgery was successful, and I stayed in the hospital for three days. It took a while to be able to walk without being nauseated, but finally I regained my strength and was discharged!

It was a rough couple of weeks not being able to climb while I recuperated. If you’ve been following my blog, you know this isn’t my first recuperation. I’ve missed most of the important training for regionals, which are coming up on May 14. I’m going to have to work my butt off to rebuild my endurance and strength in the next two weeks. I’m looking on the bright side and telling myself I’ll be able to compete in regionals unlike last season.

In other news, school is almost out — only 4 weeks left! I really hope the summer will pass without any injuries!

Recovering from a Climbing Concussion

I celebrated my 14th birthday in December by doing a mock regionals and our gym’s first ever lock-in. Those were great, but, hands down, this has been one of the hardest months for me.

On December 7th, I went to climbing class with a great attitude considering it was the last push before regionals. Our coaches decided to have us on ropes. My friend Iza and I were partners, and she was leading a tricky route. When she was at the third clip going for a small crimp, she fell. The heel of her foot whammed into my head, but fortunately I was still able to catch her.

Rock climbing teammates
Not being able to compete because of a concussion was tough, but my teammates and coaches were awesome!

At first we laughed and giggled, after five minutes, I found myself sitting on the bench, feeling very lethargic and sleepy and holding an ice pack on my head. My coach Tim made a great call and recommended my mother pick me up and take me to the emergency room. I was dizzy and very slow walking on our way in to the ER. As soon as we explained my injury was from rock climbing, the medical team took it a bit more seriously and ran me through some tests, balancing and remembering numbers.

As soon as they said I had a mild concussion, tears started pouring down my face. I knew what was going to happen – that I’d have to miss regionals. I knew in the back of my mind I wouldn’t be able to compete, but I didn’t want to let it come true.

I stayed home from school for three days. I needed the rest, but I was very sad even thinking about climbing. I’d spent the whole season working up to this one competition, and now it was all wasted. On Wednesday, I went to climbing class because it’s a team sport. It was hard being in the background watching everybody else climb. Again my amazing coaches helped me get through this hard time and put positive thoughts in my head.

By Friday, I was sadly still having headaches and made the call to not compete on Saturday. I attended the event and watched my teammates compete. They did an amazing job!

I was back to normal the next week and was cleared by my doctor to start lightly climbing again. Now it is winter break, and it feels great to relax and enjoy winter here in Colorado. I wish all Dragonwing girls happy holidays and a wonderful start to the New Year.

My Road to Recovery

As a fencer, I love Dragonwing clothes because they keep me comfortable when I’m doing intense workouts. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do what I love lately due to a knee injury.

In May, I was told I have a condition called patellar tendonitis. Basically, it’s an overuse injury that, when aggravated, leads to inflammation of a tendon in my knee. Considering that I play a sport that requires lots of leg work and strain on my knees, you might see how my injury could be a serious setback.

Even though I’ve been spending a lot of time doing exercises and physical therapy, the hardest part of my recovery process is simply not being able to do the sport that I love. I’ve been fencing for five years and have never gone this long without fencing.

Luckily, the summer is the slowest time of the year when it comes to tournaments, as the number of national level tournaments is very limited. I normally do lots of training over the summer, but this time I took a seven-week break from my sport and focused on my recovery. I spent a few hours almost every day with either my physical therapist, chiropractor, or swimming trainer. Here I am doing plank exercises on the porch — in my Dragonwing Racer Sports Bra and Chill Weight Capri Leggings, of course!

Plank exercises wearing girl's Racer Sports Bra and Chill Weight Workout Leggings

Because swimming is a low impact form of exercise, I could do it for as long as I want without injuring myself any further. In fact, the swimming helps speed up my recovery because it develops many of the muscles that I don’t use as much when I fence.

girl swimming to rehab sports knee injury

My chiropractor and physical therapist give me stretches and exercises that will eventually get rid of my tendonitis. I do these exercises with them and every day at home. About three times a week, I will go to my fencing club and take a 20 minute one-on-one lesson with my coach where I do mostly arm work with some light footwork and no lunging.

I’m determined to get better as soon as I can so that I don’t have to worry about my knee when I am older and my injury could be worse.