I’m in week 5 post-op. I have had a lot of time to think about being injured, what it means, my activity level, and competing. I am going to try to draw some of my thoughts together in this post.
On the injured list
I have essentially been on the injured list since mid-August when my hamstring popped. That took about 6 weeks to heal. And then my Achilles tendon injury occurred. I have had to cancel every race I had planned from mid August to next March.
I have had injuries in the past but this is different. I am in better shape – I am so happy about that! I have been eating better for well over a year. That has helped as well. I know that I can’t rush back to a full level of activity and that is difficult. It helps to read the blogs on the Achilles Blog site. I do have to remember that my situation is not like other people’s situation. It helps to ask questions and hear from people who are just ahead of where I am or farther along. It’s good to know there are some variations in treatment but that we all follow a basic path of moving from non-weight bearing to partial weight bearing to full weight bearing.
I think some people are surprised that I am back to working out. The first few weeks when I still could not do anything were difficult. Sam helped by reminding me that I needed time to rest and heal; that it would be better to take the time than to rush. My doctor said I could go back to working out after the second week. I did cautiously. At first I did not want to work out without having Sam there in case I fell or something happened. After about 4 sessions my confidence returned. I knew I could get on the arm bike. I knew I could handle free weights and some machines (though I did miss a bench and tipped over the first time I tried free weights). Sam has challenged me to do more, but not what he knows I can’t do safely. I have figured out how to get on a mat and do push-ups, crunches, and various other floor exercises. We have worked with the ropes. Those are harder to do from a seated position but I can work with them. I’ve advanced to using the TRX for one legged squats and the bench for dips with my casted foot on top of my good foot. I can do rows with the bungee ropes (300 today). So there is a lot that I can do on one foot.
It really helps with my mood to workout. I have certainly read a lot about the impact of exercise on a person’s mood but this experience has made me realize more than ever that it is true. I will probably write a separate post on this in the near future.
Non weight bearing continues
Before surgery my doctor thought I might be in a cast four weeks (or that is what I thought). I will be in a cast for 8 weeks based on how things look now. I initially thought the surgery was not as extensive as he expected but it turns out that it was fairly extensive to repair and strengthen the Achilles tendon. That needs time to heal. My foot has been moved up slightly and I could feel it in my heel and arch over the weekend. Next week I will get another cast and I think my foot will be in neutral position. I imagine I will feel that adjustment for a few days as well.
Thoughts about racing and competing
I’ve been thinking about races that I have missed and those I had planned in 2012. It was difficult to cancel races but I knew I could not participate without possibly hurting myself further after the hamstring injury. Then I could not run at all so that took care of the two half marathons I had planned to participate in during October and November.
My plans were to complete my first International distance triathlon Labor Day weekend. The course was at the same place where I had completed a sprint triathlon earlier in the summer. I had planned on working towards more International distance triathlons in 2012 with a goal of a Half Ironman in the next few years. I am really not sure about either goal right now. I will just have to wait to see how things progress. Partially I need to concentrate on my recovery step by step and not look too far ahead. Right now I cannot quite imagine even stepping on my left foot, let alone running again. I also wonder what it will feel to bike again and how long it will take to regain what I had built up. Once I am in a boot I imagine I will be able to begin on the stationary bike again, but I am not sure when. I know that swimming will most likely be the first of my three sports that returns – that is as soon as my incision is healed and I am cleared to go back in the pool. It is not quite as difficult to watch people in the pool this week as it was the first week. Maybe because I know each week gets me closer to returning to the water.
Between October 2010 and the Summer of 2011 I cut over 20 minutes off my 5k time. One thing that I really wonder about is how long it will take to get back to that level so I can continue to work on my time goals. I am prepared for it to take longer than I think. I never care much about where I finish. I care more that I do finish. Still I like the accomplishment of a PR, just like anyone does. And I had looked forward to repeating a few races to see how much I could improve. Those will have to wait a year. I know that I will probably never be the fastest, especially around Tuscaloosa where there is a pretty competitive group in my Age Group. That hasn’t mattered to me. I know how I have progressed over the past few years.
I have a few potential races on my 2012 calendar as goals and possibilities but I will simply have to wait and see what happens. As the weeks have gone by I have realized that I can sit back a year if I need to do that. That does not mean that I will not continue to work, however. I will have to face and overcome some fears about getting back into competition and about making sure I do not injure myself again.
What I have done in the meantime
I have accomplished some things that were overdue and I have been working on coursework for an MA in Health Studies. I finally finished my chapters for a book on Postmodern American Literature. My co-author and I hope to see it finally finished very soon. It has been a long process of research and revision. I have caught up on some board work for the Alabama Storytelling Association and the American Diabetes Association. I have also worked on some editorial work for a newsletter. My own book is sitting on the table and I have been re-reading and revising a draft. I truly hope that I can finish the manuscript by the end of the year.
I have also started a new venture. Before surgery I enrolled as a non-degree candidate in my first two classes in the M.A. in Health Studies at UA. I have written two papers already and am almost done with a third paper. I am truly enjoying what I am doing and look forward to the next classes. I have to complete the application process so I can enroll as a degree candidate.
And I have been taking naps. My schedule is totally off as the date and time stamp on this post may reveal. Next week I will have to work on getting back on schedule since I have to go back to work on December 19. I will miss having time and not having to go to work but getting back to a routine will be good.