I knew.

Yan Huckendubler

I knew the minute I hit the turf;

I knew as I lay on the ground tears soaking my shirt;

and I knew today when I picked up the phone when my surgeon called.

I knew that this was the injury that would be serious, would alter the goals I’d so cautiously let myself set out, and would be my greatest test yet. Today my MRI results confirmed what I already knew: multiple meniscus tears, and the dreaded ACL tear.

I knew because as an elite athlete, I’ve put my body through more in 26 years than most bodies will endure in a lifetime.  With that comes an understanding of my body’s limits, and a keen awareness of what it needs to succeed. Most of the time I could go to a physiotherapist or AT and tell them what was wrong before they set their hands on me. Over time, I’ve come to trust my body to do what I ask of it, and although I’ve had my fair share of body insecurities, I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together. In short, I view my body as more than just a vessel, it is my ultimate tool. It allows me to do all the things I love most.

So, it scares me that the very body that I used to feel so at home in is now one that I don’t recognize. Each morning I pull back the covers and the sight of an achy leg propped up by three pillows reminds me of my current reality. All I can think is that it won’t be long before the muscle I worked so hard to build will have wasted away. I swing my leg over the side of the bed and hobble down the hall grasping the walls for support. Who is this new Hannah? 

While there is never a good time for injury, this timing feels particularly cruel. I spent most of 2020 grieving and healing from our devastating Olympic qualifier shoot-out loss in late 2019. The burnout I had experienced from training 6 days a week, the constant pressure I felt, and living far from home, made me question whether I could love my sport again. But then late in 2020, something shifted. Training suddenly became less of a chore and I looked forward to my time on the pitch. And in January 2021, I allowed myself to dream about playing international hockey again. I had successfully pulled myself out of the darkness again and I finally felt like I was living rather than surviving.

People have asked me how I’m doing and my honest response is: “not well.” My world has quickly shrunk to a single room and those things that used to get me out of bed in the morning are currently out of reach. And, my now empty schedule leaves me alone with my thoughts more often than not- and believe me, my thoughts are the worst company. Truthfully, I’m terrified of the road ahead. But while things right now are most certainly not ok, I hold onto the hope that things can get better with patience, hard work, and help from my wonderful community. I know the pain and suffering I have overcome in the past will help too.

I have never been one to take the easy route in anything, and I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. I know this challenge will be no different. 

One Reply to “I knew.”

  1. Your bravery & honesty will help many people who are also struggling not least of the all by letting them know they’re not alone.

    People are rooting for you too, you’ve an army of support with you on your journey back to full health and to international hockey.

    You’re an inspiration, a star, a fighter and brilliant things are ahead 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

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