What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker

Icing my stupid ankle after my physical therapy exercises.

Icing my stupid ankle after my physical therapy exercises.

It’s been nine (9!) whole weeks since I sprained my ankle.  I’ve thought about writing posts several times since then, but never got around to it, because, to be honest, my thoughts on the last 9 weeks have been scattered, and mostly very negative, and not really fun to dwell on.  But a post about this ankle nonsense is overdue, so instead of trying to write some perfect essay on how I’m recovering with grace and aplomb, I’m gonna let you know what I really think about this bs.

 

How have you been?

My withered leg.  :(

My withered leg. 🙁

First, let me say the last 9 weeks have truly, epically sucked.  My last post was hastily written in a brief moment I didn’t want to smash everything in the world, and it definitely did not reflect my almost constant bad mood these last couple of months.  The first two weeks were physically the worst, as I was 100% reliant on crutches and could barely do anything.  (You ever have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, when you’re groggy and can barely move your legs and kinda stumble around in the dark?  Yeah, imagine that but with crutches.)  It was three full weeks before I hazarded driving short distances, and over five weeks before I could start physical therapy (and started walking short distances without a full brace).  At eight weeks I could walk a mile on flat ground with rest breaks, but I overdid it on my trip home from Missoula and my foot puffed up again for several days (my physical therapist was not happy with me).  And as of yesterday I’m finally not in constant pain – as long as my foot is elevated and I haven’t overdone it in the days before.  (So, yes, I’ve been in constant (usually low-level) pain for the last 9 weeks.  Walking or standing still hurts.)

 

Mentally, I think the worst weeks were around week 5 to now (yes, it’s ongoing).  The lack of being able to do any sort of workout has really taken a toll.  And while most people have good intentions by telling me about their past injuries and quick recoveries (lol a sprain doesn’t disappear overnight, that wasn’t a sprain, dude), or even worse, what they expect my personal recovery timeline will be, it is the most infuriating thing to hear.  You don’t know my injury.  You don’t know my body.  And you have no idea what my progress or lack thereof has been.  So for you to tell me I’ll be fine in a “couple weeks,” or never, or whatever non-medically based prediction you make for me, makes me want to punch you in the face.

 

You ever hear that cliche saying about running being cheaper than therapy?  Or those shirts that say “I run to stay sane”?  Yeah, well, I haven’t been able to walk, let alone run, for 9 weeks, and I don’t see long walks or running anywhere on the horizon yet, so I’m pretty certifiable by now.  Yes, yes, I still count my blessings (which don’t include being thankful I didn’t break any bones, as I’ve learned that fractures are often faster and easier to heal than soft tissue injuries), and yes, yes, I’m still thankful for all that I have and the luxuries and opportunities I’m provided (e.g. doctors, physical therapy, grocery delivery, Amazon, etc.).  But that doesn’t mean I can’t also be pissed, and fed up, and occasionally depressed, and constantly frustrated by all of this.

 

But how’s the ankle?

About 3 weeks after injury, when the swelling was more pronounced and the crutches were in  heavy use.

About 3 weeks after injury, when the swelling was more pronounced and the crutches were in heavy use.

My ankle and the connected areas are still swollen, but it’s slooooooowly getting better.  It still puffs up if I walk or stand too much (and “too much” right now is about over a mile total in a day, depending).  It hasn’t been a linear progression, so some days are worse than others, and I don’t expect that I’ll wake up one magical day and everything will be ok.  My range of motion is still pretty limited, but I’m doing PT exercises at home every day and go to PT twice a week, where my therapist uses a metal torture device on my injured leg to break up the scar tissue (it’s called the “Graston technique” – it’s like foam rolling but with a stainless steel pick and it’s as painful as you’d imagine – I break into a full-body sweat every time – sexy!).  But it seems to be helping, and I’ll happily suffer whatever pain my PT wants to dish out if it means I’ll get to run again this year.  Surprisingly, I’m not even as worried about “permanent damage” as I was when I first got injured, because at this point I’ve almost made my peace with permanent damage and I just want my mobility back.

 

Everything happens for a reason, right?

I definitely don’t think everything happens for a reason or even that every cloud has a silver lining, but if there ever will be a silver lining to all of this, it’ll probably be my increased empathy to others who are sick, injured, or have chronic pain.  The greatest gift my immobility has given me was the discovery of Below Deck: Mediterranean, which is the best worst show ever.  Or maybe the silver lining to my injury is the cute guy at PT…  But seriously, this whole experience sucks, and I do not recommend.

 

So when will you be running again?

I don’t know.  No doctor or therapist has been able to answer that for me, either, because I think even they don’t know.  The closest I’ve gotten to a real answer (besides the bs “you could run a marathon in 2 months from date of injury” I got from my orthopedist, who clearly just wanted me out of his office) is that my backpacking trip to Patagonia in December shouldn’t be a problem.  No, that’s not running, but it is hiking long distances with a pack, so I imagine I’ll be able to run short distances without a pack before then…  maybe?  Honestly, at this point, I’m still taking it day by day.  I thought for sure I’d be running my fall marathons, but now even that’s not looking very likely.  More rage!  Where’s that gd silver lining?

 

And yes, I’ve missed numerous NYRR races and the first of several marathons I had scheduled (check out the gallery below for some pictures from the Missoula Marathon last weekend).  I probably won’t make the 9+1 program this year, so I won’t qualify for the NYC Marathon next year, which is ok – I’m definitely more disappointed about missing so many marathons and having to delay my 50 States quest.

In conclusion…

I think I speak for most of humanity by saying that 2016 can kiss my ass and die in a fire.  Let’s fast-forward through this slag heap of a year and hope that 2017 is better.

 

When do you think I’ll be healed?  Haha, just kidding, don’t tell me that – tell me what I should binge-watch instead!  Is the most recent season of Orange is the New Black worth it?  Are you, like me, only barely holding it together before Bachelor in Paradise starts again in August?  Share in the comments!

One thought on “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker

  1. Josh Smith

    How about this, seeing as I may be that super human you talked about in a post way back when (I just ran a random 1/2 marathon last night for the hell it instead of walking the dog and studying my college stuff like a good little adult… also first time ever running more than 5 miles…), and you had your injury on my birthday (Yes the carrot cake was yummy, no I didn’t save you any cause I didn’t know you existed then… sorry) When you do run your state of Montana I’ll run it with ya… Besides, I can scare people away from the candy bowl or whatever ( I still haven’t figured out why… other than a conspiracy with the dental community… free candy would it be handed out to the runners… oh wait it goes back to the stranger danger thing from kindergarten where I was told to run away from people and free candy… I see it’s motivation tool)

    Reply

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