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dmmetler

When life pushes you in another direction

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DD14 is now out of the sport she has been involved in for 10 years in some aspect, at least for this season. Her knees (both sides, but one a lot worse than the other) have been hurting on and off since Nationals last spring, and while two orthopedists (one walk in and one referred by her pediatrician) both said it was just growth related and she would outgrow it, no need to change her activities, it has gotten worse, to the point that it's pretty much constant pain.

 

She saw the sports chiropractor yesterday who works with the University teams, and knows what competitive cheer involves, and he does not think this is no big deal. Growth related, yes, but the level of tightness she has, she is basically dislocating her knee slightly when she jumps and tumbles. She has been in a LOT of pain. Which explains why she has been such a tearful, emotional mess lately, too. So, two months off and focusing on rehab. Lots of swimming and low impact exercise, therapy to relax those muscles and decrease tension on the knees, and hopefully remove pain. She's going to a center that includes allopathic doctors, chiropractic, PT, and massage therapists and focuses on rehab and non-drug solutions, so hopefully that will help as well.

 

I admit to feeling a little adrift as well. I had been mentally counting the days when I no longer would have to build my life around the cheer schedule, but this isn't what I expected at all. I'm also feeling guilty that it took this long to find the right person, and that I let her and encouraged her to push through this summer. I should have realized how much she was hurting. 

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I’m sorry she’s in pain and her sport had to come to an abrupt stop. I hope the time off helps with healing.  Maybe it will only be a season that she needs to miss to heal.

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Only eight weeks to find a person who knows what's up sounds good, and this will push you in the direction of a team with a competent staff before any permanent injury so that's a good thing.  Now your life will revolve around pool schedules...hopefully there is availabilty for the general public at the time you need. Good wishes for fast healing.

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I'm sorry she is hurting.  And I hope the time of and rehab really helps fix the problem.

 

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I’m sorry, too.  It does just take time sometimes to figure things out.

I hope you guys can fine a new routine, lifestyle, activity soon.  I know cheer has been really good for your daughter!  It’s hard to get into something new but I hope there are some good options that will work out.

I hope her knees will improve quickly too, with less stress on them.  

 

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Don't beat yourself up. Ds had a knee issue last year. I was in shock after we visited the PT. I thought we were going for several reasons - because he had some pain in a few places, because his teachers were saying he would never be able to do certain moves or advance and we were going to get an opinion about whether that was really physically true and if there were exercises he could do... We walked in and within less than ten minutes, she had spotted a knee problem that was a big problem and he had unloaded that he was in pain all the time, just horrible pain. I had no idea.

In retrospect, it was obvious and he'd been saying it... just not in a way that made it so clear to me. I felt so cruddy about it for awhile. But then I just had to let it go. It helped that the PT was able to really help him, he changed studios and he was able to keep dancing - his performance was drastically improved by the PT.

I hope she's able to find something else she loves as much. And a community that balances things for her that well.

Edited by Farrar
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It is hard when something that has been a big part of a kid's life comes to an abrupt stop.

Swimming should be excellent for rehabilitation. Do you have any ideas for helping her fill the social aspect of cheer? It seems that might leave a big gap in her life. 

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8 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Don't beat yourself up. Ds had a knee issue last year. I was in shock after we visited the PT. I thought we were going for several reasons - because he had some pain in a few places, because his teachers were saying he would never be able to do certain moves or advance and we were going to get an opinion about whether that was really physically true and if there were exercises he could do... We walked in and within less than ten minutes, she had spotted a knee problem that was a big problem and he had unloaded that he was in pain all the time, just horrible pain. I had no idea.

In retrospect, it was obvious and he'd been saying it... just not in a way that made it so clear to me. I felt so cruddy about it for awhile. But then I just had to let it go. It helped that the PT was able to really help him, he changed studios and he was able to keep dancing - his performance was drastically improved by the PT.

I hope she's able to find something else she loves as much. And a community that balances things for her that well.

I, too, had a child who had chronic pain and I didn't know/understand.  She told me once, mentioned it again a few months later, but it was a full year later when I realized that it was a constant daily problem.  She said, "I told you."  I was like, "Once!)

As moms we deal with so many levels of pain.  It is hard to understand degrees when it's not our own pain .  Don't beat yourself up, please! Concentrate on how you did figure it out and are now in a good place moving toward healing.

