Road To Recovery

It took 24 years, but it finally happened. I have the official scars inducting me into the surgery club. It’s not exactly a club I want to be in, but there’s some pretty cool people in it so I guess I can manage 😉 .

Let me recap:
I tore my meniscus mid February at practice. There wasn’t some crazy fall or accident, but by the end of practice I was hobbling around. It took me one week to be on a flight heading to Anaheim with the US National Team for surgery and rehab. 4 weeks later I was on a flight bringing me back to Germany and here I am, nearly 9 weeks post surgery and back on the court!

I wanted to share some of the what I went through and figured out during my first real surgery. I realized this was also the first time in my career (I’m pretty sure) that I had to sit on the sidelines and watch my team play because I could not, no jersey, no nothin’. THAT was weird. I’m no pro at the injury/surgery/recovery thingamajig but getting my thoughts out help me a lot, so prepare for my ramble…

CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL.
Hearing the news that my injury required surgery was pretty traumatic, I honestly did not see that diagnosis coming. My doctor didn’t seem quite so sure on what to do with the crying (nearly sobbing) girl in the office, but we got through it. It took me a couple hours of tears, ‘why me’, ‘this sucks’, and chocolate to calm down and say, “Okay, this has happened, how do I respond now? What’s the next course of action.”

That’s one of the big lessons I’ve learned through college and especially in my last few years overseas that thankfully served me well: Control what you can control. There are so many crazy things that happen in life, and one thing you get to control is how you react, or more so respond, to the cards you get dealt. My initial reaction was a little rough, and I’m okay with that, but I responded well shortly after: by that evening I informed the people that needed to know- my pro team, my family, my National Team staff and doctors, and I was planning the next steps with them regards to surgery, travel, and this process I was about to embark on. Taking control of the controllables helps me feel strong even though I was relatively crushed just before.

react

SEE THE BIG PICTURE.
The day I got hurt, there were 22 days until my Pro Team played in the German Cup Finals. This Championship match is a big deal here in Germany and it was something the team and I were REALLY looking forward to- we were working towards that goal for the past 3 months. On top of that, my parents were planning to come that week, as well as my Aunt and Uncle! Great timing, right?

I ran through a lot of scenarios before I had to stop myself and re-evaluate. My #1 priority is to get healthy- as best and as quickly as possible. That meant push the Cup Final aside, push the visitors aside and make decisions that get me to a healthy knee as quickly and as perfectly as can be.

Not only that, my long term goal is a big one: helping Team USA win a gold medal in 2016. Keeping the end in mind helps keeps me going and keeps my head on straight.

What you want most

TRUST THE PROCESS.
I know for sure that I don’t know how to heal my knee from surgery on my own. Luckily I have some great people that do know how and I am putting my trust in them. So even though I want to do more some days, I’ve had to check myself and listen to them.

You have to walk before you can run and, being pretty competitive, I rather skip a couple steps to get to the running part faster. But this has been a baby step process, a day to day process, and there is no cutting corners. Like I said earlier, I want to do it right, and right means not skipping any steps.

closer

PATIENCE.
The journey through surgical recovery forced me to become more patient than I ever thought I could be. I had the itch to play and to touch that ball, to get back on that court so bad (I might always have that itch). But, I couldn’t. I could, actually, but that would be really stupid. There’s no cutting corners (see above). Do the little things, do them right. And that takes time. The road to recovery is a long, windy, twisty process that requires patience. That’s not easy, but it’s really important.

patience

CELEBRATE LITTLE STEPS.
Literally. I was ecstatic when I could take little steps, and then when I could walk stairs, and then when I could walk stairs normally. When I jumped for the first time a few weeks after surgery I could not wipe the grin off my face. It’s a long journey and celebrating the little successes helped me stay positive one step at a time.

CHECK YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
Oh expectations. I have so much to say about you. I try to remember what Karch Kiraly has said before: Keep your expectations a little lower and your hopes a little higher. We can be awfully critical of ourselves and set some pretty high standards, but imagine if you let yourself succeed a little bit more. That success creates so much more positivity and that in turn is motivation and progress and improvement, and those things can snowball into great things. It’s creating more happiness.

I tried to keep my expectations pretty low with this surgery thing, so I was shocked when I could walk (read: hobble) around my apartment the evening after surgery. And 5 days out I could actually walk pretty normally. Talk about blasting through some expectations. My next 3-4 weeks went crazy good really and I was feeling great. Just when I was excited and expecting to work back onto the court week 6, things took a bit of a hiccup. My knee told me that it wasn’t ready for the running and jumping I was doing at the end of week 5. So I was a little crushed to have to take a few steps back. I let my expectations get ahead of me. I knew that I should have expected some hiccups or setbacks along the way, but I got distracted with the great progress I already had! Staying day to day, one step at a time oriented helps me keep those expectations in check.

get up

I’m no expert on this surgery and rehab thing. This menisectomy is my first surgery and it could have been a WAY worse one (knock on wood). MAJOR props to ALL surgery patients. I’m amazed thinking about a lot of my friends who have had to come back from injuries way worse than mine. But this has reminded me of a lot of great lessons I’ve learned through my life and career, and it’s nice to know I’m still learning: about myself, my body, and how to handle setbacks and different situations. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? And I’m feeling stronger every day.

P.S. I wrote this blog entry a couple weeks ago and to update it, I have been practicing and I even got to play in our semifinal match last week! It didn’t turn out quite how we hoped but just throwing that jersey on lit up my world. And getting back on to the court? Just … 😀

Wish us luck for Wednesday as we’ll be playing to move onto the Finals!

Beach Party in January?

Beach Party!

What is this? A beach party in Germany in the heart of winter? Yup!

In our tiny town of Vilsbiburg, every January they turn the town hall into a sand filled, heat cranked party! I asked my teammate what I should be wearing to this and she said, “Summer clothes!” I was skeptical but threw on my Lulu tank top, some shorts and flip flops- under my big winter jacket and sweat pants of course. Low and behold, the beach party was Hot! The floor was covered in sand, there was a band rocking out, and bars in all the corners of the venue. It was a fun evening but now I just can’t wait to get that REAL sand in between my toes this summer 🙂

Meeting in Munich

I LOVE when I get a chance to see friends in Europe. So when Kawika Shoji’s team was playing just outside of Munich it was a great opportunity to see him and make a little day out of it with the American’s in Innsbruck. I drove down, they drove up and we met in the middle of Munich for lunch and to see the match.

We checked out the Hofbrauhaus and cruised around the city a bit. Then met up with the Hein’s and some of their Innsbruck teammates for lunch at a Mexican restaurant 🙂

Dining Room at Hofbrauhaus

Dining Room at Hofbrauhaus

Beautiful day in Munich

Beautiful day in Munich

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It was an exciting match to watch in a packed house and Kawika came away as the MVP! All due to our cheering of course.

Paul Carroll, Andy Hein, Scott Touzinsky, Kawika Shoji, Kate Hein, me, Sydney Yogi, and Erik Shoji

Paul Carroll, Andy Hein, Scott Touzinsky, Kawika Shoji, Kate Hein, me, Sydney Yogi, and Erik Shoji

They had to catch a flight back up to Berlin shortly after the match, but Erik, Syd and I went back to the Hofbrauhaus for some food and drinks before heading out separate ways.

For you?

For you?

Hagglund Siblings Take On Germany

[*ACHTUNG* (*WARNING*) This is a long post but jam packed with activities that I couldn’t cut out!]

First pic of the trip!

First pic of the trip!

As the holidays come around over seas, we generally have to find our own little ways to celebrate. Especially when days are usually centered around family time or being with your close friends, celebrating in a foreign country is usually pretty different and sometimes difficult.

Thanksgiving is a huge family holiday for everyone in the States and there generally isn’t a holiday that parallels that in other countries. I’ve made my own turkey the past few years and celebrated with my American teammates by eating our hearts out of course 😉

This year, my brother Nick came to spend a few days with me! Not to brag or anything, but we are quite the dynamic duo when it comes to adventuring around! I was so so so excited to see him and have him with me. We surely do not get to spend enough time together throughout the year. Maybe that’s why we have such a blast when we are in the same city!

