Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Update on Degeneration (and a Hearty, Thank You)

Last November, with a lot of reservation, I told the story of physical problems I encountered in a post titled Degeneration. Basically the piece was about how it affected my shooting.

Over the past three years, I rarely share personal things anymore. I’ve tried to maintain the blog as a resource for newbies. Although, at the time, I thought it was worth reporting on. I assumed that sooner or later all of us would be faced with a similar predicament.

Immediately after posting it I received lots of thoughtful emails. Each and every one was moving. The majority were sincerely laced with genuine advice both medical and mental—and others were written in a tone of authentic encouragement.

During my recovery I threw caution to the wind and started doing some pretty weird things. Over the course of several league matches I shot slow fire with my weak hand. I started off being ever so hopeful, by attempting to bump up my slow fire scores with my non-damaged limb.

Up until that point I was having a terrible time of it. I had limited mobility where it was nearly impossible to maintain any degree of strength or stability when using my right hand. So I temporally abandoned it and used my weak hand. And I changed eyes too (yes, I used the non-dominant one) and simply tried to force myself into sequentially applying the fundamentals.

The results weren’t all that bad! … Nor were they stellar. But they’re still far less rewarding score-wise compared to my old performances.

I feel fortunate that my pinched nerve appears to be returning to normal. I have no pain. Presently I can command my strong arm and grip to do things it used to. And my ability to have a reasonable wobble area appears to be within sight too.

Unfortunately my scores haven’t returned to their pre-injury levels. I’m certain all I have to do is be a little more dedicated with both my training and practice routines. And I have few doubts that at some point in the near future I’ll be back to my old self.

In some respects, I feel like I’m teaching myself how to shoot all over again.

But the whole process gave me several new insights, the first being a more respectful and intuitive understanding into the process of aging. I’ve known several ol’ timers over the years and simply marvel at their dedication to the sport. They simply know how to keep going and enjoy themselves immensely, regardless of the outcome.

And I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve become much more sensitive to those who are handicapped. They bear burdens, visible or hidden, that may or may never be cast off.

The bottom line is we all compete in an environment where we’re not equal: be it our skill, equipment, physical ability or training. All of us may have equal opportunities but our individually ingrained abilities and handicaps are anything but egalitarian.

As we start a New Year, allow me to express my gratitude.

No one achieves success without the help of others (and I’ve had a lot of help). I’m incredibly thankful of those who have assisted in rekindling my spirit. People with a strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation don’t necessarily have more than others; they simply recognize and perceive more beauty in their lives.

As we approach 2012 and all the unknowns before us, I believe there is always—always—something to be thankful or grateful for.


Kirk A said...

Best wishes and good luck, Tony! I can empathize; I too am starting over -- weak-handed. After consuming unhealthy levels of NSAIDs thru Camp Perry, I took off four months from shooting. Now I'm back to slabs for the grip du jour.

Tony said...

Thanks, Kirk.

I heard about your dilemma and hope you’re on a steady road to recovery, my friend.