I also get your mixed feelings about this season ending (or being on pause.)  My dd has a very busy schedule and I do a lot of driving and organizing to make everything work.  I am looking forward to leaving this period behind--timewise and money wise.  But that won't happen until she leaves for college and then I'll miss her!

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3 hours ago, maize said:

It is hard when something that has been a big part of a kid's life comes to an abrupt stop.

Swimming should be excellent for rehabilitation. Do you have any ideas for helping her fill the social aspect of cheer? It seems that might leave a big gap in her life. 

That's a concern. I'm looking at options to substitute and give her more social time. We start our homeschool group stuff next week, which should help a little, but cheer has been her "normal" (IE-not being the youngest in the room by many years and treated as an adult) interaction, so we need to make up for that somehow. And in a way that isn't going to encourage her to push herself more than she should right now.

 

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8 minutes ago, dmmetler said:

That's a concern. I'm looking at options to substitute and give her more social time. 

 

Lifeguarding? If she already swims well and can pass the lifeguard test, lifeguarding can be rather social at the YMCA and swimming clubs. 

DS14 has some growth pains too 😞 I should get him checked too just in case. 

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My youngest got out of cheer last year at the same age because of a hand injury. This was initially a temporary plan, until mid-season tryouts. However, in the meantime she got involved in another sport (with less statistical risk of traumatic injury, hooray), and never went back. It was weird at first, because so much of their week and social life revolves around the team in cheer. But she has zero regrets, and I am so happy that she is away from a sport that requires booty shorts and giant bows, lol (I was never entirely onboard, despite the five years of involvement.)

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Another sport might be nice, but what sports aren't hard on the knees? Swimming I guess, maybe rowing/crew? Other water sports/recreation if they are available in your area, I'm thinking sailing, kayaking, etc. if there were a regular group doing it to fill the social hole. Horse riding? 

Diving maybe for someone with a tumbling background but unable to take hard landings.

Ballroom dance?

Doesn't have to be a sport for social, but I know my own kids benefit a lot from regular physical activity.

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Another thought...I know you are a music person, and I think your dd plays piano? What about something musical, where she could be involved in a group? She could take up a band or orchestra instrument, or sing... Music can provide group interaction opportunities through college and into adult life. 

My kids have also really enjoyed getting involved in musical theater.

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I'm just trying to brainstorm stuff that might fill that need to just be an ordinary kid among other kids.

Edited by maize

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I've been thinking about this since I saw your post on the extracurricular thread. If you think she might get depressed from being alone so much, I'd look for a non-physical replacement ASAP. The easiest thing to find at this time of year is probably a choir or beginner band or orchestra where she could start from scratch with a new instrument. Or, if you're lucky, there might be something like a mariachi group or Irish band in your area that takes beginners.

Good luck!

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1 hour ago, Arcadia said:

 

Lifeguarding? If she already swims well and can pass the lifeguard test, lifeguarding can be rather social at the YMCA and swimming clubs. 

DS14 has some growth pains too 😞 I should get him checked too just in case. 

Definitely a good idea to get checked. I took dd6 (at the time) in a couple of months back for leg aches I thought were growing pains that had gone on a bit long for my comfort after ballet went on break. Turned out she was on the verge of stress fractures and we had to stop martial arts and dance. Orthopedist told me that there is medically no such condition as growing pains and any time a child has bone or joint discomfort for more than two weeks to get them in ASAP. I went through three kids, worked in pharma and medical field and never knew this somehow?!? I felt horrible. 

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18 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Definitely a good idea to get checked. I took dd6 (at the time) in a couple of months back for leg aches I thought were growing pains that had gone on a bit long for my comfort after ballet went on break. Turned out she was on the verge of stress fractures and we had to stop martial arts and dance. Orthopedist told me that there is medically no such condition as growing pains and any time a child has bone or joint discomfort for more than two weeks to get them in ASAP. I went through three kids, worked in pharma and medical field and never knew this somehow?!? I felt horrible. 

