Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sokova on ending her career

Ekaterina Sokova made a video explaining why she retired from artistic gymnastics.
She has been doing gymnastics for 12 years and has been on the national team for 4 of these years.
In February 2016 her hip joint started hurting and she gradually stopped training because of pain. She could barely walk, so training was out of the question. She did MRI in April 2016 and learned she had a fracture of the femoral neck (part of the hip joint). She was still trying to train for 2,5 months - doing regular conditioning despite having to use crutches for walking. Then, in the summer of 2016, she got a bit better and started doing some tumbling. However, she was still in a lot of pain, she says she was walking like an old woman. She was very frustrated both with the pain and with the reactions of the people around her who told her she simply needs "to stop limping" and that it's all in her head. From July to December 2016 the pain never stopped and only got worse. She couldn't even sleep because of the pain. For some reason, her coaches didn't take her complaints about the pain seriously and didn't send her for a follow-up MRI for 8 months. She seems to be very pissed at her coach and the national team management for that. In December 2016 Katya's mom refused to let her go to the training camp at the Round Lake and took her to the doctors to do a proper check up and MRI. Then, in January, mom took her to Moscow to a renown doctor. The doctor said she can't do gymnastics anymore. Turned out she had arthrosis of the hip joint and it was so bad she needed a hip replacement. At 16 years old. It was also to be her first surgery ever. She says she and her mom cried rivers in the doctor's office because the news was so shocking. She expected to stop doing gymnastics because she felt something is seriously wrong with her body, but she never thought she'd need a hip replacement at 16. She didn't want to speak publicly about the surgery until now, despite a lot of people asking her why she stopped doing gymnastics. It was very hard for her to process and she was depressed for a few months. She says that if she were treated properly from the very beginning, she would be able to keep her joint. She blames her coach and the national team management for needing this surgery. In 15-20 years she will need to replace the prosthetic joint she has now and she's "thrilled" about this as well. In the days leading to the surgery, she didn't really care about ending her gymnastics career, she only cared whether she'll be able to walk unassisted like a regular person. Doctors said she'll be able to walk and even maybe run recreationally and do fitness exercises. She won't be able to take up any professional sport ever again. She says that even she could return to gymnastics, she wouldn't.
She had a surgery, has a new hip joint now, and needs to walk on crutches for 6 weeks, before she'll be able to walk again. She was in intensive care for two days after the surgery and hospitalized for another 8 days after that. Turned out her "bad" leg was 1,5 cm shorter than the other one because of the hip issues. Now her legs are the same length.
She tells people to listen to their bodies and insist on getting proper assessment and treatment because their health is the most important thing. She hopes this video might help other people in similar situations.
While she gained a lot doing gymnastics, there are many things she is sad about, like not going to a regular school, not having any friends in her hometown (and outside of gymnastics), not spending enough time with her baby brother. She doesn't regret doing gymnastics, but she is glad to start a new chapter in her life. She finishes: "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, even though gymnastics apparently tried to kill me".


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