There are people who skate and never seem to get hurt seriously. And there are the ones like Nina, who suffer from numerous injuries. Nina found her love for roller skating in her early thirties but despite all odds decided to not give up on it. Here she shares her story. So, for all of you who think, life is not fair: Yes, that’s true. Roller skating and injuries might go hand in hand. But maybe this story helps you to look at it from another perspective.
One day in mid-winter 2019 I received a message from a friend, with a link to a music video. He figured I would enjoy the track, knowing I’m a fan of electric disco beats. The track was Lifelike – So Electric (Roller Disco Edit). Little did he know how much the video would impact my life.
I had recently returned from travelling overseas to New Zealand and Australia, after two dysfunctional long-term relationships. I was 33, deeply unhappy and lacked any sense of meaning or purpose with my life. I was overwhelmed by the fact I had never made a single choice based on my own passions. My whole life I had been trying to please everyone around me, desperately wanting to fit in. Growing up in rural Norway, I was always the odd one out. I didn’t know what friendship was.
I couldn’t walk to the grocery store because of debilitating pain
Continuous traumatic experiences as a teenager had left me with severe PTSD and chronic pain syndromes throughout my entire body. I had disabling muscle and joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory autoimmune disease, fatigue and cognitive dysfunction. I was at the point where I couldn’t walk to the grocery store because of debilitating pain.
It was Instant Love
I clicked the link, and as I watched these beautiful girls on roller skates gliding past palm trees with radiant smiles on their faces I remember thinking “oh, how I wish my life would have been like that”, sighing as if it was over and done with. Convinced that it was too late for me to change. I mean, I was way too old! At 33 I was supposed to have my shit together, but I had zero clue. I was unemployed, had no hobbies and was living with my parents. Since I quit horseback riding as a young teen, I’d pretty much been idle, bordering to paralyzed. Glued to the couch, afraid of using my body or speaking my voice.
But simultaneously as I grieved my lost youth, I heard a voice in my heart saying “give it a go!” At the very least I could look back at that time I tried learning something and failed, instead of not trying at all. And so I ordered my first pair of roller skates.
It was instant love.
But it was far from easy. I was the only one in town with skates, so I watched everything I could find on Youtube. In 2019, before Covid, there was very little roller skate related content to be found. Indy Jamma Jones taught me all I knew about skating. Norwegian roads are not particularly skate friendly, so I went to the local skate park by myself. It was terrifying. I felt stupid and misplaced. But all the kids welcomed me and cheered me on. My progress was slow and steady. I was in pain, but I was rolling!
Roller Skating and Injuries – And then it happened again
In September that year, I travelled back to Australia for a pain rehab vacation. Escaping the cold climate would benefit my health issues. By this time I had been following an amazing skater on Instagram for a while, the lovely Madi Quail. And by chance she happened to live in the Gold Coast, where I was going. I met her at Pizzey SkatePark, and she is an absolute ray of light. I took a couple of skate lessons with her, and was having the time of my life.
And then I fractured my spine.
The rest of my holiday I had to rest. I came back to Norway in winter, and by February I felt strong enough to join some local skateboarders in an indoor skate hall. It was great. I was in pain, but I was rolling again. Then came March, along with global Covid lock down. And I broke my wrist. A broken wrist couldn’t stop me from skating, but the closed indoor skate halls certainly did. There are no parking houses or alternative indoor spots available in this part of the country. So, I patiently waited for the snow to melt.
The following summer season was packed with adversity and injuries. A pulled knee tendon, multiple shoulder injuries, sciatica inflammation and strained muscles to name a few. A wisdom tooth operation left me flat out for a couple of weeks. But the moments of skating are the memories which stand out. The freedom, the joy and the feeling of accomplishment. Winter comes on like a freight train, and when it was clear that every single indoor spot would be Covid closed again I was devastated. Promise of spring kept my spirit up. I went weekly to physiotherapy, and exercised so I would be fit for skating season.
In mid-April 2021, we could finally start skating outside again. It took a few weeks to get the wheel feel back, and from then it was all play. I challenged myself, conquered fears, accomplished new tricks and made friends for life. I had the most amazing time. For the first time in my life, I belonged somewhere. And my body was functioning. I was experiencing true happiness. I wanted to skate everything and everywhere. Dance, street, ramps, bowl. The vert became my favorite place to flow, even if I didn’t reach the coping. Just the feeling of speed and weightlessness in the transition. The fact that I could do little airs and 180’s at all several meters above the ground had been unfathomable for me not long ago. I was addicted and in love.
Message to the Doctor: “My only fear is that I won’t skate again”
I was planning to slowly build my confidence to drop the vert ramp, possibly by the end of summer. But on July 8, I knew it was the day for it. I’d been making great progress all week, and this particular day everything aligned. My skating was super clean, I felt strong and balanced, I had my best skate buddies coaching and cheering me on. And I did it. I dropped that vert and did a perfect run. Conquering my fear and leaning over that coping is possibly the greatest accomplishment of my life. Words cannot describe how proud and happy I felt. I went back up for a second drop, twisted my ankle and broke it. I don’t think it’s necessary to describe the rollercoaster of despair and grief following this incident. Y’all can relate.
At the hospital the doctor asked me – “Aren’t you afraid to skate again after so many serious injuries?” I replied – “My only fear is that I won’t skate again”.
The day after the accident I was scheduled to do a skate photoshoot with talented photographer Julie Christine Adélaïde Krøvel, who is the founder of Norway’s first roller skate school and webshop. This obviously didn’t happen. But four days later we went and did a shoot after all, with a cast on my leg instead of skates. The shoot turned out magical, and we got some amazing shots capturing the realness of my situation. This is how we roll when life gives us lemons.
I decided to share my story because I had so many reasons to give up, but I never quit. I decided to commit to my own happiness, and kept on going. In a few weeks I’ll be out of my cast, and start rehabilitation again. I’ve been there before, so I know I can do it. It’s unfair, yes. But life doesn’t give us equal hands. It’s not about the cards we’re dealt, it’s all about how we play them.
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