Nick flew in on Wednesday afternoon and we headed directly into the heart of Munich to start his trip off right. The first thing I did was get a Starbucks from downtown 😛 as we headed to Marienplatz, the city center. Nick picked a great time to get here, because that day was the very beginning of the Christmas Markets, and let me tell you, Germany does their markets- Christkindlmarkts- right! We strolled around, checked out some churches and great views of the city. We got our first gluhwein (hot spiced wine) and for dinner we ate at the original Hofbrahaus. Nick had a pig’s knuckle- WHAT. Yes, he was left with what looked like a hoof at the end of his meal. No thanks! Afterwards we watched some people ice skating in the center hoping for some entertainment or big falls. We did a little color commentary and were most interested by the young guy trying to do a little too much in front of his girlfriend… typical 🙂

Starbucks makes expats happy :)

Starbucks makes expats happy 🙂

Munich at sunset

Munich at sunset

:)

🙂

You've got a line on your face...

You’ve got a line on your face…

Munich Christmas Market

Munich Christmas Market

I had 2 practices on our actual Thanksgiving Day so we planned to really celebrate the next day with some of my teammates. Instead of the classics on the 4th Thursday of the month, we headed into my neighboring city and had some mexican food and margaritas. Maybe not traditional for Thanksgiving or for Mexican food, but I’m not complaining whatsoever!

Friday was a busy day built around a crap ton of food. Nick and I celebrated with my 2 other American teammates- Dominique Marshall (Lamb) and MIchelle Hackley (Bartsch). Mich’s husband Corbin is here too and she also had an American friend (who plays basketball in Austria) drive up to join us. A lot of food is a massive understatement. We had a huge turkey and a duck (Corbin’s thing), I made way too much stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, bread, and a giant salad bowl that wasn’t touched. Not to mention we had spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer and some hard to find cheddar cheese and crackers. And then dessert. We had so much leftovers it was crazy. I’m super proud how well everything came out (timing was a bit rough, but the oven and microwave were pretty helpful!) and we had such a nice dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The boys

The boys

The girls

The girls

After dinner, and some major clean up action, we watched The Grinch! I borrowed the club’s projector- got a call halfway through the movie for a coach asking for it… whoops!- but we played the movie on the their wall and I think we had at least 3 sleeping bodies within the first 15 minutes 🙂

On Saturday Nick and I continued our whirlwind ways. First thing in the morning we headed down towards Munich and toured Dachau, a concentration camp from WWII. This is the first time Nick or I had any real first hand experience with any of those atrocities and it was powerful. It’s truly unbelievable to comprehend what happened, but being in those rooms, seeing those showers, walking in the barracks- it is sickening. I try to imagine what these people experienced during the War- what life (if that’s what you could call it) was like- and my heart crumbles. It’s something I’m grateful to see though, to learn and remember how terrible people can be and yet also how strong and resilient. I hope I have an opportunity to learn and see more as my time in Germany continues.

A gorgeous view from inside one of the memorials

A gorgeous view from inside one of the memorials

One of the gas chambers at Dachau. Fortunately, none of the chambers there were actually used for extermination.

One of the gas chambers at Dachau. Fortunately, none of the chambers there were actually used for extermination.

Dachau

Dachau

After a very somber morning, we had to seriously switch gears, because we now were heading to a Bayern Munich Football Game (achem, that’s soccer to us Americans). FC Bayern is THE best team in the world right now. Last year they won The European Championships.We got tickets from one of the lower division coaches in my volleyball club. This was my very first European professional soccer game , same for Nick, and we were PUMPED! First of all, they play in an AMAZING venue. The Allianz Arena is super cool- this huge round building that is lit brightly in either white, red, blue or a mix. The stadium was PACKED. Every seat filled. The fan section in the level right below was going NUTS the entire 90+ minutes. The ring leader gets major props. He was hooting and hollering and had a megaphone I couldn’t even hear but he was shouting his lungs out… all in a normal t-shirt while it was freezing outside! You go fan club ring leader.

First European Football game for both of us!

First European Football game for both of us!

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Go Bayern Munich!

Go Bayern Munich!

