Sidelined!

So two days after my first win of the year, I met my coach for training. He knew I wasn’t feeling super well, and he actually wasn’t either. He had a lingering cold, like me, he couldn’t shake. “So we can have an easy training day today?” I asked. He only laughed evilly as a response.

We get there, warm up, and start doing net kills, my all time favorite training. We didn’t start off with footwork drills so despite his threat I knew he was going to take it a little easy on me. I went through one row of birdies, then another. About 5 minutes in my arm was burning. Like, it felt like it was so sore and I could barely lift it above my head because it had no strength. But we had barely hit anything. I massaged it. We went through another row of birdies and I was out of breath and rubbing my arm again.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I just feel weird.” Then I leaned over and plopped on the ground, unable to stand anymore.

“I feel dizzy,” I said. He hovered around me unsure what to do. I wanted to lie down but I saw he was freaking out already so I stayed in a seated position.

After a few minutes he said I should go lie down on his couch and he brought out his comforter from his little bedroom at the courts and I lay down on it (I was sweating and didn’t feel cold, despite the stormy cool weather outside.)

After a few minutes I felt better but training was clearly out. We just sat and chatted for about an hour before heading home. (“Does America have bananas?” he asked me. “Are they the same as Chinese bananas?”)

“You really scared me!” he said. He ended up plying me with gifts, a nice little teacup and a handful of racket grips because I think he just didn’t know what else to do. I’m famous for not taking breaks and for not stopping no matter how out of breath I am. So me falling down in training and then not even attempting to try again showed him how exhausted I was.

I didn’t play badminton the next day, or the next. In fact, I felt worse and more tired. Four days later I went to the emergency room where they tested my blood. My levels were extremely low and soon after I was admitted and the doctor was talking about a transfusion.

My coach, looking surly on the right, was actually really sick this day as well, with a fever, but he came to visit me and help me check in. The other guy is Yang Ping my sometimes coach and good friend. Azhi, my regular partner, was also with me all weekend long.

I’ve kinda mentioned my health problems, especially on the NPR interview, but it hasn’t bothered me for years. Without going into details, the symptoms of my problem are internal bleeding. If it’s a little my body just deals with it. I am almost always anemic and take iron pills daily. But every now and then my body goes into overdrive and bleeds out of control for no reason. Not to sound dramatic but without a blood transfusion I would bleed out.

So over the next few days as I was staying in the hospital I got several bags of blood and medicine and now things seem to be in working order. But I spent 5 nights in the hospital, with an IV in my arm and two old, loud, ladies as my roomies, and I’m just exhausted. I’m in bed by 9 and I don’t wake up for 12 hours. I’m also staying at home and having all my meals and groceries delivered (thank god for China’s convenience.)

Even if I had the energy I’m a bit too worried about moving around. Whatever was bleeding inside me has stopped, but I assume that it is like a cut on the skin, and the first few days it is still a tenuous covering that can break easily. Basically I’m too scared right now to wear tight pants much less run around.

But just because I am resting for a while doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, it’s driving me crazy. I am having major badminton FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). The thing is I’m supposed to be traveling right now, in northern China, so I would be missing badminton no matter what, but the fact that I’m around, and not able to play, is driving me CRAZY.

This weekend was an especially big test of my patience. It seemed that every single group had some sort of competition. And the biggest/toughest? My club participated in a competition with professional level teams and won 5th place! To torture myself I asked for pictures on the group chat and I saw some other woman playing. Again, I knew this competition was coming and didn’t sign-up (I was supposed to be traveling), but it still burned me to see this random girl playing where I should have been.

My club with their 5th place certificates. That should be ME standing next to my coach goddamn it!

And all the gushing and talking on social media with the pictures and stuff after just made me even madder. (It was seriously a successful job in a fierce very high level competition so everyone was just gushing about it). I’m almost grateful for no energy or else maybe I would have tried to bully my way onto the court and probably mess everything up. But I still have to deal with this anger about missing it.

So this is a new feeling for me. I hate badminton FOMO, but it usually comes about when I am doing something else, like traveling, so I don’t really mind because I am doing something interesting as well. But now I’m just sitting at home binge watching Netflix and its making me grumpy.

I was complaining to my friend about my feelings and he suggested I read books on sports psychology. I read a lot of books about sports psychology already and didn’t think it would help.

“But that’s for like determination and pushing your body and breaking mental barriers,” I said. It didn’t have anything to do with my situation.

“Not necessarily,” he said. “It’s also about dealing with injuries and having to sit out and watch your team continue.” Well, I guess I need to read some books about that now. At least it will give me something to do.

I hope my break will be a short one. It’s holiday time, and not only am I off work, but Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is coming. Everyone goes away and the gym will be closed for a few days anyway so I guess now is as good a time as any to be sick.

I should also mention how awesome my friends were during this time, especially my badminton friends. The day I checked into the hospital I was accompanied by three badminton guys, Azhi, my coach, and Yang Ping, all people I met through badminton. Yang Ping even lent me his ipad for the week which had a badminton app (which he is a VIP member of) with every professional game of the past six months, plus all sorts of funny and “Top 10” badminton videos with no ads. Needless to say I used it a lot and watching badminton made it a little easier to deal with the old lady farting all day next to me.

Also, some of my friends literally bled for me (In China to get a blood transfusion you need people to donate on your behalf first, to prevent a shortage.) I can’t thank them enough for coming out when I really needed it.

My friends showing off their bandages. In all 5 and a half people donated blood on my behalf. (The half was a friend who tried but passed out before the minimum was reached. He tried!)

So I’m off the court for at least a week and when I go back I’ll start easy with things like practicing serves. I dread to think of all the muscle I’ve lost these past two weeks, but kinda nothing I can do about it so no need getting too upset. When I feel better my body will tell me and I’ll go slow to get my training back up to speed. Overall badminton has made me much healthier and I won’t let this incident sideline me for long.

6 Comments

  1. Victor

    Wish you a speedy recovery! Gives you time to work on strategy.

    Reply
    1. Becky (Post author)

      And watch lots of pro games. 😉

      Reply
  2. kevin

    I’m with you in spirit. I’d send you a pint or two if I could. –kevin

    Reply
  3. Vijay

    Hey Becky, wish you a speedy recovery and keep up the good work. As a fellow badminton lover, your story is fascinating to me and I find your love for the game extraordinary.

    As an aside, I’m an Asian playing Badminton in the East Coast of America. I hardly find any American interested in the sport. Maybe you should travel to our club the next time you are here… 🙂
    -Vijay

    Reply
    1. Becky (Post author)

      Thanks so much! I’d love to go to the west coast and see what the badminton scene is like out there (just because it is the only place in America that takes badminton seriously). But all my family is in the east coast so I have to go there on my rare visits back. Maybe someday!

      Reply
      1. Vijay

        Oh, I’ve been in the west coast too…San Francisco bay area to be precise. Badminton scene is much better there, not to say cheaper club prices. You should definitely check it out…

        Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *