February 2013: Injury strikes
The worst thing that could possibly happen to any cheerleader has happened to me. And I'm not even being dramatic.
It's not that my kit is lost, or my fake tan is streaky, or even that I can't remember my counts (although, admittedly, they would all mean disaster) – I've injured myself. 10 DAYS before comp.
Specifically, I've injured my ankle. Now I'm a clumsy person; I drop things a lot, I trip over, and I've broken approximately five bones in my life time. But without being dramatic (Ok, well maybe a little bit) this was the most painful thing that has ever, ever happened to me.
Lying on the floor unable to move straight after tripping over my dog's ball (yes, that's really how I did it – shh) I genuinely thought my ankle was broken.
So I did what every grown-up, 21 year-old would do. I sobbed like a baby. I made my boyfriend lift me out of the front door because I couldn't hop, and then I cried all the way to the walk-in centre. And then I sat in a wheelchair, made him push me, and cried some more.
But understand this, my fellow cheerleaders. I wasn't crying because of the pain – although obviously that didn't help. I was crying because I knew that if my injury was serious, any chance of me competing would vanish. And the two routines that I'm a part of would be very severely affected if one person was missing. I was crying because I didn't want to let my team-mates down, and I didn't want all of my hard work to be for nothing.
And mostly, I was crying because I really wanted to compete. I wanted that competition high that I haven't had for a year, that terrifying excitement beforehand and complete relief and exhilaration afterwards.
Which is why, when the doctor asked me to explain what I'd done, how I'd done it etc etc – I explained very nicely, followed by: “Buti'macheerleaderpleeeeasecanIstillcompetenextweek?!” Don't worry - I think she sensed my concern. So she examined me, made me do lots of painful things like wriggle my toes and – gasp! - walk, and then finally, finally said that if I rested up and the swelling subsided, I would be fine for competition. I would be fine! RELIEF!
So as I type this I'm resting, with a bath running upstairs and a whole lot of heat rub on my ankle. Sounds like heaven I know, but I'm a restless kind of person and not being able to practice is stressing me out. However, I will happily sit very still staring at a wall for the next week if it means I can compete. If there is a cheerleading God, he/she has definitely given me a second chance at life.
So if you're competing this weekend – look for the girl hobbling around but looking very happy – that'll be me.