I have heard this too, but I don't understand it. Like, as a kid, I had the classic growing pains at the classic age in the classic presentation - an achiness in my lower legs in the evening, gone by morning right around the time puberty hit. According to my mother, I also had them when I was much younger for a few months. I wasn't more or less active then than before or after. I wasn't a whiny, low pain threshold kid. I can remember how it felt. And then, after several months of experiencing it off and on, it stopped. Like, I don't understand how that's fake somehow when that's so common. But that's the line they have now. It's not real.

I think it's so hard to know when kids are really hurting and when they're not. I find that this kid of mine who had the chronic pain issue overreacts to small pains and underreacts to bigger ones. I can't tell you how many times I've taken him to the doctor when he was convinced that he had broken or fractured something. He had some sort of lingering something that turned into a sinus infection but he was so severely dramatic about it that we all got worried he was going to die of a mystery ailment before he finally got megadoses of abx for the sinus infection and he bounced back. But then this chronic issue just got a few mild complaints. Kids are just so weird.

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I think there can be a culture in sports (and dance) of shaking off the small stuff, and aches and pains are normal enough that it is easy to identify slow growing problems as small stuff. 

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What about theater? Easy to start in at any age, and often has lots of different ages together, and they tend to be quirky. And if she liked being "on stage" with the showmanship of cheer (and not JUST the physical aspect) than theater might be a good outlet. And she's already so creative, seems a natural fit if you can find the right group. 

Otherwise, is a swim team an option, even if she can't push hard yet? Like, can she join the team and practice, but not compete until more recovered? 

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39 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

What about theater? Easy to start in at any age, and often has lots of different ages together, and they tend to be quirky. And if she liked being "on stage" with the showmanship of cheer (and not JUST the physical aspect) than theater might be a good outlet. And she's already so creative, seems a natural fit if you can find the right group. 

Otherwise, is a swim team an option, even if she can't push hard yet? Like, can she join the team and practice, but not compete until more recovered? 

 

Swim meets aren’t really any more strenuous than swim practice.  You may push yourself harder, but your overall yardage is way less.  We had recreational teams where I grew up which were great.  Not the same level of pressure as the club teams.  These rec teams seem less common here, may be a regional thing based on the overall popularity of swimming. 

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I don’t think anything competitive would be a good thing right now. And at least here, swim teams do dry land training as well as pool training, which she should avoid. 

I am checking into the homeschool honor society and beta club. We had passed on both because she would have had to miss too many mandatory activities, but it would give her a regular group of teens, and she could probably find something for most service projects, etc that she can do-she can handle walking and standing, just not anything higher impact or lots of stairs. Similarly, she can also check out the extracurriculars at her community college. 

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It’s hard. My dd15 is in PT right now for some hip pain due to overusing certain muscles. She is working on strengthening the weak muscles she should have been using and stretching the tight areas that are causing problems.  Luckily she doesn’t need to stop dancing completely. The PT said that she should continue doing what she can in class that doesn’t aggravate the area. She said it’s important that she keep going to class so she doesn’t lose confidence.

I wonder if your dd can still go to some practices and just work on upper body work/stretching etc. while she is there? When my other dd was a competitive gymnast and broken her arm she still went to every practice and worked out what she could. It helped her feel that even though she was healing she was still part of the team. 

Edited by lovelearnandlive

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The main reason we aren't doing that is because there is basically nothing she should do right now, and the team needs to adapt to her not being there. You can't jump in and out of the routine. And part of the problem is that DD does not look injured-which is one reason why she was so reluctant to even tell her coaches that she was hurting. It would be very easy for her to push herself too hard. 

The plan right now is for her to restart privates in a few weeks, where the coach can adjust to her needs, and then to possibly work back into classes. If she goes back to team this season, she needs to be able to jump back into 15-20 hours a week of training. Unfortunately, there are no rec options for teenagers in this sport in my area.

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My niece just did that for volleyball last year, after jamming her knee (and having to wear a brace) over the summer.  It didn’t heal like they had hoped and she missed the whole season, instead of just half the season (I think with a lot of optimism she didn’t think she would even have to miss half).  

Well — it ended up seeming not to work out, I guess.  It’s hard to say how it would have gone otherwise, but it ended up seeming not great for her to watch and not participate. 

But I don’t think it was bad, either.  

It just didn’t work out as hoped, but her injury also didn’t work out as hoped.  

In retrospect she would have been better to move on to other things — but I don’t think it could be predicted it would go that way, instead of working out well and letting her finish the season able to practice and play.  