With a nice 2-0 win for FC Bayern, it was time for us to get another fill of the Christmas Markets. We hit 3 other markets around the city. At one they were serving not just Gluhwein but some drink called Feuerzangenbowle. We saw someone holding this drink and the top of it was frickin’ on fire! DONE, 2 PLEASE. It was really yummy and had a burning sugar cube on the side. So cool. And probably pretty dangerous given the flammability and how delicious it was. We checked another market called Tollwood which is coated on the fairground where Oktoberfest is held a couple months prior. This was another really cool set up, very cultural and very funky. They served tons of different foods and had lots of gifts and trinkets available from all over the world.

Feuerzangenbowle! FIRE!

Feuerzangenbowle! FIRE!

Quarkbällchen. Fried doughs of goodness that needed to be shared!

Quarkbällchen. Fried doughs of goodness that needed to be shared!

Sunday came around way too quick. For Nick’s last day we were making a bit of a road trip. We drove down to Neuschwastein Castle, in the middle of nowhere. The castle was built by Crazy King Ludwig and is quite extravagant and quirky inside and out. The colors and details and different styles seem to have absolutely no rhyme or reason but there’s a lot of everything! This castle is also the one that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle at the parks. LIke I said, the Castle is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but boy is nowhere beautiful! The highlight of the day was walking around and taking a bajillion pictures of the gorgeous freshly fallen snow all over the Castle, the trees, the mountains, and along the river. Germany definitely qualifies as a winter wonderland and we had the Christmas tunes in full swing!

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

He can't stop kicking!

He can’t stop kicking!

Lastly, we hit one more market in Munich to break up the drive back to Vilsbiburg– and I think we may have saved the best for last: a Renaissance themed Christmas Market! This Market was so cute and quirky. So many old school outfits and stalls and types of food, gifts, and drinks. We had a ‘Thor’s Hammer’ drink so of course we toasted to the Gods. There was a fun group of performers that played some music and did some goofy comedy skits for entertainment as well. It was a great way to cap off the trip.

Thor's Hammer, drink of the God's, clearly.

Thor’s Hammer, drink of the God’s, clearly.

Unfortunately that brings us to the end of Nick’s mini-vacation to Germany. It is so true that time flies when you’re having fun (and maybe when you do a ton of stuff in less than 5 days) because we had a BLAST! I was so grateful Nick got to come visit, selfishly, because he changed up my monotony and brought so much fun and excitement to everything. I also know that it’s not often we get to spend time together and I think it will continue to be tough given my schedule and Nick’s future schedule, so I’m so glad we got this time as it’s something I’m sure we’ll be remember for the rest of our lives.

Prague Round 2

One great thing about playing in Germany this season is that I know quite a few Americans that also play for the teams scattered around Germany, and one of them happens to be one of my very good friends Miss Becky Perry. Becky and I played together for 4 years at Washington. We played her and her team Dresden and unfortunately lost, but I got to stay with her for the next day instead of busing back directly after the match.

On Sunday we took a day trip to Prague, less than a 2 hour drive from Dresden. This was my second trip to Prague, but it was great! We toured through the Prague Castle, which happens to be one of the biggest castles in the world- over 7 football fields long. the Catherdereal in the center is so gorgeous. The big ‘dom’ Churches are one of my favorite things about Europe. They are so large and ornate but intricate. And when I imagine what it would be like to build a church or any type of building nearly 1000 years ago, without the technology or tools we have. Not just building it and the sheer man power required to build, but designing it, all by hand, figuring out all the math, dimensions, and plans without a computer program let alone a calculator. Man. We’ve got it easy these days!

After the castle we took a quick tcp into Old Town and saw the city center, the astronomical clock and went over to the Charles Bridge which is so gorgeous at night.

It’s so nice to see Europe and take some time away from the daily grind. Not only that, but spending time with Beck was so much fun 🙂

Kinda big!

Kinda big!

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Overlooking the city from the Castle

Overlooking the city from the Castle

Snapped a selfie with a Prague palace guard :)

Snapped a selfie with a Prague palace guard 🙂

The City Center was busy busy!

The City Center was busy busy!

The Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge