When my dad pointed out months ago that it looked like my injury was going to take at least six months to heal, I crumbled a bit on the inside. How could an injury that took less than a second to happen stretch on for so long? Why couldn’t I get this to heal?
I know what you’re thinking. “But the doctors said 4-6 weeks. What happened?”
When I first hurt my ankle it was hard to tell just how much damage was done. I was so swollen that my range of motion was extremely limited and doctors couldn’t do most of the tests to figure out the extent of my sprain. I was hurried in and out of the sports doctor’s office with the golden ticket to physical therapy.
It wasn’t until I started physical therapy and my progress was like trying to chisel a new, functioning ankle out of a block of granite that we realized something wasn’t right. The more my physical therapist dug into what was going on the more problems he found.
By the time it seemed like maybe an MRI would be on the table, I opted not to. Nothing was completely torn, and it wasn’t like an MRI could heal me. Instead, I swallowed the fact that this was a severe injury that I wouldn’t instantly bounce back from and I let go of ALL healing deadlines.
This is one you take as you go.
Half a year. All of 2016. I haven’t run since the third week of October. And I haven’t sobbed uncontrollably since my friends carried me off the basketball court listening to me babble about how I only have 14 weeks until my race. What am I going to do? What am I going to do?
Take it one day at a time. That’s what I did. There were nights I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. I got so used to saying “I can’t do that” to nearly everything because I couldn’t go up that many stairs or stand that long or walk that far or sit without my foot up.
I got used to knee-replacement patients lapping me in the physical therapy room. I’ve been around longer than some of the receptionists. My physical therapist hears about more of my life than most of my friends.
So Much Progress
But so much has changed, especially in the last month.
This past month has been HUGE for me (get huge, bro!). I’m lifting three days a week (ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!). I am only 20 pounds off my 1 rep max back squat and my 1RM deadlift. I finally (FINALLY) feel strong and capable.
My balance is killin’ it. When I was first able to test my balance without excruciating pain, it was abysmal. My broken body just didn’t know how to handle itself anymore, especially since so many muscles had atrophied or hid out of fear of pain and punishment. Now I’m doing crazy things on uneven surfaces. Yoga is starting to feel like it used to. I can’t wait to see how far I can take this.
My ankle is starting to feel steady, strong even. I have been doing exercises for six months now and the progress is enormous. I’ve accepted that I will most likely be doing most of these exercises for the rest of my life. And that’s okay, especially if I don’t have pain and they keep me on my feet.
You should have seen my face the first time I could do a full ankle circle a couple weeks ago. I looked like a baby who walked for the first time. Surprised, excited, and ready to eat shit at any moment. Priceless.
I’m still not at my normal range of motion, but I finally think that I’m going to get there. For months I thought “maybe this is it, maybe this is my life now.” But I’m holding out hope on those last few degrees and the pain that comes with them.
You heard me. For the past month or so I’ve been slowly adding short “running” bursts into my walks. I started with 10 steps. 20. 30. 50. 100. 200. Now I’m able to do the first day of the Couch to 5k program which is a total of 1 minute of running 10 times with 1.5 minutes of walking between.
I’ll probably stay here for a few weeks as my body gets used to this and my ankle and feet hopefully stop being upset by it. But I’m so stoked in the meantime.
I went for my first hike a couple weeks ago and even though I spent the whole time staring at my feet to make sure I didn’t step on anything, it was amazing! I can finally do inclines and declines without pain (for the most part) and relatively unstable ground went okay!
This girl used to have air. Jumping has always been one of my favorite things. I know that sounds weird, but sign me up for max height box jumps and vertical jump tests – I love them! I’m finally taking my first tentative jumps into the world and it feels good. Top shelf foods, I’m coming for you.
I’ve long ago come to terms with my injury. I have no deadline in my mind. No timeline. No expectations. While six more months of this seems unlikely, I’m prepared for anything. I feel fantastic about my progress, and I’m really excited about what I can do right now. Right now is good. Tomorrow is even better.
I’ve come so far. So far.