You know what I learned about myself when I broke my hip? I’m not a very good patient. I imagine this is SHOCKING information to anyone who knows me.
I don’t like to sit around. My brain is constantly buzzing with “what’s next” and I’m often off flitting to the next three things before the first seven are done. So, “healing”, or as it was in my case, sitting around on my butt for 6 weeks, was not on easy.
There was no real reason that all of the dishes in the cabinets needed to be rearranged other than that I can’t get on a ladder and I should have been using my flamingo balancing skills on taking my first shower in 5 days, not telling Chad that the bowl needed to go a little further left. No, I mean the other left. Ok, yes, I meant right.
No real reason that this was when all the shirts needed to be ironed when they’d done so well slightly wrinkled for 5 years. No real reason that I needed to check the mail or start making piles of things that we didn’t need anymore that I would inevitably trip over with my crutches.
All of these things could have waited until I was off crutches.
It occurred to me far too late in the game that all these projects that were filtering through my mind at a furious pace was my own mechanism to avoid feeling feelings. It was much easier to come up with 78 things that “needed” to be done right now for no rhyme or reason rather than sit down and have a little cry about how disappointed I was at the unfairness of it all.
My doctor warned me that stress fracture recovery was a series of setbacks. “Two steps forward, one step back.” Was exactly what he told me.
He doesn’t know me, I thought. I’m young. I’m special. I’ll heal and be back outside running before I even have time to miss it.
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that I wasn’t special. I’m not that young. And he knew EXACTLY what he was talking about to ME. Instead I focused on filling my free time to get through six weeks as fast as possible.
I had a lot of free time to forget about. A lot. Not for lack of trying.
I aqua jogged my little brains out twice a week, every week, for six weeks and I hated every single second of it. But I did it.
I rode the recumbent bike three times a week every week for six weeks on ZERO resistance, until long after my feet fell asleep. I read books and watched entire TV series and movies and re-watched TV shows and movies. I slept, a lot.
And after 6 weeks of what I felt was torture (because I’m a white middle class American who has never suffered anything worse than a UTI and random Wi-Fi outages) I was able to once again walk without crutches and return to work. And with all that freedom (I could SHOP again!) I dared to dream that running could once again commence.
I was so insanely excited to start using the “special treadmill for injured people”. I got into the most ridiculous looking machine you’ve ever seen, one designed to take the weight of gravity off my lower half, and I ran for 30 seconds and walked for 4 minutes and repeated that for as long as they would let me. I was deliriously happy.
And then they told me I wasn’t progressing normally and needed to back off for another three weeks. I cried in the car on the way home from that PT visit because I had been holding on to that being my starting again point. The one shining beacon getting me through missing three races. And it was taken away. I was back to square one.
And it finally sunk in what I had refused to admit to myself: I didn’t know where or when my next run was going to be.
Two steps forward, one step back.
That’s what I was trying to avoid that whole time. The feeling of complete helplessness. I couldn’t do anything to heal faster. And I couldn’t do anything to take my mind off of that fact.
And you know what’s a really good activity to sort our your feelings?
Time Heals All Wounds
So, I finally started up running again in August, or July 31st if we’re being exact. Which we are.
The Friday before my first run I went out and bought two new pairs of running shoes – both brands I’ve never worn before – because I want to avoid doing anything the same as before. I’ve been religiously doing my physical therapy and strength training. I’m meeting with a nutritionist to figure out better eating habits. And I’m coming to terms with the fact that I could do everything right, and I still might get another stress fracture.
But I’m running again now. I’ve got that.
It’s not running like I was running before, first and foremost because I have to do run-walk intervals. The upside to this is that I’m actually running faster than I did before my injury. There’s something to these run-walk intervals and I might stick to them indefinitely.
Secondly, because I can’t imagine ever taking running for granted again. I don’t complain to myself when it’s time to run. I enjoy coming up with new intervals and small ways to push myself.
Each run feels like a book from the library that’s over due – I might have to give it back at any second. I’m working on being grateful for the runs I get and not getting to attached to the medals that I might get in November.
One foot in front of the other. One interval at a time.
“Run if you can, walk if you must, crawl if you have to… Don’t ever give up.”