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I was a synchronised swimmer in my youth. I wonder if that could be an option for your daughter? It has parallels to cheer (gymnastic + performance + team work) but gentler on joints.

I'm so sorry to hear that this is happening and I wish her all the best. It sounds like a big time of readjusting for you both.

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My 15 yo son complained about knee pain at the beginning of track season this spring, so I actually took him to the doctor (unusual for me, it usually takes a while for me to be motivated enough to go) and the doctor said that he has osgood schlatter (or something close to that) which is basically painful knees, maybe a lump below the knee, maybe ankle pain, etc. There’s not much you can do for it, and the doc said he could continue track if he felt like it. 

At his first track meet he finished his race and had more knee pain. I figured it was more of the osgoid schlatter thingy. He went to the trainer the next week and did some gentle exercises. He really didn’t complain about his knee at home.  After about a week, I got a call from the trainer and he said I should take my son into the doctor for his knee. I mentioned that we had gone into the doctor just a couple weeks before...blah blah blah... The trainer said, this was something different and he really recommended I go to an orthopedic doctor. It took a couple weeks to see our primary care doctor, get a referral, get an mri, then get to the orthopedic doctor, where we found out that he had a “non displaced” fracture of his tibia! A stress fracture! I felt terrible that I hadn’t really been interested in his knee pain! Waaa! Bad mom award goes to me! He missed the rest of the track season, but has been able to play soccer this summer. He’s fine now, but I wonder if I would have taken his injury more seriously if we hadn’t gone to the first doctor?

Anyway, it’s hard to know when knee pain is real. It’s a tricky thing!! My dd18 is a cheerleader and needed surgery on her knee this winter. She is thinking of maybe trying out next spring for college cheer, but wasn’t able to try out for this year. It’s hard to see your kids miss out, you know? Even when it’s the right thing. 

Dd18 was cut from the high school volleyball team at 14 when we moved to a new school - she was heartbroken! But it opened up the possibility of new things. 

Best wishes for your daughter’s recovery and for her adventure ahead! I’m sure she will find a new dream!!

Maybe dance? Ballroom dancing? Hip hop? Could be fun to try something different!

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2 hours ago, Lecka said:

My niece just did that for volleyball last year, after jamming her knee (and having to wear a brace) over the summer.  It didn’t heal like they had hoped and she missed the whole season, instead of just half the season (I think with a lot of optimism she didn’t think she would even have to miss half).  

Well — it ended up seeming not to work out, I guess.  It’s hard to say how it would have gone otherwise, but it ended up seeming not great for her to watch and not participate. 

But I don’t think it was bad, either.  

It just didn’t work out as hoped, but her injury also didn’t work out as hoped.  

In retrospect she would have been better to move on to other things — but I don’t think it could be predicted it would go that way, instead of working out well and letting her finish the season able to practice and play.  

That's one reason why her coach felt it was better to not sit and watch. As he put it, it's hard for teens to say when they need to stop, unless there's a cast or something forcing the issue. He felt it was better for her to be out of the gym until she is cleared to start training, and then to work back up to it-that the time spent sitting in the gym is better spent swimming, or doing homework, or spending time doing things that she has never done because of cheer. And this is someone who coaches college teams that are some of the best in the country and a former US team member. 

There are kids who have done that, but usually it is with a more clear prognosis. It's a lot easier for a kid to set limits with a broken arm where they obviously can't use it rhan with a limit of "don't do what hurts", but light exercise is OK. And often what happens is that they come back and really aren't ready, and it hurts the team. DD had a friend who sat out the first half of the season due to an ACL injury, and the poor kid tried to come back the second half. I think she had one competition she didn't fall in, because she just wasn't 100% yet-and that really wasn't a supportive social situation. Another girl had a bad concussion, and again, after she was cleared, she just plain wasn't ready to go back to the full 20 hour a week schedule, and was pushing herself too hard. She, again, did not get a lot of support so much as censure from her peers. Both finished the season, but neither came back this year.  This way, DD feels guilty for quitting, but the team can fill her spot or adjust to her not being there and the smaller number, as opposed to them holding a spot, and her potentially coming back before she is ready and struggling to keep up.

And DD was already struggling with balancing her academic time with the sport, especially with the World Congress in Jan. The gym is great at working with her-it helps that the athletic director also taught AP history until this year, when he bought the gym and made it his full time career, but she feels guilty when she misses. She already was feeling guilty about missing several weeks for the world congress. This way, she can focus on that for a few months, take classes if she is able and then decide whether she wants to try to get back into the sport for the second half of the season. 

 

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Does she like to read for pleasure? Many libraries have a teen volunteer group.

DD17 used to be a pre-professional ballet dancer. In eighth grade, she complained of hip pain, and over a period of many months, we went through two rounds of PT, an MRI, and consultations with a sports medicine doctor and orthopedic surgeon. It turns out that she has an injury that can't be repaired without surgery, and surgery was not recommended for her. PT helped, but she was never pain free while dancing. She continued in dance for two more years and finally quit after her sophomore year. Now, she does cheer at her school and loves it --  it is noncompetitive and none of the moves cause her pain. She also fills the time in her schedule and meets some of her social needs with a part time job.

I do think that the emotional aspects of the situation were as difficult for me as they were for her, although in vastly different ways. So I know dealing with this change may be hard in unexpected ways. I hope it is only a temporary break for your daughter, and that she is able to find some new activities to fill both the physical and social void.

Edited by Storygirl

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I agree about theater.  Are there teen role playing groups around?  That tends to attract a geeky group, and is fun and social.  Church youth group?  

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I don't have any specific advice, but thought I could share an encouraging story about my dancing DD.

My youngest DD, about to be 25, was a pre-professional ballet dancer. Which means 20+ hours a week in high school, a lot more when counting rehearsal. She wanted to major in dance in college but began having injury/chronic pain in her sophomore year of HS. Ran around to PTs trying to find someone to help, but particularly who understood ballet. Finally ended up going to a wonderful practice with a lot of former ballet dancers who were now PTs. They could speak the same language and "got" what my DD needed. Two years later she had surgery to fix a tendon with an ortho who understood ballet, rehabbed and went off to college. Majored in dance while taking all the pre-reqs to get into PT school upon graduation. Sophomore year she was struggling with pain again. After A LOT of angst she decided to cut to the chase and change majors to Sports Medicine. She excelled AND had time to be involved in student government and a lot of volunteer opportunities. She got some the of clinical observation hours needed for her major during the summer at her old PT practice.😀 Graduated and took a year off to apply to PT schools. Worked in admin at her old PT😀. Got into all the PT schools she applied too.  She is now on active duty in the Army at their stellar PT school. Being paid to go to graduate school. It has been the perfect fit for her.  We can clearly see how the ballet experience taught her discipline and determination, but the injuries also taught perseverance and about PT! Ballet also gave her great kinesthetic awareness which is very valuable in instructing patients in therapy. All of her experiences helped mold her for what she is doing now! But boy were there a lot of ups and downs! As the mom I was there for ALL the tears, pain, angst, etc. And it was HARD.  But I can see how in the end it all benefited DD.

Mary

 

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About a month in, she’s definitely experiencing reduced pain. She’s able to walk now without it hurting, even for fairly long distances. It took 2 weeks for her to be able to get through a therapy session without crying, due as much to anxiety and fear as actual pain. She’s doing a teen music group, a social field trip group, and lots of Pokemon stuff. Some of her adult gaming friends are taking her with them so she can be more active. She's able to see her outside friends more. 

 

More importantly, she is happier. 

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3 hours ago, dmmetler said:

About a month in, she’s definitely experiencing reduced pain. She’s able to walk now without it hurting, even for fairly long distances. It took 2 weeks for her to be able to get through a therapy session without crying, due as much to anxiety and fear as actual pain. She’s doing a teen music group, a social field trip group, and lots of Pokemon stuff. Some of her adult gaming friends are taking her with them so she can be more active. She's able to see her outside friends more. 

 

More importantly, she is happier. 

It's excellent that she has several different social circles and activities already in her life. And once she goes to college/university (maybe in Canada!!), she'll broaden her experiences even more.  Most athletes as they age into adulthood tend to fluctuate out of a main sport, and re-enter other physical activities. She's got a great base of fitness and body awareness that will stay with her for the rest of her life. It will be easier to pick up new sports and physical activities than adults who have never reached her level of athleticism. 

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