Friday, February 7, 2014

Standing on Two Feet

Today marks nearly 8 weeks since I fell and fractured the distal tibia and fibula in my right leg. It was a beautiful day when the snow was dropping big, fluffy flakes from the sky. The local 5k race that we were planning to run as a family was postponed. It was my oldest daughter's 13th birthday so we would be celebrating later that day with several of her friends if the weather cooperated. I put on my Talons for added traction and set out for a short run with my dog, Sara. I took about 3 steps and was immediately reduced to the hard, icy ground. Under the crisp new snowfall was a sheet of thick ice. My right foot slipped as the front of my foot was on the ground and my body slammed down forward (bending my ankle completely backwards) creating the force that resulted in my fractures. I knew that my ankle was injured, but the fractures were confirmed quickly after arriving at an Urgent Care center.

Surgery to approximate the bones with a plate and 11 screws was completed 4 days later.

I am a runner, an ultrarunner. I also compete in some triathlons, mainly to cross train and stay healthy for running. The longest I have not exercised has been about 3 weeks after each of my c-sections.
I have continued to lift weights and started swimming without kicking per doctor orders, but the endorphins that you get from running are not easy to replicate with other activities. The emotions of suddenly being injured and the hormonal changes are tough and challenging. My first reaction was to fight, not to fight anyone or the process, but to fight to be immediately independent on one leg. I did not want to ask for help. Those who know me well know that I have been very independent from a young age and had to grow up very quickly. I knew that I could do most things on my own. What I didn't realize, though, was actually how hard that would be! The energy, both mentally and physically, of trying to do nearly all of things that I previously did was more than I would have every imagined. I learned quickly to drive with my left foot while draping my right leg across the console. I learned to negotiate every imaginable surface and crawled when necessary. I adapted weight lifting as much as possible and figured out how to carry a 15 pound dumbbell while using crutches.

I have a whole new outlook on physical challenges. It was so welcoming to have someone open a door for me as I struggled to do it myself. It was nice to have someone volunteer to let me go first in line so I did not have to stand longer on one leg as my foot was throbbing and swelling. "Here, I'll do that for you" was a pleasant statement to hear because it is not in my nature to ask for help.

I have never believed that all things happen for a reason or that they were meant to happen for some greater purpose. But, I have always believed that you can grow, become wiser, become stronger and become better as a result of your experiences, especially the experiences that challenge you. Right now, at this stage of my recovery, I am so thankful to re acquaint my right foot with the earth and to start to stand on two feet again. I am thankful for my wonderful family and a few very close, supportive friends who help me constantly. I am thankful that I am strong enough to push through the pain and effort to be able to stand again.

Am I looking forward to running again? Of course, I am. But, when you cannot walk, you really don't miss running. You miss walking. You miss standing. You miss how it feels to stand up straight. You miss how it feels to walk and hold someone's hand. You miss being able to carry you own cup of coffee (it tends to spill when you put it in your pocket).

So, today I got the good news that I can start gradually bearing weight on my injured leg. It has only been a few hours and I am walking (with a boot) and using only one crutch and carrying a cup a coffee!